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  Everest: Mallory and Irvine The Final Chapter: Q&A January 2005 Part Three

A. EverestNews.com: is our reply to the question.

Q. Is the question from our reader, not our opinions or thoughts.

In some cases you will note we just publish a reader's comments. That does not mean we agree or disagree with the reader.

What side of the mountain is that snow on?©EverestNews.com


Q. Your final theory published in December indicates that Irvine died between the first and second step. 


A. EverestNews.com: No, Xu said Irvine died between the first and second step. We said, "It is not coincidental that we choose Xu Jing's story to publish rather than another climber's. Xu's story obviously leaves a very large area to search fall lines from the First Step to the Second Step. "Would be" treasure hunters will have their work cut out for them if they want to try a search for the remains of Sandy as we will discuss more below." And even that you need to read in context.... The Final Chapter of Sandy Irvine?

Q. When you published your initial theory in October you made the following comments regarding the fate of Irvine:

"At some point, which is impossible at this point to say when, he realized George was not coming back. He got up and started to try to walk, dropped his ice axe and soon sat down again. He did not get back up."


A. EverestNews.com: Exactly! you got it! That is what we said.


Let's look at the big picture.

a.) Sandy died.

b.) The number of climbers who said he died on the ridge is growing.  At least 5 claims of Sandy or an "old dead" on the Ridge of Mt Everest.

c.) To date, none of the climbers recalls seeing the ice axe with Sandy at the presumed place of death.

d.) It is safe to assume he dropped his ice axe when he sat down.

e.) You don't fall to the Ridge of Everest, you sit down on the Ridge on Everest.


SO, Exactly. You got it! Our theory or logic on all of that has not changed. Don't read more into it than it says.

Our first "source" placed the "old dead" on the ridge of Mt Everest. All five, including Xu, have placed the body on the ridge of Mt Everest also.

Q. In your last M&I Final Chapter Q&A you pointed out that high altitude climbers often tell different stories about their climbs and why this might happen. Your statements seem to strengthen and verify my theory that Irvine simply, and accidentally, dropped his ax.

Here's the passage from your site that I'm referring to..."We have talked to thousands of Everest climbers. The mind clearly does not function well above 8000 meters for many of these climbers. So why are climbers wrong, how can they report something wrong. They are human! Many are out of their element. Most are exhausted and at their mental and physical limit. For most it is their first and only time up there. They don't know where they are going. They make mistakes, and many do not always know the world is watching. Are climbers liars? No, not most anyways.... Do they recall things well from above 8000 meters? Generally no. Sherpas appear to recall things much better and are clearly on average much stronger than western climbers, but that is another story."

These descriptions certainty apply to 22 year old, novice climber Sandy Irvine. I'm of the belief that your same argument can be made for the possibility of Sandy simply not being aware that his un-tethered ax slips from his mitten or from where he may have lodged it in his pack as he traverses the, not so technically difficult (ax not needed), face of Everest below the ridge. Again, I assume that Mallory would have been in the lead choosing the lines and pacing the two.

Thank you again for entertaining my emails. Hopefully you can reply in a future Q&A. I really love following your process and appreciate the manner in which you are doing it.

Q. Human error as a reason for the ice ax being where it was found cannot be ignored. There have been hundreds of climbers that have made huge mistakes high and low on Everest...many are known as DECEASED.


I've never read anywhere that these experts have ever been to Everest's North Ridge. If he's never made the ascent, then why are they so against a 22 year old simply dropping his ax as he is the first in history to make that altitude?

Q. Having gone back over your theory today I think the axe location deserves some debate, because it is the one really implausible aspect of the theory. We now know, more or less, where Sandy died, and more or less where an ice axe which is thought to be Sandy's was found in 1933.

Your theory says: "He got up and started to try to walk, dropped his ice axe and soon sat down again. He did not get back up. We believe Andrew "Sandy" Irvine died high on Everest, never knowing whether or not his friend and climbing partner, George Mallory, fulfilled their dream and made it to the Summit."

But the problem is that Sandy's body was found a long distance further up the ridge, towards the summit, than the axe. If your theory is correct then Sandy didn't "soon" sit down - he walked a very considerable distance the wrong way along the ridge, climbing the First Step again, after dropping his axe.

Assuming the accuracy of the reported location of Sandy's body, there are a range of possibilities which would still support the theory, but none of them are very plausible:

1. Sandy dropped his axe and walked, disoriented, the wrong way for a long distance, including reclimbing the First Step, until he died. This seems highly unlikely even if he was completely disoriented in the afternoon snow storm.

2. Sandy left the axe and went back in the wrong direction deliberately for some other reason. But why would he leave his axe if he was still functioning?

3. Someone moved Sandy's axe from where he died to the place where it was found. If so presumably it must have been Mallory, which explodes the theory anyway. And why would he do it? If (say) Mallory had left Sandy dead or sheltering, would there have been any possible purpose for him in carrying another axe?

4. Sandy had left it on the way up. But why, especially if he hadn't yet climbed even the First Step?

5. The wrong location was reported in 1933.

6. It wasn't Sandy's axe.

Any more?

7. The location Xu axe is off some, maybe a lot, which is why you published it.

8. The wind blew it there.

9. It fell down to that location.

A. EverestNews.com: The answer of course is, no one knows for sure how the ice axe got there, nor are we sure where it was found with certainty. Nor do we know how the oxygen bottle(s) got to where it or they were found, which no one seems sure of that location anymore. We will probably never know for sure how any of these items got to where they were found. This is hard for the public to understand, and is a real good reason for those searching for artifacts in the future to film as much as possible, so items and locations can be pinpointed with certainly.

We believe Sandy dropped the ice axe on the way back. Of course that is not proven, nor is it even proven that is Sandy's ice axe. Nor is it proven where the ice axe was found. But that is our theory. We believe the ice axe's location is consistent with the real location where Sandy Irvine died. It is possible Sandy dropped it on the way up or it got there another way.

We see now that when we published Xu Jing's map we confused a few of our readers. We did not mean to. Xu placed Sandy on the ridge and knew "certain details" that the other climber also stated. But Xu's location was significantly different. Also the location that Xu "described" was not half way between the 1st and second steps. But as you can see that is where Xu placed the location. Not really surprising. We would have been completely shocked if Xu had marked the map at the exact same location. We believe Xu was a little off in his location map.

Several of you (our readers) figured out from our earlier reports that we believed Sandy was on the Ridge of Everest. After all we said it several times! We believed Xu's story was a good way to indicate that (Sandy was on the Ridge) to the others who did not figure it out.

Why do climbers place Sandy in different locations? We think we covered that in the last Q&A questions... If you give 5 climbers a map, each one will mark a different spot.... (all the Ridge)

Does that mean 5 men dies on the ridge on Mt Everest before Xu Jing got there? Are 5 climbers wrong about him dying on the ridge? We don't think so. We expect the 5 number to grow. More details continue to come forward. We are continuing to spend significant resources to study this mystery. But our focus has changed. We really need to move to George Mallory. The 2005 Everest season will soon be here. Logically, the possibility that Sandy summited Everest seems very small.

The question is: How did George's body get to where the Chinese found it in 1975? We still see two logical possible explanations as we explained before in The Final Chapter of Sandy Irvine.

Q. You know the questions I have so I will just cover some of the same territory because it is interesting.

1) Now, if indeed Mallory's ice axe was found next to his body, what does that actually tell us? Simple. It tells us that there is absolutely no way Mallory fell from the Ridge. The axe would not have stayed with Mallory's body during a 900 meter fall. So, the presence of the axe (if true) virtually proves the theory that Mallory fell within a few

short meters of where his body now lies. That is all it tells us.


2) What other items were found and taken? There was mention of rope also. I wonder what else has been found and removed from the mountain. And an even better questions is: WHERE were the other items found? That alone will tell us some details of where Mallory or Irvine might have descended or fallen, etc. Imagine if rope was found ABOVE the Third Step? OR Mallory's oxygen rig?

How about Irvine's oxygen rig? I think Irvine waited for a time at the

Second Step area so naturally he would have discarded the rig in that vicinity. 

Q. Suppose for a second that Xu or the others are right …. Where would the body have gone???? Surely, it is not still on the ridge…. I think many will tell you that, so where is it????

A. EverestNews.com: The body would fall down one side or the other side of the mountain... (Sorry for the non-rocket science answer again.)

Q. The information given about the position of Irving's body puzzles me.  Another account was that body in a crack or crevice?

A. EverestNews.com: None of our sources put him in a crack or crevice. They all put him on the ridge.

Q. Do any of the witnesses to Irving's body state if he had oxygen tanks?  If not, then one would assume that the back pack if there was one would be somewhere enroute to the summit.

A. EverestNews.com: No one mentioned oxygen cylinders next to the body, but we are not sure we focused on this. Again the answer(s) can vary on what is asked.

Q. The oxygen tank found near or by Irving's body it is indicated that the vintage is 1930.  If that is the case what climbing team does it belong to?

A. EverestNews.com: Not true. We don't know the year the oxygen cylinder was used, as we have stated before. Someday, we will find the answer to that one. We are not in a rush.

Q. Hi EverestNews, What are your plans this year regarding M&I?

Will you be searching again? And where? Looking forward to your reply.

A. EverestNews.com: Yes we will be searching this time... We will be searching around the Summit approach and descent.

Q. Hi There, Thanks for all the info and keep it coming. I feel more certain than ever now that Mallory summited though we will never know for certain. Being that close he would not have turned around until he had, knowing it was his last shot. Well done! Regards

A. EverestNews.com: But you know what the naysayers will now claim; "George would have turned around on the summit pyramid, "or something...

Q. Dear team, Great professionalism from yourselves; several issues here:

You stated that the search for the body of Irvine up on the northeast ridge is over, but will you conduct a search on possible fall lines to try to get some clues, artifacts etc?

A. EverestNews.com: No. We will look in other areas for evidence that George Mallory got above the Second Step.

We are moving forward with the theory that Sandy did not Summit. Therefore, searching the fall line would not be worth the risk to us. And if a camera is someday found, what would it hold??? Probably nothing at all, except some pictures at camp 6...

Q. Hello Again and thank you for your hard work, Great Job! It sounds as if the 1960 & 1975 Chinese expeditions picked up a lot of items on the mountain as souvenirs or to put in a museum later one being Mallory's Ice Axe.  Wong Hongbao seems to have died with the axe if I read the article correctly.

A. EverestNews.com: No. Xu said the ice axe was found next to Mallory's body. To our knowledge, he said nothing about Wang dying with the ice axe. (Nor did we ask that.)

Q. Could he have picked up a camera?  Maybe an oxygen Rack? Who knows what else!

A. EverestNews.com: Of course no one know knows.

Q. [Question continued]: This brings up my second puzzlement.  I keep hearing about Mallory & Irving discarding their oxygen apparatus's somewhere on the mountain.  I can't imagine them discarding this as they would need them for their triumphant decent down the mountain wouldn't they?  Did anyone you interviewed, that saw Irving's body, mention oxygen racks? 

A. EverestNews.com: No, so where are they?

Actually the much bigger question is, where is George's oxygen rack?

Is it NOT on the ledge below George Mallory. We were there, it is NOT there.

Q. Of course it was mentioned that Irvine was positioned on his back which could make this impossible to see. It seems that the Chinese expeditions picked up, took, and moved things around quite a bit up there.

A. EverestNews.com: Clearly the Chinese were picking things up.

Q.  You state that the next trip will not be searching for bodies.  What are you searching for?

A. EverestNews.com: Evidence that George Leigh Mallory summited Mt Everest.

What side of the mountain is that snow on? ©EverestNews.com

We ask that you hold your questions for now as we have more Q&A to post, but feedback and thoughts are always welcome at EverestNews.com

We went to Mount Everest in search of an answer.


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