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  Mallory and Irvine: The Final Chapter of Sandy Irvine?


Sandy Irvine, (member of the Oxford University winning Boat Race crew) 1923 © The Sandy Irvine Trust, UK.  Not to be reproduced without permission.

What we know, what we don't know, and what we think happened on that fateful day in 1924

There are now five apparent eyewitnesses to the location of Sandy Irvine's body high on the ridge of Mt Everest. Some of these witnesses have never met and have surely never spoken.

Our first witness told us certain details that, for privacy reasons, we kept to ourselves. Xu Jing could not have heard these details. Yet he gave us the very information, when we spoke to Xu Jing at his home in China. Information that would mean little or nothing to those who did not interview the first climber. With the fact being that Sandy Irvine's body is the only body unaccounted for during this time period, it is easy to conclude this was Sandy's body. EverestNews.com hired a professional third party to interview Xu Jing.

What's more, EverestNews.com has trace physical evidence from where we believe Sandy died. Only time will tell if that trace evidence "proves" Sandy died there.  But the evidence appears to show "something happened there."

The mystery now.

Eyewitnesses state Sandy Irvine died high on the northeast ridge, over a thousand feet higher than where George Mallory's body was found (first by the Chinese in 1975 and then rediscovered in 1999), on a completely different line from the summit. How could their bodies end up so far apart?

With the growing evidence and the fact that the body is not on the ridge anymore, we notified the Irvine family before publishing the Xu Jing story and waited, in case they wanted to object to the publishing of Xu Jing interview, for a few days. 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.

Note: When Xu referred to these bodies, he referred to them by name (Mallory and Irvine), except in the case of Wilson.

What we think happened on that fateful day in 1924.

We will never know what was in Sandy's mind during the final moments of his life. We do know that George and Sandy were going for the top. George was hell bent on summiting, whatever the cost.

Mallory and Irvine had several options that day. Either they climbed what is now called the Second Step, or they took on the real Second Step "head on".  The Norton couloir route would have been easier for George. But if Mallory took Norton's route, how did Sandy end up on the ridge? A similar problem exists with the modern route up the Second Step. Today's climbers traverse across the North face, and then take the modern route up the 2nd Step. If George and Sandy went that way, how did Sandy get back to the ridge alone? Strange things do happen on everest...

But the most logical conclusion is that George and Sandy took the northeast ridge of Everest all the way to the "real Second Step" on the ridge. From this point the summit of Everest does not appear to be an hour or two away; it appears to be "right there".  You think you can reach out and touch it.  Mallory and Irvine must have felt they were only minutes from the top.  George then did what many do today. He went for it.

Hell bent to get to the top, George probably was given Sandy's oxygen, or part of it. He took the rope and he climbed the bastard to fulfil his destiny.

Note that many climbers today run out of oxygen on Everest.  For those without support one of two things happens: they die, or they can function and keep going. We know several climbers who have summited and then made their way down after running out of oxygen.

As with many who go for the top today, George soon found the journey harder than expected. He would run out of oxygen but as many do today he was still be able to function as many have since his time (Since we know George's body is not above the Second Step; he had to get down without oxygen.) We believe George Mallory then continued on to the Summit of Mt Everest. Once reaching the Summit, he must have figured Sandy had either headed back to camp or died waiting.

George, knowing that getting down the Second Step alone was next to impossible alone, headed down the couloir, down the mountain and across the Snow Terrace. He was almost back to camp. Like many climbers today, he is wasted, his mind is playing tricks on him and he falls and dies quickly due to the head injury that either caused or was caused by the short fall.

We believe Sandy waited for George at the Second Step. He soon is dieing. Sandy, like some of the others who run out of oxygen today, struggles without the oxygen. He knows he has to head back, but he is dieing.

At some point, he fell to the ground on a snow slab. It is not known if that snow slab was on the Kangshung face of the ridge or the North face. However, most snow slabs are on the Kangshung face. He leaned into the mountain, trying to use the snow to shield him. He died.

Sandy Irvine was the good soldier. He gave his life for the job, for the dream, for George's destiny. Like most good soldiers, he became a footnote in history. (Sad sometimes how this world works...)

Other opinions/theories and why they seem less likely.

The main alternative to our theory is not as alluring. In this version, Mallory does not summit. George and Sandy were on the ridge, when for some reason while Sandy was still on oxygen he died or they got separated after turning around at the Second Step. George then headed down the mountain and missed high camp. Then instead of continuing the logical way down the mountain to a lower camp, George turned left and headed out into the snow terrace and fell and died. While this option is possible, it seems much more unlikely... But we must point out that this option has not been disproved.

Some still say George fell from the ridge or somewhere up there. The known evidence does not support those theories as we explained before. The apparent evidence of George's ice axe next to his body should be the final straw in those theories and any other magic bullet theories. Some will surely continue in denial…

Others will say maybe they both summited and separated at the Summit. We see this option as unlikely.  But it has not been disproved.

So George Mallory summited Everest? Maybe, just maybe... 

We believe it is the most probable outcome of their efforts. That's a major change for us.  If you go back and read the old EverestNews.com reports from years ago, you will see we were never believers.  But now we are. 

How does one prove Mallory summited?  That sounds like another Chapter!  We think it will require a new approach.  One that does not involve dead bodies (thank goodness!), but instead deals with trace physical evidence.  Short of someone finding Mallory artifacts on or near the summit -- highly unlikely at this point -- it will probably be a circumstantial case.

What about the difference in the stories of the eyewitnesses? Interview any 8 climbers today that summit Everest within 2 hours of one another, find 2 that tell you the same details and we will send you a shirt!  If they tell you the SAME story, then you should get real worried.  EverestNews.com has interviewed hundreds of Everest climbers.  We have yet to hear the "same" story.

“When we saw the (second) body we were definitely past the First Step. It was on the ridge.", Xu Jing 2004

What happened to Sandy's body?  The same thing that happens to nearly everyone who dies on the Ridge.  His body fell down the Kangshung Face, or down the very steep section of the North face. If the body fell down the Kangshung Face side it probably went all the way down to the glacier, thousands of meters below. The North Face side has some obstructions though but is uninterrupted in some other places. In either case the body soon breaks into pieces, and no longer is a body.

"I saw it with my own eyes. I didn't go up and check carefully. I only said to myself: Oh another victim. ", Xu Jing 2004

No one has ever climbed either of these areas to the summit.  While it is possible to climb part way up the North side, it is extremely dangerous. In fact this line would be far harder and far more dangerous than the Hornbein couloir. There is no short cut down from there, except falling to certain death...

“We saw the body of Mallory in 1975”, Xu Jing 2004

The area between the Steps has been searched and filmed. While there are other bodies there, Sandy is not there. We don't think others will return and search these fall lines, at least not up high. To down climb from those fall lines is "impossible".

"The Search for Sandy Irvine's body appears to be over. May Sandy Irvine rest in peace. " EverestNews.com December 2004

Our Theory as published early this year. Yes more evidence is falling into place.

We went to Mount Everest in search of an answer.

Dispatches

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