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  Mallory and Irvine The Final Chapter: Xu Jing

Part One is below... Part Two is here.. Part Three is here.

Xu Jing©EverestNews.com


It has been reported that Everest climber Xu Jing has stated that during his 1960 climb he found an old body high on Mt Everest in a sleeping bag. Some believe he found Sandy Irvine; history says it had to be Sandy Irvine. But those who interviewed Xu could not find Sandy in the Spring of 2004. The reports vary on what Xu actually said. But clearly he stated that he found a body; a body history says could only be that of Andrew “Sandy” Irvine. The various reports of Xu Jing did not match the statements of our source who saw the "old dead" on the Northeast ridge of Everest.


What is even more interesting to EverestNews.com is that the Chinese in their own reports,  the leader of the Chinese expedition currently attempting to summit the 14 8000 peaks, Samdrup, has stated in writing as far back as 1996, maybe before that the Chinese found a body, assumed today to be George Mallory at 8100 meters. This appears to be common, accepted knowledge among these early Chinese climbers. George Mallory of course was found there again in 1999.


In at least one of the prior interviews of Xu Jing, it was reported that Xu Jing said that Sandy Irvine was "on the northeast ridge". But the others seemed to conclude he was not on the ridge. It was also reported that Xu Jing said the location of the body was "with steep cliffs on both sides”. Where on Everest is there an area "with steep cliffs on both sides” except the ridge we wondered?? The BBC had interviewed Xu Jing before their search expedition in Spring of 2004. The contents of that interview were kept a secret. Our source told us that the "old body" was on the ridge, as we stated for those who read close in our theory of what happened to Mallory and Irvine. We needed to talk to Xu Jing ourselves.


Others items from the many bits and pieces of Chinese reports over the years raised other questions; for example: Messner's book “The Crystal Horizon” says the Chinese found two oxygen cylinders somewhere high on Everest. And in “The Second Death of George Mallory,” Messner says the Chinese claimed to find oxygen bottles up high, but Messner said he did not believe them. He also did not say who told him this information. Oh Reinhold!


With these and many other questions gnawing at us, interviewing the Chinese was high on our “to do” list. The Chinese could give us critical information: not speculation, not theories, but hard facts about what they found on Everest. These men had first hand information on what was found on Everest.


We asked The Sunday Times (London) for a reference of a high quality professional journalist in China to interview Xu Jing for EverestNews.com.com. We checked out the journalist and hired him to interview Xu Jing. Our journalist contacted Xu Jing and he agreed to the interview. The goal of the interview was to clear up what was said and find out what the Chinese really saw and found.

Who is: Xu Jing

Xu Jing was the Deputy leader of the leader of the 1960 Chinese Expedition to Everest. He was also part of the 1958 expedition, and the leader of the 1964 Chinese expedition.

Our journalist describes Xu Jing as "a sprightly 77-year-old man". "He is lucid and energetic." Xu Jing did not lose fingers and toes in 1960 as others told us. That information was incorrect.

The journalist performed the interview in Xu Jing's home. There was no payment to Xu Jing for the interview. We prepared a list of about 30 detailed questions to ask Xu Jing. Our plan was not to show or tell Xu what the other climber (our source) had found.  We did not want to lead Xu. Our journalist was not given the details from our source either. We wanted Xu Jing to tell us what he saw. At the same time, the information our source (detail from another eyewitness) had given us – along with the various objects we found last spring on Everest -- would help us ask what we thought were the right questions. We know that climbers sometimes get confused about altitudes when they are up high. So we would ask Xu to describe landmarks, label a map, in addition to altitudes. Our goal was to get specifics, and then compare the stories. We had no idea what Xu Jing would actually say.

The interview was taped and the tape was reviewed with a second translator to ensure correct translations.

Our journalist asked the questions in a conversation type setting. The comments in quotes [" "] are direct quotes from Xu Jing. The comments in italics are the journalist comments or notes. Sometimes Xu Jing answered more than one question at a time. Some questions he answered without being asked!


Our journalist first comment after interviewing Xu Jing "he is truly an amazing man with an incredible story".


Xu Jing, Deputy leader of the leader of the 1960 Chinese Expedition to Everest. Xu Jing was also part of the 1958 expedition, and the leader of the 1964 Chinese expedition. Mr Xu spent two years in a labour camp during the Cultural Revolution (1968-1978), where he was tortured and forced to perform demeaning tasks, including gathering human waste to make fertilizer. During this period all his photographs were destroyed.


Mr. Xu's belief in communal effort means he uses the Chinese word "women" which means "we" a lot, instead of "wo" which means the singular "I". "Women" can refer to either himself or to the group as a whole -- Chinese people are often very inexact about these things, particularly older ones.

Therfore, on very important points, our journalist had to review, if Mr. Xu meant "I" or "we".

Additional Background: It has been reported that the Chinese found 2 bodies in 1960. Bodies now believed to be Wilson just below what is referred to today as advance base camp and Sandy Irvine high up on Everest. In 1975, the Chinese are reported to have found a body at 8100 meters. If Sandy Irvine, is up high on Everest, then that body was George Mallory as many believe. If you are adding that is 3 bodies: Wilson below ABC, Mallory 8100 meters and another body (Sandy Irvine) up high.


Quotes [" "] are direct quotes from Xu Jing. Comments in italics are the journalist comments or notes.


Ok, Here we go!


The EverestNews.com Exclusive Interview with Xu Jing


Let's start with his answers to the question of the dead climbers that the 1960 Chinese expedition saw and question of the oxygen bottles found.

“In 1960 we reached the former camp of the British and we interviewed the Lamas (monks) at the temple. We saw ropes and a ladder belonging to the group. The rope was very thick and strong and made of hemp, a very good rope.”

“At the second site at 6,500 meters we found another camp. There we found tents and oxygen bottles – there was still oxygen in them. They were fairly rusted but you could still use the oxygen, it was still good quality.”

He said the 1960 Chinese expedition did not find two oxygen bottles near the Second Step, as has been reported. Possibly this refers to the oxygen bottles mentioned above.

“100 meters below this second site [6,500 meters] we saw a body said to be a British climber who had tried to climb Everest by himself but had run out of food and oxygen. When we saw him we covered him with snow. He was lying on his side on the ground, with his arms up around his face. His clothes were old and his sleeping bag disintegrated when you touched it. Half of him was lying in the bag, his upper half was exposed to the air, the corpse was very thin, black, mummified and you could see some white bones. His head was pointing north.”

“When we got back the British embassy was very interested in this and we told them everything.”

The second body and the location of that body


The finding that many believe to be Irvine’s body happened after the First Step....

“ I saw another body, although I didn’t see very much. It was very dark, it was the 24th .....and we were trying to get on. We were all completely exhausted and we were struggling to keep going. I would have buried him if I could but I was completely exhausted.”

        “What I thought when I passed the body was: another unfortunate victim. So I thought that I myself should try to survive.  Not only me but also all of us....

They found the body between First and Second Step.

“I saw the body on the side, it was a good bit along from the First Step, on the Ridge.”

He was definite on seeing the body and that it was between the First and Second Steps. He did not see a sleeping bag in this location, only with the other body [Wilson].

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


To the question of did "he" see the bodies:

Mr Xu definitely said he saw both bodies, that is without question.

As a old friend from Maryland would say, now you have it!


Part Two

EverestNews.com: Thanks for all the e-mails and support. We ask you to hold your questions until after the whole Xu Jing series is posted.


This copyrighted content is exclusive to EverestNews.com and may not be used on any other website or news media. © 2004 EverestNews.com

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