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  Mallory and Irvine The Final Chapter: The rope


Do you all recall this story from a few years ago?

Mallory's rope as shown at the British Mountaineering Exhibition at Rheged. They show Mallory's rope with the sign stating the below.

"Fragment of rope The rope was found wrapped around Mallory’s body. Note that the rope has been cut and not broken. This suggests that Mallory may have cut himself free – possibly from Irvine, or to release himself if the rope had jammed.”

This has caused people to wonder, So EverestNews.com asked Eric Simonson, leader of the Mallory and Irvine 1999 Research expedition. His reply, "The Mallory rope was cut by the 1999 team with a knife to get it off his body (it was tightly wrapped and frozen around it).  Later, we tried to compare the cut ends which had been cut by knife with the ends from 1924...to see if there was a difference.  It was inconclusive....we couldn't really tell one way or the other, if, for example if the 1924 end had been cut or broken in a fall.", Eric Simonson

When shown the above picture and sign Eric stated, "These guys are mistaken.  We cut the rope, not George Mallory!!

The rope debate has continued since that story. During our Mail Bag Q&A's we received a few e-mails from our readers asking us to comment on the rope theories. Below are our comments...

Where are we today: Our theory is that George was going down alone, carrying the rope, when he fell or was possibly hit in the head by a rock and died. We do not believe he was roped to Irvine when he fell. We think Sandy died up high on Everest; the injuries to George's body do not indicate he fell from up high. We believe the evidence indicates he was carrying the rope on his shoulder and around his waist when he died.

Let's look at this and other possibilities and the evidence.

So the question is: What does the rope tells us about how Mallory died? Some have suggested that because he had this rope around him, he must of have been tied to Sandy when he fell. Others think he was just carrying the rope....

These 5 possibilities were suggested by one of our readers:

1.      Could Mallory have fallen a short distance when his rope snapped because of chafing against some rock belaying his own self down?

2.      The rope was frozen into him or bite into him, but he was just carrying it (wrapped around his waist and shoulder) and not roped to Sandy.

3.      Irvine falls short distance and scrambles back up to where he is believed to be, and George falls all the way down.

4.      Irvine was not at the believed location.

5.      The rope was just there.  George took it along in case he needed it. When he fell a short distance, it stayed with him as you would predict.

Let's take one at a time....

Possibility 1: Could Mallory have fallen a short distance when his rope snapped because of chafing against some rock belaying his own self down?

EverestNews.com: How would we know? If it did, how did the rope end up wrapped around his shoulders?

Possibility 2: The rope was frozen into him or bite into him, but he was just carrying it (wrapped around his waist and shoulder) and not roped to Sandy.

EverestNews.com: The rope was frozen into him, we know that. It was also wrapped around his shoulder, we know that. One could  argue this means he rolled down the mountain. However, the evidence of the minor injuries to the body do not support a body that rolled down Mt Everest. It appears to us, he was just carrying the rope. That is due to the lack of major injuries from a fall.

Possibility 3: Irvine falls short distance and scrambles back up to where he is believed to be, and George falls all the way down.

EverestNews.com: Again the evidence of the minor injuries to George's body do not support a major fall. While one could argue the Magic Bullet Theory; we see it as very unlikely.

Possibility 4: Irvine was not at the believed location.

EverestNews.com: Two climbers both saw a body up there. History says the body could only be Sandy Irvine... It is possible they are both wrong, but this seems unlikely. Additional evidence is being studied...

Possibility 5: The rope was just there.  George took it along in case he needed it. When he fell a short distance, it stayed with him as you would predict.

EverestNews.com: We believe the evidence most strongly supports this theory, that he was just carrying the rope when he fell.

Let's look at the evidence.

Item 1: We have watched the tape of George Mallory being dug up several times. We do not see ropes injuries (except that the rope was frozen into and around his body).

Item 2: We asked some of the climbers who found Mallory. They told us they saw no rope injuries (except that the rope was frozen into and around his body).

We went back last week and asked Thom Pollard about this: His comments: "While there are definitely areas on GLM’s body where the rope made impressions, frozen in or something, I don’t recall them being rope burns. He did have some scrapes on his body and legs, but not rope related. Where the rope impressions were, upper waist, it did look discolored, a bit brown. But, that could have been moisture or something that froze and made it look different. As well, his skin around that was bleached by the sun, furthering the difference between that and the area under the rope coils, otherwise ‘protected’ by the elements over the years.

I totally agree with your thoughts that he didn’t fall far. He was in pretty good shape. You’d only need to fall ten feet to break your leg in half. The hole in the head seems perfectly suited to the idea of a falling rock...100 mph?+++...and this further supports my initial observation that it looked as if someone had taken a ball peen hammer and whacked it into his skull. [Thom is planning on writing an article soon on the theory that George was hit in the head with a rock, rather than fell and hit his head.] 

Maybe the rope was still on GLM’s waist and coiled around his shoulders, in the French alpinist style. I learned it in France fifteen+ years ago and traveled over scree and steeper terrain like this many, many times.  Over the years or during the fall GLM’s rope may have come uncoiled and untied. He may have made a hasty coiling of the rope in his condition, further explaining why the rope was trailing from his body.

In my opinion, I agree with EverestNews.com, that George Mallory did NOT have rope burns, or other clear indications that the rope pulled into his body, when he fell. "Thom Pollard

Others climbers have been quoted as having opinions that there was rope injuries. Climbers commonly see things differently, this issue is not different.

Item 3: The injuries to George's body do not support a major fall.

Item 4: The rope coiled around his shoulders. To us indicates that he was carrying the rope rather that the idea that the rope broke. Especially when you take into the account of the state of his body.

We considered putting the rope evidence into our theory along with  Mallory's goggles, etc, but it seemed like it was running long.

Now' let's assume we are WRONG, which we don't think we are. Let's look at this as IF we were and there were ropes burns on the body.

Possibility 1: They fell together. This means both of the climbers who saw an "old dead" up high were WRONG. Mallory's body, somehow, makes it way down the mountain with just the few injuries known (The Magic Bullet Theory). Sandy either goes over the ledge (we checked the ledge this year, by the way..) or has been missed by all the searches so far.

EverestNews.com: This option does not seems logical or possible to us.

Possibility 2: George fell and Sandy did not.

EverestNews.com:  Again, how does one explain the lack of injuries to George's body? (The Magic Bullet Theory). We don't buy it...

Possibility 3: Could Mallory have fallen when his rope snapped because of chafing against some rock belaying himself down?

EverestNews.com:  How would we know? If it did, how did the rope end up wrapped around his shoulders?

Other Possibilities?

EverestNews.com:  We would still love to see them. Submit them to .

EverestNews.com:  In summary, our opinion is the rope evidence supports our theory, that George was coming down alone. We do not believe he was roped to Irvine when he fell; Sandy's presumed location is up high and the injuries to George's body do not indicate a fall from up high. We believe the evidence indicates that George was carrying the rope on his shoulder and around his waist when he died.

Others will disagree and have other theories. That is what makes it a mystery!

EverestNews.com: Thanks for all the e-mails and support. We will be posting more soon. Submit your questions and or comments to .

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