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  Everest 2004: Mallory and Irvine The Final Chapter: How it all started...

So you can better understand, the results and the expedition, let's tell the story of this year's expedition from the beginning, in a brief fashion.....


Update 7/27/2004: How it all started and the plans.

Back in 2002 and 2003 climbers kept talking to us about bodies they had seen over the years on Everest. After compiling these locations, we came down to three locations that seemed very interesting, two at which climbers have claimed to seen old dead bodies on Everest and the third location was interesting because of other clues. In the first case, it was hard not to conclude that one of our sources saw Sandy Irvine. In the other case a climber saw "something." Therefore, in Spring of 2003, we asked some expeditions/climbers if they would be interested in having a "look" at these locations. Surprisingly, there was little real interest. We noticed that some people just did not wish to get involved in this controversial undertaking. Now in 2004, we understand that better than ever...

During 2003, we finally decided that having the other expeditions do the job wasn’t going to work; we decided to do the job ourselves. We consulted with numerous Everest summiteers about our plans, many of whom gave us excellent advice, and suggestions--but the plan we made was our own. We made the Chinese aware of our plans. The Chinese were very nice and encouraging.

Our Approach, "Do a job, keep focused on the task."

We asked Graham Hoyland and Tom Holzel to be advisors to the expedition. They both eagerly agreed. Tom, of course, had a wealth of historical knowledge on Mallory and Irvine and is the king of the contentious view that the two failed to reach the summit, which would help us to prepare for the worst. Graham, a producer and employee of the BBC, would travel to base camp and provide a backup to stay at base camp and would also add historical knowledge. Graham has hunted for Sandy more times than we can count.

Tom Holzel: " Trust no one, not even me."

Both Graham and Tom reviewed our plans and reviewed our announcement of the expedition: Mallory and Irvine The Final Chapter: The retrieval of the camera, Tom primarily prepared The Great Mystery. As the expedition progressed, he consulted on the possible identity of the various finds.

Plans were made and set. People were hired, supplies secured, some sponsors were secured. Then early December of 2003, we received a very surprising e-mail from Graham stating that the BBC was running their own Mallory and Irvine expedition in 2004 and that he was going with them. While Graham's loss was not a critical link in our plans, major sponsors would lose interest when we told them the BBC was going, too.  But we were too far down the road to pull out.  Financially, the expedition would now need to be primarily funded internally because no one wanted to put up money with the BBC also going. We made the decision to release details of the expedition only on a "need to know" basis from that point forward. We would need to divide the team, with Tom West leading the public version and the others unknown to everyone but themselves, leading a "private version." We would take the military approach: 2 of everything is better than 1, and why build 1 when you can build 2 at twice the price! (Ever see the Jody Foster movie, Contact?)

"Our plan was not to search, but "to look in 3 locations on Everest."

The plan was that the eyes would be on Tom West and his small team, while progress of the others would be completely secret to everyone and completely free to roam the mountain. Dan Mazur would be hired to provide logistics for Tom's small team, while not in any way telling us when to climb or what to do. Dan would provide logistics and travel to the mountain and supplies while on the mountain, including food, tents, etc. Dan did an excellent job for us. The private team was also well supported by others.

Thom Pollard, a film expert, officially replaced Graham. Thom would not travel to the mountain. We had a plan to do some private filming on the mountain in critical locations that just about everyone but Thom told us would fail. They were all wrong. Using highly technical equipment, we thought we could cover much area and record it. Hundreds of hours of videotape was sent to the mountain for our private use. The results were, "we can see a fly at 100 yards." We would return with many hours of film taken from up high--  not low quality jpeg pictures from a SONY camera that some like to call video, but high resolution digital data. We still need to review much of this video. Another climber would travel to the mountain to replace Graham, but his identity will remain secret. He would lead and be part of the second "private climbing group".

The Irvine family was another excellent source of knowledge and support for our expedition. Back in 2003, we went to the Irvine family with the knowledge that a climber told us he had seen a body believed to be Sandy Irvine's. We asked the family for a recommendation on what to do. We discussed almost everything with them. We agreed with them that Sandy's personal items, if found, would be returned to them. We discussed jointly gifting any cameras and pictures found on Sandy's body to a third party non-profit organization. In our opinion (EverestNews.com), it was clear that Sandy Irvine owned the intellectual property rights of any photos.

Next Final Plans

We went to Mount Everest in search of an answer.


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