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  Mallory and Irvine The Final Chapter: Mail Bag 6

We have received hundreds of e-mails on the Mallory and Irvine Story. Many are very interesting. We think you will enjoy many of them. Note we cannot answer all the e-mail/questions, but you will see a few comments below...

Everest 2nd Step : panoramic photograph

Copyright Park Jong Cheol

Reader's Letter:  You can't stop now!

Reader's Letter: Got to admit it guys - your theory is the one that best fits the known facts....!

Some thoughts: Simonson's 2001 expediton found what they tentatively identified as a mitten from the M&! climb just below the ice axe site. In many cases, climbers suffering hypothermia seem to remove clothing. Would the position of your "old dead" be consistent with a near-death Irvine dropping his axe, then removing and dropping his mitten? ie: is it a neat trail from axe to mitten to supposed corpse?

EverestNews.com: Interesting thoughts… I am sure you have read our position on releasing the location of the "old dead".  

Reader's Letter continued: If they realized at the time they swapped their first bottles that the O2 wasn't going to last, wouldn't that be the point for Mallory to take what's left and go it alone, leaving Irvine to loiter at the first step, or make his way back down? As other people have noted, unless they did the climb from first to second step without oxygen, there probably wouldn't be more than a couple of half-empty bottles left for Mallory from the second step. Though of course if they DID climb it without oxygen, that would explain why they were "unaccountably late" when Odell saw them...

I'm sure you've considered this, but where's Wu in relation to the "old dead"? There no way that your source saw Wu in his current location, or Wu was the old dead, subsequently falling from that position and sustaining the injuries you report?

EverestNews.com: No, Wu is not the “old dead” for several reasons. Once you have seen Wu, you don’t forget him. We found Wu when we were just walking around. He is not even close to the location on the "old dead". And Wu has no head, hard to see a guy with his hands to his head, when he has no head.

Reader's Letter continued: Looking forward to further developments.

P.S. Oh, by the way, surely it's obvious how a 1933 bottle got up there?  Maurice Wilson left it on his way back from the summit...

EverestNews.com: Now that is Funny !!!!!! Keep them coming! We need a few laughs!

Reader's Letter:  More thoughts/questions:

1. Could the plan have been that only M would summit ? i.e. Irvine was there to support him up to a point (eg the second step) ? Not sure if it is credible to do/plan a 'solo' to the summit though. When they separated it was planned and Irvine was to return to camp. I do not like the waiting for M idea.

2. M's photo of wife. IMO unlikely to be lost in the fall bearing in mind what else was found with him. However if M didn't make it, and maybe knew that this as his last chance, then he could have left the photo at his highest point.

Reader's Letter:  I am interested to know if anyone thinks that it would be a great idea to make a feature length movie about the story of Mallory and Irvine? I think it would make a great movie, wonder who they would cast for the lead roles?

Reader's Letter:  Hi- Have been following this saga since you began it.  A couple of things still make it difficult to believe that Mallory summited--first of all, we forget that NO ONE had been where they were going and things take a lot longer under those circumstances. 

EverestNews.com: Certainly a good point, a point not to be forgotten until it is proven that he did or not.

Reader's Letter continued:  If, as you hypothesize, that Mallory followed the ridge then he ends up above the snow field below the summit.  Nowadays climbers traverse to the right, then work their way around and up to the final summit.  How difficult is the ridgeline approach?  Could Mallory have climbed it?  If so, then we enter into the possible argument of whether or not in 1924 there was any strong feeling of climbing the "true" summit--would Mallory be able to see in the distance that there was further to go, or would he have been content to be on the summit ridge?  Also, has anyone investigated that area recently--seems to me that if, as you believe, he made it then possibly there might be something there [an oxygen bottle??].  Anything more tangible was blown away years ago.  It would be interesting to see if anyone can remember seeing something there--I don't know for how long that traverse has been used.  Keep up the good work.

EverestNews.com: We think after publishing our theory, it is nearly certain you will we searchers up there next spring...

On which way Mallory went: Consider this: If Mallory was on the ridge: How would have Mallory have even known to go the modern route to get to what is now known as the Second Step?

Reader's Letter:  Hi, Are you going to publish your theory, hopefully with photos and map, in any magazines any time soon?

EverestNews.com: No, we will pass on the rags and recall that we did sell some of the rights to the expedition to help fund running the trip; those people do not want to let go of the Intellectual Property rights.

It is hard to say what will come of it all...

Reader's Letter continued:  One of your previous readers made an excellent point in mentioning that Norton had already separated with his climbing partner, Somervell, due to fatigue or physical ability, and continued climbing towards Everest's peak via the couloir. Irvine, who had already experience difficulties high on Everest, would certainly have supported Mallory continuing on alone after helping him scale the Second Step.

In fact, I don't see any reason for Irvine to have waited. Mallory, knowing Irvine's poor condition, would not have inhibitions in allowing, if not ordering, his partner to descend to camp if his (Irvine's) life depended on it. No need to wait. We know that he did not make it, thereby indicating that he was not fit to descend...of course this is only true if his death was not caused by a fall or accident. By your climber's description, it does not appear that he fell to his death.

EverestNews.com: The "wait" or rest comes from the assumption that Sandy died above 8400. Why would he have died that high? If Sandy just turns around and comes down, then why or how could he have died above 8400 meters? Some have suggested maybe Sandy died or got sick. If Sandy died, we think George turns around. If Sandy gets sick, does George go on? We don't think so. Therefore the "wait" theory... The other factor is the Summit would have appeared "SO CLOSE", as you pointed out earlier NO ONE had reached the Summit. George and Sandy probably would have thought it was "just right there". Those are the main two main points on our 'wait" theory. But it is only a theory at this point.

Reader's Letter continued:  Mallory leaves his wife's photo on Everest's summit. The difficult decision of whether or not to return to the Second Step and rappel with Sandy's help or descend via the couloir had already been made. Knowing his friend would not be waiting, he went straight for the couloir. 

I believe that answers may still be found in climbing, and searching, possible couloir routes that Mallory may have descended...oxygen apparatus, camera, other gear. Hopefully this is on your to-do list. Thanks for adding something to look forward to in my daily routine. Keep up the great work.

EverestNews.com: We believe that the couloirs or better referred to as gullies from the ice axe point have been searched. Many have been filmed. We do not see a body in our film that could be Sandy. There was NO snow early on Everest when we filmed that area. The couloir route down from the Summit obviously has not been searched. It needs searching.


Reader's Letter: comment -the snow squall occurring at 2:00 pm - if this is the case  - would mean mallory would have to had kept moving -either that or freeze like an ice sikle

it is one thing to hiking in bright sun and something else entirely to hiking soaking wet with the wind blowing 40 mph

witch would leave irvine sitting or laying in the storm with no movement to keep him warm - which brings up the point - just how long can a man sit or lay soaking wet with the wind blowing 40 mph at temperatures well below freezing - before the wind and ice incrusting him actually does freeze him

you should know much better than I how hard the wind blows and other conditions with these small short lived snow squalls

if mallory was hit in the head with a rock - it seems possible he may have also been hit in the leg also

also you might consider what routes to the couloir existed - did he have to enter the couloir from the top of everest or could he have decided on that route down before he reached the top

a metal object such as the canister would probably cause more snow to melt around it during the warm months allowing the bottle to sit on the rocks

where as the body of irvine may have stayed above ground in the snow slab

the routes to the couloir and at what level might help determine if mallory made the summit though

if irvine stayed behind - it would seem he would try to find a place where he could see mallory reach the top - if such a place exists

if they had one camera - then mallory should have had it

Reader's Letter: I believe that George Mallory summited, because he told his daughter that if he made the summit, that he would leave his wife's picture there. When they found Mallory's body in 1999, most of the letters, etc. were found with him; most of them wrapped in a monogrammed handkerchief. If he had not made the summit I think his wife's picture would be among those other items, wrapped up in his handkerchief. Just a theory. Thanks for keeping us updated on this incredible journey!

Reader's Letter: Excellent work you all have done. 

What about another option: they both climbed the second step aiding each other. both summited. then on the return George helped Sandy down the second step, but it was to dangerous for him to down climb. He then retraced his steps then climbed down your suggested route. hence they were separated.

Reader's Letter: Once again well done on such an excellent work and theory on trying to solve this fascinating story.

Two questions

Has any evidence been found above the second step and is having a look being considered for a future expedition.

The evidence you mentioned taken by the Chinese what might you speculate this could be. Keep up the good work

EverestNews.com: The Chinese took 1938 oxygen bottles and equipment back to China.

We have additional possible evidence; we will be releasing more of it soon. But it might be a long time before we know what it means...

Reader's Letter: Greetings from Finland!

Just a note about the camera. Suppose Irvine had the camera, and then Mallory climbed the Second Step. Then they decide that Irvine cannot follow. But Irvine still has the camera. How could he hand it over to Mallory who is on top of the Step? So I think it is not surprising at all that Mallory did not have the camera on him when his body was discovered.

Reader's Letter: Another interesting item.  In the official report of the 1922 expedition, Finch wrote that in the future, to summit, they would need to stash some oxygen cylinders higher on the mountain, above the highest camp.  He suggests at 27,500 feet.  Mallory had to have been aware of the recommendation.  I still tend to doubt he did dump cylinders higher.  You raised the possibility, though, and this gives it a little bit more support.

Reader's Letter: Your theory of the two climbers separating on the way to the summit seems very logical and 99 % "bullet-proof" in my estimation.  However, I keep thinking of the camera(s) and whether or not Mallory or Irvine had taken one or two cameras. Although you have stated that no one knows for certain whether or not that they took any cameras along at all, it seems almost unthinkable that M & I would not have needed photographic evidence that they actually summited Everest.  Had Sandy Irvine stayed behind at or near the second step, would he at some point have been in a position to film George Mallory substantially near or on the summit?  I believe I had read that they possibly had a movie camera which Sandy would surely have kept with him.  I also feel that George may have had only the smaller camera if he took one with him to take photographs from the summit.  It just does not seem that they would have been able to prove that they had made it to the summit without photographic evidence.

EverestNews.com: Our theory is a theory and should be taken as no more or no less. We see it as the best explanation of what we know today, but please keep in mind it is not proven.

To your question: with today's technology, can we prove they summited, if one or more of them really did, without a picture? It depends on the final evidence.

EverestNews.com: Thanks for all the e-mails and support. Feel free to submit your comments to and thank you for your support.


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