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  Mallory and Irvine The Final Chapter: The Mallory and Irvine Route pass or up the Steps on Everest?

Hopefully, you have understood we are questioning whether or not George and Sandy would have attempted Everest via the Normal route up what is now referred to as the Second Step as climbers do today. Why do we question this? Let's start with a reader's question from Holland.

Everest 2nd Step : panoramic photograph

Copyright Park Jong Cheol

Reader's Letter:  The rope, and why should Irvine wait. In 1999, Conrad Anker climbed the second step to prove Mallory could have done it. He climbed without his rucksack and pulled it up later. Mallory could have done the same with his oxygen-rack. Maybe that’s why he needed a part of the rope. (Does the length correspond?) 

EverestNews.com: While the reader is trying to make a point about taking the rope, the reader makes the assumption that Mallory attempted Everest on the same route by the Second Step as Conrad did. This assumption is a theme that is written by many almost as fact. We are not in agreement with the assumption that Mallory would have attempted Everest via the normal route. We see other options, more likely options in our opinion.

Let's share with you what a couple of veteran climbers have shared with us recently on our theory of the ridge rather than the normal route today.

Let's start with Nikolay Petkov, 2 time Everest summiter: first on May 9th, 1984 via West Ridge, and then via the normal route on the North side this year.

" Here are my comment on a "Reader's Letter" snippet:

>>> 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?  <<<

I have climbed Everest West Ridge in 1984 - Bulgarian Everest Expedition, then went back via South Col, making first real traverse of summit of Everest.

Before going down to Nepal site, with my partner Kiril Doskov [and I] we made a mistake and went down to Chinese site, today's normal route from North. We realized our mistake just above 3rd step, and went back to the top and then went down to Nepal site towards South Col.

On 20th May of this year I climbed Everest again and I'm sure in 1984 we climbed ridge above snow field directly and the difficulties are moderate. I wondered that now a days the route goes right and then passes not easy rocks and needs rope at that place.

I'm sure Mallory (if have been at that place) followed the ridge above the snow field below the summit, and from my own experience the difficulties are moderate, no problem for experienced mountaineer, without need of rope." [Note his emphasis added in bold here.]

Best regards, Nikolay Petkov

We have asked Nikolay if he can draw the route on a picture for us all to see. It was very misty that year, so we will have to see if he has a good picture...

Second, let's look at comments from the master of the North side of Everest: Gheorghe Dijmarescu, who has summited the North side of Everest via the normal route now 6 times in 6 years, once without oxygen.

"The route we take (shortly after the first step) is something that I asked myself many times because it seem not a natural inviting route and yes for someone who came to this place for the first time it would be a natural invitation to take the ridge, unless the ridge proved to be to much for a climb, especially of that era.

I really don't think M&I had the time for a route search and to find the modern route, one would have to have dumb luck. After the mushroom rock we are going on the face of the mountain (departing from the ridge) on a what I call the most dangerous part of the climb (up to the second step) we are climbing (slight gain in elevation) clipped on the frail rope (5 mm) on frozen slabs, sometime descending, it is a scary place to be, to go without a rope especially 70 years ago would had to be almost suicidal and if they found this place they would for sure prefer the ridge (which was the preferred style on that time), Mallory was a ridge climber.

This transverse is the place where few a climbers fell to their deaths.  It is a very dangerous place to be. And that might be the evidence that Mallory took the ridge. Fascinating, isn't it."

Regards George D.

EverestNews.com: It should be noted, we could be flat wrong about this, but we are challenging the conventional thinking!

What these experienced Everest North-siders are confirming is that it would be much more natural to stay on the crest of the NE Ridge, and climb the Second Step from there, than to make the dangerous traverse out on the face (after the First Step) only to have to scale the approach to the Second Step from 90-ft below, and then unsportingly use the Chinese ladder. It appears to us that, once the inexperienced Chinese climbers of 1960 selected their route—and provided a ladder over the steepest 15-ft., no one else bothered to see if a another route existed—one that the experienced Mallory might have spotted right from the start.

We believe the Norton Route would also be a more likely route than the "Second Step" as it is defined today, however, if George and Sandy took the Norton why would Sandy be back on the route, unless he simply turned around and George keep going... Food for thought.

Also note English is not the first language for either of these men; but we left their comments in their writings so you can have the opportunity to interpret their thoughts without editorial editing, in the tradition of EverestNews.com.


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