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  Everest 2004: Mallory and Irvine The Final Chapter: Q&A Part 4


Q. The old O2 bottle they found at 8400 meters could possibly be the light-weight custom-made tank Maurice Wilson carried, which was never found.

A. EverestNews.com: We will let Tom Holzel reply to this statement, as we know little about the whole Wilson expedition except that his bones have been found at the base of the North Col and one guy has told us and published, according to Tom Holzel, that he has Wilson's jaw bone in his desk!

A. Tom Holzel: Maurice Wilson, a Yorkshireman, was an eccentric from a land which has always had an extraordinarily high tolerance for very strange behavior.  In 1934, disguised as a Tibetan, and with the help of some Tibetan porters,  he sneaked into forbidden Tibet and made his way to Camp 3 at 21,000-ft on the East Rongbuk Glacier—the jumping-off point for all pre WW-II expeditions to climb Mt. Everest.

Wilson intended to transport himself spiritually to the summit, but was seduced into actually attempting to climb because of a stroke of luck.  He had stumbled into the frozen food remains of the large British expedition of 1933. He sent his porters back and, armed with a shaving mirror, intended to climb Mt. Everest without proper food, equipment or mountaineering experience.  The mirror would be used to signal monks at the Rongbuk Monastery some 15 miles away by flashing sunlight down to them.

His body was found wrapped in a tent by members of the British Everest reconnaissance expedition of 1935.  It resurfaced from its crevasse again in 1960 and 1975—and keeps reappearing.

To the best of my knowledge, there is no record of Wilson having the foresight to include something as exotic as an oxygen breathing apparatus, particularly by someone who had himself tested in a hypobaric chamber, and whose primary means of ascension was to be spiritual.  However, his mental disorientation combined with the lure of Everest has resulted in a potent pheromone that attracts many who share both attributes.  Some of his fan club have been caught spinning tales of their “secret” research and astounding discoveries under various false names—always a strong clue to pathology rather than history.

EverestNews.com readers will find all that is reliably known about Maurice Wilson in his biography I’ll climb Mt. Everest alone, by Dennis Roberts.  The full report of the original discovery of his body can be found in Walt Unsworth’s book Everest.

Q. Was there anything connected to the bottle and what was it? (i.e., tubing, regulators, webbing, etc.)

A. EverestNews.com: No. No tubing, regulators, webbing were found, nor any in the area around the bottle.

Q. Thanks, for all the information you provide its been really interesting.  My son is in High school and we have been following your story for over two years now.

Do you believe that Sandy fell to his death along with George?  The reason I ask is that there would have to be a terrible amount of grief sitting on the mountain wondering if your partner was dead.  I've also read that a body...probably Sandy....was lying in a crevice wrapped in a sleeping bag.  This has always give me cause to wonder if he actually made it back to the high camp and in desperation (over George's fall) tried to descend the mountain immediately and took a sleeping bag just in case he had to stop to rest.  Is this a possibility?  This could place his remains anywhere along the decent line which would also make him visible as there have been reports of sightings.

A. EverestNews.com: No, we do not believe that Sandy fell to his death. If the "old dead" that our source found was Sandy, then Sandy would NOT have fallen for sure. However, it is obviously NOT proven that our source found Sandy...

The sleeping bag: to our knowledge there was never a sleeping bag missing, nor an indication that they took a sleeping bag. And the rumored body was found far above the nearest tent.  However, it brings up the question could they have prepared for problems by storing items up high, i.e. oxygen, sleeping bag, etc. But again there is, to our knowledge today, not an indication from the historical documents that this happened. No climbers of the twenties and thirties were known to have placed advanced storage depots above their high tent.

Q. The oxygen bottles and especially the racks are another item that perturbs me.  I believe that GM and Sandy would have discarded these in such a manor that they would be nearly impossible to miss if one ventured in the same direction.  Possible someone tossed them down sometime and there lost forever.

What is the chance that Sandy actually fell higher up on the mountain and died and that Mallory descended to the Ice axe site "exhausted" and fell to his death alone.  This meaning that the Ice Axe that was found would belong to Mallory.

A. EverestNews.com: A chance, but the problem we see with this theory is: How does Mallory end up where he is at without so little injuries?

Q. Anyway you have more details then I do and my son and I really have enjoyed following your progress.  Hopefully there will be more details someday.  As more and more climb Everest there are more and more chances for clues to be revealed.  I really have great admiration for anyone who attempts to summit Everest and especially those from before 1940. Good luck and thanks again for the information.

A. EverestNews.com: Thanks and you are right, more will probably come out over the years.

Q. You searched in three places out of which two were places where body was to be found and one was interesting due to other clues. What was the third clue?

A. We searches in many places after "looking" at the 3 locations. We went to "look" at these 3 locations, not to search, but we had time left over and therefore we ended up and covered a lot of ground.

On the third location or clue, we searched based on a photograph that appeared to show some usual objects. The location of the picture was never determined for sure. But we covered what we thought where that area was along with a number of others this year.

Q. In addition to the oxygen bottle found, were there any other items discovered that possibly belong to Sandy Irvine or the 1924 expedition?

A. EverestNews.com: The problem is, without a body, how do you determine who an object belongs too? The artifacts are still packed up in the shipping bags. We are planning to work with a University to sort and study the artifacts further (Yes we have looked in the bags!) This "study" is planned to start in September. It will be interesting if anything more is revealed. However, we have no expectations that any of the items we found will be Sandy's.

Q. Hi, your findings from your expedition make great reading. if the oxygen bottle was found close to where Sandy Irvine's potential resting spot and it had been left there, was there a support for holding the bottle with it. Excellent stuff all this keeps me coming back checking for more info each day, well done.

A. EverestNews.com: By "support" we take it you mean how was it propped up to stay in place.  We don’t know.  The bottle was simply on the ground all by itself in the general area of where the “old dead’s” body was supposed to be...

Q.  The climber who spotted Irvine [the "old dead" climber] states that it was too dangerous to go there, also the snow slab was too steep and fall line was clear. What is the likelihood that Irvine would have gone to a spot and sit down to which is too dangerous to go to, especially at night if we assume Mallory and Irvine separated at night.

A. EverestNews.com: If one assume the "old dead" was Irvine we assume he got there coming down after turning around probably at the second step. Out theory is that he was coming down alone at that point. When climbers are tired, sometimes they sit down. When you are coming down and you sit down on Everest, sometimes you don't get up.  He could have slide down, involuntarily a few feet or so, and realized he was near his rope’s end.

Q. Has any information been shared with and/or feedback been given from other well known researchers?

A. EverestNews.com: "Much", including items like a photo of Wu's body, has been shared with Tom Holzel. We talk to Tom about twice a day. His wife, no longer asks who is on the phone, she just says I will get Tom... Some information was shared with the Simonson group in hoping to identify the oxygen bottle and others items. Some information was even shared with the BBC!

Tom has by far been our best and most helpful source, while he has his own opinions, he has been open to others. Numerous climbers, some of which we probably should ask before naming (as not everyone wants to be part of this M&I mystery), have helped in one way or another.

Q. Can the climber who spotted Irvine be wrong in marking the exact location?

A. EverestNews.com: Well again, the climber said he found an "old dead" climber. He was very clear where the location was, and we quizzed him on it extensively, and on video tape.  We went twice to the location, just to be sure. Sandy was not there. Instead we found an oxygen bottle that based on shape and size one would indicate it was from the 30's. But its location was higher than any expedition in the 30's went with oxygen. Which is why our climbers speculated that a Chinese climber must have left the mystery bottle when he [Chinese climber] found Sandy. It was NOT what we were expecting to find...

Q. Wang and another Chinese climber of the 60's team also had stated the location but it was not exactly correct. Odell had also observed Mallory and Irvine and he was not sure about where exactly he saw them.

A. EverestNews.com: The greatest problem, we feel with the Chinese statement might well be the interpretation of what they said. We have read some of what the Chinese supposedly said of Wu's location, and it is way off base. We know where Wu is because we have identified him, and we have to believe the Chinese knew where Wu died. We have to believe the problem is with the interpretation of what the Chinese said through faulty translations. We asked the Chinese last year when we were working with them on covering their Everest expedition, why their famous climbers were called by totally different names in the western press and sometimes in the Chinese English papers. They told us the problem is do they translate from Chinese to Tibetan to English, or Tibetan to Chinese to English, or Chinese to English , or Tibetan to English? This different translations often results in different names and means in English.

Q. Will the events of this expedition be documented in book form as were the other Mallory/Irvine expeditions?

A. EverestNews.com: Probably not. We had have some interest on a TV movie and of course articles in the various rags, but we don't really have the time to work with something like that. At this point, we will just stay with EverestNews.com.

An old fashioned Q&A. With hundreds of e-mails a day it is tough to keep up with the everestnews.com e-mail, so submit your questions to  and we will try to answer them as a group to be more effective. We are several questions behind now, but hopefully can get to most of them this week.

We went to Mount Everest in search of an answer.


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