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  Everest 2004: Mallory and Irvine The Final Chapter: Q&A Part 6


Q. Is there any connection to the presumed location of Sandy Irvine on the old snow slab and the fall line of George Mallory?

A. EverestNews.com: Of course no one knows today if there is or was a fall line of George Mallory, but we assume you mean from the fall lines of the ice axe, etc.

Is there a connection between where the ice axe was found and the "very old dead" location? There could be; now how does one prove a connection? Still developing....as we are currently studying this question...

Q. Is there any significance to the fact that George Mallory did not have a camera with him when found?

To me this means that Sandy had the camera and was attempting to summit with George.  If he had decided to rest and not go with Mallory to summit, then he would have given the camera to George and it would have been found on Mallory.

A. EverestNews.com: We don't know if George had a camera, or for a fact if either of them had a camera for sure. You know the rest...

Q. Many thanks for this fascinating story: like many others I'm sure I've been coming back almost daily to learn more - and I'm not a climber, just intrigued by the mystery. Assume your theory is right: that the "old dead" was Sandy Irvine, that his body has fallen, and [LET’S ALSO ASSUME ] Irvine turned back and Mallory went on alone. It seems that (a) the chances of finding the camera are now very slim indeed; (b) it would probably be useless if found, but more importantly (c) it would show little or nothing, because it never went to the summit even if Mallory got there? That seems to make it likely that the only chance of hard evidence (and I've avoided the word "proof" after reading all your dispatches!) of Mallory's success will be in finding some other artifact somewhere else. Would you agree? Are there any candidates [POSSIBILITIES], or do you think you've shown that time and the mountain are ultimately going to keep Mallory's secret?

A. EverestNews.com: Yes we agree in general. The data for Mallory is the quote in  “the Fight for Everest, 1924” is: "They passed Howard Somervell, who loaned his camera to Mallory". Carr’s book “The Irvine Diaries” even mentions that Irvine had taken with him “Noel’s pocket cinema,” which suggests he had a small motion picture camera of a type known to exist.  After no camera was found on Mallory, the stories started that the camera (s) was given to Sandy. 

The claim that Mallory took a Kodak VPK Model B is also mistaken. The "Vest Pocket Model B," which Mallory used on Everest, was only introduced in America in the spring of 1924," according to Tom Holzel. Even if some one had purchased one in the US and sent it by boat to England, it could not have reached the climbers before they left. 

But again, we don't know if either of them had a camera for sure.

Q. Thank you for your fascinating account. I am assuming the "climber" says he saw the "Old Dead" in the past few years. Knowing this, I find it hard to believe that Sandy's body sat in its final position for 75 years and then, just when someone came to identify it, it slipped away. Too ironic for me. I am of the belief that he is still there and the "climber" either gave the wrong location (not intentionally) or you missed the body. I always tell my kids when they can't find something to try looking in a different place.  Don't keep looking in the same place.

A. EverestNews.com: This year we brought a high definition camera to the mountain and shot film and so far, we can't find Sandy in the film. We do have more film to look at, but in the area were the "very old body" was supposed to be, there is no body. The area is a somewhat small area, not a large area to cover. Our climbers tell us they covered it twice on two different days. They did not want to go back a second day. We told them they "had" too... One of the few things we told them they 'had" to do.

Frankly, we believe bodies on Everest move. Not George Mallory, after he was partially buried, but these other bodies seem to move. George Mallory's body might have moved before he became partially buried. Some climbers who go back year after year tell us the mountain changes. We are not sure we understand that statement, but the point is, things change and move around up there. What might be the hardest part of the climber's theory is, why did Sandy's body stay in one place for so long? Then again, when did the mountains start to melt heavily? Maybe someone could look into that for us.... We recall in the 70's, when people said the ice age was coming back in America when he had those really bad winters.

Q. [Question continued] How about widening your search?  Also why is your group so adverse to returning?  I would have thought your interest would bring you back.  Thank you so much for sharing your story.   PLEASE write a book!!!!!!!

A. EverestNews.com: We went to "look", but we did search in the end, that is how we found Wu. We went many places that others never went before, probably not even George and Sandy!

There are other places we would look if we had to go do this again, but this costs so much money and the risk to life does exist in searching the mountain. Our greatest fear was losing a climber. There is a high risk of life in climbing Mt Everest, all the more so off the beaten track. Being safe was our number one concern on the expedition.

We have 2 other really big projects on our list. One is for Spring of 2005 or Spring of 2006 and one for Summer of 2005/2005. Massive funding is needed for the Spring 2005 project.

We do have a minor "fever" to go back, but we will see. We paid much of this first expedition out of our pockets and that would be hard to do again...

Q. Could you please restate EverestNews.com's position and theory on George Mallory/Sandy Irvine's demise on that fateful day.  Reading all the Q and A has somewhat blurred what your position is on all of this, or is at least hard to see clearly what you feel actually has happened.

A. EverestNews.com: We need to cut this Q&A off, and then focus on several things, one of which to put our [EverestNews.com] theory on paper. So hopefully within the next 2-3 weeks, maybe sooner we can publish "our theory" on EverestNews.com. Of course, you can see much of it in the Q&A answers. "The Team's Theory" is published here. Our theory will expand on that which we believe might have happened in 1924.

Q. Some say Hillary was first to summit and even if proof reveals Mallory summited, Hillary was first because he made it back. THIS IS WRONG: If Mallory Summited first, he summited. He may not be first to return but he summited first and that is it.

A. EverestNews.com: We think at the end of the day, it should be about the experience, but that is only our opinion.

Q. The Q & A series has been fantastic and I check the website every day for the next installment.  You mention that your theory is that George Mallory reached the summit of Mt. Everest.  My question revolves around timing.  If Odell last saw them in the afternoon crossing over the 2nd step, (some say it very well could have been the 1st step), then they still had several hours of grueling climbing ahead of them just to get to the summit.  And at daylight his companions where looking for him and had no trace of any movement on the mountain.  Could Mallory, in an exhausted state and without supplemental oxygen, have made it all the way up to the summit and back down, (in the dark), to the area above the fall line of where his body was found by the next morning?  Thank you and best of luck to the research team. 

A. EverestNews.com: We believe he could have made the summit; it would have been in the late afternoon, similar to other climbers today that summit in the last afternoon. His chances of making it back down alive would have been slim. We don't buy the simple fall theory, because the body is not as broken up as others (e.g. Wu) who fell less distance.

Q. You're doing a great job with this.... My question, I don't think I've read anywhere that you believe that the "old dead" your climber found, and that you went to investigate, is the same body that was revealed to Simonson's crew by the Chinese climber...the one in the small ravine and [in a ] deteriorating sleeping bag. Do you think they could possibly be one in the same? Thank you

A. EverestNews.com: At least 3 different groups interviewed that Chinese climber. Simonson, The Sunday Times, and the BBC. Our sources told us the story was weak, with details far and few. The sleeping bag makes no sense to anyone. Therefore, it is very hard to tell if they could be the same. Based on what we were told about the "very old body" and what was reported the Chinese climber said about an "old body", they are not the same. But again, reports in the English press have done a poor job in the past of reporting on Chinese activities, probably because of translations problems. We obviously had much more faith in our source and information as we let the others go search first this year. Actions usually speak louder than words...

Q. Again, Thanks for the kind information you provide. Now it seems that Mallory and Irvine made it to the second step based on all I've ever read.  And then possibly Irvine helped Mallory surmount the second step but was unable to follow for some reason. A.) Unable to surmount the second step?

A. EverestNews.com: Unable to surmount the second step, not at all! We believe that Sandy Irvine was completely “able” to surmount any obstacle Everest presented. He was also a team player and would have done whatever necessary to put a team member on the summit

Could have Mallory needed a boost? Helping some one up by letting them stand on your shoulders was a known technique of Mallory’s.

Q. B)    Possible timing and the though that if Mallory had all the oxygen that was left to himself he could make the summit?

A. EverestNews.com: Could he? A man can make the summit without oxygen, we of course know that, and once over the second step, what would stop him? It is possible...

Q. C)    Possible Irvine was to wait there to help Mallory with the down-climb of the second step.

A. EverestNews.com: Yes, possibly! That would seem to be one explanation why Sandy's body would be below the second step, but still so high up on the mountain.


Also, no one knows that they would have taken the traditional route to climb the Second Step. Today everyone approaches the Second Step from well below the ridge and must climb a series of steep faces just to get up to the base of the crux of what is called the Second step—the 15-ft open book which is now sports a ladder.  However, it is possible to approach the Second step by staying on the NE Ridge and climbing the "real" second step.  Several options exist besides the normal route of today.


Q. D)    Possible Irvine was supposed to return to camp and bring more oxygen back and meet Mallory (maybe not possible) or just     wait at camp.

A. EverestNews.com: Possibly, very hard to say.

Q. E)  [Is it] Possible that Irvine attempted to return to camp and somewhere near the "Ice Axe Site" [then] gave up making it back alone to camp.. "[Became] lost in confusion...possible due the snow storm, [then]....lost his axe in the confusion.....also lost the mitten that     was found....as he probably gave Mallory all the oxygen for the summit bid he could have been suffering from coming off             oxygen.  Thus he staggered back to the mystery location where he huddled up and eventually, as Mallory never returned, died.

A. EverestNews.com: Possibly!

Q. If this is assumed, then Mallory went for the summit, while Irvine waited, or what ever, below the second step.  Mallory then either reaches the summit, or doesn't, (I'm betting he made it as I want all the effort they made to be rewarded) but upon returning to the top of the second step, either because he can not locate Irving's assistance, or he is exhausted from his climb,  decides not to attempt a down-climb of the second step,  I'm not sure if 30' of rope is enough for this, opting for the couloir towards Norton's highpoint.  "I assume he knew of Nortons highpoint and may have realized this was his only chance" (I'm really not sure this is easier down-climb or more difficult), but this could put him lower on the mountain, then traverse across the face which would put him much lower on the mountain, thus a shorter fall to where the body now lies.  "Because this is what I want to believe Mallory really believes that Sandy is back at camp"

I really can't imagine both of them making it to the second step and Irvine dying there and then Mallory dying lower on the mountain where he was found.  Something else had to happen.  It could be as simple as Irvine being a pack mule and carrying oxygen as high as he could for Mallory's summit attempt. Maybe? My son and I thank you again for your time and effort.

A. EverestNews.com: We agree. With that said, do we still need to write up our theory?

Q. If Mallory was not roped to Irvine, because of Irvine's' possible location as someone touched on earlier, then perhaps Mallory tied off to belay himself down a steep part of his descent route, when the rope broke sending Mallory on a drop he was completely unable to stop.  Not because of a misplaced step, but because of the condition of rope. An outside chance probably but just maybe.

If Mallory was alone when he fell then why wasn't Irvine safe back at camp having let George go without him.

A. EverestNews.com: Maybe he was waiting for George to come back?

Q. In your opinion, why would Sandy be where you searched? Why would he end up in that location? We can't think of any other reason why a "very old body" would be above 8400 meters. Can you? We would love to hear other opinions.

A. EverestNews.com: Our opinion is, it appears that he might have waited on George "to come back" and then at some point gave up on George coming back and started heading down...

We would love to hear other opinions too!

Q. Also, why do think Irvine's location, might suggest that Mallory was alone on that descent? Just curious as to your opinion on that. Sorry it's so long, but I am fascinated by this whole mystery. Thanks for your courage on the mountain and your sense of decency and respect to all those involved.

A. EverestNews.com: Because we know where George Mallory's body is, and how can Sandy be so far from George if they were together??? Of course it is NOT proven where Sandy died. To us, it suggests Mallory was alone coming down...

Q. Did you sell the movie, or Book rights to the expedition?

A. EverestNews.com: No.

Q. What about the expedition's right? Photos, etc?

A. EverestNews.com: We did sell some of the photo rights to help fund the expedition.

Q. Did any of the others who had searched for Mallory and Irvine before, offer you locations to search in 2004?

A. EverestNews.com: No, with the exception on Tom Holzel.

Q. Did they give you inside information? or fill you in on what the Chinese climber said?

A. EverestNews.com: No.

Q. Hi. yours is a great and dignified contribution. The logical question is if Sandy was waiting for George who never returned, then did George follow a different route to get back after he summited? Was there a predetermined route they had agreed upon which somehow George could not follow later?

A. EverestNews.com: We think one key to this answer might be the location of George's body and the lack to damage to the body. If George did not fall to that location, how did he get there?

Q. If the "others searchers" believe George and Irvine fell together, why are they searching up high? I have seen a private map of where they searched this year, and it appears they searched little in the Chinese yellow band location.

A. EverestNews.com: You would need to ask them.

Q. I have one question on my mind ever since the search for M&I has been started. The Chinese had two expeditions on the north side in the sixties. For them it was a matter of national pride to be the first ones to summit Everest from the north. What makes you so sure that evidence from earlier summit attempts above the second step have not simply been removed by them?

A. EverestNews.com:  There is NO evidence that the Chinese hid anything. They were very supportive of our expedition. Very! The Chinese appear to want to help with this, maybe they want it over too!!!

Q. How can I help? (we received several questions like this.)

A. EverestNews.com: Interesting question, let's us get back to you.

Did you ever see the picture like the one below before?? We have not received one single question on any of our pictures, which surprised us....


We ask that you hold your questions for now, but feedback and thoughts are always welcome at EverestNews.com

We went to Mount Everest in search of an answer.


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