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  Mallory and Irvine The Final Chapter: Xu Jing Part 3

Xu Jing©EverestNews.com


To review the basics:


The interview was taped and the tape was reviewed with a second  translator ensure correct translations.


Xu Jing, Deputy leader of the leader of the 1960 Chinese Expedition to Everest. Xu Jing was also part of the 1958 expedition, and the leader of the 1964 Chinese expedition. Mr. Xu's belief in communal effort means he uses the Chinese word "women" which means "we" a lot, instead of "wo" which means the singular "I". "Women" can refer to either himself or to the group as a whole -- Chinese people are often very inexact about these things, particularly older ones.


Quotes [" "] are direct quotes from Xu Jing. Comments in italics are the journalist comments or notes.


To 1975: More answers.

“We saw the body of Mallory in 1975”

“In 1975, Wang Hongbao came across the body. At 8,100 meters he found a foreign ice axe. Later on he had an accident, he was killed in an avalanche.”

They found a body and the ice axe next to the body in 1975.

To the question of pictures:

        “For dozens of years we weren’t aware of the need to take pictures. We just didn’t realize how significant a lot of this was. In 1964 I led a second team to the Himalayas."

        To how it all got started:

       “In those years China was cooperating a lot with the Soviet Union but they wouldn’t go with us. Before the Everest climb our record was 7,000 meters so we went to Beijing University where they recommended that we learn from the Royal Geographical Society’s magazine, which was very useful and inspirational. You could say we climbed the mountain inspired by the British pioneers. That is mountaineering – you learn from the experience of others. In 1958 I investigated the route. We tried every route but the British route was the most scientific, it was longer but it was safer.“

“In 1955 there was a goodwill visit to the Soviet Union, which suggested we start a mountaineering team, we’d never heard of the sport.”

Background: Mr Xu spent two years in a labour camp during the Cultural Revolution (1968-1978), where he was tortured and forced to perform demeaning tasks, including gathering human waste to make fertilizer. During this period all his photographs were destroyed.

        “I have no photographs left – they were all lost during the Cultural Revolution. Mountaineering was considered counter-revolutionary and the photographs were destroyed.

        “In 1975 we tried Everest again. 10 climbers, including one woman, did it.”

 “Everest is Number One,” he said in English.

Born in 1927, he will be 78 years old in two months time.

To why:

“I understood why Mallory and Irvine took the risk. They wanted to show our potential as human beings. They weren’t mad.

Next: The Final Chapter of Sandy Irvine

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