Monday, June 8, 2015

George Mallory: 8th June 1924

" I cannot tell you how it possesses me...." George Mallory

The spectacular Kangshung face of Everest seen from the Kharta Glacier on the 1921 Reconnaissance expedition
On 8th June 1924, two men left  Camp VI (26,700 feet)  to make an attempt on the summit of Everest. Camp VI  was the highest camp of the British 1924 Everest expedition.

On the same morning, another British climber, Noel Odell, was making his way up from Camp IV to Camp VI. Odell was a geologist and he was collecting fossils from the slopes of Mount Everest. Odell recalls that it was not the perfect morning to climb Everest. " Rolling banks of mist" were sweeping  across the mountain and covering the north face. Neither the face nor the summit ridge could be seen by Odell. There was also a sharp wind which was making climbing very difficult.

Suddenly at 12.50 pm the mist cleared and Odell spotted high above on the ridge, a black dot climbing a rock step, which Odell at that point identified as the Second Step. Soon after Odell saw another black dot following the first black dot. But before Odell could be sure that the second black dot had joined the first,  the mist rolled in and blanketed the mountain and this fantastic vision was lost forever.

The two dots that Odell saw were George Mallory and Andrew Irvine "going strongly for the summit of Everest". Mallory and Irvine were never seen again.

But even today, ninety one years after the disappearance of Mallory and Irvine, the legend of Mallory is still alive. Books are being written about Mallory, expeditions are being planned to find Andrew Irvine and his camera because Everest experts believe that the camera will unlock the secret of Mallory's last climb.

In this post we take a look at some photographs and other memorabilia from the Everest expeditions of 1921, 1922 and 1924.

" Higher in the sky  than imagination had ventured to dream, the top of Everest itself appeared" George Mallory

Odell's photograph from the pass of Pang La shows the entire Himalayan chain from the Tibetan plateau with Everest standing just 35 miles away

A  current day telephoto view of Everest from the Pang La  identifying the important features of the mountain - please click on the photo to enlarge.

Mallory and Irvine before boarding the ship S S California  which they took to India on the 1924 expedition

Members of the 1924 expedition - Standing from left Irvine, Mallory, Norton, Odell, Macdonald. In front: Shebbeare, Bruce, Somervell, Beetham. Members not in the photo : Noel, Hingston, Hazard.

" Again and for the last time we advance up the Rongbuk Glacier for victory or final defeat" George Mallory 

The last photograph of Mallory and Irvine leaving for Camp Six for their summit bid from the North Col 

The list of provisions for the summit climb found on Mallory's body  - he planned to be on 2 cylinders of oxygen. Please note the rations on the left!

Original oxygen cylinders of the 1924 expedition preserved at the Planters Club, Darjeeling

The 8 pm in the note is a typo Mallory meant 8 am!

The note that Odell recovered from the tent at Camp VI  - Mallory had no compass on  his last climb

Before leaving for Everest - Mallory with his daughter Clare

A letter from  Mallory to his  children  from Everest

"..... some day you will hear a different story..." George Mallory

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