Friday, June 8, 2018

Mallory of Everest | 8th June 1924

 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.
"And yet as I gazed again another mood appeared to creep over her haunting features. There seemed to be something alluring in that towering presence. I was almost fascinated. I realized that no mere mountaineer alone could but be fascinated, that he who approaches close must ever be led on, and oblivious of all obstacles seek to reach that most sacred and highest place of all." 
Noel Odell gazing at the North Ridge of Everest June 1924 after Mallory and Irvine were lost.

Members of the 1921 Expedition - Standing: Wollaston, Howard-Bury, Heron, Raeburn.
Sitting: Mallory, Wheeler, Bullock, Morshead.  

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

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 four  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.

“It was a prodigious white fang, an excrescence from the jaw of the world.”
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.

Everest view from the Pang La pass in Tibet

Mallory and Irvine on the ship S S California  which brought them to India in 1924
Andrew Irvine working on oxygen cylinders

Norton and Somervell with their sherpas before their summit attempt

Norton and Somervell's climb - Norton reaches 28,000 feet without oxygen 

Norton set an altitude record  in 1924 without oxygen reaching 8570 metres which remained unchallenged until Messner and Habeler climbed Everest in 1978 without oxygen

"I cannot tell you how it possesses me"

Mallory and Irvine's climb

Mallory's watch found in  1999 by Conrad Anker and the team
Note from Mallory to Noel - the 8 pm in the note is obviously a mistake and should be 8 am!

Mallory's note to Odell which he found in Camp VI - the weather when they started out was good as Mallory mentions in the note - Perfect weather for the job!

"Again and for the last time we advance up the Rongbuk glacier for victory or final defeat "

Letter from George Mallory to his daughter

Memorial of the three Everest Expeditions 1921,1922 and 1924

1924 oxygen cylinders at the Planters Club Darjeeling

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

All photographs in this post are copyright ROYAL GEOGRAPHICAL SOCIETY and the respective owners

1 comment:

  1. For photographs from the Everest region do visit



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