George Herbert Leigh Mallory
George Herbert Leigh Mallory (18 June 1886 – 8 or 9 June
1924):546-547 was an English mountaineer who took part in the first
three British expeditions to Mount Everest, in the early 1920s.
During the 1924 British
Mount Everest expedition, Mallory and his
climbing partner, Andrew "Sandy" Irvine, disappeared on the North-East
ridge during their attempt to make the first ascent of the world's
highest mountain. The pair were last seen when they were about 800
vertical feet (245 m) from the summit.
Mallory's ultimate fate was unknown for 75 years, until his body was
discovered on 1 May 1999 by an expedition that had set out to search
for the climbers' remains. Whether Mallory and Irvine had reached the
summit before they died remains a subject of speculation and
1 Early life, education, and teaching career
2.1 In Europe
2.2 In Asia
3 Mallory's last climb
3.1 June 1924 expedition to Everest
3.2 Lost on Everest for 75 years
4 Reaching the summit
4.1 Mallory's body
4.3 The difficult "Second Step"
4.4 Possible sightings of Irvine
5 Assessments by other climbers
5.1 Ang Tsering's assessment
5.2 Climbing partners
5.3 First "real" ascent, or just to the summit?
5.4 Edmund Hillary's assessment
5.5 Chris Bonington's assessment
5.6 Conrad Anker's assessment
5.7 Robert Graves' tale of Mallory's Pipe
8 See also
10 Further reading
11 External links
Early life, education, and teaching career
Mallory was born in Mobberley, Cheshire, the son of Herbert Leigh
Mallory (1856–1943), a clergyman who changed his surname from
Mallory to Leigh-Mallory in 1914. His mother was Annie Beridge (née
Jebb) (1863–1946), the daughter of a clergyman in Walton,
Derbyshire. George had two sisters and a younger brother, Trafford
World War II
World War II
Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force commander. He was
raised in a 10-bedroom house on Hobcroft Lane in Mobberley.
In 1896, Mallory attended Glengorse, a boarding school in Eastbourne
on the south coast, having transferred from another preparatory (prep)
school in West Kirby. At the age of 13, he won a mathematics
scholarship to Winchester College. In his final year there, he was
introduced to rock climbing and mountaineering by a master, R.L.G.
Irving, who took a few people climbing in the
Alps each year. In
October 1905, Mallory entered Magdalene College, Cambridge, to study
history. There he became good friends with future members of the
Bloomsbury Group, including Rupert Brooke, John Maynard Keynes, James
Lytton Strachey and Duncan Grant, who took some portraits of
Mallory. Mallory was a keen oarsman, who rowed for his college.
Lytton Strachey wrote of Mallory:
"Mon dieu!—George Mallory! … He's six foot high, with the body of
an athlete by Praxiteles, and a face—oh incredible—the mystery of
Botticelli, the refinement and delicacy of a Chinese print, the youth
and piquancy of an unimaginable English boy."
After gaining his degree, Mallory stayed in Cambridge for a year
writing an essay he published as
Boswell the Biographer (1912). He
lived briefly in France afterwards. In 1910, he began teaching at
Charterhouse, another of England's great public schools, where he met
the poet Robert Graves, then a pupil.:195 In his autobiography,
Goodbye to All That, Graves remembered Mallory fondly, both for his
encouragement of his interest in literature and poetry, and his
instruction in climbing. Graves recalled: "He (Mallory) was wasted (as
a teacher) at Charterhouse. He tried to treat his class in a friendly
way, which puzzled and offended them."
While at Charterhouse, Mallory met his wife, Ruth Turner (6 October
1892 – 6 January 1942), who lived in Godalming, and they were
married in 1914, six days before Britain and Germany went to war.
George and Ruth had two daughters and a son: Frances Clare (19
September 1915 – 2001), Beridge Ruth, known as "Berry" (16 September
1917 – 1953), and John (born 21 August 1920).
In December 1915, Mallory was commissioned in the Royal Garrison
Artillery as a second lieutenant and promoted to lieutenant in
1917. He served in France during the
First World War
First World War and fought at the
Battle of the Somme.
After the war, Mallory returned to Charterhouse but resigned in 1921
in order to join the first Everest expedition. Between expeditions, he
attempted to make a living from writing and lecturing, with only
partial success. In 1923, he took a job as lecturer with the Cambridge
University Extramural Studies Department.:467 He was given
temporary leave so that he could join the 1924 Everest attempt.
In 1910, in a party led by Irving, Mallory and a friend attempted to
Mont Vélan in the Alps, but turned back shortly before the
summit due to Mallory's altitude sickness. In 1911, Mallory
climbed Mont Blanc, as well as making the third ascent of the Frontier
Mont Maudit in a party again led by Irving. According to
Helmut Dumler, Mallory was "apparently prompted by a friend on the
Western Front in 1916 [to write] a highly emotional article of his
ascent of this great climb"; this article was published as "Mont
Blanc from the Col du Géant by the Eastern Buttress of Mont Maudit"
in the Alpine Journal and contained his question, "Have we
vanquished an enemy?" [i.e., the mountain] to which he responded,
"None but ourselves."
By 1913, he had ascended Pillar Rock in the English Lake District,
with no assistance, by what is now known as "Mallory's
Route"—currently graded Hard Very Severe 5a (American grading 5.9).
It is likely to have been the hardest route in Britain for many years.
One of Mallory's closest friends and climbing companions was a young
woman named Cottie Sanders, who became a novelist with the pseudonym
of Ann Bridge. The nature of their relationship is elusive. She was a
"climbing friend" or a "casual sweetheart". After Mallory died, Cottie
wrote a memoir of him, which was never published, but nonetheless
provided much of the material used by later biographers such as David
Pye and David Robertson and a novel Everest Dream.
1921 Everest Expedition. Mallory at right on rear row; Bullock at left
on rear row
Mallory participated in the initial 1921 British Reconnaissance
Expedition, organised and financed by the
Mount Everest Committee,
that explored routes up to the
North Col of Mount Everest. The
expedition produced the first accurate maps of the region around the
mountain, as Mallory, his climbing partner
Guy Bullock and E. O.
Wheeler of the
Survey of India
Survey of India explored in depth several approaches to
its peak. Under Mallory's leadership, and with the assistance of
around a dozen Sherpas, the group climbed several lower peaks near
Everest. His party were almost certainly the first Westerners to view
Western Cwm at the foot of the
Lhotse face, as well as
charting the course of the
Rongbuk Glacier up to the base of the North
Face. After circling the mountain from the south side, his party
finally discovered the East Rongbuk Glacier—the highway to the
summit now used by nearly all climbers on the Tibetan side of the
mountain. By climbing up to the saddle of the North Ridge (the
23,030 ft (7,020 m) North Col), they spied a route to the
summit via the North-East Ridge over the obstacle of the Second Step.
In 1922 Mallory returned to the Himalayas as part of the party led by
Brigadier-General Charles Bruce and climbing leader Edward Strutt,
with a view to making a serious attempt on the summit. Eschewing their
bottled oxygen, which was at the time seen as going against the spirit
of mountaineering, Mallory, along with
Howard Somervell and Edward
Norton almost reached the crest of the North-East Ridge. Despite being
hampered and slowed by the thin air, they achieved a record altitude
of 26,980 ft (8,225 m) before weather conditions and the
late hour forced them to retreat.:427-428 A second party led by
George Finch reached an elevation of approximately 27,300 ft
(8,321 m) using bottled oxygen both for climbing and—a
first—for sleeping.:431-434 The party climbed at record speeds, a
fact that Mallory seized upon during the next expedition.
Mallory organised a third unsuccessful attempt on the summit,
departing as the monsoon season arrived. While Mallory was leading a
group of porters down the lower slopes of the
North Col of Everest in
fresh, waist-deep snow, an avalanche swept over the group, killing
seven Sherpas. The attempt was immediately abandoned, and Mallory
was subsequently accused of poor judgement, including by expedition
participants such as Dr. Longstaff.:452
Mallory is famously quoted as having replied to the question "Why did
you want to climb Mount Everest?" with the retort "Because it's
there", which has been called "the most famous three words in
mountaineering". There have been questions over the
authenticity of the quote, and whether Mallory actually said it. Some
have suggested that it was a paraphrase by a newspaper reporter, but
scrutiny of the original report in
The New York Times
The New York Times leaves this
unresolved. The phrase was certainly consistent with the direct quotes
The New York Times
The New York Times report, so it appears not to misrepresent
Mallory's last climb
June 1924 expedition to Everest
George Mallory and Andrew Irvine in Chester Cathedral
Main article: 1924 British
Mount Everest expedition
Mallory joined the 1924 Everest expedition, led, as in 1922, by
General Geoffrey Bruce. Mallory, who was 37 at the time of the ascent,
believed his age would make this his last opportunity to climb the
mountain and, when touring the US, he proclaimed that the expedition
would successfully reach the summit.
Mallory and Bruce had made the first attempt, which was inexplicably
aborted by Mallory at Camp 5.
Norton and Somervell set off from Camp 6, and in perfect weather,
Norton managed, without oxygen, to reach 28,120 ft
(8,570 m), a new record height.
On 4 June 1924, Mallory and Andrew Irvine set off from Advanced Base
Camp (ABC) at 21,330 ft (6,500 m) and already began using
oxygen from the base of the North Col, which they climbed in
2 1⁄2 hours. Mallory had been converted from his original
scepticism about oxygen usage by his failure on his initial assault
and recalling the very rapid ascent of Finch in 1922.
At 08:40 on 6 June, they[who?] set off, climbing to Camp 5. On 7 June,
they reached Camp 6. Mallory wrote he had used only 3⁄4 of one
bottle of oxygen for the two days, which suggests a climb rate of some
856 vertical feet per hour.
On 8 June, expedition member
Noel Odell was moving up behind the pair
in a "support role". At around 26,000 ft (7,925 m) he
spotted the two climbing a prominent rock-step, either the First or
Second Step, about 13:00 although Odell might, conceivably, have been
viewing the higher, then-unknown, "Third Step". Odell later
At 12.50, just after I had emerged from a state of jubilation at
finding the first definite fossils on Everest, there was a sudden
clearing of the atmosphere, and the entire summit ridge and final peak
of Everest were unveiled. My eyes became fixed on one tiny black spot
silhouetted on a small snow-crest beneath a rock-step in the ridge;
the black spot moved. Another black spot became apparent and moved up
the snow to join the other on the crest. The first then approached the
great rock-step and shortly emerged at the top; the second did
likewise. Then the whole fascinating vision vanished, enveloped in
cloud once more.
At the time, Odell observed that one of the men surmounted the Second
Step of the northeast ridge. Apart from his testimony, though, no
evidence has been found that Mallory and Irvine climbed higher than
the First Step; one of their spent oxygen cylinders was found shortly
below the First Step, and Irvine's ice axe was found nearby in 1933.
They never returned to their camp.
Presumably, Mallory and Irvine died either late the same evening or on
9 June. The news of Mallory and Irvine's disappearance was widely
mourned in Britain and the two were hailed as national heroes. A
memorial service was held in London at
St Paul's Cathedral
St Paul's Cathedral on 17
October and was attended by a great assembly of family, friends, and
dignitaries including King George V and members of the royal family,
Ramsay Macdonald and his entire Cabinet.
Lost on Everest for 75 years
After their disappearance, several expeditions tried to find their
remains and, perhaps, determine if they had reached the summit. Frank
Smythe, when on the 1936 expedition, believed he spotted a body below
the place where Irvine's ice axe was found three years earlier, "I was
scanning the face from base camp through a high-powered
telescope...when I saw something queer in a gully below the scree
shelf. Of course it was a long way away and very small, but I've a
six/six eyesight and do not believe it was a rock. This object was at
precisely the point where Mallory and Irvine would have fallen had
they rolled on over the scree slopes," Smythe wrote in a letter to
Edward Felix Norton. He kept the discovery quiet as he feared press
sensationalism, and it was not revealed until 2013, after the letter
was found by his son when preparing his biography.
In late 1986, Tom Holzel launched a search expedition based on reports
from Chinese climber Zhang Junyan that his tent-mate, Wang Hungbao,
had stumbled across "an English dead" at 26,570 ft (8,100 m)
in 1975. On the last day of the expedition, Holzel met with Zhang
Junyan, who reiterated that, despite official denials from the Chinese
Mountaineering Association, Wang had come back from a short excursion
and described finding "a foreign mountaineer" at "8,100 m." Wang
was killed in an avalanche the day after delivering his verbal report
and so the location was never more precisely fixed.
In 1999 the Mallory and Irvine Research Expedition, sponsored in part
by the TV show Nova and the BBC, and organised and led by Eric
Simonson, arrived at Everest to search for the lost pair. Guided by
the research of Jochen Hemmleb, within hours of beginning the search
on 1 May,
Conrad Anker found a frozen body at 26,760 ft
(8,157 m) on the north face of the mountain. As the body was
found below where Irvine's axe had been found in 1933 at
27,760 ft (8,461.25 m), the team expected it to be Irvine's,
and were hoping to recover the camera that he had reportedly carried
with him. They were surprised to find that name tags on the body's
clothing bore the name of "G. Leigh Mallory." The body was well
preserved, due to the freezing conditions. A brass altimeter,
stag-handled lambsfoot pocket knife with leather slip-case and an
unbroken pair of snow-goggles were recovered from the pockets of the
clothing. Also personal effects, including a letter and a bill from a
London supplier of climbing equipment, confirmed the identity of the
body. The team could not, however, locate the camera that the two
climbers took to document their final summit attempt. Experts from
Kodak have said that if a camera is ever found, there is some chance
that its film could be developed to produce printable images, if
extraordinary measures are taken, and have provided guidance as to
handling of such a camera and the film inside, in the event that such
were found in the investigation. Before leaving the site of
Mallory's death, the expedition conducted an Anglican service for the
climber and covered his remains with a cairn on the mountain.
Sir Edmund Hillary, who with
Tenzing Norgay is credited with reaching
the Everest summit first, welcomed news of the discovery of Mallory's
body and described as "very appropriate" the possibility that Mallory
might turn out to have summited decades earlier. "He was really the
initial pioneer of the whole idea of climbing Mount Everest", Hillary
The 1999 research team returned to the mountain in 2001 to conduct
further research. They discovered Mallory and Irvine's last camp,
but failed to find either Irvine or a camera. Another initiative
in 2004 also proved fruitless.
In 2007, the Altitude Everest Expedition, led by Conrad Anker, who had
found Mallory's body, tried to retrace Mallory's last steps.
Reaching the summit
Some members of the 1924 British
Mount Everest expedition; Mallory is
Whether Mallory and Irvine reached Everest's summit is unknown. The
question remains open to speculation and is the topic of much debate
From the discovery of a serious rope-jerk injury around Mallory's
waist, which was encircled by the remnants of a climbing rope, it
appears that he and Irvine were roped together when one of them
slipped. Mallory's body lay 300 m below and about 100 m
horizontal to the location of an ice axe found in 1933, which is
generally accepted from three characteristic marks on the shaft as
belonging to Irvine. The fact that the body was relatively unbroken,
apart from fractures to the right leg (the tibia and fibula were
broken just above the boot), in comparison to other bodies found in
the same location that were known to have fallen from the North-East
Ridge, strongly suggests that Mallory could not have fallen from the
ice axe site, but must have fallen from much lower down. Wang
reportedly found Mallory's ice axe near his body (and took it with
him). If this is true, then Mallory not only survived
the initial fall with Irvine, but was in possession of his axe until
the last seconds before striking a rock that stopped his final fall.
When found, his body was sun-bleached, frozen and mummified.
The other significant find made on Mallory's body was a severe,
golf-ball size puncture wound in his forehead, which was the likely
cause of his death. The unusual puncture wound is consistent with one
which might be inflicted by an ice axe, leading some to conclude that,
while Mallory was descending in a self-arrest "glissade", sliding down
a slope while dragging his ice axe in the snow to control the speed of
his descent, his ice axe may have struck a rock and bounced off,
striking him fatally.
Two items of circumstantial evidence from the body suggest that he may
have attempted, or reached, the summit:
Mallory's daughter said that Mallory carried a photograph of his wife
on his person with the intention of leaving it on the summit. This
photo was not found on Mallory's body. Given the excellent
preservation of the body, its garments and other items including
documents in his wallet, this points to the possibility that he may
have reached the summit and deposited the photo there. On the other
hand, Wang (who is known to have taken Mallory's ice-axe) might also
have taken the photograph for identification purposes, and no one who
has subsequently reached the summit has reported seeing any evidence
of the photograph, or any other trace of their presence there.
Mallory's unbroken snow-goggles were found in his pocket, suggesting
that he and Irvine had made a push for the summit and were descending
after sunset. On his attempt a few days earlier, Norton had suffered
serious snow-blindness because he did not wear his goggles, so Mallory
would be unlikely to have dispensed with them in daylight, and given
their known departure time and movements, had they not attempted the
summit pyramid it is unlikely that they would have still been out by
nightfall. An alternative scenario is that Mallory may have carried an
extra pair and the pair he was wearing were torn off in his fall.
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From the location of their final camp (discovered in 2001), a
summit climb may be estimated to have taken them around eleven hours.
Assuming they took two cylinders each, they only had about eight hours
of oxygen available, so – although this depends on the flow rate,
which could be controlled and was not necessarily full flow – the
oxygen would almost certainly have run out before they reached the
summit. The two flow rates available on those oxygen sets were 1.5 and
2.2 litres/min. Both are low rates for active climbing, and it is
unlikely the two would have used the lower flow rate. One of their
oxygen bottles was found some 200 yards (180 m) short of the
First Step, which enables their speed of climbing to be calculated
(~275 vert-ft/hr; Hillary and Norgay climbed at 350 vf/h at this
altitude). It can be estimated that at best they might have reached
the base of the
Second Step with one-and-a-half hours of oxygen
remaining each. Given the vertical distance remaining (~800 vft), the
climb to the summit after the
Second Step at the same climbing rate
would be three hours. But climbing speed drops quickly with altitude
(Hillary and Norgay managed only 150 vf/h above 28,000 ft). Thus,
even if Mallory had taken Irvine's oxygen, he would not have had
enough oxygen to reach the summit.
Another possibility, prompted by Mallory's remark in his last note to
John Noel that they would "probably go on two cylinders", is that the
pair carried three, and not two cylinders each (Mallory's "probably"
implying that the choice was between two or three, as a single
cylinder would clearly be inadequate). Mallory's oxygen rig was not
found with his body, and neither climber's backpack-style oxygen rig
has ever been found.
George Mallory chose his climbing partner (Andrew "Sandy"
Irvine) because he was excellent at repairing the oxygen tanks that
had been controversial during that time.
The difficult "Second Step"
Experienced modern climbers have mixed views on whether Mallory was
capable of climbing the "Second Step" on the North Ridge, now
surmounted via a 15 ft (4.6 m) aluminium ladder first
permanently fixed in place by Chinese climbers in 1975 to bridge this
very difficult pitch. Austrian Theo Fritsche repeated the free climb
solo in 2001 under conditions that resembled those encountered during
the 1924 Everest expedition, and assessed the climb as having a grade
of 5.6-5.7. Fritsche completed the climb without supplementary
oxygen and believes that Mallory could, weather permitting, have
reached the summit.
In June 2007, as part of the 2007 Altitude Everest expedition, Conrad
Leo Houlding free-climbed the Second Step, having first
removed the Chinese ladder (which was later replaced). Houlding
rated the climb at 5.9, just within Mallory's estimated capabilities.
The climb was part of an expedition which tried to re-create the 1924
climb. Eight years earlier Anker had climbed the
Second Step as part
Mallory and Irvine Research Expedition but had used one point
of aid by stepping on a rung of the ladder which blocked the only
available foothold. At that time he had rated the climb at 5.10, which
he considered to be beyond Mallory's capabilities but, after the June
2007 climb, he changed his view and said that he "could have climbed
Noel Odell believed that he had seen Mallory and Irvine ascend the
Second Step, but eventually changed his story to say it was the First
Step. Towards the end of his life, however, he reaffirmed his original
view. Recent observations taken from Odell's vantage point by
other climbers suggest that Odell would have probably seen the men at
Second Step as he had initially reported.
Possible sightings of Irvine
In 1979 a Chinese climber named Wang Hungbao reported to Japanese
Expedition leader Ryoten Hasagawa that, in 1975, he had discovered the
body of an "English dead" at 26,600 feet (8,100 m). Wang was
killed in an avalanche the day after this verbal report and so the
location was never more precisely fixed. The Chinese Mountaineering
Association (CMA) officially denied the sighting claim. In 1986,
Chinese climber Zhang Junyan (who had been sharing the tent with Wang
in 1975) confirmed, to Tom Holzel, Wang's report of finding a foreign
climber's body. Zhang stated that Wang had only been out for 20
minutes. If this report was accurate, at that altitude and date the
body must have been that of Irvine.
Wang's sighting was the key to the discovery of Mallory's body 24
years later in the same general area, though Wang's reported
description of the body he found, face up, with a "hole in cheek", is
not consistent with the condition and posture of Mallory's body, which
was face down, its head almost completely buried in scree, and with a
golf-ball-sized puncture wound on his forehead. The 2001 research
expedition discovered Wang's campsite location and made an extensive
search of its surroundings. Mallory's remained the only ancient body
in the vicinity. Some argue it must have been Mallory, not Irvine,
that Wang had found in 1975, despite the variations in body posture.
Zhang said that Wang had only been gone about 20 minutes but he had
waited while dozing in his sleeping bag, so Wang's stroll could have
been of longer duration.
Conrad Anker now believes Wang did indeed
find Irvine and not Mallory.
In 2001, another Chinese climber, Xu Jing, claimed to have seen the
body of Andrew Irvine in 1960 (reported in Hemmleb and Simonson's
Detectives on Everest), although testimony is uncertain with regard to
the location of his find. On two occasions, Xu placed it between Camps
VI and VII (the Yellow Band, c. 8300 m), though later changed it to
the NE Ridge between the First and Second Steps (c. 28,050 feet
(8,550 m) and directly on the NE Ridge. In spite of several such
rumoured and reported sightings, subsequent searches of these
locations on the North Face have failed to find any trace of Irvine.
Some climbers believe Xu spotted Mallory. However, again, this is
American researcher Tom Holzel reported that Xu had spotted the
body as he descended "by a more direct route" due to exhaustion, while
his teammates had continued their ascent. The body was lying on its
back in a narrow slot, its feet pointing towards the summit, and its
face blackened from frostbite. Holzel has claimed that a location
in the Yellow Band, matching this description exactly, has been
identified at 27,641 feet (8,425 m) by his analysis of
high-resolution aerial photography.
In July 2005, the Alpine Club of St. Petersburg, Russia, published an
article to commemorate the 45th anniversary of the North Face climb by
the Chinese expedition in 1960. The article referred to the
presentation by Wang Fuzhou (a member of the group which reached the
summit of Everest on 25 May 1960) given by him in Leningrad before the
USSR Geographical Society in 1965. It claims that Xu Jing had seen the
body of a European climber at an altitude of some 28,200 feet
(8,600 m), just below the notorious Second Step. That Russian
article could be a first non-mainstream and non-English-language
source of evidence in the Mallory-Irvine story. In particular, it
mentions that Xu laconically reported that he had identified the body
to be "European" by the braces (suspenders) that it wore.
A range of different outcomes has been proposed, and new theories
continue to be put forward. Most views have the two carrying two
cylinders of oxygen each, reaching and climbing either the First or
Second Step, where they are seen by Odell. At this point there are two
main alternatives: either Mallory takes Irvine's oxygen and goes on
alone (and may or may not reach the summit); or both go on together
until they turn back (having used up their oxygen, or realising that
they will do so before the summit). In either case Mallory slips and
falls to his death while descending, perhaps caught in the fierce snow
squall that sent Odell to take shelter in their tent. Irvine either
falls with him or, in the first scenario, dies alone of exhaustion and
hypothermia high up on the ridge. The theory advanced by Tom Holzel in
February 2008 is that Odell sighted Mallory and Irvine climbing
the First Step for a final look around while they were descending from
a failed summit bid.
Assessments by other climbers
Ang Tsering's assessment
Ang Tsering, a Sherpa member of the 1924 British Everest Expedition,
was interviewed in 2000 by Jonathan Neale, who recounted:
Ang Tsering says that what he liked about
George Mallory was that he
was so friendly.
Harry Tyndale, one of Mallory's climbing partners, said of Mallory:
In watching George at work one was conscious not so much of physical
strength as of suppleness and balance; so rhythmical and harmonious
was his progress in any steep place ... that his movements
appeared almost serpentine in their smoothness.
Geoffrey Winthrop Young, an accomplished mountain climber, held
Mallory's ability in awe:
His movement in climbing was entirely his own. It contradicted all
theory. He would set his foot high against any angle of smooth
surface, fold his shoulder to his knee, and flow upward and upright
again on an impetuous curve. Whatever may have happened unseen the
while between him and the cliff ... the look, and indeed the
result, were always the same – a continuous undulating movement so
rapid and so powerful that one felt the rock must yield, or
First "real" ascent, or just to the summit?
If evidence were to be uncovered which showed that
George Mallory or
Andrew Irvine had reached the summit of Everest in 1924, advocates of
Hillary and Norgay's first ascent maintain that the historical record
should not be changed to state that Mallory and Irvine made the first
Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay. Former Mount
Everest summiteer Major
H. P. S. Ahluwalia
H. P. S. Ahluwalia claims that without
photographic proof, there is no evidence that Mallory reached the
summit and "it would be unfair to say that the first man to scale
Mount Everest was George Mallory". George Mallory's own son, John
Mallory, who was only three years old when his father died, said, "To
me the only way you achieve a summit is to come back alive. The job is
only half done if you don't get down again". Sir Edmund
Hillary's daughter, Sarah, when questioned regarding her father's take
on the debate, said, "His view was that he had got 50 good years out
of being conqueror of Everest, and, whatever happened, he wasn't
particularly worried. That's my feeling as well."
Edmund Hillary's assessment
Edmund Hillary echoed John Mallory's opinion, asking:
If you climb a mountain for the first time and die on the descent, is
it really a complete first ascent of the mountain? I am rather
inclined to think personally that maybe it is quite important, the
getting down, and the complete climb of a mountain is reaching the
summit and getting safely to the bottom again.
Chris Bonington's assessment
Chris Bonington, the British mountaineer, argued that:
If we accept the fact that they were above the Second Step, they would
have seemed to be incredibly close to the summit of Everest and I
think at that stage something takes hold of most climbers ... And
I think therefore taking all those circumstances in view ... I
think it is quite conceivable that they did go for the summit ...
I certainly would love to think that they actually reached the summit
of Everest. I think it is a lovely thought and I think it is
something, you know, gut emotion, yes I would love them to have got
there. Whether they did or not, I think that is something one just
Conrad Anker's assessment
Conrad Anker, who found Mallory's body in 1999, free climbed the
Second Step in 2007 and has worn replica 1924 climbing gear on
Everest, said he believes that, "It's possible, but highly improbable,
that they made it to the top", citing the difficulty of the Second
Step and the position of Mallory's body. He stated that, in his
I don't believe they made it ... the climbing up there is so difficult
and I think that Mallory was a very good climber and part of being a
good climber is knowing when you're at too much of a risk and it's
time to turn back. I think he saw that and he turned back and it was
either he or Irvine as they were descending the Yellow Band slipped
and pulled the other one off, the rope snapped and he came to his
Robert Graves' tale of Mallory's Pipe
Robert Graves, who climbed with Mallory, in his autobiography recounts
this story, at the time famous in climbing circles, about an ascent
that Mallory made as a young man in 1908:
George Mallory .... once did an inexplicable climb on
Snowdon. He had left his pipe on a ledge, half-way down one of the
Liwedd precipices, and scrambled back by a short cut to retrieve it,
then up again by the same route. No one saw what route he took, but
when they came to examine it the next day for official record, they
found an overhang nearly all the way. By a rule of the Climbers' Club
climbs are never named in honour of their inventors, but only describe
natural features. An exception was made here. The climb was recorded
as follows: 'Mallory's Pipe, a variation on route 2; see adjoining
map. This climb is totally impossible. It has been performed once, in
failing light, by Mr G. H. L. Mallory.'".
The route is now called "Mallory's Slab", a hard V Diff in Y
Mallory Court at Magdalene College, Cambridge
Mallory was honoured by having a court named after him at his alma
mater, Magdalene College, Cambridge, with an inscribed stone
commemorating his death set above the doorway to one of the buildings.
Two high peaks in California's Sierra Nevada, Mount Mallory and
Mount Irvine, located a few miles southeast of Mount Whitney, were
named after them.
Mallory was captured on film by expedition cameraman John Noel, who
released his film of the 1924 expedition The Epic of Everest. Some
of his footage was also used in George Lowe's 1953 documentary The
Conquest of Everest. A documentary on the 2001 Mallory and Irvine
Research Expedition, Found on Everest, was produced by Riley
Morton. Mallory was played by
Brian Blessed in the 1991
re-creation of his last climb, Galahad of Everest. In October
Benedict Cumberbatch was tipped as the front runner to play the
role of Mallory in a new Hollywood version of the attempt on Everest
in 1924, to be directed by
Doug Liman and adapted from Jeffrey
Archer's 2009 novel Paths of Glory.
Tragedy in the mountains has proved a recurring theme in the Mallory
line. Mallory’s younger brother,
Air Chief Marshal
Air Chief Marshal Sir Trafford
Leigh-Mallory, met his death on a mountain range when the Avro York
carrying him to his new appointment as Air Commander-in-Chief of South
East Asia Command (SEAC) crashed in the French
Alps in 1944, killing
all on board. A memorial window to
George Mallory along with a
memorial plaque to Trafford can be found at St Wilfrid's Church,
Mobberley where their father, Herbert, grandfather, also called
George, and other family members had served as rector. Mallory's
daughter, Frances Clare, married physiologist Glenn Allan Millikan,
who was killed in a climbing accident in Fall Creek Falls State Park,
Frances Mallory's son, Richard Millikan, became a respected climber in
his own right during the 1960s and '70s. Mallory's grandson, also
named George Mallory, reached the summit of Everest in 1995 via the
North Ridge with six other climbers as part of the American Everest
Expedition of 1995. He left a picture of his grandparents at the
summit citing "unfinished business".
In Anthony Geffen's 2010 biographical documentary film about Mallory's
life and final expedition, The Wildest Dream,
Conrad Anker and Leo
Houlding attempt to reconstruct the climb, dressed and equipped
similarly to Mallory and Irvine.
Keith Thomas and Glyn Bailey are creating a musical about Mallory's
life called Mountain of Dreams.
Belgian rock band Girls in Hawaii's song "Mallory's Height" on their
2013 album Everest is a homage to Mallory. Extracts of the Nova / BBC
broadcast can be heard (around 3:35).
Mallory, George Leigh (Feb 1922). "Mount Everest: The Reconnaissance".
The Geographical Journal. The
Royal Geographical Society
Royal Geographical Society (with the
Institute of British Geographers). 59 (2): 100–109.
Mallory, George Leigh (Dec 1922). "The First High Climb". The
Geographical Journal. The
Royal Geographical Society
Royal Geographical Society (with the
Institute of British Geographers). 60 (6): 400–412.
Mallory, George Leigh (1922). "The Reconnaissance of the Mountain". In
Howard-Bury, Charles Kenneth.
Mount Everest the Reconnaissance, 1921.
Longmans, Green and Co.; Edward Arnold & Co.
List of people who died climbing Mount Everest
List of solved missing persons cases
^ a b c d e f Davis, Wade (2011). Into The Silence: The Great War,
Mallory and the Conquest of Everest. Bodley Head.
^ "Going going gone: Mallory's
Mobberley mansion goes to the highest
bidder". Knutsford Guardian. 22 November 2016. Retrieved 1 December
^ Messner, Reinhold (2001). The Second Death of George Mallory. New
York: St. Martin's Press. p. 106.
^ The Royal Geographical Society. "George Herbert Leigh Mallory".
Imagining Everest. Missing or empty url= (help); access-date=
requires url= (help)
^ "Alumni & Development, Notable Members". Magdalene College
Cambridge. Retrieved 1 August 2013.
^ Thompson, Simon (2010). Unjustifiable Risk?: The Story of British
Climbing. Cicerone. p. 173.
^ "Friends of Magdalene Boat Club". Magdalene Boat Club. Archived from
the original on 20 October 2013. Retrieved 1 August 2013.
^ Hansen, Peter H. "Mallory, George Herbert Leigh (1886–1924)".
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford Univ. Press.
doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/34847. Archived from the original on 4 March
2014. Retrieved 12 February 2014.
^ Graves, Robert (1995). Good-bye to all that: An Autobiography.
Berghahn Books. p. 64.
^ Ruth Mallory: Biography Archived 20 November 2013 at the Wayback
^ "No. 29409".
The London Gazette
The London Gazette (Supplement). 21 December 1915.
George Mallory - British explorer and mountaineer".
^ Morris, Holly (2 December 2011). "The Lure of Everest". The New York
Times. Retrieved 29 July 2017.
^ Claire Engel writes: "One of [Irving's recruits] was George Mallory,
who was then seventeen. Irving took them up various peaks, some easy,
some hard, some very difficult. The first ascent was that of the Velan
and it ended in failure, as the two boys collapsed with mountain
sickness. Yet by the end of the summer they had become hardened
climbers." Claire Engel, Mountaineering in the Alps, London: George
Allen and Unwin, 1971, p. 185.
^ Helmut Dumler and Willi P. Burkhardt, The High Mountains of the
Alps, London: Diadem, 1994, p. 216.
^ Reprinted as "Pages from a Journal", in Peaks, and Glaciers, ed.
Walt Unsworth, London: Allen Lane, 1981, pp. 170–81
^ Neff, Kelly Joyce. Everest Dream. Retrieved 19 Mar 2013.
^ "1921 Expedition".
^ Boswell, Randy, Canadian geographer conquered
Mount Everest in
‘epic quest’, National Post, Retrieved on 2 August 2013
^ Krakauer, Jon, Into Thin Air, Villard Books, 1997, endnotes
^ Heil, Nick (26 April 2012). "The Worst Disasters on Everest: 10. The
North Col Avalanche". Outside Online. Archived from the original on 5
July 2012. Retrieved 16 July 2012.
Mount Everest is Work for Supermen". The New York Times.
18 March 1923.
^ Hazards of The Alps. The New York Times, 29 August 1923
^ Holzel, Tom, and Salkeld, Audrey. The Mystery of Mallory &
Irvine, Mountaineers Books, 2000, pp. 172–176.
^ Rees, Nigel. Brewer's Famous Quotations: 5000 Quotations and the
Stories Behind Them, Orion, 2006, p. 309.
^ Holzel, Tom; Salkeld, Audrey (1986). First on Everest: The Mystery
of Mallory and Irvine. New York: H. Holt. pp. 212–227.
^ "Mallory and Irvine -
Mount Everest The British Story". Mount
Everest: The British Story. 30 April 2005. Archived from the original
on 14 August 2013. Retrieved 13 August 2013.
^ Smythe, Tony (2013). My Father, Frank. Cordee.
^ Holzel, Tom; Salkeld, Audrey (1999). The Mystery of Mallory and
Irvine (2nd Revised Edition). London: Pimlico. p. 327.
^ a b "World: South Asia Everest pioneer's body found".
BBC News. 3
May 1999. Retrieved 8 February 2010.
Kodak guidance on handling camera Archived 3 March 2013 at the
Wayback Machine. Letter from
Kodak laboratories to Tom Holzel, 9 May
1984. Retrieved 3 March 2013
^ Gentleman, Amelia (3 May 1999). "Irvine and Mallory: In hobnail
boots they took on Everest". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 March
^ "2001 Mallory & Irvine Research Expedition". Retrieved 16 August
^ "2001 Mallory & Irvine Research Expedition". Retrieved 16 August
^ "Mallory & Irvine The Final Chapter: Dispatches". Retrieved 16
^ Ghosts of Everest, J Hemmleb et al., p125
^ Brown, Mark (27 August 2010). "
George Mallory and Everest: did he
get to the top? Film revisits 1920s climb". The Guardian.
^ Mallory & Irvine Research Expedition, 2001, discovery of Camp VI
^ Everest K2 News Explorersweb - the pioneers checkpoint,
explorersweb.com, 7 June 2007
^ Sharma, Gopal (14 June 2007). "Reuters.com". Reuters.com. Retrieved
3 October 2011.
^ Roberts, David. "
Conrad Anker on Everest: In the Footsteps of
Mallory & Irvine". National Geographic. Archived from the original
on 7 June 2013. Retrieved 19 August 2013. Anker seemed to retreat from
those conclusions. On June 18 he wrote, 'Were we the first to
free-climb the Second Step? Perhaps it was Mallory. . . . What I have
learned is that Mallory and Irvine could have climbed it, and that is
worth thinking about.'
^ "Jochen Hemmleb: The Last Witness: Noel Odell". Retrieved 19 August
^ Mallory and Irvine 1924 Theories EverestNews.com
^ Personal note to Tom Holzel.
^ a b Holzel, Tom (7 January 2010). "An Aerial Photographic Search for
Andrew Irvine on Mt. Everest by The Andrew Irvine Search Committee".
Velocity Press. Retrieved 11 February 2010.
^ Iordanishvili, Evgenii (July 2005). "Vpervye na Everest s Severa".
St Petersburg Alpine Club. Retrieved 21 July 2010.
^ "Everest K2 News Explorersweb - the pioneers checkpoint".
Mounteverest.net. 18 February 2008. Retrieved 3 October 2011.
^ Neale, Jonathan (2002). Tigers of the Snow: How One Fateful Climb
Made the Sherpas Mountaineering Legends. Thomas Dunne Books.
^ Anker, Conrad; Roberts, David, The Lost Explorer: Finding Mallory on
Mount Everest, Simon and Schuster, 1991, p46
^ Young, Geoffrey Winthrop, quoted in Weber, Alan (ed.), Because It's
There: A Celebration of Mountaineering from 200 B.C. to Today, Taylor
Trade Publishing, 2003, p343
^ Onkar Singh (5 May 1999). "'Hillary is right when he says there has
to be proof that Mallory and Irvine reached the summit before he
did'". rediff.com. Retrieved 23 October 2010.
^ "Climbing The Esoteric Book Shelf: "The Wildest Dream: The Biography
of George Mallory"". theesotericcuriosa.blogspot.com. April 2010.
ISBN 9780898867510. Retrieved 23 October 2010.
^ "Jeffrey Archer's insult to Sir Ed". stuff.co.nz. 15 March 2009.
Retrieved 23 October 2010. To me, the only way you achieve a summit is
to come back alive. The job is half done if you don't get down
^ Lois Cairns (29 August 2010). "Mallory mystery no worry for
Hillary". stuff.co.nz. Retrieved 23 October 2010.
^ Sir Edmund Hillary, quoted on PBS, transcribed on
^ "Everest: Mystery of Mallory and Irvine". Retrieved 23 October
Conrad Anker on
George Mallory (Part 5) on YouTube
^ Goodbye To All That (p. 35), Penguin Classics 1443, pub 1929 and
^ "Rainbow's End". footlesscrow.blogspot.co.uk.
^ "Mount Mallory". Geographic Names Information System. United States
Geological Survey. Retrieved 2013-08-11.
^ IMDB listing for John Noel's Epic of Everest
^ "A clip from ''Found on Everest'' on Riley Morton's web site which
includes a shot of George Mallory". Rileymorton.com. Archived from the
original on 14 September 2012. Retrieved 3 October 2011.
^ IMDB listing for Galahad of Everest[permanent dead link]
^ Lewis, Matt (22 October 2013). "
Benedict Cumberbatch front-runner to
George Mallory in Hollywood film, Everest". The Daily Telegraph.
^ "Air of Authority — A History of RAF Organisation". Retrieved
26 August 2007.
^ "Milestones". Time. 9 June 1947. Retrieved 9 May 2010.
^ a b Dunn, Tom Newton (8 August 1999). "Is this picture the proof
George Mallory conquered Everest?". Sunday Mirror. Archived from
the original on 18 November 2007. Retrieved 9 May 2010.
^ Everest Summits 1995 EverestHistory.com
Anker, Conrad & Roberts, David (1999) The Lost Explorer —
Finding Mallory on Mount Everest. London: Simon & Schuster
Archer, Jeffrey (2009) Paths of Glory. New York: St Martin's Press
ISBN 978-0-312-53951-1 (novel about Mallory's life and summit
Davis, Wade (2011) Into The Silence: The Great War, Mallory and the
Conquest of Everest Bodley Head ISBN 978-1-84792-184-0
Firstbrook, Peter (1999) Lost on Everest: The Search for Mallory &
Gillman, Peter and Leni (2000) The Wildest Dream: Mallory, His Life
and Conflicting Passions. London: Headline (winner, Boardman Tasker
Hemmleb, Jochen; Johnson, Larry A.; Simonson, Eric R. & Nothdurft,
William E. (1999) Ghosts of Everest — the Search for Mallory
& Irvine. Seattle: Mountaineers Books ( Story of the 1999
expedition that located Mallory's body)
Hemmleb, Jochen, & Simonson, Eric R. (2002) Detectives on Everest:
the Story of the 2001 Mallory & Irvine Research Expedition.
Seattle: Mountaineers Books (Sequel to Ghosts of Everest, with new
discoveries on Everest and revelations regarding the fate of Andrew
Holzel, Tom & Salkeld, Audrey (1986) The Mystery of Mallory &
Irvine. Revised edition: Seattle: Mountaineers Books, 1999
Neale, Jonathan, "Tigers of the Snow: How One Fateful Climb Made the
Sherpas Mountaineering Legends", Thomas Dunne Books, 2002
Robertson, David (1969) George Mallory. Revised edition 1999.
(Biography written by Mallory's son-in-law, married to Beridge.) Faber
and Faber Selected edition: Paperback 1999, with foreword by Joe
Simpson ISBN 978-0-571-20314-7
Summers, Julie (2000) Fearless on Everest: the Quest for Sandy Irvine.
(Republished 2008) ISBN 978-1-904466-31-4
Wikimedia Commons has media related to George Mallory.
Wikiquote has quotations related to: George Mallory
"Expedition to rewrite Everest history".
BBC News. 24 March 1999.
Retrieved 8 August 2008.
Ghosts of Everest – New evidence examined. 1999 Expedition finds
Mallory's remains; tries to reconstruct Mallory's ascent. From Outside
Lost on Everest – In January 2000, PBS broadcast the story of the
1999 Nova expedition to locate the bodies of
George Mallory and Andrew
Peter H. Hansen, ‘Mallory, George Herbert Leigh (1886–1924)’,
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press,
2004, brief biographical entry.
Interactive panorama of The
Second Step on Everest's Northeast Ridge.
2004 Expedition to find the cameras
Mount Everest 1924 photographs – John Noel's photographs from the
Ainley, Janine (13 June 2006). "Replica clothes pass Everest test".
BBC News. Retrieved 8 August 2008.
Photo of Mallory Court, Magdalene College, Cambridge
Mallory's rowing career and account of the 1907 Boat Race, with photo
[NB that caption incorrectly states that Mallory rowed in
Oxford/Cambridge boat race.]
Tom Holzel's 2008 theory that Odell saw Mallory descending at the
Mike Parsons and Mary B. Rose. Mallory Myths and Mysteries: The
Mallory Replica Project
Mallory and Irvine Memorials
George Mallory at
LibriVox (public domain audiobooks)
ISNI: 0000 0000 8224 7568
BNF: cb12046878v (data)