“Because it’s there” – George Mallory and Mount Everest

George Mallory  1886 - 1924

George Mallory 1886 – 1

Why would you want to climb Mount Everest?George Mallory was asked this question in 1924 and gave the most obvious answer: “Because it’s there“. The famous mountaineer was born on June 18, 1886, and is best known for his expeditions to the highest mountain on earth.

George Mallory came from relatively simple backgrounds. His father Leigh Mallory was vicar of Mobberley, a large and prosperous community not far from Manchester. Growing up in England, George Mallory attended several schools and finally graduated from Winchester College.

One of Mallory’s tutors at Winchester College was Graham Irving, an avid alpinist and member of the British Alpine Club. In 1904 Mallory Irving accompanied another Winchester student on a climbing tour in the French Alps. Irving was a somewhat unorthodox climber and the dangerous climbs he made with the two students in the Mont Blanc area brought him a formal warning from the board of the Alpine Club.

He went on to studying history at the Magdalene College and later teaching at Charterhouse School. Mallory found many among his friends who shared his passion for mountaineering. His Cambridge Tutor had climbing experience, he knew the daughters of the President of the Alpine Club and friends of his introduced him to Geoffrey Young, then the most famous British mountaineer, whom he accompanied on climbing tours in Wales and the Alps shortly afterwards. After completing his studies, he was offered a position at the elite private school Charterhouse, where he was to teach history, mathematics, French and Latin. He has never lost his interest in climbing, after participating in World War I and coming back to teaching at Charterhouse School for 3 years, he quit and decided to join the first expedition to Mount Everest.[1]

In 1921 Mallory was invited to participate in a British Everest expedition because of his achievements in the Alps. The aim of this expedition, organised by the Royal Geographical Society and the Alpine Club, was to explore the Everest massif and explore a possible route to the summit. A promising ascent was found on the Tibetan north side of Mount Everest.  The team led by Mallory was not equipped adequate for a serious climb to the top, nevertheless they were able to spot a route and decided to give it another try in the following year. Mallory was also part of the second expedition in 1922. This time the ascent to the summit should be tried. Here a height of over 8300 m was reached. A severe avalanche accident in which seven porters died led to the end of this expedition. In 1924 Mallory and the other participants of this expedition were awarded the first Olympic Mountaineering Prize Prix olympique d’alpinisme during the Winter Olympics in Chamonix.

In 1924, George Mallory decided to give it one last try reaching the top of Mount Everest within the third exhibition, but they unfortunately were never to be seen again. Today, many researchers and climbers discuss, whether the team reached the summit. For this purpose, many expeditions were organized, trying to find their bodies. The American mountaineer Conrad Anker found Mallory’s conserved body on May 1, 1999, 75 years after his last expedition, at an altitude of 8150 m on an inclined snow slope. Mallory’s body was in excellent condition. He had his snow goggles in his pocket, but it cannot be deduced from this that he descended at night, since the photo of his departure on June 8, 1924 at the North Col shows his spare goggles on his belt. The allegedly always on the body carried photo of his wife Ruth was no longer with him. He had wanted to take it off at the summit. Mallory wasn’t wearing oxygen equipment anymore. He will probably have dropped it high on the mountain after it had become empty and thus useless. They didn’t find a camera on him either. His body had two fall injuries: a lower leg fracture and a severe head wound. He will have fallen only a short distance; his body is not shattered as it would have been in a crash from the ridge.

It is obvious that Mallory chose a different path to descend than to ascend. The fact that he climbed over the ridge route during the ascent now seems certain, when and why he left the ridge and went into the flank of the mountain, could not yet be clarified.

Until proven wrong Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay count as the first people reaching the summit of the Mount Everest 29 years after Mallory’s last attempt.[2,3]

At yovisto academic video search , you can enjoy the talk of Wade Davis at the ‘Cahners Theater’ in Boston. The author of the book ‘Into the Silence’ re-creates the climbers’ heroic efforts to conquer the mountain and sets their remarkable achievements in sweeping historical context.

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