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George Herbert Leigh Mallory (June 18, 1886 – June 8/June 9, 1924) was an Englishmarker mountaineer who took part in the first three British expeditions to Mount Everestmarker in the early 1920s. On the third expedition, in June 1924, Mallory and his climbing partner Andrew Irvine both disappeared somewhere high on the North-East ridge during their attempt to make the first ascent of the world's highest mountain. The pair's last known sighting was only a few hundred meters from the summit. Mallory's ultimate fate was unknown for 75 years, until his body was finally discovered in 1999. Whether or not they reached the summit before they died remains a subject of speculation and continuing research.

Mallory is famously quoted as having replied to the question "why do you want to climb Mt. Everest?" with the retort: "because it's there", which has been called "the most famous three words in mountaineering". Recently some questions have been raised regarding the authenticity of that quote, and whether Mallory had actually said it, with the likelihood that the quote was invented by a newspaper reporter.

Early life, education, and teaching career

Mallory was born in Mobberleymarker, Cheshiremarker, the son of Herbert Leigh Mallory (1856–1943), a clergyman who legally changed his surname to Leigh-Mallory in 1914. George had two sisters — one older than he, one younger — and a younger brother Trafford Leigh-Mallory, the World War II Royal Air Force commander.

In 1896, Mallory attended Glengorse, a preparatory boarding school in Eastbournemarker on the south coast of England, having transferred from another preparatory school in West Kirbymarker. At the age of 13, he won a scholarship to Winchester Collegemarker. In his penultimate year there, he was introduced to rock climbing and mountaineering by a master, R. L. G. Irving, who took a small number of pupils climbing in the Alps each year. In October 1905, Mallory entered Magdalene College, Cambridgemarker to study history. There, he became good friends with members of the Bloomsbury Group including James Strachey, Lytton Strachey, Rupert Brooke, John Maynard Keynes, and Duncan Grant, who painted several portraits of Mallory. Mallory was a keen oarsman and rowed in his college "eight", but he did not (as has been written elsewhere) row for Cambridge in the annual Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race.

After gaining his degree Mallory stayed in Cambridge for a year writing an essay he later published as Boswell the Biographer (1912). He lived briefly in France, where Simon Bussy painted his portrait, now in London's National Portrait Gallerymarker. On his return he decided to become a teacher. In 1910 he began teaching at Charterhouse Schoolmarker, Godalming, Surrey, where he met the poet Robert Graves, then a pupil; in his autobiography, Goodbye to All That, Graves remembered Mallory, who acted as best man at Robert Graves' wedding in 1918, fondly both for his encouragement of Graves' 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 he met his wife, Ruth Turner, who lived in Godalmingmarker, and they were married in 1914, just six days before Britain and Germany went to war. George and Ruth had two daughters and a son: Clare, born 1915; Beridge, known as 'Berry' (1917); and John (1920). In December 1915 Mallory joined the Royal Garrison Artillery as 2nd lieutenant and in 1916 participated in the shelling of the Somme, under the command of Major Gwilym Lloyd George, who was son of then Prime Minister David Lloyd George.

After the war he returned to Charterhouse, resigning in 1921 in order to join the first Everest expedition. In 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. He was given temporary leave so that he could join the 1924 Everest attempt.


In Europe

In 1904, in a party led by Irving, Mallory and a friend attempted to climb Mont Vélanmarker in the Alps, but turned back shortly before the summit due to Mallory's altitude sickness. In 1911, Mallory climbed Mont Blancmarker, as well as making the third ascent of the Frontier ridge of Mont Mauditmarker in a party again led by Irving. According to Helmut Dumler, Mallory was "apparently prompted by the death of friends 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 Butress of Mont Blanc' 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 ascended Pillar Rockmarker in the English Lake Districtmarker, with no aid or assistance, by what is now known as "Mallory Lehr" – currently graded Hard Very Severe 5a (American grading 5.9). It is likely to have been the hardest route in Britain for many years.

In Asia

In 1921 he participated in the British Reconnaissance Expedition, organised and financed by the Mount Everest Committee, that explored routes up to the North Colmarker of Mount Everestmarker. The expedition produced the first accurate maps of the region around the mountain. Although he was accompanied by several senior members of Britain's Alpine Club and by surveyors based in Indiamarker, the debilitating effect of altitude meant that Mallory, his climbing partner Guy Bullock and E. O. Wheeler of the Survey of India performed most of the exploration of the slopes. 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 the Western Cwm at the foot of the Lhotsemarker face, as well as charting the course of the Rongbuk Glaciermarker 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 North Col, 23,000-ft, 7000m), Mallory not only became the first human recorded to have set foot on the actual mountain, but spied a route to the summit via the North-East Ridge over the obstacle of the Second Step.

In 1922 Mallory returned to the Himalaya as part of the party led by Brig-Gen Charles Bruce and climbing leader Edward Strutt, with a view to making a serious attempt on the summit. Eschewing their bottled oxygen, on ethical grounds, Mallory led his climbing team of Howard Somervell and Edward Norton almost to the crest of the North-East ridge. Despite being hampered and slowed by the thin air, they achieved a record altitude of 26,985 ft (8,225 m) before weather conditions and the late hour forced them to retreat. A second party led by George Finch reached a height of approx. 27,300 feet (8,321 m) using bottled oxygen (both for climbing and—a first—for sleeping) and climbing 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 arrived. While Mallory was leading a group of porters down the lower slopes of the North Col of Everest in fresh, waist-high snow, an avalanche swept over the group, killing seven Sherpas. The attempt was immediately abandoned, and Mallory returned home to face criticism for poor judgement, a criticism that was to follow him to the next expedition.

Plans for another attempt were marred by the RGS Everest committee barring George Finch, on the grounds he was divorced and had accepted money for lectures. The secretary, Arthur Hinks, made it clear that for an Australian to be the first on Everest was not acceptable, as they wanted the climb to be an example of British spirit, to lift British morale. At first Mallory refused to climb again without Finch but acquiesced after being personally persuaded by members of the British Royal Family, at Hinks' request.

Mallory's last climb

June 1924 expedition to Everest

George Mallory joined the 1924 Everest expedition — his third — led as in 1922 by General Bruce, believing, at age 37, it would be his last opportunity to climb the mountain. Following a failed first attempt by Mallory and Geoffrey Bruce, and then another by Norton and Somervell, on 8 June 1924 Mallory and Andrew Irvine attempted to reach the top via the North Col route. The pair used oxygen, Mallory having been converted from his original scepticism by his failure on the initial assault and the very rapid ascent speed of Finch in 1922.

Expedition colleague Noel Odell reported the following:

At the time, Odell identified one of the men to have surmounted the Second Step of the NE ridge. No evidence, apart from his testimony, has thus far been found that they 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 also found nearby in 1933). They never returned to their camp and died somewhere high on the mountain.

It is assumed that Mallory and Irvine died either on 8 June or, at the latest, the next day. The news of Mallory and Irvine's disappearance was widely mourned in Britain to the extent that the two were hailed as national heroes. George Mallory's funeral service was held at St. Paul's Cathedralmarker, Londonmarker on 17 October and was attended by a wealth of family and friends as well as prime minister of the time J. Ramsay Macdonald, the entire British cabinet and the British Royal family, headed at the time by King George V.

Lost on Everest for 75 years

After their disappearance, several expeditions tried to find their remains (and perhaps determine if they had, in fact, reached the summit). Based on reports from a Chinese climber that his tent-mate, Wang Hung-bao, had stumbled across "an English dead" at in 1975 (in spite of official denials), Tom Holzel launched a search expedition in the fall of 1986. The Mt. Everest North Face Research Expedition (MENFREE) was snowed out, not able to even reach the 8100m terrace.

In 1999, the Mallory and Irvine Research Expedition, sponsored in part by the TV show Nova and the BBC and organized 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 1999, a frozen body was found by Conrad Anker at on the north face of the mountain. As the body was directly below where Irvine's axe was found in 1933, the team expected the body 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.Mallory." The body was remarkably well preserved due to the mountain's climate. The team could not locate the camera. 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.

The expedition conducted an Anglican service for Mallory and buried his remains.

Reaching the summit

Whether Mallory and Irvine reached Everest's summit is unkown. However the question remains open to speculation and the topic of much debate and research.

Mallory's body

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 the two were roped together when one of them slipped. Mallory's body lay 300m below the location of an ice axe found in 1933, which is generally accepted from characteristic marks on the shaft as belonging to Irvine. The fact that the body was relatively unbroken (in comparison to other bodies found in the same location that were known to have fallen from the NE 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 of striking a rock that stopped his final fall.

The most significant other find made on Mallory's body was a severe golf-ball size puncture wound in his forehead, which is the most 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, no one who has subsequently reached the summit has reported seeing any evidence of this, or any other trace of their presence there.

  • Mallory's 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 was torn off in his fall.

Oxygen supply

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 used on 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 short of the First Step, which enables their speed of climbing to be calculated (~275 vert-ft/hr. Hillary & Norgay climbed at 350 vph 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 & Norgay managed on 150 vfh above 28,000-ft.) Thus, even if Mallory had taken Irvine's oxygen, he would not have had enough to reach the summit.

Although some recent climbers have climbed Everest without the aid of oxygen, these are extraordinary athletes, fully hydrated and wearing the latest wind-proof clothing, or Sherpas who are genetically endowed with high-altitude capability. Like the four-minute mile, this was not within the capabilities of climbers of the period. Thus, the best chance for Mallory to have reached the summit would have been if he had relieved Irvine of his oxygen at the First Step and sent him down to safety. However, the rope-jerk injuries around Mallory's waist strongly suggest the two were roped together when they fell. Other historians suggest that, after having seen the extreme technical difficulty of the Second Step, the two may have switched to the "Norton" Route, via the Great Couloir. While theoretically possible, there is no physical evidence for this supposition.

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.

The difficult "Second Step"

Experienced modern climbers disagree on whether Mallory was capable of climbing the infamous "Second Step" on the North Ridge, now surmounted via a aluminium ladder permanently fixed in place by Chinese climbers in 1975 to bridge this very difficult pitch. The Second Step was first climbed by the Chinese in 1960. It was climbed "free" (without artificial aid) by Spanish climber Oscar Cadiach in 1985. He rated the crack that forms the crux 5.7-5.8 (5+ UIAA grading), certainly accepted as within Mallory's ability. However, on Cadiach's climb, the Second Step was filled with a hard snow ramp that made its ascent considerably easier than in the conditions faced by Mallory. Austrian Theo Fritsche repeated the free climb solo — that is, without rope protection — in 2001 under dry pre-monsoon conditions (as in 1924), and supported Cadiach's assessment of 5.7–5.8. Fritsche completed the climb without supplementary oxygen (as did Cadiach), wearing only a light down jacket, but it took him a solid hour to achieve—hardly what a 5.8 climb of a few meters would require. He believes that Mallory could have summitted in his clothing on a good day.

In June 2007,as part of the Altitude Everest Expedition 2007, Conrad Anker and Leo Houlding successfully free-climbed the Second Step, having first removed the Chinese ladder (which was later replaced).[44832] Houlding rated the climb at 5.9, just within Mallory's estimated capabilities. The climb was part of an expedition designed to film a recreation of the 1924 climb as closely as possible. Eight years earlier Anker had climbed the Second Step as part of the Mallory and Irvine Research Expedition but had used one point of aid by stepping on a rung of the ladder. At that time he had rated the climb at 5.10, certainly beyond Mallory's capability; after the June 2007 climb he changed his view and said that "Mallory and Irvine could have climbed it". But by then Anker was starring in a film that portrays the two carrying 3 bottles of oxygen and as probably having summitted. The climbing community still remains split on the subject of whether Mallory was capable of having climbed the Second Step.

Mallory is known to have "swarmed up" a very similar obstacle in alpine conditions on the Nesthornmarker (3,824 m) in the Swiss Alps, and his companions were under no illusions about either his considerable ability or his visionary, idealistic self-motivation.

As for climbing difficulties, Mallory is known to have climbed comfortably at HVS (Hard Very Severe) standard (YDS ~5.9) in Wales/Cymrumarker and Cumbriamarker. Many of his early pioneering rock climbs were undertaken on Y Lliwedd, a near-1,000 ft often-loose, usually wet cliff face, which is part of the Snowdon/Yr Wyddfa massif. Those who have climbed on this face in mountaineering boots, perhaps armed with only basic equipment, will understand the genuine difficulty of a climb of HVS standard – and come to truly appreciate Mallory's boldness and physical ability. But on this, his final climb, he had already taxed himself by a previous aborted ascent, along with the other normal strenuous activities of being on Everest. The six layers of clothing Mallory wore on Everest would also have increased the awkwardness of such a climb.

There is little evidence available on the rockclimbing ability of Andrew Irvine. However, in her biography of Irvine ("Fearless on Everest") Julie Summers notes that Irvine did climb the Great Gully on Craig yr Ysfa with Odell, a wet, five hour climb of VDiff (~5.7) degree of difficulty. Nevertheless, brief rock climbing epidodes are not like mountain climbing with its sustained, courage-draining exposures. Given Irvine's limited climbing experience, it seems unlikely that he would have had the ability to climb the Second Step, and even more unlikely that he could have done so in the rapid manner described by Noel Odell.

The rope-burn evidence on Mallory suggests that the two climbers were roped together when they had their fatal fall, making it unlikely that Mallory made a solo "sprint to the top." This would have involved Irvine waiting at the base of the Second Step for up to ten hours—an impossibility in that weather with their clothing.

Initially, Noel Odell believed he had seen Mallory and Irvine ascend the Second Step. The British climbing establishment increasingly questioned this opinion, and Odell eventually changed his story to say it was the First Step. Towards the end of his life, however, he expressed his original view, stating with conviction that he had seen them climb the Second Step. If his eyewitness report is accurate, the topography he describes appears to fit the Second or even the Third Step on the ridge rather than the First.

On the other hand, Everest historian Tom Holzel suggests that when Odell saw them climbing a Step, he assumed they were still ascending—and therefore had to be on the Second Step, as there is no need to climb up the First Step to reach the summit: climbers typically cross or traverse its base and continue around it. It was in keeping with the prevailing disdain for oxygen equipment at the time to put the blame on it for Mallory being five hours behind the schedule he had stated in his final note when Odell saw him on the ridge. Odell assumed they were still ascending, but woefully late, and so could only have been climbing the Second Step. But if they were already on their descent, the unproven oxygen malfunction theory and the unlikely late start theories can be discarded, and they are close to estimates of climbing time in their descent from perhaps as high as the base of the Second Step. Odell then may have seen them clambering up the First Step as a vantage point from which to view and photograph the complex route to the Second Step before returning to the North Col (which is what the French did in 1981 when they, too, could no longer continue upward).

Recent observations taken from Odell's vantage point by advocates of Mallory's success indicate that the viewpoint is such that Odell would not likely have been confused or mistaken as to the location of the pair, and so had probably seen the men at the Second Step as he had initially reported.

Further expeditions

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. In 2004, another expedition (unrelated to the 1999 and 2001 team) searched for the cameras and other clues that either had reached the summit, but found no significant new evidence. A fourth initiative in 2005 also proved fruitless.

Possible sightings of Irvine

In 1979 a Chinese climber named Wang Hongbao reported to Japanese Expedition leader Royoten Hasagawa that, in 1975, he had discovered the body of an "English dead" at 8100 m, a 20 minute walk from his bivouac tent. Wang was killed in an avalanche the day after the report and so the location was never more precisely fixed. The Chinese Mountaineering Association (CMA) officially denied the sighting claim. However, 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. If this report was accurate, at that altitude and date the body must have been that of either Mallory or Irvine.

Wang's sighting was the key to the discovery of Mallory's body 20 years later in the same general area, though Wang's reported description of the body he found: "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 golfball-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, and some argue it must have been Mallory, not Irvine, that Wang had found in 1975, despite the wide variances in body posture.

Another Chinese climber, Xu Jung, claims 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, he placed it between Camps VI and VII (Yellow Band, c. 8300 m), though later changed it to the NE-Ridge between the First and Second Steps (c. 8550 m). In spite of several such rumored and reported sightings, subsequent searches of the North Face have failed to find any trace of Irvine since his ice-axe was discovered in 1933. Some climbers believe Xu spotted Mallory. Xu reported that the body was lying on his back in a sleeping bag in a rock cleft, his feet pointing uphill, and his face blackened by frostbite. One possible location of Irvine's body is examined at[44833]. This detailed photo-interpretive analysis also shows how Mallory must have survived the initial ice axe fall but, because he was seriously injured in it, was required to slide from there down to where his body was found in 1999. [44834]

In July 2005 St.Petersburg Alpine Club 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 who reached the summit of Everest on 25 May 1960) given by him in Leningrad before the USSR Geographical Society in 1965. It claims that Wang Fuzhou then announced having seen a body of an European climber at an altitude of some 8600m, just below the notorious Second Step. [44835] In particular Wang laconically reported that their climbing party identified the body to be "European" by braces (suspenders) that it wore. Also, from that article it follows that Xu Jing could not see the body as he stayed behind in the high camp, whereas the finding was made by the climbers going for the summit.

Assessments by climbing partners

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."

Tom Longstaff: with Mallory on the 1922 Everest expedition, wrote in a letter to a friend, "It is obvious to any climber that they got up. You cannot expect of that pair to weigh up the chances of return. I should be weighing them still. It sounds a fair day. Probably they were above those clouds that hid them from Odell. How they must have appreciated that view of half the world. It was worthwhile to them. Now, they will never grow old and I am very sure they would not change places with any of us."

Geoffrey Winthrop Young: one of the most accomplished alpine climbers of his day, 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 disintegrate." When informed of Odell's belief that Mallory had climbed the Second Step, Winthrop Young was convinced he made the summit. He wrote: "After nearly twenty years' knowledge of Mallory as a mountaineer, I can say that difficult as it would have been for any mountaineer to turn back, with the only difficulty past, to Mallory it would have been an impossibility."


A range of different outcomes have 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 realizing 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 [44836] 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. As with all good mysteries, the fragmentary evidence leaves much room for speculation and hypothesis.

First "real" ascent, or just to the summit?

If evidence were to be uncovered which shows that George Mallory or Andrew Irvine reached the summit of Everest in 1924, advocates of Hillary & Norgay's first ascent maintain that the historical record should not be changed to state that they made the first ascent, displacing Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay. These mountaineers make the novel claim that a successful first ascent not only involves reaching the summit, but also returning to the bottom alive. 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 half done if you don't get down again".

Sir Edmund Hillary's assessment

Sir 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 may be 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 widely respected British Himalayan mountaineer, summed up the view of many mountaineers all over the world:
"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 cannot know."


Mallory was honored by having a court named after him at his alma mater, Magdalene College, Cambridgemarker, with an inscribed stone commemorating his death set above the doorway to one of the buildings.

Mallory was captured on film by expedition cameraman John Noel, who released his film of the 1924 expedition Epic of Everest upon returning.. 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 recreation of his last climb, Galahad of Everest

Tragedy in the mountains has proven a recurring theme in the Mallory line. Mallory’s younger brother, Air Chief Marshal Sir Trafford Leigh-Mallory, also 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, killing all on board. Mallory's daughter Frances Clare married physicist Glenn Millikan, who was killed in a climbing accident near Oak Ridge, Tennesseemarker during WWII.

Not all Mallory-related mountain endeavors have proven fateful. Frances Mallory's nephew, Rick Millikan, became a respectable climber in his own right during the 1960s and 70s. Mallory's grandson, also called George Mallory, reached the summit of Everest in 1995 via the North Ridge with six other climbers as part of the American Everest Expedition 1995. He left a picture of his grandparents at the summit citing 'Unfinished business'.


  2. HAZARDS OF THE ALPS. New York Times, 29 August 1923
  3. Holzel, Tom, and Salkeld, Audrey. The Mystery of Mallory & Irvine, Mountaineers Books, 2000, pp. 172-176.
  4. Rees, Nigel. Brewer's Famous Quotations: 5000 Quotations and the Stories Behind Them, Orion, 2006, p. 309.
  5. 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.
  6. Helmut Dumler and Willi P. Burkhardt, The High Mountains of the Alps, London: Diadem, 1994, p. 216.
  7. Reprinted as 'Pages from a Journal', in Peaks, Passes and Glaciers, ed. Walt Unsworth, London: Allen Lane, 1981, pp. 170–81
  8. The Advertiser Treachery at the top of the World, p. 3, 21 February 2009
  9. Mallory and Irvine 1924 Theories
  10. IMDB listing for John Noel's Epic of Everest
  11. A clip from Found on Everest on Riley Morton's web site which includes a shot of George Mallory
  12. IMDB listing for Galahad of Everest
  13. Everest Summits 1995

Further reading

  • 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
  • Firstbrook, Peter (1999) Lost on Everest: The Search for Mallory & Irvine. BBC Worldwide
  • Gillman, Peter and Leni (2000) The Wildest Dream: Mallory, His Life and Conflicting Passions. London: Headline (winner, Boardman Tasker Prize)
  • 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 Irvine)
  • Holzel, Tom & Salkeld, Audrey (1986) The Mystery of Mallory & Irvine. Revised edition: Seattle: Mountaineers Books, 1999
  • 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 9780571203147
  • Summers, Julie (2000) Fearless on Everest: the Quest for Sandy Irvine. (Republished 2008) ISBN 978-1-904466-31-4

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