cover image Ghosts of Everest: The Search for Mallory & Irvine

Ghosts of Everest: The Search for Mallory & Irvine

Jochen Hemmleb. Mountaineers Books, $29.95 (205pp) ISBN 978-0-89886-699-5

One of the great mysteries of modern exploration and adventure is whether British climbers George Mallory and Andrew Irvine reached Mount Everest's summit on their pioneering 1924 expedition in which both men vanished. Were they the first to scale the world's highest spot, decades before Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay made their successful ascent in 1953? On the 75th anniversary of the ill-fated duo's disappearance, a 1999 Everest expedition--with Simonson as team leader, Hemmleb as historical adviser and Johnson as team coordinator--attempted to retrace Mallory and Irvine's probable route and solve the mystery. Incredibly, they discovered Mallory's body--remarkably intact, badly bruised and with a broken leg--frozen in the snow. In a taut narrative that skillfully jump-cuts between the 1924 Mallory/Irvine expedition and their own, the authors make a compelling case that Mallory fell to his death and that he appears to have been roped to Irvine, who also fell and was injured. (Irvine's body was reportedly sighted by a Chinese climber in 1975, but this awaits further proof.) Did Mallory and Irvine make it to Everest's summit? ""It is more likely than had previously been thought that they did make it--but it is still far from certain,"" conclude the authors. They base their analysis on their findings atop Everest, including personal letters and an inventory of oxygen tanks they found in Mallory's pockets. Their report, a work of historic importance that reads like a detective thriller, includes a moving foreword by Mallory's daughter, Clare Mallory Millikan, plus 100 photographs (80 in color, 20 sepia) illustrating both the 1999 search expedition and Mallory's 1924 attempt. First serial to Outside; author tour. (Oct.)