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  • Stephen Shields

The 1924 Mallory Everest Expedition.


Portrayed as Oliver Hall is Shields latest novel Peak XV, renowned English mountaineer George Mallory (1886-1924) participated in the early 20th-century attempts by British climbers to reach the summit of Mount Everest, the highest mountain in the world. It is possible that he and his climbing partner, Andrew “Sandy” Irvine, were the first people to reach the summit. However, because they died in the attempt, whether or not they succeeded remains a mystery.


Their first few failures left the explorers undaunted. On June 6, 1924, Mallory and climber Andrew Irvine emerged from their tent at Camp IV on the 13,280-foot-high North Col of Everest, ready to make another attempt on the summit. They had spent two months walking from Darjeeling, India, to reach this spot. Other members of their expedition were camped nearby: Colonel Edward Felix Norton lay in his tent, suffering from snow blindness, and Noel Ewart Odell and John de Vere Hazard had made breakfast of fried sardines, biscuits, tea, and hot chocolate. They had already tried twice to attempt the summit but had failed. Now they were running out of supplies. Many of their porters had become sick, and now time was running out. Any day now—or hour—the snow season would begin, burying the mountain in fierce storms. Mallory and Irvine were determined to make one last summit attempt. They set out and were last spotted only 800 feet from the summit disappearing into a massive storm that covered the top third of the mountain. On June 21, 1924, the London Times published the story: "Mallory and Irvine Killed on Last Attempt."

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