Monday, November 1, 2010

Who Conquered Mount Everest First? Part.I


           Sir Edmund Hillary gets the credit, but could a Cambridge professor have been first to reach the Himalayan Summit?  – A mystery must be solved.
        Geologist Noel Odell looked up near the summit of Mount Everest at about1 P.M.  on June, 1924, and saw two distant figures he knew; the 38 years old Welshman George Leigh Mallory and his 23 years old assistant, Sandy Irvine. Mallory, a Cambridge professor and a veteran of two other attempts at the summit, was a man of remarkable courage and daring; it was he who replied famously to the question of why he kept trying to climb Everest; “Because it is there” Irvine, who had no previous experience climbing at high altitudes, was strong, handsome Oxford student and an expert in the operation of oxygen tanks. When Odell spied the men at 1PM working their way up a section of the mountain’s difficult North Slope, higher than anyone had ever gone before, he thought they would reach the summit, making them the first men ever to ascend the 29,000 foot peak. Not long after this sighting, however, clouds concealed the men. They were never seen alive again.

Mallory and Ruth
       More than three quarters of a century after the 1924 expedition, the question still remains: Did Mallory and Irvine manage to conquer the world’s highest mountain, 29 years before the first acknowledged ascent of the summit by Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay?
      When Odell last spotted Mallory and Irvine they were trying to climb an area that has since become known as the Second Step- a difficult, 300 foot high wall of rock at about 28,000 feet. For a climber scaling Everest on the north side, as Mallory and Irvine were, there is no feasible way to reach the summit without surmounting this difficult rock outcrop. In addition, the men were burdened with oxygen tanks that weighed about 30 pounds. And the layers of wool clothing that Mallory and Irvine wore to keep warm were considerably heavier than the garb available to later climbers.
Mallory and Irvine

          Several Experts have contended that it would have been impossible for Mallory and Irvine to ascend the out crop by virtue of their own strength alone. The first group to complete Mallory’s route up the mountain Chinese expeditionary force in 1960was able to mount the second step only by taking their boots off and standing on each other's shoulders an effort that resulted in severe frostbite for a number of the climbers.

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