Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Who Conquered Mount Everest First? Part.II

          In the in 1960s, climbers were able to assemble a permanent ladder into the rock of the Second Step. But the notion that Mallory and Irvine couldn’t have mounted the Step has been disapproved; It has since been scaled by human power alone once when the ladder was broken, another time in 1999 by the climber investigating Mallory’s climb. So the door stays open to speculation that extraordinary will might have carried the men to the top. 

            In 1975, a Chinese climber kindled hopes that the mystery might be solved. He reported in broken English that at 27,000 feet he had found an “English Dead,” whose clothing disintegrated when touched. About 750 feet above the body, another climber had found Irvin’s ice ax, and several mountain climbers speculated that the corpse might be Irvine’s body. The climber who claimed to have found the body could not pinpoint its location – an expedition would be needed to relocate it.

         In late April of 1999, a crew called the Mallory and Irvine Research Expedition began their climb up the north side of Everest with two objectives: to locate the body seem by the Chinese climber and to reach the mountain’s summit. On May 2, climber Conrad Acker set off from the approximate point of the 1975 Chinese camp site, at 25,700 feet.

          He found several bodies in his search that morning, but their clothing and equipment indicated they were from recent times.  But after climbing a section of rock near Everest’s Camp VI, Acker looked to the west and “saw a patch of White… and went there. And within a few minutes…. I realized that this was not a body from recent times; it was something that had been there quite a while.” At first the members of the expedition thought Acker had found Irvine, but then the monogrammed handkerchief of George Leigh Mallory was discovered in the man’s pocket.
       The legend had been found, and Irvine has yet to show up. Nothing in Mallory’s possession revealed whether had made it to the summit. Notes found in his pockets were illegible, and it could not be determined whether the fall he appears to have suffered came while going up to the summit or on his way down.


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