Everest 1999

Mount Everest (Chomolungma) Tibet Side


To seek answers to the disappearance of George Mallory and Sandy Irvine in 1924.



Conrad Anker -Dave Hahn Jake Norton Andy Politz Tap Richards Eric Simonson Jochen Hemmleb Lee Meyers Larry Johnson Dan Mann Michael Nelson Ntiyu Bernhard Rabus Schelleen Scott

Expedition Summary

(First published in The National Geographic Society book “Mystery on Everest, a photobiography of George Mallory by Audrey Salkeld”)

George Leigh Mallory and his drive to climb Mount Everest is an amazing story of determination and ability. The outcome of his final attempt to climb the highest point on earth is shrouded in mystery – He and his partner, Andrew Irvine, never returned. They were last seen “moving expeditiously” toward Everest’s summit on the 8th of June 1924. An afternoon squall enveloped the mountain, and Noel Odell, their companion who had sighted them, was left to wonder what had happened. Were the two climbers descending from the summit when they vanished? Over the past 75 years mountaineers and historians have pondered the fate of Mallory and Irvine: could the two climbers have reached the summit of Mount Everest 29 years before Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary in 1953.


The story of George Mallory is about who he was as a person, but it’s also about the meaning of exploration. Two important geographic milestones marked the beginning of the 20th century – the conquest of the north pole in 1909 and the south pole in 1911. The third pole, as Everest was dubbed, was the remaining prize for the exploration community. This goal launched three English expeditions in 1921, 1922 & 1924. The mountain was known to be the highest in the world, yet its’ formidable flanks had not been surveyed or attempted. A member of all three expeditions, Mallory was the person who defined Everest climbing. In 1921 his expert mountain sense opened the route on the north side, which is still climbed today. By 1922 the climbers knew the route, the timing of the monsoon, and the demands altitude places on the body. Mallory returned for this third attempt in the spring of 1924.


Seventy-five years later, on the first of May 1999, while climbing Everest, my teammates and I discovered the body of George Mallory. The new information yielded from artifacts and the placement of the body shed light on the difficulties Mallory and Irvine faced on their last day. They were exhausted, dehydrated, and the climbing was hard. It is likely the storm forced them to turn back before reaching the summit.


Regardless of whether Mallory and Irvine summited Everest in 1924, their story is one of great interest. They were trying something that had never been done before, and their task was daunting. How did humans function at extreme altitude? Was their equipment adequate? Would there be bad weather? Mallory applied organization, experience, and determination in answering these questions. Their efforts are an inspiration. Mountain climbing doesn’t produce material goods nor does it provide a service. Mountains are representations of goals in our lives. Your dreams may be in the mountains or in the world around you; they are worth striving for.


“Because it’s there,” Mallory’s famous reply when asked why he choose to climb Mount Everest, is as timely today as it was then. These simple and thoughtful words give us the courage to try something unknown, to better ourselves, and to persevere.