History Passes as They Rest at the Top of the World


Today in History, May 1, 1999:

George Leigh Mallory is found after having gone missing on June 8-9, 1924.  Mallory was found within 800 feet of the summit of Mount Everest, the tallest mountain in the world.  He and his climbing partner, Andrew “Sandy” Irvine, were last seen nearing the summit on the Tibetan side of the mountain by another climber.  Irvine is still yet to be found.

Mallory had taken part in three attempts to reach the top of the mountain before he and Irvine went missing.  When an expedition searching for the pair found Mallory, he was at 26,760 feet and remarkably well preserved by the freezing temperatures.  After taking photos (they are online…I did not include them) and collecting evidence, the team respectfully buried the climber.

It is so far unknown whether either or both men reached the summit.  Mallory carried a photo of his wife which he intended to place atop the mountain…it was not found on his body.  A camera the pair took with them to record the event has not yet been found.  If it ever is, Kodak indicated with the right care, the film may be developed.  Even the first person documented to have reached the summit, Sir Edmund Hillary, commented that Mallory may have beaten him to the top.

All of this adventure is fascinating.  Of course, my thoughts turn to the history which passed by while Mallory rested on top of the world.  His wife and children lived their lives.  The Great Depression passed.  Many dignitaries attended a memorial for Mallory and Irvine.  Mallory’s younger brother Trafford Leigh-Mallory fought in the Battle of Britain and became Air Chief Marshall commanding the air forces in the Normandy invasion before being killed in an air crash (along with his wife and 7 others), ironically, in the Alps.

And of course the Jet Age, man’s entry into space and numerous wars all passed in the 75 years before Mallory was discovered.

Ever been to the thin air atop Pike’s Peak?  It is 14,114 feet, not even half of Mount Everest’s 29,029 feet.  Amazing.

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