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  Mt Everest: Mallory and Irvine The Final Chapter: Q&A January 2005 Part One



A. EverestNews.com: is our reply to the question.

Q. Is the question from our reader, not our opinions or thoughts.

In some cases you will note we just publish a reader's comments. That does not mean we agree or disagree with the reader.

Q. Fascinating theory. Excellent research. Regarding relics and mementos that are left on the summit of Everest - and whether their presence or absence is "proof" that someone has summited or not -I had always assumed that anything left atop Everest would likely be blown off the summit in fairly short order, even if "buried" on the summit. Does anyone with firsthand knowledge of how long things really "stay" on Everest's summit care to chime in with an opinion?

A. EverestNews.com: No.

Q. Xu interview, amazing, enlightening, revolutionary... all these apply. I can now see where your theory comes from. But, this information is so important and key to the mystery that I have to ask; why did none of this come out when Xu was interviewed for the Detectives on Everest book?

A. EverestNews.com: We don't know.

On the issue "so important"; to us Xu statements are a small piece of the puzzle.

On the issue of "key to the mystery"; We don't see Xu's statements as the "key to the mystery" when you consider all the other important information.

Q. I am glad that you appear to have proven that M&I got to the second step as I always felt that was their minimum max height. I was unhappy with the pictures in Ghosts & Detectives of proven max height - it didn't feel right to me.

I can't help but think that if your theory is correct - that M went above the second step on his own, perhaps without oxygen, then there will be nothing to prove how far he got unless something is found buried at/near the summit. And strangely that may be no bad thing, we admire them for being up there, rather than for what they did or did not do.

However, I do hope that the location of Irvine's body now becomes accepted, and your theory as a realistic one, from other scholars.

Q. Did you find body parts above 8400 or 8500 meters in your searches?

A. EverestNews.com: Yes we found body parts (no we are not saying where). We did not bring them back, nor are we going to pick up and bring back body parts. It is not going to happen by us, ever.

To the question that surely will be asked as a follow up. We don't know if any of those parts were Sandy's. But bodies that fall from the ridge or up high, lose body parts they they come down the mountain... Horrible...

Q. Thanks for your priceless effort. I believe that after the big steps forward that you made during this time, you just can't leave things inconcluded. So you will have to return to Everest. Go for it!

A. EverestNews.com: The Next Chapter will be much harder than the last. We are studying options currently....

Q. I have thought about it a lot.  And, I believe that the theory put forth about Mallory summating is very plausible.  The next task at hand would be to back track what is believed to be his path and look for items left behind. Thanks for the great work and this is as interesting as anything I could imagine.

A. EverestNews.com: Yes

Q. Excellent analysis of Mallory and Irvine expedition - your theory explains virtually all of the previous problematic questions and is most consistent with their climbing techniques.  After your theory, no other theory comes within a light year of making sense.  Excellent work! 

Q. First, I hope you guys get the recognition you deserve for all this work. As a Brit I would love to see it in the Sunday Times one day...

A. EverestNews.com: We don't think it is yet time for that. But they check in about once a month...

Q. [Question continued]: - I think Mallory would not have taken Norton's route because Norton failed (N: 'could not get up through there, it easier to come down than go up', M: I'll climb the summit via the ridge' but thinks; might be a good return route)

A. EverestNews.com: It is possible, but then why would Sandy be on the ridge? We discussed this before....

Q. [Question continued]:  - did they take 2 or 3 bottles, I like Mallory taking 2 and Irvine taking 3 - this covers the options and there is a picture of Irvine with 3 bottles in his rack lower down the mountain. Also Irvine was a bigger lad, and if its too much, its easy to dump one, even if only half empty. I know we will probably never know

A. EverestNews.com: No one knows...

Q. [Question continued]:  - 'he climbed the bastard to fulfil his destiny' so well put, what a picture Mallory would have made on the summit

- other opinions/theories. IMO they do not make sense, I am not saying that there is no other option but I do not think your (options) stack up, and I think you agree.

- M& I separating. You make Mallory seem a little ruthless, probably not intentional, but another scenario is: Mallory - ''help me up, I'll get to the summit, if I do not return in 1 hour then go back to camp and I'll descend via Norton's route"

- Irvine was clearly the weaker of the two at high altitude. He had been suffering with sunburn, and a couple of days earlier had had a bad day. Altitude would have affected him much quicker than M. In fact this may have been considered when they separated, M had the strength, Irvine did not. So the point above was planned.

- Irvine may have succumbed quite quickly. M (due to fitness and experience of being at altitude) was clearly much more suited. On another day Norton (with similar altitude experience) may have made it up through the couloir w/o O2..

I am really glad that you were skeptics who now believe it happened as this adds even more credibility. I have always been a - I hope they made it, perhaps a 40% chance. Now I feel about 80%, 100% obviously only comes with proof, but I can now say to myself; 'it was very likely, based upon new research and findings, that M did in fact make it'. and that's a nice thought to end the year with.

Q. Howdy, hope all is well.  Have you thought about having either a US or British military spy satellite search for Sandy?  With their ability to image people on the ground it would make an excellent challenge/training device for the soldiers/personnel involved, and might be seized upon by the British government as a way to determine if “their boys” got there earlier than expected.  Or, one could have a spy satellite simply look for the camera instead? 

A. EverestNews.com: Not impressed with all this spy sat stuff. Where is OBL?? When they can find him… You need climbers on the ground to find what we are looking for.

Q. Why is Tom West going back? 

A. EverestNews.com: Because he came down with the fever while on Everest.

Q. [Question continued]: Sandy is “out of reach” by ground based attempts, so is there more trace evidence? 

A. EverestNews.com: Of course....

Q. [Question continued]:  Are there any methods to test found objects for fibers or DNA from skin? 

A. EverestNews.com: The main problem we have found to date is finding what to test them against. We have not been able to obtain a piece of the rope that was found with Mallory, nor other articles we would like to have tested. However, these things take time...

Q. [Question continued]: And does he believe that what he might find would add significant weight to the theory?

A. EverestNews.com: Tom believes, "Yes". Tom thinks there is a real possibility of solving this mystery with another trip.

Q. [Question continued]: Hey guys, Great job!!

You never mentioned if YOUR guy said that he saw the body between the 1st and 2nd steps.

A. EverestNews.com: True, nor have we now... We have not said where that source or any of the others sources except Xu said he seen the body.  We think we have covered this, several times. We do not plan on changing that position.

Q. [Question continued]: Can you elaborate a little on your "trace physical evidence" why you think "something happened"?

A. EverestNews.com: We discussed part of it on the site, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

Well, if something looks like rope is it? Maybe it is, maybe it is not... We don't have what we need to do what we need to do the tests currently. Then again does it really matter? The Next Chapter really needs to have a focus on George Mallory and how he got to where his body was found in 1975.

Our Theory 10/2004 has Sandy not summiting. All these fibers will do, if they are found to be Sandy's, would be to confirm the place of death or a place where one or both of them sat down.

With five apparent eyewitnesses to the location of Sandy Irvine's body high on the ridge of Mt Everest, some of these witnesses have never met and have surely never spoken, we believe the place of death for Sandy Irvine as been "set".

Is there a possible chance that George and Sandy both summited and they separated on the Summit and came down separately. However, it seems highly unlikely. But we can't prove it did not happen.

Q. [Question continued]: You guys did a great job developing and testing your theory. I've checked in every day since the start of climbing season on Everest. Hopefully you'll have more for us soon...maybe answers to the above questions in a mailbag.

Also, how did we get up to 8 people having seen Irvine?  Xu, your source, that makes two.  Where did the other 6 come from?

A. EverestNews.com: The count is currently 5. While some think this is rocket science. If a guy saw him in 1960 and another in _____ and you talk to the others climbers. Well bingo!!! The answer is talking to climbers. We have more to ask and talk to. Our to do list is very long.

That is what we do at EverestNews.com; we talk to probably an average of 15-20 Everest climbers a day....

Q. [Question continued]: Once again, great job, you guys blow me away…everything that was thought “for certain” a year ago about Mallory and Irvine’s last day has been upended by your work.  Nice going!

A. EverestNews.com: Thanks for the kind words, the big question is still out there...

Q. Are there any methods to test found objects for fibers or DNA from skin?

A. EverestNews.com: We ARE NOT doing a body part hunt. NO way. Not us. We will pass on that one… There are several body parts high on Everest. Let’s not go there. We are not going there.

Q. [Follow up]: Oh yeah- “testing found objects”- I didn’t mean testing body parts- I meant for example if you found an article of clothing, such as a scarf or something torn away by the wind…could THAT be tested forensically- i.e. “we found tattered clothing above the second step made of certain natural fiber….forensic analysis later determined that microscopic bits of blood or skin were consistent with George’s DNA, thus we believe he scaled the second step”- NOT a body part hunt.

A. EverestNews.com: Sure, obviously. But does that prove it was Sandy's? No, not unless you have a sample to test it against.

Q. [Follow up]: Re the fibers- modern fibers would look dramatically different under a microscope than fibers from Mallory’s day…..if any fibers of their clothing were found frozen to artifacts they may have jettisoned, well, that could prove circumstantial. 

A. EverestNews.com: The fibers look very old. Some look like clothes. The fibers vary considerably.

High camp on Mt Everest Camp 6 from the some, camp 3 for others©EverestNews.com

Q. [Follow up]: Of course, if one found an oxygen bottle above the second step one might see no need to look for fiber evidence frozen to it; the oxygen bottle itself might be taken as proof that they got “that high.” (Unless of course one thinks the Chinese took it with them to that height, for example).  

BUT…if we know WHAT Mallory and Irvine each wore that day, and we can find fiber evidence of one of those items of clothing there….then perhaps we can say with some certainty which one of them an object belonged to.

A. EverestNews.com: We don’t know what Sandy was wearing and the Irvine's does not have samples for us to test.

We have taken the fibers to two Universities. Both have been interesting and good learning experiences. But we have not drawn any conclusions yet except "something happened at that location", it is possible these fibers are from the Chinese. It simply is not determined at this point.

Q. What about testing against George's DNA sample?

A. EverestNews.com: One of the prior M&I climbers told us that George's DNA sample was destroyed and never developed. Assuming that is correct, which we have no reason to believe it is not, there is no sample of George's DNA.

We ask that you hold your additional questions for now until after we have posted the whole Q&A, we have several more questions to post, but feedback and thoughts are always welcome at EverestNews.com

Next why climbers stories from 8000 meters vary and why ice axes fall down hill.

We went to Mount Everest in search of an answer.


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