Mallory & Irvine Everest Searches, 1999-2019

by JAKE NORTON

April 2023
Twenty-four years ago, in 1999, Conrad Anker discovered the remains of George Mallory on Mount Everest as part of our 1999 Mallory & Irvine Research Expedition. Since that time, a lot has transpired: numerous searches have been conducted, many camps and artifacts have been found, and a plethora of theories, ideas, and observations have been […]

Twenty-four years ago, in 1999, Conrad Anker discovered the remains of George Mallory on Mount Everest as part of our 1999 Mallory & Irvine Research Expedition.

Since that time, a lot has transpired: numerous searches have been conducted, many camps and artifacts have been found, and a plethora of theories, ideas, and observations have been made about the final days and hours of George Mallory and Andrew Irvine in June 1924.

Sid Pattison works his way across the Longland Traverse back toward the main climbing route and the 1933 Camp VI. The Northeast Ridge rises above with The Warts directly above Sid, and the First Step and Summit clearly visible in the distance.

A year ago, after many requests, I posted an interactive, visual project showing as best I could the searches that took place 1999-2019 (the latter being the last time the North Side of Everest was open, and the last time searches were conducted), the routes and areas searched, items found, etc. It turned out fairly well, I think, but many people had one request: to overlay all the findings on a head-on view of Everest rather than a top-down view from a satellite.

Well, doing that took recreating all the data points on new images, so it took some time. But, I finally worked my way through the last bits recently, and have a new, updated version to share with you all. This new version has the original satellite view, plus two additional "head on" views.

The first head-on view is a multi-image panorama taken by me from Rongbuk Basecamp in May 2004 as Dave Hahn and I wrapped up our 2004 search expedition. The second is an enhanced image taken from a helicopter by Simone Moro when I was attempting the West Ridge in 2012. Simone took the image at our request so we could suss out the conditions in the Diagonal Ditch and Hornbein Couloir, but it ended up being a great image for this purpose as well.

As always, please read the instructions (which open on load) and the caveats in there. But, most importantly, enjoy, and let me know what questions/concerns/corrections you may have!

9 comments on “Mallory & Irvine Everest Searches, 1999-2019”

  1. This is top shelf work once again Jake. I havent seen anything like this anywhere else.

    Am still wrapping my head around it all and the intricacies and terrifying gradients. So much ground seems to have been covered but i guess there is still a possibility Irvine is somewhere up there under rocks and snow.

    Hopefully someone can keep on looking.

    Cheers Alex

    1. Thanks, Alex. It was fun to put together, albeit enormously frustrating at times from a software point of view. But, glad you enjoyed it!

      It is a complex region to be sure, and not a fun one to "search" in, as so much focus is spent on just not becoming the subject of a future search mission! But, like you said, a lot of the ground has been covered and searched somewhat thoroughly. I still think there are places where Irvine could be, and not yet been found, and of course other artifacts from their attempt. Would love (kind of) to get back for another search someday, but not holding my breath for that to come to fruition!

      Best, Jake

  2. Jake as an excellent athlete and amateur outdoors man like Irvine, I would have died on Everest with Mallory. The following is how: We stopped below the 1st step and I leaned my axe to use both hands. When finished we continued in our zoombie state toward CampVI. After a few minutes, I realize that I forgot my axe. I tugged on the 30ft tether and got Mallory's attention. He knew that we couldn't get down without the axe. Retracing his steps he approached me and this is when fatigue and disgust broke Mallory's concentration. Without warning he slipped and we plummeted down the North face. After what seemed an eternity, I stopped sliding. In an exhausted, hypothermic state I lay there semi-conscious, but unbroken. Finally, my life force prompted me to move. I called for Mallory but no answer. I tugged on the tethered and felt resistance. I crawled over and found Mallory unresponsive. I pulled my knife and cut the tether. With my OODA loop spinning out of control, I made a decision to keep moving East with a Horizontal decent. In my weak and confused state, I tried desperately to hug the 30 degree face. Unfortunately without an axe or lamp, my progress was so slow that the hypothermia overwhelmed me. I made it maybe 50 feet and then gravity pulled me off the mountain. Basically unconscious, I free fell in that comfortable dream state until hitting the glacier below. (This scenario is based on my many negative outdoor adventures: hypothermia, lost after dark, sliding down shale walls, rock faces, icy slopes and pitched roofs, cold hands, frozen ropes. Even extreme exhaustion. Not being properly trained for failure resulted in many near death experiences. Panic and confusion below 6000Ft is survivable not at 26,000ft+.) Thank you for all the details in search of answers to this mystery.

  3. Why do the marks you have on one map differ from the marks you have on your interactive map? Specifically the distance and angle from the ice axe to Mallory’s body ? Michale Tracy makes some good points about this. Also what happened to Mallory’s 2nd glove ? Did Thom Pollord take it when they were stripping Mallory of everything?

    1. Hi Ryan,
      Thanks for your note, and sorry for my delayed reply. I've been in Tanzania guiding and off grid for the most part.

      Anyway, on the marks, I'm not sure what other maps aside from the interactive map you are referring to, but happy to address those questions if you can be more specific. I know well that Michael likes to pick apart everything that everyone has done with regard to telling this story (aside from his own work on it), and seems to come at everything with an angle of conspiracy, malintent, etc. That's his prerogative and I'm not interested in debating him on those fronts any longer as it seems to always lead to him insisting nefarious things were and are and always have been afoot.

      Regardless, as for the ice ax, the truth is no one really knows where exactly the ax was found by Sir Percy Wyn-Harris in 1933. I looked around quite a bit in 2001 with Brent Okita (not knowing at the time that Sir Percy had actually taken both axes to Camp VI and didn't, as had been reported, leave his behind) to no avail. So, I personally can't say where with any precision Irvine's ax was found in '33. I don't believe anyone can. So, certainly my markings are not precise on the interactive/virtual Everest, nor on the search maps project I put together. The reason: I don't know where it was found, nor do I think the precise location matters much. If one knows this terrain, they know that it is an area where a fall of any magnitude is extremely unlikely, whether it be Mallory or Irvine or someone in the modern era. So, personally I'm not sure what the issue is, and I'm sure Michael has made something of it all, but I haven't paid much attention to him and his videos in quite some time for reasons already stated.

      As for a second glove, no, I don't think Thom took it. I know Michael is likely pushing that narrative - again, conspiracy and evil abound in his worldview I reckon - but I have a hard time imagining Thom swiping a glove to put it on his mantel or something. To what end? Why would he do that, and then hide it from the world? It makes no sense outside of a fever dream. But, to me more specific, as it was Tap Richards and I doing most of the work in Mallory's pockets, etc., I only know of one glove being found. Just one. Conrad and David Roberts likely got it wrong, or more likely it was missed in the final edits and went to print that there were two gloves. These things happen.

      Thanks, Ryan. Please understand I appreciate Michael Tracy's work to a large degree and the new information and ideas he's brought up even if I disagree with some of his theories. It is his insistence that everyone but him is either stupid, evil, or both, and working hard to hide the truth, that I find both sad and distracting from the good information he has. Too bad, but such is life.

  4. Dear Jake,
    sorry for my English language, but I left school a long time ago...
    One question has been bothering me over the years. When Odell left camp VI at 4.30 p.m. he watched the upper part of the mountain, but couldn't see any trace of Mallory and Irvine. Since you know the location of camp VI and the perspective to the summit, my question to you: Is it possible that Odell wasn't able to see his companions for several minutes, because they were hidden behind rocks or moving in a gully or something else ? Or does this mean, that Mallory had already fallen to his death ?
    Thank you very much,
    Ulrich Holzinger (from Germany)

    1. Guten tag, Ulrich! Thanks for your note, and no worries about English - yours seems better than mine, and certainly better than my German!

      That's a good question regarding Odell and why he couldn't see Mallory and Irvine when he looked in the afternoon of June 8. The photo below gives you a pretty accurate view of what Odell would have seen from Camp VI on the North Ridge. Brent Okita took this photo of my in 2001 when we found the 1924 Camp VI, and the Camp is located just 50 meters of so above where this was taken. As you can see, the First, Second, and Third Steps are all pretty clear and defined, and you can even see Mushroom Rock pretty easily. So, this would have been essentially the view Odell would have had:

      Climbing the North Ridge of Mount Everest off the normal route above Camp V and looking for the 1924 Camp VI, which was found by Jake Norton and Brent Okita on that day. This is a similar location and view to Noel Odell's famed final view of George Mallory and Andrew Irvine on June 8, 1924, before they disappeared into the mist.

      So, I think if they were on the Ridge, he would have seen them. But, if they were, at 4:30 PM, not on the ridgecrest it would be easy to miss them.

      If interested, I wrote a piece last year about Odell's final view: https://jakenorton.com/to-see-or-not-to-see-that-is-the-question-for-noel-odell/

      Hope this helps, and write back with more questions!

      - Jake

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