The Search for Andrew Irvine, 2004

by JAKE NORTON

July 2006
Jake Norton discovers a mystery camp high on the Northeast Ridge of Mount Everest - high altitude archaeology in action!

Each year, I have the opportunity to re-tell the story of famed Everest pioneers Mallory & Irvine to audiences around the world. I was fortunate enough to be a part of the discovery of George Mallory's remains in 1999, and returned to the mountain in 2001 and 2004 to search for more clues. While we still have not found Irvine or the elusive camera (which might yield conclusive evidence as to whether or not the duo reached the summit on June 8, 1924), we made some amazing discoveries of old camps, artifacts, and bots and pieces from the pre-World War II expeditions.

Certain questions always seem to arise after presenting my Lost on Everest: The Enduring Mystery of Mallory & Irvine show is:

  • What are the artifacts on the mountain like?
  • Are they scattered around for anyone to find?
  • What is the terrain like?
  • Is it dangerous?

Well, for those who are interested, I have a video showing the "mystery" camp I found on the First Step in 2004. If you are not familiar with it, the First Step sits at about 27,600 feet on Everest's Northeast Ridge, and is the first major obstacle encountered on summit day.

In 2004, I decided to climb the prow of the Step rather than skirt the Western edge as the current route does. My reasoning was twofold: First, I had a hunch this was the way Mallory & Irvine would have gone, as it seems more logical from below. Second, I was lured up onto the prow by an oxygen bottle which looked enticingly similar to the Mallory & Irvine bottle Tap Richards and I found in 1999. 

Enjoy the video, and let me know if you have any questions!

7 comments on “The Search for Andrew Irvine, 2004”

  1. Hi Jake,

    Interesting video, but I am unable to get any sound out of it. I don't think it's my PC, but who knows, these things aren't toasters, are they.

    (You may recall that we met when you gave your talk in Colorado Springs a few years ago).

    Bill Yowell

  2. Extremely interesting, will the search be continued and maybe a third book on the search ? THKS for sharing all the info

  3. Hi Jake, I'm fascinated by the Mallory and Irvine story and I'm very hopeful that Irvine will be found soon. Hopefully you'll be a part of that one too. Even if the camera isn't recovered it would be nice to know what happened and provide at least some closure. This video allows us "armchair" climbers to get a taste of what it's like at some 28,000 feet! Take care. Brian

  4. Hi Jake, The footage and passion you have for the story is truely amazing and has only re-confirmed my ambition to clime on Everest one day. I am Noel Ewart Odells great-grandson and have grown up with this epic tale. Are there any future expeditions planned to find Irvine?

    1. Hi William,

      Thanks for your reply, and it is a pleasure to meet you. Your great-grandfather has long been a hero of mine, and I am honored to "know" someone related to him! He was quite a man, and quite a climber, to say the least. You should certainly keep your sights set on Everest - despite the media's spin on it, it's still a fabulous place and well worth a visit. And, to walk in your great-grandfather's footsteps would, I'm sure, be quite an experience. If you make it to the region, you should also certainly visit the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute in Darjeeling, West Bengal, India, as in their museum are your great-grandfather's rapelling gloves from 1924.

      On future expedition plans, there are always rumors, but nothing definitive so far as I know. I hope, someday, to know more about Mallory & Irvine's fate however.

      I'll send you a note in a moment to communicate directly, but must run now as I'm out the door to India in a few hours.

      Thank you again, and all my best regards,

      Jake

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