Is the blood on George Mallory's
green, windproof jacket his own or could it have been Andrew
Irvine's? Were the goggles found
in Mallory's pocket his only pair, suggesting that when he fell it was after dark, or were
they just a spare pair? And could a man wearing a cotton pinstripe button-down flannel shirt, wool
long johns and knit leggings have climbed to the summit of Everest 75 years ago? Our
expedition is undecided, as the intriguing evidence neither proves that George Leigh
Mallory made it to the summit of Everest, nor proves conclusively that he did not.
Goggles found in Mallory's pocket.
Gazing at the artifacts from 1924 that were carefully retrieved by the climbers at
27,000 feet, one has a distinct sense of the fragility
of life on Everest. A climber can afford to carry very little with him on the summit
day other than the essentials; those few additional articles can tell us a lot about
the person, and very little about how high they climbed. What, if anything, would you
take with you to the summit of the world? And what evidence, other than a summit
photograph or rocks from the highest point, would you be able to present to skeptics
to prove that you had made it?
Sleeve with tape measure.
"I always carry letters from people who are close to me," commented Jake
Norton in an interview conducted
after the team found George Mallory on Everest. "The letters from (Mallory's) brother and
sister were wrapped up with notes from the expedition. I could see myself doing this as
well." Did Mallory intend to carry those letters to Everest's summit and leave them
there, or had he already been to the summit and left on its highest point a precious
note for the world that has never been recovered? The long list of questions
surrounding Mallory are as difficult to interpret as the list of certainties.