Writer and mountaineer Graham Hoyland lives in High Peak, Derbyshire, England. In 1993,
he became the 15th Briton to climb Everest. The 1999 expedition was Graham's third trip
to Everest, and his goal was to help solve
the mystery of Mallory and Irvine. Unfortunately,
Graham's health was adversely affected at high altitude, and he returned home to England on the advice of physicians.
HOYLAND: I personally believe they did, and I've got good reasons for that.
When I was 12 years old I met up with my great uncle, Howard Somervell. He was a great
friend of Mallory's. When he came down from his own summit attempt back in '24, he
handed his camera over to Mallory (who had forgotten his own camera) and Mallory promptly
went up near the summit of Everest and disappeared forever. When I met my uncle he told me
all about this story and said that he thought Mallory might have done it. He also said he'd
quite like his camera back. So, I've come here to try and prove if I can that Mallory climbed
Everest and also to try and retrieve my uncle's camera.
NOVA: Why are you so sure that they made it?
HOYLAND: I'm absolutely convinced that George Mallory climbed Everest back in 1924.
First of all, they were seen going strongly for the top by
Noel Odell. Secondly,
they had good weather, and they had oxygen. Thirdly, this was Mallory's last time on Everest.
He just had to do something with his life. He was surrounded by other men in the climbing team
who were very accomplished; they were professional men. He hadn't really had a chance to fulfill
his early promise and I think this was his big thing. I think he was very, very motivated to
climb Everest. And I think fourthly, the spirit of the age was one of self-sacrifice. They had
just had a lot of deaths in the First World War and I feel that Mallory felt this was
something worth dying for.
NOVA: How do you think they perished?
HOYLAND: My theory is that they got up to the foot of the Second Step—George Mallory was a very good rock climber, he was the best climber of his generation.
My feeling is that he took Sandy Irvine's oxygen, he got a shoulder stand to get up
the Second Step, and
he went on solo up to the summit. I think on his return it was getting very late.
He couldn't get back down the rope because there are no anchor points up there. I
think Mallory died up there, maybe that night, and I think Sandy Irvine tried to
get back down to the camp and died looking for it in the dark. Now, I think the
body that's been found up there by Wang, the Chinese climber, I believe that may be
Sandy Irvine's body. So my feeling is that the mountain was climbed but both
Mallory and Irvine died.