Andy Politz is 39 years old and lives in Columbus, Ohio. He has climbed Everest once, via the North Ridge. His career in the mountains has lasted 25 years, including guiding for 12 years at Mount Rainier. This is Politz' sixth Everest expedition. (He has been to the West Ridge, Kangshung Face, South Col, Japanese Couloir, and the North side.)
NOVA: Do you think Mallory and Irvine surmounted the Second Step and made it to the summit?
POLITZ: I believe Mallory and Irvine could have made it. Mallory was a good enough climber to have done
it. The climb is not all that severe and I personally like this scenario: Mallory climbed it because he could
have. He could have had a zenith of a day where all your best climbing skills ever have come together to meet
at this one point. This was his last chance, probably. I can understand where he'd feel a little bit desperate
and put his neck out farther than normal. I like to believe that he climbed it—got to the top. I
remember being up there and noticing there are no good places to put in an anchor to rappel off and
that is not terrain I would be very comfortable downclimbing. There are five feet at the top that
would be very difficult to downclimb. It's loose rock and very steep. It is absolutely vertical.
So I think that he climbed it, and I think that he was not able to descend the Second Step.