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Set 4, posted May 7, 1999
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E-mail from Audrey Salkeld
Received May 7, 1999

Dear Liesl,

I have several thoughts on your May 6 dispatch, "Pieces of the Puzzle."

First the marks on the ice axe. There is not, as the correspondent in the Daily Telegraph implied yesterday, just one set of marks on the ice axe found in 1933. it is not a question of three notches or a cross. Both marks are visible on the one axe. The three notches are pretty well identical to those on the swagger stick belonging to Irvine - these two items will be displayed side by side, I understand, at the exhibition later this month at Sandy's old School, Shrewsbury. The cross is a rough identification mark and is surely the mark Wyn-Harris's sherpa made.

When it comes to the three steps, the so-called 'Third Step' entered The 'literature' by that name in my book People in High Places. Until then the argument had been solely between the First and Second Steps. It had appeared that, under questioning, Odell thought it must have been the Second Step where he saw the two climbers; when told later that his vision couldn't have been enacted upon the Second Step in the timescale he'd given, he conceded it might have been the First. By the 1930s he was writing that he thought he was right first time. But for the rest of his life he wavered and when David and I interviewed him in 1986 he said words to the effect that 'to this day' he couldn't be sure on which of the two steps he'd seen them, but see them he did.

The possibility of them being higher struck me when I saw that black and white photograph on which a lesser 'third step' appears. And it was only after making the suggestion that I saw Odell's diary entry for the first time - which may very well have been the first thing he jotted down after the sighting. That is where he says 'on ridge nearing base of the final pyramide'.

Best wishes,



News of the discovery of Mallory brings a partial closure to those of us who were fortunate enough to hear Noel Odell's talk and his lantern slide presentation during a symposium in Yosemite in the early 1980s. Noel was the last person to have seen Mallory alive. Too bad he can't be present when Mallory's camera will be ultimately found, revealing whether he was truly the first man to reach the world's highest summit.

Bishop, CA


This is why I have a computer. I'll be with you every step.

I am a 32-year-old father of three and my children and I are eagerly watching and reading the updates. After the operation is concluded, one of my daughters will write a paper on the Mt. Everest Mystery and the subsequent search. Thank you for a wonderful learning tool and inviting the world to participate.

(name witheld by request)


To the dedicated members of this inspiring expedition:

As one who's loved being in and among the mountains (though mostly the Whites of NH, Adirondacks of NY, and nothing higher than Rainier and the Grand Teton) as you do, Everest and its history have held my interest since I was 13 (35 years ago). And the mystery of Mallory and Irvine has been a centerpiece of that fascination. Recently, in discussing my preparations for a presentation on White Mountain history, a librarian on Nantucket Island talked about her passion for historical information that adds to one's "Sense of Place." I can't express how much you've added to the "Sense of Place" regarding Mt. Everest, for me and, I'm sure, others like me. It's a very tangible feeling, despite the fact that you guys are thousands of miles away, and close to 20,000 feet above most of us. After reading the first account of your discovery in the newspaper and visiting the Web site, I was excitedly looking for someone to share the news with. Wished I had been in the mountains among people who, I knew, share my excitement, and reverence for what your team is endeavoring to do.

And then, while awaiting some commentary on your discovery on last night's Lehrer Report on PBS, I was treated to the thoughtful commentary of David Breashears, seasoned with a bit of Edmund Hillary! 'Couldn't have been a better combination!

Good luck fellas, best wishes, and may the rest of your climb be happy, safe and successful. Even if you don't find Irvine, you've already accomplished a lion's share. And thanks for sharing it with modest-mountaineers like me.

You've created a living link to an important piece of mountaineering and exploration history. I'll be watching for your updates and thinking good thoughts for each and every one of you. If Mallory's spirit is somehow a witness to your efforts, I'm sure he's deeply gratified.

One Final Note: Mr. Breashears, - I've seen your IMAX film masterpiece, have been reading accounts of the IMAX expedition in the National Geographic book, and read Krakauer's as well - You and your IMAX team (your response to the '96 Everest tragedy) exemplified the essence of real teamwork and selfless commitment to fellow climbers. You all were heroes in the true sense of the word, although none of you sought that recognition or publicity. You simply did what you knew had to be done in the midst of physical barriers so severe as to be virtually unimaginable to most of us. A benchmark that few of us will equal, but worth the effort at all times, just the same.

(name witheld by request)


Hello—I'm Andrew Irvine's official biographer, and wanted to congratulate NOVA on its fine work. I can't wait to view [the] program.

All my best,

Salena Moffat


Hey team:
Just wanted to send my best wishes to the team attempting the Everest expedition. Your courage, efforts, and exciting adventure are an inspiration to us all. Having taught history, and now teaching health and fitness, I'm so impressed with your physical efforts, combined with your adventurous exploration. You guys are truly modern day explorers who we can all look up to.

Best wishes, good luck, and God be with you.


Cary Lindley
Houston, TX


I teach 7th graders and we are covering Mt. Everest and the Himalayas this year. Earlier this year we went to see the IMAX film Everest and we have talked about Hillary and Norgay. My students are fascinated (one has even decided he wants to climb Everest!), so when I came across this site I shared it with them. Many of them are now checking daily to see what is discovered. They think it would be wild to change the history books! We can't wait for the outcome! Thanks for bringing something they find so interesting to them in such a great way. Best of Luck!

Tani Woodlief
Jonesboro, GA



I have been intrigued by this mystery since reading Holzel and Salkeld's book. To have the question "solved," albeit in part and overcoming such odds, must be rewarding.


Dennis Stocks
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia


This is a great site for those who are fascinated with Everest. You just can't get enough stories of the relationship between the man and the Mountain. Each person has their own insight as to their feelings as they attempt to summit. It is so neat to hear each perspective.

Please keep this site and keep up the updates. I look forward to each update and I look forward to your special on this year's search for Mallory.

Thanks again for providing this web site....

(name witheld by request)


Every person with an interest in history and adventure would want like to know if Mallory reached the summit of Mt. Everest and I applaud your outstanding effort to gather the facts and for finding Mallory's body.

You will know that many experienced climbers with superior clothing, climbing gear, breathing apparatus, telecommunications, support teams and detailed maps have abandoned attempts a lot closer to the summit than where Mallory's body was found. Not all of them have survived.

I am disappointed that your efforts have seemed to undermine by casting doubt on the outstanding achievement of Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay in being the first to conquer Mt. Everest in 1953. These men are national and international icons and to undermine their achievement with what amounts to little more than a guess is disgraceful.

If there is evidence to prove Mallory was successful in his brave endeavor then let us examine it for authenticity and make a positive statement on the issue. Until then I suggest that you show a bit more respect for the men, one still living, who were the first to conquer Mt. Everest by ceasing the speculation until conclusive evidence is found.

Thank you.

Steve Hawke
Wellington, New Zealand


It is with great wonder and anticipation that I check each day for a report on the search. My kids have joined in the excitement, and we now learn together about this great expedition. Regardless of what you find, or whether you unequivocally solve the mystery or not, I thank you for a living, breathing lesson that has enriched my life and that of my munchkins. Keep up the good work—what a remarkable adventure you are on, and to think you let us savor it with you.

(name witheld by request)


I am completely obsessed with the subject of Mt. Everest. After reading Into Thin Air last summer, I have become completely consumed by the stories of those who have climbed Everest and just the history of the mountain itself. I love your Web site and I look forward to putting my kids to sleep at night so that I can see the new dispatches from the Mallory and Irvine expedition. Thank you for providing us with such unbelievable history, information, and photos.

Pasadena, CA


This is neat! There are probably tens of thousands of us who never were able to become mountaineers but who read all the books. Everest of course loomed over them all. The mystery of Mallory and Irvine was always a haunting image that seemed to brood over the mountain. Did they make it? It was almost as if you expected to see them climbing over the step only to disappear in a swirl of fog; ghostly, yet real, and still up there somewhere. I'm almost sorry they found him.

Still, every mystery clamors to be solved. Once the Chinese reported the first find it was inevitable that the matter come to a conclusion. Since we've come this far, we might as well see the thing through.

Ken Mattson
Juneau, Alaska


Hello. I stumbled upon this site a few days ago. I know nothing about climbing and the closest I have come to it is listening to my brother-in-law talk about his climb on the Coca Cola route of Kilamanjaro. Personally I lean towards the entire opposite of the spectrum (I am a scuba diver). But, nevertheless, I am intrigued. I plan on following this expedition via the Internet. I wish all involved good luck, good climbing and God speed.

Michele Makohoniuk
Ottawa, Ontario Canada

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