George Mallory

George Mallory bigraphy, stories - Mountaineering

George Mallory : biography

18 June 1886 – 9 June 1924

George Herbert Leigh Mallory (18 June 1886 – 8 or 9 June 1924) was an English mountaineer who took part in the first three British expeditions to Mount Everest in the early 1920s.

During the 1924 British Mount Everest Expedition, Mallory and his climbing partner Andrew "Sandy" Irvine both disappeared somewhere high on the North-East ridge during their attempt to make the first ascent of the world’s highest mountain. The pair’s last known sighting was only about 800 vertical feet from the summit.

Mallory’s ultimate fate was unknown for 75 years, until his body was discovered on 1 May 1999 by an expedition that had set out to search for the climbers’ remains. Whether Mallory and Irvine reached the summit before they died remains a subject of speculation and continuing research.


In Europe

In 1910, in a party led by Irving, Mallory and a friend attempted to climb Mont Vélan in the Alps, but turned back shortly before the summit due to Mallory’s altitude sickness.Claire Engel writes: "One of [Irving’s recruits] was George Mallory, who was then seventeen. Irving took them up various peaks, some easy, some hard, some very difficult. The first ascent was that of the Velan and it ended in failure, as the two boys collapsed with mountain-sickness. Yet by the end of the summer they had become hardened climbers." Claire Engel, Mountaineering in the Alps, London: George Allen and Unwin, 1971, p. 185. In 1911, Mallory climbed Mont Blanc, as well as making the third ascent of the Frontier ridge of Mont Maudit in a party again led by Irving. According to Helmut Dumler, Mallory was "apparently prompted by a friend on the Western Front in 1916 [to write] a highly emotional article of his ascent of this great climb";Helmut Dumler and Willi P. Burkhardt, The High Mountains of the Alps, London: Diadem, 1994, p. 216. this article was published as ‘Mont Blanc from the Col du Géant by the Eastern Buttress of Mont Maudit’ in the Alpine JournalReprinted as ‘Pages from a Journal’, in Peaks, and Glaciers, ed. Walt Unsworth, London: Allen Lane, 1981, pp. 170–81 and contained his question, "Have we vanquished an enemy?" [i.e. the mountain] to which he responded, "None but ourselves." By 1913, he had ascended Pillar Rock in the English Lake District, with no assistance, by what is now known as "Mallory’s Route" – currently graded Hard Very Severe 5a (American grading 5.9). It is likely to have been the hardest route in Britain for many years.

One of Mallory’s closest friends and climbing companions was a young woman named Cottie Sanders, who became a novelist with the pseudonym of Ann Bridge. Their relationship is elusive. She was a "climbing friend" or a "casual sweetheart." After Mallory died, Cottie wrote a memoir of him. Her memoir was never published, but it provided much of the material used by later biographers such as David Pye and David Robertson and a novel Everest Dream.Neff, Kelly Joyce. "Everest Dream" http//, accessed 19 Mar 2013

In Asia

Mallory participated in the initial 1921 British Reconnaissance Expedition, organised and financed by the Mount Everest Committee, that explored routes up to the North Col of Mount Everest. The expedition produced the first accurate maps of the region around the mountain. Although he was accompanied by several senior members of Britain’s Alpine Club and by surveyors based in India, the debilitating effect of altitude on others in the expedition resulted in Mallory, his climbing partner Guy Bullock and E. O. Wheeler of the Survey of India performing most of the exploration of the approaches to the mountain. Under Mallory’s leadership, and with the assistance of around a dozen Sherpas, the group climbed several lower peaks near Everest. His party were almost certainly the first Westerners to view the Western Cwm at the foot of the Lhotse face, as well as charting the course of the Rongbuk Glacier up to the base of the North Face. After circling the mountain from the south side, his party finally discovered the East Rongbuk Glacier-—the highway to the summit now used by nearly all climbers on the Tibetan side of the mountain. By climbing up to the saddle of the North Ridge (the North Col), they spied a route to the summit via the North-East Ridge over the obstacle of the Second Step.