George Mallory : biography
Sir Edmund Hillary’s assessment
Sir Edmund Hillary echoed John Mallory’s opinion, asking:
If you climb a mountain for the first time and die on the descent, is it really a complete first ascent of the mountain? I am rather inclined to think personally that maybe it is quite important, the getting down, and the complete climb of a mountain is reaching the summit and getting safely to the bottom again.
Sir Chris Bonington’s assessment
Sir Chris Bonington, the widely respected British Himalayan mountaineer, summed up the view of many mountaineers all over the world:
If we accept the fact that they were above the Second Step, they would have seemed to be incredibly close to the summit of Everest and I think at that stage something takes hold of most climbers … And I think therefore taking all those circumstances in view … I think it is quite conceivable that they did go for the summit … I certainly would love to think that they actually reached the summit of Everest. I think it is a lovely thought and I think it is something, you know, gut emotion, yes I would love them to have got there. Whether they did or not, I think that is something one just cannot know.
Conrad Anker’s assessment
Conrad Anker, who found Mallory’s body in 1999, free climbed the Second Step in 2007 and has worn replica 1924 climbing gear on Everest, said he believes that, "It’s possible, but highly improbable, that they made it to the top", citing the difficulty of the Second Step and the position of Mallory’s body. He stated that in his opinion, "I don’t believe they made it … the climbing up there is so difficult and I think that Mallory was a very good climber and part of being a good climber is knowing when you’re at too much of a risk and it’s time to turn back. I think he saw that and he turned back and it was either he or Irvine as they were descending the Yellow Band slipped and pulled the other one off, the rope snapped and he came to his rest".