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Move Over, Hillary and Norgay?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010, 17:00 EDT Leave a comment Go to comments

Click to view largerCan you imagine being the first human beings to summit the world’s highest peak, only to die on the way down and have to watch from the Great Beyond while someone else 29 years later gets all the glory? Man, I’d be pissed.

Scientific American raises the possibility of that very scenario, personified by George Mallory and Andrew Irvine, who headed up the North Col of Mount Everest in 1924 but never returned with proof they made it. A recovery expedition planned for either this year or next may finally settle the question once and for all.

The key to solving the mystery, many climbers say, is finding Irvine’s remains and with it the missing Vest Pocket Kodak (VPK) camera he was supposedly carrying with him on that fateful journey.

Everest historian Tom Holzel believes that after decades scrutinizing maps and photos of Everest’s north face, where the mountaineers are thought to have disappeared, he may have spotted Irvine’s final resting place in a high-resolution picture earlier this month. Holzel has begun mounting an expedition he hopes will visit the site either this spring or, more likely, spring 2011.

If Holzel manages to find history-altering evidence, it won’t diminish what Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay did in 1953. The trip down, after all, is every bit as perilouss—some might say more so—as the trip up. They will always be the first climbers to reach the summit and live to tell the tale.

(Hat tip: Boing Boing.)

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