George Leigh Mallory

George Herbert Leigh Mallory

George Herbert Leigh Mallory was an English mountaineer born in Mobberley, Cheshire, England on June 18, 1886. During Mallory’s 3rd expedition to Everest in 1924 he, along with his climbing partner, Andrew “Sandy” Irvine went missing and never returned.

George Mallory (right) and Andrew Irvine

In 1999, a team of climbers searched Mount Everest for the bodies of the two lost explorers who may have in fact been the first people to have ever reached the mountain’s peak. During this expedition, the team discovered the remains of George Mallory on May 1st with a rope, which would have at one time connected Mallory and Irvine to one another, still tied around his waist.

Mallory’s body as it was discovered on Mount Everest. The team who went in search of him buried Mallory after documenting evidence of his identity.

He was discovered at 27,000 feet (8,230 meters), in the Death Zone and only 800 feet (150 meters) short of the summit. He was found to be mummified by the consistent subzero temperatures on Mount Everest and his body was fused to the mountain itself. He was identified by a tag inside his clothing with the name “G. Mallory” sewn onto it. It is possible that the body, believed to be Mallory’s, is actually that of Andrew Irvine who perhaps borrowed his climbing partner’s shirt on the day of his fatal climb. However, experts are nearly certain the body does belong to George Mallory. The guiding rope found tied around Mallory’s waist appeared as though it had been cut off with a knife. This piece of evidence led the team to believe Mallory had suffered a fatal fall while tied to Irvine.

Angulated fracture observed by the team who discovered Mallory’s body

Andrew Irvine was able to sever the rope which connected them and continue on the journey. Of course, Irvine perished on the mountain as well, though his remains have never been discovered. Unfortunately, neither was discovered the camera Mallory and Irvine had taken on their 1924 expedition. It is believed this camera, if found, could contain evidence that at least Irvine, or perhaps both men, had reached the peak before their demise. Although Mallory had explored the mountain on two previous occasions, the expedition in 1924 was his first attempt at summiting the mountain. Mallory, who was 37 at the time of his death, believed the 1924 expedition would be the last to the mountain, citing he was becoming too old; He confidentially proclaimed he and Irvine would reach the peak. Mallory was quite a popular man in the early 20th century, Lytton Strachey, a friend of Mallory’s (who seemingly had a steaming hot bromance with him) wrote in 1909, “Mondieu! -George Mallory! …He’s six foot high, with the body of an athlete by Praxiteles, and a face- of incredible- the mystery of Botticelli, the refinement and delicacy of a Chinese print, the youth and piquancy of an unimaginable English boy.” In 1914, ten years before his death, George Mallory married Ruth Turner and together had three children. When he died, he left behind his wife along with their two daughters, aged 9 and 7, and a 4-year-old boy. Mallory was well-remembered for his courage, a memorial to Mallory and Irvine at the Chester Cathedral in Chester, England reads, “To remember two valiant men of Cheshire, George Leigh Mallory and Andrew Corman Irvine who among the snows of Mount Everest adventured their lives even into death ‘Ascensiones in corde suo disposuit'” (translates to “Ascensions in his own heart” in Latin). George Leigh Mallory is believed to have died on the 8th or 9th of June in 1924.
The following is an excerpt from a documentary on the 1999 Mallory and Irvine expedition. Watch the team discover George Mallory’s body 75 years after he went missing on Mount Everest and give him a  long-awaited “Death Zone” burial.

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