Saturday 22 July 2017

Quest to solve Everest mystery

Paul Chapman in Wellington

The enduring controversy over who was first to climb Mount Everest could soon be settled after an Australian set off to find evidence that a Briton, Andrew Irvine, was the first to scale the peak.

Duncan Chessell, who began a final assault on the 29,035ft summit on Tuesday, said conditions were the best that they have been in decades to search for the remains of Irvine.

The body of his climbing partner, George Mallory, was found in 1999.

Irvine is thought to have been carrying a camera that could provide conclusive evidence that the pair reached the top in 1924, almost 30 years before Edmund Hillary.

Mr Chessell said: "I was at North Col last week and the wind was 150km an hour, and it was stripping snow off the mountain.

"There is now bare rock exposed which has been covered for decades in the most likely areas where Andrew Irvine's body may be. It is my intention to search those areas and take this opportunity to find him and the missing camera."

The North Col, at 23,130ft, is on the route Mallory and Irvine would have followed.

Mr Chessell, from Adelaide, is attempting to become the first Australian to conquer the summit three times. He is hoping to make the summit on May 23 or 24.

Although Hillary and his companion Tenzing Norgay are credited with having been the first to reach the peak, on May 29, 1953, the theory that Mallory and Irvine beat them to it has caused controversy.

The British pair, from Merseyside, were last sighted on June 8, 1924, just a few hundred yards from the summit.

When the body of Mallory was found at 26,760ft, a photograph of his wife, Ruth, was missing. He planned to leave it on the summit. Searchers now want to find the camera as it could hold a picture taken on the summit. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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