George Leigh Mallory
George Leigh Mallory was a man of great ambition. This he proved time and time again through his many climbing expeditions, including three of the first attempts in the early 1920’s through the uncharted range of Mount Everest.
This fascination took an early hold with his persistent clambering onto the roof top of his father’s church. Later this would lead to his adventures in Northern Wales upon the vast jagged cliffs. George Herbert Leigh Mallory, born June 18 1886 in Mobberley, Chester, England, soon took up the study of history at the prestigious Cambridge University from 1905 to 1909. It would never have been thought of that he would make it into the history books he’d spent so much time pouring over a mere fifteen years later. From 1911 to 1913 Mallory’s adventures would see him climb Mont Blanc in the Alps, considered the highest peak in Europe, and scale Pillar Rock in England solo.
It was his uncompromising endurance and enthusiasm as well as his tall, solid build that projected a sense of security into his many uncertain undertakings. In 1921 he took part in an expedition by a British touring group pioneering the uncharted territories of Everest. He part played an important role in preparing a route up the north face that could possibly lead them to the first successful ascent of Everest. With these findings it was not long before George Mallory was again attempting the plotted ascent but with high winds blowing he was forced to turn back; a disappointment but not a deterrent having reached a record altitude of 27,000 feet - just 2028 feet shy of Everest’s summit. This only made him more determined and so, taking another route, he tried to accomplish what he had started. Unfortunately the timing was poor; venturing just after snowfall resulting in the death of seven of his Sherpa porters in an avalanche. Mallory just managed to escape from this fall. It was a time of great anguish and guilt as a result of their ill-fated deaths. Further humiliation would come in the form of an invitation to an Everest expedition in 1924, his part nothing more than support. However, through de facto, he became leader to the group.
On the morning of June 8, 1924 Mallory and Andrew Irvine left their base camp to begin their climb to the summit. Seven hours would pass, recording the last time they would be seen, just 2,000 feet from the campsite. It has always been a well-known fact that Mallory was absent-minded to his own failing and this may have featured in his mysterious death. However the greatest debate within the mountaineering field is the possibility that Mallory and Irvine could have managed to conquer Everest peak, thus removing the title from Sir Edmund Hillary and perhaps turning history drastically upside down. It is these mysteries that plague the past and these assumptions which will no doubt always be pondered in the future.