Monday, May 3, 1999 Published at 16:11 GMT 17:11 UK
World: South Asia
Everest pioneer's body found
More than 750 climbers have reached summit; 150 have died trying
An expedition to Nepal may be on the brink of discovering whether Mount Everest was conquered 30 years earlier than previously thought.
But the discovery of the body of an English climber, George Mallory, who disappeared in 1924 while trying to conquer the summit with fellow Briton Andrew Irvine, is set to reopen the question.
Did they or didn't they?
Mallory and Irvine were last seen on the North Side - apparently within 2,000ft of the world's highest peak. But they never returned.
It is not clear whether Mallory and Irvine died on their way up or down from the summit.
The search is now on for Mallory's Kodak camera - which he kept in his knapsack - which could prove whether the pair reached "the top of the world".
The progress of the eight climbers who found the body has been relayed back to their site on the Internet, mountainzone.com.
'Beyond our wildest dreams'
"I want to convey how much, for us, this discovery is a huge achievement and so far beyond our wildest dreams," he writes.
"It is hard to convey our excitement over this discovery."
The body was found about 2,000ft (615m) from the windblown 29,028-ft (8,848m) summit, not far from that of a Chinese climber whose accounts were used by the Nova crew to try to locate Mallory and Irvine.
However, a camera or any other evidence, which could prove they reached the summit 29 years before Sir Edmund and Sherpa Tenzing, has yet to be found.
'Lying in snow for 75 years'
"When we realised that it was George Mallory, we were really blown away," said Mr Hahn.
"We didn't want to disturb him, he'd been lying there for 75 years, but at the same time we thought what better tribute to the man than to try and find out if he had summitted Mount Everest in 1924."
They buried the body, according to the family's wishes, on Everest.
Hongbao described the body as "English Dead," and indicated its vintage clothing broke to pieces when he touched it.
The body was found on a snow terrace, just below the spot where an ice axe believed to be Irvine's was found in 1933.
The axe had three notches on the handle, which was how Irvine marked his equipment.
Two days after Hongbao told his story in 1975, he died in an avalanche on Everest's North Face.