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Friday, May 7, 1999 Published at 13:03 GMT 14:03 UK


World: South Asia

Search for Everest pioneer's camera

More than 750 climbers have reached summit; 150 have died trying

An expedition which discovered the body of mountaineering pioneer George Mallory has turned its attention to his camera, which might prove whether he reached the summit.

New Zealander Sir Edmund Hillary and his Nepalese guide Sherpa Tenzing are universally accredited with reaching the summit first, in 1953.


The BBC's John McIntyre: "History may have to be re-written"
Mallory, and his colleague Andrew "Sandy" Irvine, disappeared while trying to conquer the world's highest peak in 1924.

His body was found at the weekend by a US-led expedition but there was no sign of his Kodak camera, which was usually kept in his knapsack.

Did he reach top of the world?

Leaders of the expedition believe the film inside the camera might contain a photograph of Mallory "on top of the world".


Sir Edmund Hilary and Larry Johnstone: "They didn't have to do an awful lot of searching for the body"
Although his body was found 2,000ft from the summit, Graham Hoyland, the assistant producer of a BBC documentary on Mallory and Irvine, believes he died on the way down from the peak.

Mallory's grandson said on Tuesday he was grateful for the "sensitive" way the team had treated his grandfather's remains.

He said: "I don't know exactly where he has been found and, I guess, unless they find the camera it won't really tell us anything.


Graham Hoyland, assistant producer of 'Lost on Everest' is convinced Mallory made it to the summit
"It is unlikely that he would have written a note about getting to the top. That is not what you would do when you are up there in the wind and the snow struggling for your life."

'Incredible attitude'

Mr Mallory said: "That generation of mountaineers in the 1920s had an incredible attitude. They were told by physiologists it was not possible to survive at that level and just decided to do it anyway."

An expedition to Nepal may be on the brink of discovering whether Mount Everest was conquered 30 years earlier than previously thought.


Kodak spokesman Paul Allen: "If the camera was damaged and light got in the film would be ruined"
Photographic experts say if the camera is found it is likely the extreme cold would have preserved the film.

The progress of the eight climbers who found the body has been relayed back to their site on the Internet, mountainzone.com.

Eric Simonson, the leader of the Nova expedition, and fellow climber Dave Hahn, who was the first to come across Mallory's body, described their delight on the Seattle-based Website.

'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 corpse was protruding through the snow, wearing tweed clothes and leather shoes, with a rope still around his waist. It had been preserved in excellent condition because of the dry air and freezing conditions.

'Lying in snow for 75 years'

"When we realised that it was George Mallory, we were really blown away," said Mr Hahn.


[ image: Sir Edmund Hillary: Perhaps not the first]
Sir Edmund Hillary: Perhaps not the first
"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.

Jochen Hemmleb, a 28-year-old German climber and Mallory historian, chose a location for the team to search based largely on a report from the climber, Wang Hongbao, of a body on the North Ridge route Mallory and Irvine would have taken.





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