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Last Updated: Monday, 28 June 2004, 09:27 GMT 10:27 UK
Mallory's ice axe goes on display
Sir Chris Bonnington with the axe
Mountaineer Sir Chris Bonnington with George Mallory's ice axe
A piece of mountaineering equipment belonging to a man behind one of the world's greatest climbing mysteries is going on display at a Cumbrian museum.

George Mallory's ice axe will go on show at the National Mountaineering Exhibition at Rheged.

It was used by the ill-fated Mallory on an expedition up Everest in 1922 - two years before he died on the mountain.

The death sparked a mystery as to whether he and climbing partner Andrew Irvine made it to the top.

The ice axe goes on display at The Top of the World exhibition which will continue until autumn.

Mallory reportedly used it to save the lives of three of his fellow climbers when he stuck it in the ice to stop them falling off the mountain in 1922, two years before his final trip.

Romantic tale

The question of whether Mallory and Irvine made it to the top has endured for 80 years.

They were spotted on 8 June 1924, clambering over one of the remaining obstacles on their route.

The summit was only hours away, but they were never seen again.

Mallory's body was found by a US-led expedition in May 1999, 600m from the summit.

Mike Westmacott, who was part of the team which successfully climbed Everest in 1953 when Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay reached the summit, spoke of the last time Mallory was seen.

"It was late in the day and they were still going up but the chances of them reaching the summit in daylight are not very great.

"I personally don't think they did it, but who knows, they might have done."

Mr Westmacott, who now lives in Cumbria, said Mallory left behind a mystery and a very romantic tale.

"I think most mountaineers are romantics - they are doing something which is no use to anybody just for the fun of dong it, but Mallory was a more romantic type than most."




SEE ALSO
Everest mystery could be solved
08 May 04 |  Merseyside
Does it matter who got there first?
10 May 99 |  Talking Point

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