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Last Updated: Wednesday, 3 September 2003, 18:37 GMT 19:37 UK
Pictures clue to Everest climb
Captain John Noel with his photographic equipment - courtesy of The John Noel Photographic Collection
Captain Noel used pioneering photographic equipment (Photo: John Noel Photographic Collection)
A new book may shed fresh light on an ill-fated attempt to conquer Mount Everest.

Sandra Noel, from Wye near Ashford, Kent, has based her book on photographs taken by her father, Captain John Noel.

Mr Noel was the official photographer for George Mallory and Andrew "Sandy" Irvine's attempt to reach the summit of Everest almost 80 years ago.

Ms Noel's book, Everest Pioneer - The Photographs of Captain John Noel, reproduces images captured on glass slides by her father, who carried pioneering photographic equipment up the slopes.

The ill-fated climb resulted in the deaths of both Mallory and Irvine, who disappeared while attempting to be the first to climb the mountain in 1924.

Picture of the Everest team - courtesy of The John Noel Photographic Collection
Mallory and Irvine hoped to be the first to scale the mountain in 1924 (Photo: John Noel Photographic Collection)

Some experts believe they may have reached their goal but have been unable to find conclusive proof.

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

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

Mr Noel's passion for Everest began in 1913 when, in disguise, he crossed the border into Tibet and became the first European within 40 miles of the mountain.

In 1924 he resigned from the army, losing his pension, to become the official photographer of Mallory's expedition.

His daughter said: "My father positioned himself in what he called the eagle's nest which was a ledge he found at 23,000 feet.

Climbers signal that they cannot find Mallory or Irvine (Photo: John Noel Photographic Collection)
Searchers signalled with blankets that they could not find the climbers (Photo: John Noel Photographic Collection)

"He stayed there hoping always that he would be able to be in a favourable position to capture the successful climbers on the summit."

She said the last letter Mallory wrote was to her father telling him of their efforts, but when they were not seen for some time, other climbers went looking for them.

One of the search party signalled with blankets in the snow that they could not be found.

Ms Noel said: "He realised that, not being able to see them, they were behind schedule.

"This was a very sad signal to them - that things had not gone well."

"I'm proud that he took so many images under quite extreme circumstances - conditions were not good for photography - and that I'm able to use them."

Hillary laments Everest changes
26 May 03 |  South Asia
Mallory Everest climb 'improbable'
25 May 99 |  South Asia
Search for Everest pioneer's camera
07 May 99 |  South Asia


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