Mallory, Irving and the… Watch?

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Every new Everest climbing season brings more speculation about the ill-fated 1924 British expedition that resulted in the deaths of George Mallory and Andrew “Sandy” Irvine. For decades people have wondered if they actually managed to climb the mountain and stand on the summit nearly 30 years before Hillary and Norgay, with many historians saying that only their camera would put the question to bed at long last. The feeling is that the camera, which was not on Mallory’s body when it was discovered in 1999, could actually have summit photos still on it and the belief is that Irvine was carrying the device at the time of his death. Irvine’s body has yet to be found.

Today we get a new article from Pete Poston that searches for clues to the ultimate fate of the two climbers by examining Mallory’s watch of all things. The watch, which was found in Mallory’s pocket, was broken at some point in the climb and trying to determine when it stopped functioning could provide clues about the climber’s final hours. It is thought that the watch stopped at approximately 12:50PM, which is the time that Noel Odell reported last seeing the men as they attempted to negotiate the very tricky Second Step. There is some belief that Mallory may have broken the watch while scrambling up that face.

Poston’s article takes a long look at the functioning of the watch and whether or not it tells us anything about what happened to Mallory and Irvine. In the end, he doesn’t come away with any definitive conclusions and we’re still left to wait for the camera to be found. But if you’re an Everest buff who like to read about the history behind the climbs, you will probably find this piece of interest.

Thanks to Alan Arnette for sharing this story today. Alan’s been doing his usual fantastic job of covering the spring season already and if you don’t have his site bookmarked yet, you’ll want to do so soon. His annual coverage is second to none.

Kraig Becker