Everest 2013: The Never Ending Search For Mallory and Irvine’s Camera

As the 2013 spring climbing season on Everest draws nearer, Alan Arnette continues to bring us compelling content to get us ready for the season ahead. Today he’s posted an interview with Tom Holzel, an Everest historian, who continues to search for the Holy Grail of mountaineering – the missing camera that George Mallory and Sandy Irvine may have taken to the summit of the mountain back in 1924.

The reason why this camera is seen as being an important artifact in terms of climbing history is that it may definitely prove once and for all whether or not Mallory and Irvine actually managed to summit before their disappearance on the mountain. If so, it would mean that they managed to top out nearly 30 years earlier than Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, who didn’t make the first successful summit until 1953.

Mallory and Irvine were last seen heading up the North Side of Everest and were reportedly about 800 feet (243 meters) below the summit. What happened after that remains anyones guess, but there are some who believe the duo reached the summit but died on their descent. And since they carried a Kodak camera with them it is believed that if they did summit, they would have taken pictures while at the top.

When Mallory’s body was discovered back in 1999, the camera was not with the rest of his gear. That would be consistent with the belief that Irvine was carrying the camera at the time and since his body remains undiscovered, the world waits to see what the camera may reveal.

Which leads us back to Alan’s interview with Tom Holzel, who believes that he may know where Irvine’s body is located. Holzel has reviewed high resolution images of the mountain and has spotted an “oblong blob” that he thinks could be the fallen climber. He further believes that the camera will still be on the body and that it will be intact, possibly showing exactly what happened that fateful day nearly 90 years ago.

In the interview, Holzel talks about his efforts to raise $10,000 to pay for a flyover of the mountain to get improved images to help aid his search. If those photos help solidify his case, he then hopes to send a small team of climbers up to investigate the “blob” in the images to see exactly what it is.

It should be noted that Holzel has been beating this drum for a couple of years now but hasn’t had a lot of success in finding sponsors or raising funds. It doesn’t appear that he has anything in the works for this year either, which means the mystery will probably continue to remain unsolved, at least for now. But hey, it wouldn’t be a new Everest season if we didn’t hear about the camera at least once!

Kraig Becker