The Search for Irvine's Camera is On!

Apr 26, 2010
Outside Magazine


The weather on both sides is proving difficult even stopping theSherpas from fixing the route above camp 3 on the Lhotse Face. So mostclimbers are resting in their -40F sleeping bags, reading or playingcards in the dining tents. The Sherpas continue to carry oxygen bottlesto camp 2 in anticipation of further carries to the South Col. IMGreports over 130 and Altitude Junkies 70 already at C2.

Victor Vescovo climbing with AAI  notes the delay in today's post:

Well, today was supposed to be our last rest dayat Base Camp before our second "rotation" up the mountain to Camps 1,2, and 3. It seems a high-pressure system came over the mountain lastnight and on the good side, warmd up the air by maybe 5-10 degrees buton the downside brought very high winds.

So the plan is one more rest day tomorrow here at Base Camp.with a 4 AM departure up to Camp 1 the day after tomorrow. Needless tosay, after five rest days, the team is getting a bit antsy to get onwith climbing the mountain. The thing is, after we finish this six day,five-night rotation to tag Camp 3, all we have left to do is anextended rest and refit (which of course is easy) and then the summitassault itself. So obviously, the team is eager to put this lastacclimatization/training climb behind us so that all that remains isthe assault for the summit itself. Which is what we all came here for.

The wind forecast looks for them to relax a bit so look forteams to resume climbing on the south. On the north, most teams arepausing while the route to the North Col is fixed and evaluated basedon yesterday's avalanche but they should resume quickly. Again,multiple teams are commenting on the dry conditions for Everest thisyear. This is not the best scenario, similar to a heavy snow year isalso not the best for climbers.

Both extremes create danger - low snow years allow loose rocksto move and/or large snow and ice formations to shift plus snow bridgesto give way. Heavy snow years obviously create avalanche danger. IfEverest receives a heavy snowfall in the next few weeks, teams may belooking at a significant delay while the new snow consoldates on top ofthe rock and ice. But there is still plenty of time with most climberswell ahead of traditional schedules.

So with the fickle weather, teams on the south rest back at basecamp, those on the north are looking  for a few nights above ABC inspite of the avalanche. But one team may be looking for more.

A mystery team could be searching forthe infamous camera of 1924 British climbers George Mallory and SandyIrvine. As I reportedFebruary 3 this year with my interview with Everest historian TomHolzel; he had made significant progress in narrowing the search areafor the camera. He posted the map and GPS coordinates on his site and the race was on.

If you are lost, here is a brief review. The first attempt ofEverest was by a British team in 1921. Another attempt in 1924 was ledby George Mallory and a small team including Sandy Irvine. It wasreported that Irvine carried a Kodak vest pocket camerato document their summit victory. However, both climbers died amysterious death with no evidence they summited. Mallory's body wasfound in 1999 but Irvine, and the camera, is still somewhere on thehigh flanks of Everest's north side. Proof of their summit wouldrewrite climbing history putting the first summit of Everest 29 yearsbefore Tenzing and Hillary.

Holzel tried to put together a search for 2010 even appealing to afictitious Saudi Price to put up the $250K he thought it would take.But no funding was available. In a noble gesture, he has made thisoffer to anyone who finds the camera:

We have offered the services of the originalEastman-Kodak experts to develope the film to anyone who can get thecamera to the US for no charge. And will return the developed film towhoever found it in complete confidence.

I have a feeling if they find the camera, we may not hear about it immediately - more mystery!

As a follow-on to my previous comment on Ms Eun-Sun Oh, she summitedAnnapurna becoming the first woman to summit all 14 8000m mountains. Asincere congratulations to Ms. Oh on her achievement.

Everest Potpourri
For those looking for the DiscoveryChannel's Everest: Beyond the Limit Season 3. It is now available forpre-order on DVD from the Discovery store. They are not filming on Everest in 2010.

Also Eberhard Jurgalski has updated his 8000ers.comwebsite with the latest climbing statistics for Everest and the other8000m mountains. He list 4,559 total Everest summits including 448 in2009.

Climb On!


Arnette is a speaker, mountaineer and Alzheimer's Advocate. You can read more on his site

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