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It is the mountaineering mystery: what happened to George Mallory and Andrew Irvine when they disappeared attempting to summit Mount Everest? A group of scientists from the University of Toronto claim that the pair were lost in a "perfect storm" that dropped the oxygen in the air to fatal levels, reports The Telegraph.
"We analysed the barometric pressure measurements and found out that during the Mallory and Irvine summit attempt, there was a drop in barometric pressure at base camp of approximately 18mbar. This is quite a large drop, in comparison the deadly 1996 'Into Thin Air' storm had a pressure drop at the summit of approximately 8 mbar," Professor Kent Moore from the university told The Telegraph.
"We concluded that Mallory and Irvine most likely encountered a very intense storm as they made their way towards the summit."
Other experts, such as Dr John Semple, an experienced climber himself and the chief of surgery at Women's College Hospital in Toronto confirmed that such an event could easily have killed the climbers.
"Mount Everest is so high that there is barely enough oxygen near its summit to sustain life and a drop of pressure of 4 mbar at the summit is sufficient to drive individuals into a hypoxic state," he told The Telegraph.
If the scientists claims are true it would confirm that Sir Edmund Hilary and Tenzing Norgay were the first climbers to reach the summit of Mount Everest.