- We were sitting on a pile of rocks at 27,700 feet on the Northeast Ridge of Mount Everest—the Chinese side, away from the crowd in Nepal. A couple hundred feet below us was the GPS waypoint that could solve one of the greatest mysteries of mountaineering. New research indicated that legendary British explorer Andrew “Sandy” Irvine may have tumbled and come to rest at that spot. Was his body still there?
Almost a century ago, while descending this ridge, Irvine and his climbing partner, George Mallory, vanished. Since then the world has wondered whether one or both of them could have made it to the top that day, 29 years before Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay were recognized as the first to stand on Everest’s summit. Irvine was thought to have been carrying a Vest Pocket Kodak camera. If that camera could be found, and it held snapshots of the summit, it would rewrite the history of the world’s tallest peak.