Thursday, May 5, 2011
George Mallory and the Wildest Dream
“Summit fever” is a term which has sprung to prominence especially when we talk about Mount Everest. Members of the public and establishment minded mountaineers take a dim view of the irrational and sometimes maddening drive to get to the summit of a mountain when the chances of a safe return are virtually nil. A prominent Australian mountaineer said Alison Hargreaves’ death on K2 was due to summit fever. When Michael Rhineberger reached the “third step” at 8,700 m on Everest’s North ridge at 4.00 p.m., his decision to carry on to the top surely cost him his life. in 1996 Doug Hansen, though sick kept on pushing to the summit reaching it as late as 4pm and on the return did not have the energy to push lower than the Hillary step. Just days later Bruce Herrod made the same mistake and did not return to the summit camp. Out of all these stories, the story of George Mallory is one which will live on until people talk about Tenzing and Hillary. Did Mallory and Irvine climb the mountain years before Tenzing and Hillary even made it to South Col camp? Mallory is famously quoted as having replied to the question “Why do you want to climb Mount Everest?” with the retort: “Because it’s there”, which has been called “the most famous three words in mountaineering” The documentary The Wildest dream recreates his story. Using similar equipment and climbing the same route that those two brave men took to recreate the last few moments of George Mallory and Sandy Irvine.