In 1999, a new search expedition was mounted, founded by German Everest researcher Jochen Hemmleb, and led by Eric Simonson. Simonson had seen some very old oxygen bottles near the First Step during his first summit climb in 1991. One of these bottles was again found in 1999 and was one belonging to Mallory and Irvine, thus proving the two climbed at least as high as shortly below the First Step. Their location also suggests a climbing speed of approximately 275 vert-ft/hr, good time for the altitude and an indication the oxygen systems were working perfectly. The expedition also tried to reproduce Odell's position when he had seen Mallory and Irvine. The mountaineer Andy Politz later reported that they could clearly identify each of the three steps without any problems.
The most remarkable finding was the corpse of George Leigh Mallory at a height of 8,159 metres (26,768 ft). The lack of extreme injuries indicated he had not tumbled very far. His waist showed severe rope-jerk mottling, showing the two had been roped when they fell. Mallory's injuries were such that a walking descent was impossible: his right foot was nearly broken off and there was a golf ball sized puncture wound in his forehead. Even though his unbroken leg was on top of the broken one, as if to protect it, Mass. General Hospital neuro-surgen Dr. Elliot Schwamm believes it not possible that he would have been conscious after the forehead injury. There was no oxygen equipment near the body, but the oxygen bottles would have been empty by this time and discarded at a higher altitude to relinguish the heavy load. Mallory was not wearing snow goggles, although a pair was stored in his vest, which may indicate that he was on the way back by night. However, a contemporary photograph shows he had two sets of goggles when he started his summit climb. The image of his wife Ruth which he intended to put on the summit was not in his vest. He carried the picture throughout the whole expedition—a sign that he might have reached the top. Since his Kodak pocket camera was not found, there is no proof of a successful climb to the summit.
Transcript of radio exchanges when the body of George Leigh Mallory was found.
|In these early-morning radio communications, researcher Jochen Hemmleb, an expert on the disappearance of Mallory and Irvine who remains at Base Camp, talks to Dave Hahn, a member of the search party. The search group, which also includes Conrad Anker, Jake Norton, Andy Politz, and Tap Richards, is climbing from the expedition's Camp V at roughly 25,500 feet towards Camp VI. Here they will begin their search for the 1975 Chinese Camp VI, near the spot where one of the Chinese climbers reported seeing an "English dead." Expedition leader Eric Simonson, meanwhile, is at Advance Base Camp.
|ANKER: Roger, Roger. I think everyone is pretty tired. This is our fourth day in a row, and today was a 12-hour day from five to five. So it's a long day. Over.
SIMONSON: Yeah, I hear you on that for sure. And it's probably better rather than pushing it and risking a misfortune. Then you better just hole up there and sleep on the O's and come down tomorrow maybe.
ANKER: Yeah, come right down to ABC in the morning, that might be the option. I'll tune up at 6 o'clock, and Dave will probably be on the radio then too, and we'll know how far out he is. Over.
SIMONSON: Okay. Sounds great. We'll just keep standing by.
HAHN: Yeah, we got back to the ridge and the wind is blowing hard on the ridge here. I know that's the right course for me and Andy, and most likely—those other guys can pull off some miracle, but they'll probably be comfortable. Conrad, you on?
NORTON: We're not moving an inch. Over.
SIMONSON: Way to go there Jake.
NORTON: Thanks Eric. It was Conrad with the big day, but we all had a good one up there. Over.
SIMONSON: Hey, I'm really proud of you guys. Way to hang in there, and yeah, treat yourself to a nice juicy flow tonight and feel good in the morning.
NORTON: Roger that.
HEMMLEB (off radio): That's it....yes, yes, yes!
HAHN: Right Eric. Nothing more from up here really.