Mallory and Irvine: Should we solve Everest's mystery? (Norman Costa)
By Jon Kelly BBC News Magazine, 3 October 2011
As a tale of doomed, romantic endeavour, it has endured for decades.
It is also Everest's most persistent mystery - did George Mallory and Andrew "Sandy" Irvine make it to the top in 1924, almost 30 years before it was officially conquered?
The pair, equipped with primitive climbing gear, were last sighted a few hundred metres away from the summit before bad weather closed in around them.
Wearing Burberry gabardine jackets and hobnail boots, and carrying a rudimentary oxygen supply, their gear was a far cry from the hi-tech protective clothing worn by modern mountaineers.
And historians have long argued whether or not they made it to the peak before succumbing to the freezing conditions.
A forthcoming expedition to Everest aiming to establish what exactly happened is just the latest in a series of attempts to solve the puzzle. But despite the continued speculation, many of those with a stake in the mystery hope it will never be resolved, fearing the prosaic truth could never match the legend.
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