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11 January 2008, Sir Edmund Hillary

Well, George, we knocked the bastard off

These were Sir Edmund Hillary’s first words to his friend George Lowe on returning from Everest’s summit. A few days earlier, on 29 May 1953, Hillary and Nepalese Sherpa1 mountaineer Tenzing Norgay became the first climbers confirmed to have reached the summit of Mount Everest and to return safely home. Norgay left chocolates in the snow as an offering, and Hillary left a cross that he had been given.

29 years earlier, however, Andrew Irvine and George Mallory had tried to reach the Everest’s summit and they were spotted for last time on the northeast ridge of the mountain only a few hundred yards from the summit.
When the body of Mallory, who famously climbed the mountain in his three-piece suit, was found at 26,760ft, a photograph of his wife Ruth was missing from the pockets: this is an important detail because he had planned to leave the picture on the summit. In addition, Mallory’s goggles were in one pocket, suggesting he was on his way down in fading light when he fell to his death. Researchers believe that only the film in Irvine’s camera can solve the mystery of who was the first men conquering the Everest, as it may contain photos taken from the summit.

In the big picture Edmund Percival Hillary and Tenzing Norgay.
In the small picture Andrew Irvine and George Mallory. (Photo: DAVID BURGES)


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