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“Because it’s there”

Last seen roughly 800 vertical feet from the summit on 8 June 1924, today marks the 91st anniversary of the symbolic end to the historic 1924 British Mount Everest expedition. Both George Mallory and Andrew “Sandy” Irvine remain legends in the exploration and mountaineering communities, laying the foundation for the exploits of Club Medalists Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay Sherpa some 29 years later.

After failing to summit with the 1922 British Expedition, Mallory toured New York City in 1923 as part of an effort to raise the funds necessary for his next attempt. A journalist from the New York Times posed the question “Why climb Everest?,” whereupon he famously justified his drive with the immortal phrase, “Because it’s there.”

Seventy-five years later, Club Fellow Conrad Anker located Mallory’s body on the 1999 Mallory and Irvine Research Expedition. Speaking to Jim Clash during an Exploring Legends interview at Club Headquarters last summer, Anker recounted that the moment he realized he had found one of the English dead “was a very humbling moment… he was someone that had added to the sport of climbing, and climbing is this sort of, not quite a secret society, but to learn the ropes in a very literal sense, you have to have someone teach you — and that generational connection went all the way back to Mallory from where I was on Everest at that moment. He was the predecessor, and I had to treat that moment with the utmost respect.”

Mallory & Irvine’s route up Everest, On loan from artist Thom Ross. Click to enlarge.

Published by : Explorers Club Staff

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Background image photography courtesy of members Christoph Baumer, Neil Laughton, Matt Harris and Don Walsh's image of the Bathyscape Trieste