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Though it remains by far the world's most famous mountain, in recent years Everest's reputation has changed radically, with long queues of climbers on the Lhotse Face, lurid tales of frozen corpses and piles of high altitude trash. It wasn't always like this though. Once Everest was remote and inaccessible, a mysterious place, where only the bravest and most heroic dared to tread.
The first attempt on Everest in 1922 by George Leigh Mallory and a British team is an extraordinary story full of controversy, drama and incident, populated by a set of larger than life characters straight out of Boys Own and Indiana Jones. The expedition ended in tragedy when, on their third bid for the top, Mallory's party was hit by an avalanche that left seven men dead.
Using diaries, letters, published and unpublished accounts, Mick Conefrey creates a rich character driven narrative, exploring the motivations and private dramas of key individuals and detailing the back room politics and bitter rivalries that lay behind this epic adventure.
George Mallory's first attempt to summit Mount Everest, in 1922, was more significant than the better-known 1924 expedition that took his life, according to this captivating account from author and documentary filmmaker Conefrey (The Ghosts of K2). The 1922 attempt, whose five total camps ascended from 16,000 to 25,000 feet, "set the style of big-expedition, siege'-style mountaineering, with large teams and multiple camps," Conefrey explains. It was also the first expedition to equip its climbers with bottled oxygen, a practice that sparked debates over the legitimacy of oxygen-aided ascents until the 1970s. In addition, the 1922 attempt "created the link between the Sherpa people and Everest which has turned their name into a global brand." Conefrey's exhaustive history documents the initial request for permission to climb from the insular state of Tibet and complications faced by the Mount Everest Committee in acquiring the necessary funds. He draws vivid sketches of the mountaineers including Mallory, Edward Norton, and Howard Somervell, who shared a "flask of brandy" when they broke the world altitude record and details disagreements over the expedition's third and final attempt to reach the summit, which triggered a deadly avalanche. This immersive chronicle restores an overlooked expedition to its rightful place in mountaineering history. Agent: George Lucas, InkWell Management.