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Climbing Mt. Everest

I decided to spend some time looking at the history of climbing Mt. Everest because of a note I found at the PBS Nova Web site. It seems that a new expedition is heading to Mt. Everest, but the goal of this expedition is rather different than others.

You see, we know that Sir Thomas Hillary was the first man to reach the top of Mt. Everest in 1953…or was he. There is conjecture that he might not have been first, that early Mt. Everest pioneers George Mallory and Andrew Irvine may have been first. However, as these two climbers failed to return, all that we know of the success or failure of their bid to reach the summit is as clouded as the summit was that day when they were last seen.

However, there is a chance, a small chance, that the knowledge of Mallory’s and Irvine’s quest did not die with them. Mallory carried a camera with him, a camera that has never been found.

Just think of it! What if someone could find this camera and could develop the film, even after all these years, and the film shows that instead of a person reaching Mt. Everest in 1953, another person reached the summit almost thirty years earlier, in 1924. What an incredible discovery. Regardless of the success of this quest, it is a fitting tribute to these earlier climbers who gave their lives for their own quest: to attempt to find the truth.

You can read more about the Mallory and Irvine research expedition at The MoutainZone’s Mallory & Irvine Research Expedition page. The expedition left in March, and daily updates are posted to this site from the expedition members Dave Hahn and Eric Simonson.

Nova is also following this expedition with their own Web site titled Lost on Everest. Nova’s coverage begins April 27th, and also includes an awesome 360 degree image of what the view is like from the summit. If you don’t go for any other reason, you have to go to the site for this. It will take your breath away.

Accuracy is the key

At the same time that the expedition to find the camera of George Mallory is underway, which occurs on the North face of Mt. Everest by the way, another expedition is also on a quest, though a completely different one. This quest is the Everest Millennium Expedition and the purpose of it is to measure Mt. Everest.

At this time, the most accurate assessment we have of the height of Mt. Everest is 29,028 feet, or about five miles up. The Millennium Expedition plans on using the latest technology, the Global Positioning System (GPS), to get the most accurate measurement of all.

Follow along with the expedition from the MountainZone’s Everest South Side Expedition Web site. This also includes frequent updates with expedition members, as well as photos and other multimedia.

The GPS equipment is being run for Brad Washburn, former Director of the Boston Museum of Science, and well known mountain photographer. The Museum of Science has a an excellent exhibit of Everest photos and memorobilia, as well as a scale model of Everest.

National Geographic is also covering this expedition, and you can view their site on it at Everest: Measure of a Mountain. Do watch the opening intro, it is worth it.

How’s the Weather up there?

Two expeditions seeking knowledge, are joined by a third expedition trying to answer the age old question: How’s the Weather up there? The Weather Channel follows two MIT graduate students, Matthew Lau and Chris Metcalfe as they join veteral researcher David Mencin to study weather on Mt. Everest, as well as place advanced telemetry at the peak for research.

The hope is that advances in the technology used for these instruments will allow them to function for a full year, being an invaluable resource for learning about the weather patterns at the world’s highest peak, but also providing information for climbers in hopes of having safer expeditions.

This expedition is covered at the Weather Channel’s Everest Web page. You can learn more about GPS at The NAVSTAR GPS homepage, or the University NAVSTAR Consortium.



The power of the Web is that folks like me, who will never climb something like Everest, can experience the next best thing by hearing from those who do and seeing the images they send back. My appreciation to them for giving me a glimpse of their quests.

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