On the 8th June 1924, on his third expedition to try and conquer Everest, Mallory (right) and his climbing partner Andrew Irvine (left) were seen heading 'strongly' to the summit in their tweed suits and cleated boots. They were never seen alive again. There has always been speculation around whether Mallory & Irvine did actually reach the top (beating Edmund Hillary & Sherpa Tenzing by almost thirty years), with a wide range of experts arguing for and against the possibility but, without any trace of the climbers apart from the 1933 discovery of Irvine's lost ice axe, the truth remained a mystery
In 1999, an expedition set out to try and find evidence, using the co-ordinates of the ice axe find as their starting point. Within only a few hours they had discovered Mallory's body. Largely intact because of the extreme cold, the petrified corpse raised more questions than answers, particularly with regard to a missing photograph of Mallory's wife which he had said he would leave at the summit if they made it to the top. Irvine's remains, however, despite their best efforts, could not be found. Frustratingly, it was he who was carrying the camera that (experts tell us) would still carry the photographic evidence of their last few hours on earth and where they spent them.
It is estimated that the bodies of around 200 climbers are scattered around the approach to Everest, but it is logistically impossible to remove them without endangering more lives.