On May 29th, 1953, Sir Edmund Hillary and Shera Tenzing Norgay reached the summit of Mount Everest and are therefore recognised as the first climbers to conquer the world’s highest peak.
But their success did not bring an end to the mystery of whether they were indeed the first to reach the summit!
Seventy-one years earlier, on June 8th 1924, two British climbers, George Leigh Mallory and Andrew Irvine were last seen heading towards the summit of Everest.
They did not return, and for 96 years the mystery has endured!
Had Mallory and Irvine possibly summited before perishing on their way back down?
After his father’s death, John Mallory emigrated to South Africa, and it was here that his son, George II, namesake of his famous grandfather was born and grew up.
George later emigrated to Melbourne, Australia, and was part of the Everest team that summited on May 18th 1995.
In doing so, George Mallory II, became the first South African-born climber to reach the summit of the world’s highest mountain.
Four years later, on May 1st 1999, climber Conrad Anker stumbled across Mallory’s corpse, protruding from the snow, at a height of 8,300m, just below the 8,849m summit. His camera was found with the body, but the film footage did nothing to confirm whether Mallory and Irvine in fact summitted.
But at least we now know for certain, that a Mallory stood on the summit of Mount Everest — and he was born in South Africa.