George Mallory was the famed mountain climber who may have been the first person ever to reach the top of Mount Everest. In the early 1920’s he led a number of attempts to scale the mountain, eventually being killed in the third attempt in 1924. Before that last and fatal attempt he had said “I can’t see myself coming down defeated.”

Mallory was an extraordinary climber, and nothing would force him to give up. His body was found in 1999, well preserved by the snow and ice, 27,000 feet up the mountain, just 2000 feet from the peak. Give up he did not. His body was found face down on a rocky slope, head toward the summit. His arms were extended high over his head. His toes were pointed into the mountain; his fingers dug into the loose rock, refusing to let go even as he drew his last breath. A short length of cotton rope – broken – was looped around his waist.

When those who had set up camp for Mallory further down the mountain returned to England a banquet was held for them. A huge picture of Mt Everest stood behind the banquet table. It is said that the leader of the group stood to be applauded, and with tears streaming down his face, turned and looked at the picture. “I speak to you, Mt Everest, in the name of all brave men living and those yet unborn” he said. “Mt Everest, you defeated us once; you defeated us twice; you defeated us three times. But Mt Everest, we shall someday defeat you, because you can’t get any bigger but we can.”

In 1953 two climbers, Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzig Norgay, reached the top.

 

Source: Information reported in Seattle Times (Jan 16, 2000) and Illustrations Unlimited

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