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Item #: OP63G-374
BIS ZUR SPITZE DES MOUNT EVEREST [TO THE TOP OF MOUNT EVEREST "THE FIGHT FOR EVEREST 1924"] E.F. Norton 1926 1st Swiss ed Hardcover Fine
By Norton, E.F.
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Basel, 1926, 1st Swiss edition. 255 pp, 8 color plates, 24 b/w plates, map. In German. This copy of the third book on Mount Everest is bound in handsome navy cloth, with all the photos and maps of the original UK edition. This copy is very clean, with very little exterior wear. Some foxing on several page edges, but overall a remarkably Fine copy.  

The official story of the third Everest expedition, the 1924 British attempt on Mount Everest from the North Col that may have put Mallory and Irvine on the summit, and from which they failed to return. 

Wikipedia: The British Mount Everest Expedition 1924 was¡ªafter the British Everest Expedition of 1922¡ªthe second expedition with the goal of achieving the first ascent of Mount Everest. After two summit attempts in which Edward Norton set a world altitude record, the mountaineers George Mallory and Andrew 'Sandy' Irvine disappeared on the third attempt. Their disappearance has given rise to mountaineering history's most notorious unanswered question: whether or not the pair successfully climbed to the summit. Mallory's body was found in 1999 but the resulting clues did not provide conclusive evidence as to whether the summit was reached.

Preparations

Two other British expeditions preceded the 1924 effort. The first in 1921 was an exploratory expedition led by Harold Raeburn which described a potential route along the whole northeast ridge. Later George Mallory proposed a longer modified climb to the north col, then along the north ridge to reach the northeast ridge, and then on to the summit. This approach seemed to be the 'easiest' terrain to reach the top. After they had discovered access to the base of the north col via the East Rongbuk Glacier, the complete route was explored and appeared to be the superior option. Several attempts on Mallory's proposed route occurred during the 1922 expedition.

Like the two earlier expeditions, the 1924 expedition was also planned, financed and organized by the membership of the Royal Geographic Society, the Alpine Club, and a major contribution by Capt, John Noel, who thereby purchased all photographic rights.

One important change was the role of the porters. The 1922 expedition recognized several of them were capable of gaining great heights and quickly learning mountaineering skills. The changed climbing strategy which increased their involvement later culminated in an equal partnership of Tenzing Norgay for the first known ascent in 1953 together with Edmund Hillary. The gradual reversal in the system of 'Sahib - Porter' from the earliest expeditions eventually led to a 'professional - client' situation where the Sherpa 'porters' are the real strong mountaineering professionals and the westerners mainly weaker clients.

Like the 1922 expedition, the 1924 expedition also brought bottled oxygen to the mountain. The oxygen equipment had been improved during the two intervening years, but was still not very reliable. Also there was no real clear agreement whether to use this assistance at all. It was the start of a discussion which still lasts today: the 'sporting' arguments intend to climb Everest 'by fair means' without the technical measure which reduces the effects of high altitude by a couple thousand metres.

George Mallory

The question of which mountaineers would comprise the climbing party was no easy one. As a consequence of the First World War, there was a lack of a whole generation of strong young men. George Mallory was again part of the mission, along with Howard Somervell, Edward 'Teddy' Norton and Geoffrey Bruce. George Ingle Finch, who had gained the record height in 1922, was proposed as a member but eventually was not included because he was divorced and had accepted money for lectures. He seemed out of place to the committee, especially the influential Secretary Arthur Hinks, who made it clear that for an Australian to be first on Everest was not acceptable; the British wanted the climb to be an example of British spirit to lift morale.

Andrew Irvine

The new members of the climbing team included Noel Odell, Bentley Beetham and John de Vere Hazard. Andrew 'Sandy' Irvine, an engineering student whom Odell knew from an expedition to Spitsbergen, was a so-called 'experiment' for the team and a test for 'young blood' on the slopes of Mount Everest. Due to his technical and mechanical expertise, Irvine was able to enhance the capacities of the oxygen equipment, to decrease the weight, and to perform a numerous repairs to it and other expedition equipment.

Summit attempts

The first attempt was scheduled for Mallory and Bruce, and after that Somervell and Norton would get a chance. Odell and Irvine would support the summit teams from Camp IV on the North Col while Hazard provided support from Camp III. The supporters would also form the reserve teams for a third try. The first and second attempts were done without bottled oxygen.

First: Mallory and Bruce

On June 1, 1924 Mallory and Bruce began their first attempt from the North Col, supported by nine 'tiger' porters. Camp IV was situated in a relatively protected space some 50m below the lip of the North Col; when they left the shelter of the ice walls they were exposed to harsh, icy winds sweeping across the North Face. Before they were able to install Camp V at 25,5000-ft OR 7,700 metres (25,260 ft), four porters abandoned their loads and turned back.

While Mallory erected the platforms for the tents, Bruce and one tiger retrieved the abandoned loads. The following day, three tigers also objected to climbing higher, and the attempt was aborted without erecting Camp VI as planned at 8200m. Halfway down to Camp IV, the first summit team met Norton and Somervell who just started their attempt.

Second: Norton and Somervell

The second attempt was started on June 2 by Norton and Somervell with the support of six porters. They were astonished to see Mallory and Bruce descending so early and wondered if their porters would also refuse to continue beyond Camp V. This fear was partially realized when two porters were sent 'home' to Camp IV, but the other four porters and the two English climbers spent the night in Camp V. On the following day, three of the porters brought up the materials to establish Camp VI at 8170m in a small niche. The porters were then sent back to Camp IV on the North Col.

On June 4 Norton and Somervell were able to start their summit bid at 6:40 am, later than originally planned. A spilled water bottle caused the delay, and a new quantity had to be melted. But the liter of water each man took was wholly inadequate for their climb, and a chronic shortcoming of the pre-WW-II climbs. Weather was ideal. After ascending the North Ridge more than 200 metres, they decided to traverse the North Face diagonally but, not breathing supplemental oxygen, the effect of altitude forced them to stop frequently to rest.

Around 12 o¡¯clock Somervell was no longer able to climb higher. Norton continued alone and traversed to the deep gulley which leads to the eastern foot of the summit pyramid. This gulley was named 'Norton Couloir' or 'Great Couloir'. During this solo climb, Somervell took one of the most remarkable photographs in mountaineering history. It shows Norton near his high point of 8,573¡¡metres (28,130 ft) where he tried to climb over steep, icy terrain with some spots of fresh snow. This altitude established a world record height on any mountain which was not surpassed for another 28 years until the 1952 Swiss expedition when Raymond Lambert and Tenzing Norgay reached 8,611¡¡metres (28,251 ft) on the south side of Everest.[5]

The foot of the summit pyramid (and easier climbing) was only 60m above Norton when he decided to turn around because of increasing terrain difficulty, insufficient time and doubts of his further strength. He re-joined Somervell at 2¡¡pm; and they descended. While following Norton, Somervell suffered a severe problem with a blockage of his throat, and he sat down to await his death. In a desperate last attempt, he compressed his lungs with his arms, and suddenly disgorged the blockage¡ªwhich he described as the lining of his throat. He then followed Norton who was by now 30 minutes ahead, unaware of the life-threatening episode to his partner.

Below Camp V it had turned dark, but they managed to reach Camp IV. They were offered oxygen bottles by Mallory (a sign of his conversion to the disreputable aid) but their first wish was to drink. During the night, Mallory discussed his plan with Expedition leader Norton, to make a final attempt with Andrew Irvine and to use oxygen.

Third: Mallory and Irvine

While Somervell and Norton ascended, Mallory and Bruce had climbed down to Camp III (ABC)and returned to the North Col with oxygen. Mallory selected Sandy Irvine as his climbing partner for this climb. Since Norton was the expedition leader after the illness of Bruce, and Mallory was the chief climber, he decided not to challenge Mallory¡¯s plan, in spite of Irvine's inexperience in high-altitude climbing. Irvine was not chosen primarily for his climbing abilities. Rather it was due to his practical skill with the oxygen equipment. Mallory and Irvine had also become fast friends since they shared a lot of time aboard ship to India, and Mallory considered the personable 22-year old as 'strong as an ox.'

On June 5 they were in Camp IV. At 8:40¡¡a.m. of the following day they reached Camp V with five porters, and on June 7 ascended to Camp VI. Odell and one porter went to Camp V to support the summit team. Shortly after Odell's arrival in Camp V, four porters of the Mallory team came down, sent by Mallory. They handed over a message from Mallory to Odell with an estimated time of their arrival on the ridge.

'Dear Noel, We'll probably start early to-morrow (8th) in order to have clear weather. It won't be too early to start looking out for us either crossing the rockband under the pyramid or going up skyline at 8.0 p.m. Yours ever G Mallory (Mallory really meant 8 a.m., not 8 p.m.')

On the morning of June 8, Odell started an ascent to make geological studies. The mountain was swept by mists so he could not see the NE Ridge clearly along which Mallory and Irvine intended to climb. At 7900m (26,000-ft) he climbed over a small outcropping. At 12:50, the mists suddenly cleared. Odell noted in his diary that he saw Mallory and Irvine just below the NE Ridge when they reached the foot of the Second Step¡ªand surmounted it (in about 5 minutes).

In a first report on July 5 to The Times he clarified this view. He saw the summit, the ridge and the final pyramid of Mt. Everest. His eyes caught a tiny black dot which moved on a snowy area below the Second Step. A second black dot was moving toward the first one. The first dot reached the crest of the ridge ('broke skyline'). He could not be certain if the second dot also did so.

Odell's initial opinion was that the two climbers had reached the base of the Second Step. He was concerned because Mallory and Irvine seemed to be five hours (!) behind their schedule. After this sighting, Odell continued on to Camp VI where he found the tent in chaotic disorder. At 2pm an intense snow squall began. Odell went out in the squall hoping to signal the two climbers who he believed would by now be descending. He whistled and shouted, hoping to lead them back to the tent, gave up because lf the intense cold. Odell holed up in C-VI until the squall ended at 4pm. He then scanned the mountain for Mallory and Irvine but saw no one.

Because the single C-VI tent could only sleep two, Mallory had advised Odell to leave Camp VI and return to Camp IV on the North Col. Odell left C-VI at 4:30 p.m. arrived at C-IV at 6:45 p.m. As they had not seen any sign from Mallory and Irvine then or the next day, Odell again climbed up the mountain together with two porters. Around 3:30 p.m., they arrived at Camp V and stayed for the night. The following day Odell again went alone to Camp VI which he found unchanged. He then climbed up to around 8200m but could not see any trace of the two missing climbers.

In Camp VI he laid two sleeping bags out in a T form on the snow which was the signal for 'No trace can be found, Given up hope, Awaiting orders' to the advanced base camp. Odell climbed down to Camp IV. In the morning of June 11 they started to leave the mountain by climbing down the icy slopes of north col to end the expedition. Five days later they said goodbye to the Lama at Rongbuk Monastery.

After the expedition

The expedition participants erected a memorial cairn in honor of the men who had died in the 1920s on Mount Everest. Mallory and Irvine became national heroes. Magdalene College, one of the constituent colleges of the University of Cambridge, where Mallory had studied, erected a memorial stone in one of its courts - a court renamed for Mallory. The University of Oxford, where Irvine studied, erected a memorial stone in his memory. In St Paul's Cathedral a ceremony took place which was attended by King George V and other dignitaries, as well as the families and friends of the climbers.

The next expedition did not occur until 1933¡ªafter the deaths of the Sherpas in 1922 and the British in 1924 the Dalai Lama had not allowed access for further expeditions. There were also some cases of the British hunting animals in the upper Rongbuk valley, against Buddhist law.

Odell's sighting of Mallory and Irvine

The opinion of the Everest climbing community began to challenge the location Odell must have seen the two climbers. Many thought the Second Step if not unclimbable, at least not being climbable in the five minutes Odell says he saw one of the two surmount it. After the expedition, Odell was privately certain that Mallory and Irvine had reached the summit of Mount Everest.

Key to this belief was the spot where he had seen the two climbers, and his evaluation of their fitness and strength. However, under social pressure from the climbing community Odell varied his opinion on several occasions as to the very spot where he had seen the two black dots. Most climbers believe he must have seen them climbing the far easier First Step.
 
In the expedition report he wrote that the climbers were on the second-to-last step below the summit pyramid, indicating the famous and more difficult Second Step. Odell's account of the weather situation also varied. At first, he described that he could see the whole ridge and the summit.
 
Later, he said that only a part of the ridge was free of mist. After viewing photographs of the 1933 expedition, Odell again said that he might have seen the two climbers at the Second Step. In 1988, he admitted that since 1924 he had never been clear about the exact location along the northeast ridge where he had seen the black dots.
 
A recent theory [1] suggests the two climbers were cresting the First Step after they had given up their climb and were already on the descent. They scrambled up the small hillock in order to take photographs of the remaining route, much as the French did in 1981, when they too were blocked from further progress.


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