Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Andrew "Sandy" Irvine was one of the mountaineers (the other being George Mallory) who attempted to make the first ascent of Mount Everest. He was born in Birkenhead on 8 April 1902, he was educated at Shrewsbury School and Merton College, Oxford. He was a keen sportsman and excelled at rowing and was a member of the crew that won the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race in 1923.
He was selected for the Everest expedition when he was still an undergraduate in 1924. The ascent took place in early June, and the last day that the climbers were seen was 8 June 1924. Unfortunately the two never returned to camp that day, and it is still uncertain if they ever reached the summit. Irving's body has never been recovered.
In 1999, Mallory's body was found at around high on the North Face of Everest by an American expedition. Two details noted when Mallory's body was discovered further fueled the speculation as to whether the pair did in fact reach the summit that day in 1924:
- Firstly, Mallory's daughter has always said that Mallory carried a photograph of his wife on his person with the intention of leaving it on the summit when he reached it. This photo was not found on the body when it was discovered. Given the excellent preservation of the body and its garments, this lack points to the fact that he may have reached the summit and deposited the photo there.
- Secondly, Mallory's snow goggles were in his pocket when the body was found, indicating that he was killed at night. This implies that he and Irvine had made a push for the summit and were descending very late in the day. Given their known departure time and movements, had they not made the summit, it is unlikely that they would have still been out by nightfall.
While indeed tantalising, neither of these details are conclusive in themselves. What may possibly provide concrete evidence would be the recovery of images contained in the cameras that the men were carrying. Unfortunately, neither of the two cameras that the expedition carried have been found. Many have speculated that Irvine may have been carrying one of the cameras when they were killed. Experts from Kodak have stated that if one of the cameras is found with film, there is a good chance that the film could be developed to produce "printable images" due to the nature of the black and white film that was used.
- Peter Firstbrook Lost on Everest: The Search for Mallory and Irvine, BBC Books (1999) ISBN 0563487127
- Holzel and Salkend The Mystery of Mallory and Irvine, Pimlico (1999) ISBN 0712664882
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