Dawn broke fine on that fatal day. A couple of thousand feet above the tiny canvas tent the summit of the world’s highest mountain stood impassively, waiting for someone to have the courage to approach.Inside the ice-crusted shelter, two forms lay still as death. Then there was a groan, a stirring, and eventually the slow scratch of match against sandpaper. Low voices shared the high-altitude agonies of waking, the heating of water, the struggle with frozen boots.As the sun rose through wisps of cloud beyond the ...
Dawn broke fine on that fatal day. A couple of thousand feet above the tiny canvas tent the summit of the world’s highest mountain stood impassively, waiting for someone to have the courage to approach.Inside the ice-crusted shelter, two forms lay still as death. Then there was a groan, a stirring, and eventually the slow scratch of match against sandpaper. Low voices shared the high-altitude agonies of waking, the heating of water, the struggle with frozen boots.As the sun rose through wisps of cloud beyond the Tibetan hills to the east, one of the men emerged through the tent flaps. It was a fine morning for the attempt, with only a few clouds in the sky. The two of them stood for a while, shuffling their feet and blowing into their hands. Inside the tent lay a mess of sleeping bags and food. The men lifted oxygen sets onto their backs, then they turned towards the mountain and stamped off into history.On the 6th June, 1924, George Mallory and Sandy Irvine disappeared into the mists of history. George Mallory’s body was discovered high on Everest in 1999. Sandy Irvine’s body is still believed to be on the mountain having been rediscovered in 1975 by a Chinese climber who was killed the very next day.In 1993, Graham Hoyland became the 15th English man to climb Everest having become obsessed by the mountain and the myth of what happened to Mallory and Irvine. It was his evidence that led to the discovery of Mallory’s body and it will be his evidence that will lead to the discovery of Sandy Irvine’s.The Last Hours on Everest is the most detailed reconstruction of what happened after the two English climbing legends left the camp on that fateful day. Combining personal experience, the physical evidence found on the mountain and an insight into the hearts and minds of the two climbers, Graham Hoyland produces the most compelling description of what actually happened on that day and the answer to that most intriguing of questions – did they actually climb Everest?
Hoyland, a longtime climber and BBC filmmaker, has spent much of his career sorting through details of the 1924 Mount Everest trek that took the lives of fellow Britons George Mallory and Sandy Irvine. In this adventure-filled volume, Hoyland sets out to convey "a personal story, a detective thriller, a biography and a history book." He recalls his own growing interest in mountaineering and early affini-ty for Everest, where "the extremes of human experience played out in the most dramatic surround-ings." Hoyland meticulously re-creates Mallory and Irvine's ill-fated climb, describing the work they did ahead of time, the equipment they used, and the clothes they wore. "His upper layers started with a silk wool vest next to the skin, then a beige silk shirt, a Shetland-wool pullover, then another silk shirt, green this time, then a flannel shirt." Readers will appreciate the background Hoyland provides on surveying techniques, British love for alpinism (a leisure activity for many beneficiaries of the Indus-trial Revolution), and the motivations behind many major ascents. This is a thorough investigation into Mallory and Irvine's 1924 climb and an engaging look at the psychology that draws us to our planet's highest peak. (June)
From the Publisher
‘You have never read a book like Last Hours on Everest … Graham Hoyland has created a towering work full of twists and turns, like the backdrop’ Independent
Sixty years ago this May, Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay were the first to summit Mount Everest. But what of George Mallory and Sandy Irvine of the 1924 British Mount Everest Expedition? Last seen as they made a final push for the top, they were never heard from or seen again until traces of them, culminating in Mallory's sun-bleached corpse, were found decades later. Hoyland (producer & director, BBC), the 15th Briton to climb Everest, seeks to determine whether the charismatic Mallory, a Cambridge-educated schoolteacher and noted amateur mountaineer, and the younger, less experienced Irvine, may in fact have reached the summit and suffered a catastrophic twinned fall on their descent. Hoyland combines personal memoir, Everest history, and scientific investigation as he sets Everest in the context of the history of surveying, exploration, and mountaineering, and of imperial Britons seeking higher and higher peaks to ascend. He includes literary, scientific, and historical anecdotes, many charming, others poignant. Does he conclude that Mallory and Irvine made a full ascent, or that they fell before achieving the summit? VERDICT There have been other books on Mallory (e.g., Peter and Leni Gillman's The Wildest Dream) and the 1924 expedition (e.g., Wade Davis's Into the Silence), but Hoyland's personal and professional involvement recommends this to all armchair and active adventurers.—Margaret Heilbrun, Library Journal
Climber, author and film director Graham Hoyland was the 15th Briton to climb Everest and during one of his nine expeditions to the mountain was responsible for the discovery of George Mallory’s body. He writes for the Independent newspaper and worked as a BBC director on programmes such as Dragons’ Den, the Today programme and Around the World in 80 Faiths.