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The Lost Explorer

The Lost Explorer

Finding Mallory On Mount Everest

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This is the adventure story of the year -- how Conrad Anker found the body of George Mallory on Mount Everest, casting an entirely new light on the mystery of the explorer who may have conquered Everest seventy-five years ago.
On June 8, 1924, George Leigh Mallory and Andrew "Sandy" Irvine were last seen climbing toward the summit of Mount Everest. Clouds soon closed around them, and they vanished into history. Ever since, mountaineers have wondered whether they reached the summit twenty-nine years before Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay.
On May 1, 1999, Conrad Anker, one of the world's strongest mountaineers, discovered Mallory's body lying facedown, frozen into the scree and naturally mummified at 27,000 feet on Everest's north face. The condition of the body, as well as the artifacts found with Mallory, including goggles, an altimeter, and a carefully wrapped bundle of personal letters, are important clues in determining his fate. Seventeen days later, Anker free-climbed the Second Step, a 90-foot sheer cliff that is the single hardest obstacle on the north ridge. The first expedition known to have conquered the Second Step, a Chinese team in 1975, had tied a ladder to the cliff, leaving unanswered the question of whether Mallory could have climbed it in 1924. Anker's climb was the first test since Mallory's of the cliff's true difficulty. In treacherous conditions, Anker led teammate Dave Hahn from the Second Step to the summit.
Reflecting on the climb, Anker explains why he thinks Mallory and Irvine failed to make the summit, but at the same time, he expresses his awe at Mallory's achievement with the primitive equipment of the time. Stunningly handsome and charismatic, Mallory charmed everyone who met him during his lifetime and continues to fascinate mountaineers today. He was an able writer, a favorite of the Bloomsbury circle, and a climber of legendary gracefulness. The Lost Explorer is the remarkable story of this extraordinarily talented man and of the equally talented modern climber who spearheaded a discovery that may ultimately help solve the mystery of Mallory's disappearance.
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  • Simon & Schuster | 
  • 192 pages | 
  • ISBN 9780743201926 | 
  • December 1999
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Chapter One: Snickers and Tea


I had just sat down to take off my crampons, because the traverse across the rock band ahead would be easier without them. I drank some fluid -- a carbohydrate drink I keep in my water bottle -- and sucked a cough drop. At that altitude, it's essential to keep your throat lubricated.

I looked out over this vast expanse. To the south and west, I could see into Nepal, with jagged peaks ranging toward the horizon. In front of me on the north stretched the great Tibetan plateau, brown and corrugated as it dwindled into the distance. The wind was picking up, and small clouds were forming below, on the...
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