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Norton went on to 28, feet 8, metres , a documented height unsurpassed until Mallory and Irvine , using oxygen, set out from the North Col on June 6. On June 8 they started for the summit. Odell, who had come up that morning, believed he saw them in early afternoon high up between the mists. Initially, Odell claimed to have seen them at what became known as the Second Step more recently, some have claimed that Odell was describing the Third Step , though later he was less certain exactly where it had been.

The First Step is a limestone vertical barrier about feet 34 metres high. Above that is a ledge and the Second Step, which is about feet 50 metres high. In a Chinese expedition from the north affixed an aluminum ladder to the step that now makes climbing it much easier. The Third Step contains another sheer section of rock about feet 30 metres high that leads to a more gradual slope to the summit.

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If Odell actually saw Mallory and Irvine at the Third Step at about pm , then they would have been some feet metres below the summit at that point. However, there has long been great uncertainty and considerable debate about all this, especially whether the pair made it to the top that day and if they were ascending or descending the mountain when Odell spotted them. The next morning Odell went up to search and reached Camp VI on June 10, but he found no trace of either man. The fate of Mallory remained a mystery for 75 years; see Finding Mallory and commemorating the historic ascents.

Members of the expedition were Hugh Ruttledge leader , Captain E.

Birnie, Lieutenant Colonel H. Boustead, T. Brocklebank, Crawford, C. Greene, Percy Wyn-Harris, J. Longland, W. Smythe, Lawrence R. Wager, G. Wood-Johnson, and Lieutenants W. Smyth-Windham and E. Thompson wireless. High winds made it extremely difficult to establish Base Camp in the North Col, but it was finally done on May 1. Its occupants were cut off from the others for several days. On May 22, however, Camp V was placed at 25, feet 7, metres ; again storms set in, retreat was ordered, and V was not reoccupied until the 28th.

Smythe and Shipton made a final attempt on June 1. Shipton returned to Camp V. Smythe pushed on alone, crossed the couloir, and reached the same height as Wyn-Harris and Wager. On his return the monsoon ended operations. Also in a series of airplane flights were conducted over Everest—the first occurring on April 3—which permitted the summit and surrounding landscape to be photographed. In Maurice Wilson, an inexperienced climber who was obsessed with the mountain, died above Camp III attempting to climb Everest alone. In an expedition led by Shipton was sent to reconnoitre the mountain, explore the western approaches, and discover more about monsoon conditions.

Other members were L. Bryant, E. Kempson, M. Spender surveyor , H. Tilman, C. Warren, and E. In late July the party succeeded in putting a camp on the North Col, but dangerous avalanche conditions kept them off the mountain. One more visit was paid to the North Col area in an attempt on Changtse the north peak.

Members of the expedition were Ruttledge leader , J. Gavin, Wyn-Harris, G. Humphreys, Kempson, Morris transport , P.

This expedition had the misfortune of an unusually early monsoon. The route up to the North Col was finished on May 13, but the wind had dropped, and heavy snowfalls almost immediately after the camp was established put an end to climbing the upper part of the mountain. Several later attempts to regain the col failed. Members of the expedition were Tilman leader , P. Unlike the two previous parties, some members of this expedition used oxygen. The party arrived early, in view of the experience of , but they were actually too early and had to withdraw, meeting again at Camp III on May The North Col camp was pitched under snowy conditions on May Rope-less, oxygen free and in terrible snow conditions, his climb was one of the greatest endeavours in the history of Everest.

Camp Six is a compelling read: a gripping adventure on the highest mountain in the world and a fascinating window into early mountaineering and Himalayan exploration — including an illuminating colonial view of early travels in Tibet. It is essential reading for all those interested in Everest and in the danger and drama of those early expeditions. Frank Smythe was one of the leading mountaineers of the twentieth century, an outstanding climber who, in his short life — he died aged 49 —was at the centre of high-altitude mountaineering development in its early years.

Author of 27 immensely popular books, he was an early example of the climber as celebrity. Frank Smythe was an outstanding climber.

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In a short life — he died aged 49 — he was at the centre of high-altitude mountaineering development in its early years. In the late s he pioneered two important routes up the Brenva Face of Mont Blanc, followed in the s by a sequence of major Himalayan expeditions: he joined the attempt on Kangchenjunga in , led the successful Kamet bid in and was a key player in the Everest attempts of , and In , he made fine ascents in the Garhwal in a rapid lightweight style that was very modern in concept. Smythe and Ship ton, on two occasions, ventured some distance up the North Arete, above the North Col, but had to turn back.

The moment the gale abated, on the 20th May, a party with porters attempted to establish Camp V. It only reached the top of the snow slope on the North Arete, at about 24, feet. Meanwhile, the work of bringing stores up to Camp IV was resumed at high pressure, in spite of the somewhat dangerous condition of the snow. Crawford and Brocklebank, convoying relays of porters, made no less than six ascents and descents-a very fine performance.

From there a telephone wire was run, with immense labour, all the way to Camp IV. Already clouds could be seen sailing up from the south-east in the monsoon current, which was fighting round the shoulders of Everest for mastery over the west wind. Once that mastery was obtained, we must look out for avalanches on the North Col slopes. I went up to Camp IV on the 21st, to reorganize the climbing parties. It was arranged that on the 22nd an attempt should be made to establish Camp V at a height of not less than 25, feet. Wager and Longland would accompany them for a training walk, descending the same evening with twelve men.

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On the following day Wyn Harris and Greene, with eight porters, would make Camp VI at not less than 27, feet, accompanied by Birnie, who would escort the porters down. At the same time Smythe and Shipton would come up to Camp V in support. On the third day the first assault would be made, primarily as a reconnaissance to decide upon the respective merits of the route along the crest of the great North-east Arete, always favoured by Mallory, and of the traverse route preferred by Norton and Somervell in The comparatively fine weather of the 22nd was not wasted, and a splendid carry by the porters resulted in the establishment of Camp V on a good ledge at 25, feet.

Finch's Camp of was passed, and Greene found near by an oxygen cylinder, still in perfect working order. The camp of could not be seen; it was somewhere away to the left, on the face overlooking the East Rongbuk glacier. Greene unfortunately strained his heart during this climb and had to return the same evening, his place being taken by Wager. So far all had gone well except that the time allowance at the North Col had already been exceeded and there were already signs that high-altitude deterioration was setting in.

The climbers were still going strong, but were more conscious of effort. Now, at this critical period, yet another storm blew up from the west. This time it was of almost hurricane force. It began on the night of the 22nd and continued unabated till the morning of the 25th. Even then the wind was still very powerful.

The party at Camp V spent a terrible three nights. Smythe and Shipton had, somehow, fought their way up on the 23rd according to plan, being unable to see the signal above that Wyn Harris and Wager could not get on. The latter pair promptly descended to relieve the congestion, and a relief was organized on the 25th. By that time the Camp had had to be evacuated, the parties meeting on the arete.

Meanwhile the heavy snow which had fallen during the storm rendered the position of Camp IV dangerous.

Lifelong secret of Everest pioneer: I discovered Mallory's body in 1936

Avalanches were beginning to fall from the slope above, threatening to hurl the tents down to the glacier or bury them on the ledge. After three nights of anxiety we decided to move up on to the North Col itself, where there was just room for two arctic tents, risking the inevitable exposure. Smythe, Shipton, Wyn Harris, Wager, and Longland would occupy one tent, and a fresh body of porters the other. Hardship and frost-bite had already taken considerable toll; only one of the eight porters originally selected to make Camp VI was available to go high again.

The rest of us would have to descend to Camp III, which we did in bad conditions but safely on the afternoon of the 26th, while the others carried their tents and gear up on to the North Col. The stage was now set, and right nobly did the men play their parts. Camp V was again occupied on the 28th, and on the 29th Wyn Harris, Wager, and Longland, with eight porters, made Camp VI one small tent at a height of 27, feet, on a tiny sloping ledge some yards east of the first step and perhaps feet below the crest of the North-east Arete.

This was feet higher than a camp had ever been placed before. The leading was very fine and the porters behaved superlatively well.