Viceroy of India, Lord Curzon, concerned about possible
Russian influence inside Tibet, sends Sir Francis Younghusband
to ostensibly negotiate "frontiers and trade". The
Tibetans refuse to enter negotiations, so Younghusband leads a
British Army Expedition to Lhasa. A treaty is eventually
signed in September, 1904, after the Dalai Lama flees to
member of Younghusband's staff, J. Claude White, photographs
the Eastern side of Everest from Kampa Dzong, 94 miles away.
While not the first photograph of Everest ever taken, it's the
first to show any significant details of the mountain.
Singh, a member of the British Indian Survey, obtains
permission to enter the Mount Everest region from the Nepalese
side. He maps the Dudh Kosi valley - gateway to the southern
route up the mountain - all the way to the end of the Khumbu
John Noel, a British military officer, travels to Tibet in
disguise (at the time foreigners were forbidden in Tibet) to
find the best way to approach Everest. He comes to within 60
miles of Everest, only to find his way blocked by an
unexpected mountain range that did not appear on his faulty
maps. Noel is able to view the top 1000 feet (300 meters) of
Everest when it appears out of the shifting mists, a
"glittering spire of rock fluted with snow".
Dalai Lama opens Tibet to outsiders after the political
situation involving China and Russia relaxes somewhat. The
Royal Geographic Society and the Alpine Club hold a joint
meeting to discuss how to proceed with an expedition to Mount
Everest. Explorers had reached both the North and South Poles,
so the next "feat" was Everest. The Mount Everest
Committee is established by Younghusband, and a formal
resolution is passed stating that an expedition would take
place the following year with reconnaissance as the first
priority, (although a summit attempt was not discouraged). A
full-scale summit attempt was to be launched the following
year in 1922.
First British Everest Reconnaissance Expedition to the
mountain, led by Lt. Colonel Charles Howard-Bury. This is
George Leigh Mallory's first trip to the mountain. After
spending ten weeks exploring the northern and eastern reaches
of the mountain, on September 24, 1921, Guy Bullock and George
Mallory were the first climbers to reach the North Col of
Everest at an altitude of around 23,000 feet (7000 meters).
The northern route up the mountain had now been established.
Second British Everest Expedition to the mountain, led by
Brigadier General C.G. Bruce, following the same route
reconnoitered the previous year. George Mallory returns along
with climbers George Finch, Geoffrey Bruce, Henry Morshead,
Edward Norton, Howard Somervell, and John Noel as expedition
filmmaker. On May 22nd, Mallory, Norton, Somervell and
Morshead make the first assault, and climb to 26,800 feet
(8170 m) on the North Ridge before retreating. On May 23rd,
George Finch and Geoffrey Bruce climb up the North Ridge and
Face to 27,300 (8320 meters) feet using oxygen. On June 7th,
Mallory leads a third attempt on the summit that claims the
lives of seven Sherpa climbers in an avalanche below the North
Col, the first reported deaths on Everest.
on a lecture tour in the United States, a reporter asks
Mallory why he wants to climb Everest, and Mallory immortally
replies "Because it's there".
Third British Everest Expedition to the mountain, led by
Acting Leader Lt. Colonel Edward Norton after Brigadier
General C.G. Bruce is indisposed due to a flare-up of malaria.
As a result George Mallory is promoted to Climbing Leader.
Geoffrey Bruce, Howard Somervell, and John Noel return from
the previous year, along with newcomers Noel E. Odell and
Andrew Comyn Irvine.
4th: After weeks of appalling weather, a string of camps is
established on the northern side of the mountain, culminating
in Camp 6 at 26,700 feet (8140 meters) on the North Ridge.
Norton and Somervell attempt an oxygenless ascent, following
an ascending diagonal line across the North Face of the
mountain towards the Great Couloir. After Somervell is forced
to give up at about 28,000 feet (8500 meters), Norton
continues alone, reaching a high point of 28,126 feet (8570
meters) near the top of the Great Couloir, a height record not
exceeded by anyone for the next 29 years!
8th: George Mallory and Andrew Irvine attempt the summit using
oxygen and Irvine's modified oxygen apparatus. Noel Odell,
climbing in support below, catches a glimpse of the climbers
at 12:50 pm ascending a "great rock step" on the NE
Ridge above. According to Odell they were behind schedule but
climbing "with alacrity"; the first of many climbers
on Everest to go for the summit too late. Odell originally
thought he spotted the two climbers ascending the Second Step,
but later changed his mind to the First Step when told how
difficult the Second Step looked to a later generation of
Everest climbers (the 1933 British Expedition). During the
1933 expedition, Andrew Irvine's ice ax is found on the upper
slopes of the mountain at about 27,690 feet (8440 meters) and
approximately 250 yards (meters) east of the First Step. Eric
Simonson's 1999 Mallory & Irvine Research Expedition
discovers an oxygen bottle that belonged to the pair near the
base of the First Step, and Mallory's remains were found at
26,750 feet (8150 meters), on a line vertically below the ice
ax position. No evidence of a successful summit bid has been
found, nor have any signs of the two climbers been found above
the Second Step, the key to the route. Despite the lack of
hard evidence, the debate on whether they reached the summit
of Everest continues to this day.
to the Everest Time Line