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First To Climb Everest? Sandy Irvine and the Missing Camera Mystery



Photo Credit: Rupert Taylor-Price –

For climbers, the holy grail of mountaineering is conquering one of the few as-yet unclimbed peaks the world has to offer. For Everest historian Tom Holzel, it is a camera lost on Everest nearly a century ago.

That camera would be George Mallory and Andrew “Sandy” Irvine‘s camera: an accordion-style Vest Pocket Kodak that may contain proof that the climbing partners reached the top of the world before they met doom on the way down.

First To Climb Everest?

If Mallory and Irvine summited that day in 1924, they would have beat Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay to the top by nearly 30 years. The camera may hold the answer, and Holzel, who has been searching for it since the 1970s, thinks he knows where it can be found.

Holzel has pored over aerial photography and identified what he calls an “oblong blob” that he believes to be Sandy Irvine’s body. If the camera wasn’t swallowed and smashed by the mountain, then it should be on Irvine. George Mallory’s remains were found in 1999, but no camera was found. It has long been assumed that Irvine carried the camera. The secrets of their climb, if they can be found anywhere, lie with him.

In late February, mountaineer Alan Arnette interviewed Holzel, who said all that’s holding him back from a search expedition is cash. He needs $100,000 to mount an expedition for the site, or $10,000 to fund a flyover to retrieve even better imagery of the “blob” that he believes marks the resting place of a legend, and perhaps real evidence of the first men to climb Everest. Holzel is on the lookout for supporters…and we certainly hope he gets them soon.

Read more about Holzel’s epic hunt for a mountaineering relic at his website.

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