George Mallory: Forever on Everest


By: Nathan Chandler

5 Min Quiz

Image: shutterstock

About This Quiz

George Mallory felt the call of the mountains from a young age. He set out to beat the most monstrous mountain of all, and, in doing so, he became a legend. How much do you know about this famous climber?

George Mallory wanted to be the first man to do what?

Mallory was an expert climber who wanted to do what no else had ever done. He wanted to climb Mount Everest.


A reporter asked Mallory why he'd want to risk his life climbing Mount Everest. How did Mallory respond?

Mallory simply said, "Because it's there." His iconic words have become a standard phrase for adventurers and explorers of all kinds.


The man was an incredible climber. Where did he grow up?

Mallory was born and raised in England, the son of well-to-do parents. His father was a devoutly religious man.


Mallory served in the armed forces during which war?

He joined the army and served with British units during World War I. He was present at the Battle of the Somme. But an ankle injury sidelined him for most of the conflict.


In 1921, Mallory joined the first British expedition to Mount Everest. Why did the expedition fail?

The weather drove them back before they could reach the summit. But the men were considered successful because they went higher than anyone had before.


Mallory failed in his 1921 summit attempt. How long did it take him to return to Everest?

He was intent on being the first to climb the mountain, so he returned the following year to try again. He made it just shy of 27,000 feet before being forced to give up again.


How tall is Mount Everest?

From sea level to summit, Mount Everest is the world's tallest mountain, at more than 29,000 feet high. It presents challenges and dangers to every climber who attempts to climb its steep slopes.


Mallory was eternally restless. He never married.

George was as handsome as they come and married a woman named Ruth just before World War I. They had three children.


What happened during the 1922 expedition?

The climb set off in deep snow and less-than-ideal conditions. Mallory pushed on and seven Sherpas lost their lives. Mallory was accused of pushing past the limits of common sense.


In 1924, Mallory decided to try for a third and final time. How old was he when the expedition began?

George was driven to reach the summit but feared that at age 37, he was getting too old. He knew 1924 would probably be his last chance.


Why did Mallory almost decide not to try again?

George felt partly responsible for the deaths of the seven Sherpas. He wasn't sure he wanted to be in that kind of a situation again.


Early in his career, how did Mallory feel about the use of oxygen tanks in climbing?

Mallory considered oxygen as a sort of cheating that ran against the grain of true climbing. But by 1924 he wanted every advantage he could get to finally slay Everest.


How did fellow climbers regard Mallory's climbing skills?

His peers considered him to be an excellent climber. He had unusual ability to mold his body to the cliffs so as to scale some of the steepest slopes.


Why did Britain's Royal Geographical Society want Mallory as the lead climber on the 1924 expedition?

George was a rock star climber with the experience and skills necessary for a summit attempt. It was hoped that he'd be the first to ascend and as a result bring prestige to Britain.


As a young man, where did George hone his climbing skills?

As a young man he was taken with mountains and climbing. He spent much of his youth scaling the Alps.


What career path did George initially plot for himself?

Mallory at first thought he'd be a schoolteacher. But the call of mountaineering was too strong.


On June 9, 1924, Mallory attempted a final push to the summit. How many other men were with him?

George was climbing with just one other man -- Andrew Irvine. The two were later spotted by observers just a few hundred meters short of the summit.


What happened to the two men?

The men ascended into the heavens ... and then disappeared. The expedition was forced to abandon them.


Who was the last person to see the two men alive?

A third climber, Noel Odell, was working in a support capacity below the two climbers. He saw their silhouettes far above him ... but then they simply disappeared from sight.


What was George like as a child?

He was a daring, adventurous type even from a young age. He was constantly challenging his siblings to attempt hazardous physical feats.


How were the disappearances of Mallory and Irvine greeted in Britain?

Both men were treated as though they were heroes who had died in service to their country. This was even when their disappearance was a complete mystery.


One of Mallory's family members later made it to the summit. Who was it?

In 1995, Mallory's grandson (also named George) made it to the mountain's summit. It was, in part, a way for the family to finally realize a dream.


Andrew Irvine's body has never been spotted.

It's likely that a Chinese climber spotted Irvine's body in 1979. The body has never been recovered.


Mallory and Irvine definitely did not make it to Everest's summit.

There's no concrete proof that the pair failed in their effort to summit the mountain. But in lieu of photographic evidence, we'll never know for sure.


In 1953 Edmund Hillary made the first confirmed summit of Everest. How did he feel about the possibility that Mallory might have beaten him?

Hillary essentially said that Mallory's first ascent (if it happened) wouldn't have counted, anyway -- because he didn't come back alive.


Mallory disappeared on Everest in 1924. When was his body found?

It wasn't until 1999 that Mallory's body was discovered. It was about 75 years since the man had gone missing.


What was the likely cause of death?

George's skull had a large hole that was probably caused by a hard fall. It's unlikely that he would have survived such a serious head injury.


Mallory and Irvine made it to at least how high on Everest?

The pair made it to at least 28,000 feet, an incredible accomplishment for any climber, particularly with the comparatively primitive equipment of the 1920s.


Mallory's body was found by villagers from the area.

He was found by a well-funded expedition that set out to locate his remains. It took them only a few hours to find Mallory's well-preserved corpse.


The team that located Mallory's body was particularly concerned with what aspect of the search?

The team was hoping that they might find a camera on the body to lay to rest once and for all whether Mallory managed to make it to the summit. The camera has never been found.


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