Members of the 1924 Everest expedition at base camp, 16,500 feet (5,029 meters), Tibet. Back row, left to right: Andrew Irvine, George Mallory, Edward Norton, Noel Odell, John MacDonald. Front row: Edward Shebbeare, Geoffrey Bruce, Howard Somervell, Bentley Beetham.
Mallory was a superb climber, one of the best in his day. There is still much speculation over why he chose Irvine to be his climbing companion for the summit attempt that killed them both. They were last seen alive on June 8th. Other members of the campaign were far more experienced climbers, specifically Noel Odell (standing second from the right), the last one to catch a glimpse of the two men.
"There was a sudden clearing above me and I saw the whole summit ridge and final peak of Everest unveiled," Odell wrote in his account of the day's events. Odell was climbing several thousand feet below, on his way up prepare camp for the two once they returned from the afternoon's attempt. "I noticed far away on a snow-slope... a tiny object moving and approaching the rock step. A second object followed, and then the first climbed to the top of the step. As I stood intently watching this dramatic appearance, the scene became enveloped in cloud."