In late June, associate UIAA member association, the Alpine Club opened its landmark exhibition: ‘Everest: By Those Who Were There’, to the public. The exhibition commemorates 100 years since the first expedition to Mount Everest in 1921, and explores, in intimate detail, the three Alpine Club and Royal Geographical Society expeditions of the 1920s. The exhibition reopens in early September.
Using a collection of never-before-seen photographs, documents, art works and artefacts, the exhibition offers visitors a deeply personal insight into the lives of the men who first “walked off the map” in search of Everest, including those such as George Mallory and Sandy Irvine who lost their lives in pursuit of its summit. The story of Mallory and Irvine’s disappearance during their summit bid of 1924 is well known. This tragedy marked the culmination of decades of planning and exploratory work by a variety of lesser-known historical figures. ‘Everest: By Those Who Were There’ brings together their stories and links them to the well-trodden tale of Mallory and Irvine, giving the full picture of the first attempts on the mountain. As well as diaries, photography and art works from the expeditions, visitors will also be able to see the clothing and equipment that was first used to make attempts on the mountain, including one of the earliest examples of high-altitude Oxygen equipment and Sandy Irvine’s ice axe.
Renowned mountaineer, former Alpine Club President and current Head of Exhibitions John Porter said: ‘These men lived in the true age of exploration. Driven by the need to escape the horrors of the Great War and a desire to see Britain first atop the “third pole”, they achieved the remarkable. By using their own records and possessions we hope to give visitors a true sense of the reality of the time and the incredible bravery it took to attempt the summit.’
• ‘Everest: By Those Who Were There’ opens to the public from the 22 June and can be visited on Tuesdays and Wednesday between the hours of 12:00 and 17:30 until 17 October, with a closure for the month of August.
• Due to a need to keep the venue Covid-secure, visitors are asked to book ahead for their visit by emailing email@example.com
• Viewings can be made for other times and days by prior arrangement by contacting the Alpine Club at the above address.
• Items on display include: ➢ A photograph taken on Everest by Howard Somervell in 1924 which was, at the time, the highest photograph ever taken. ➢ Watercolour paintings of Everest by a number of the expedition members. ➢ Sandy Irvine’s ice axe, lost on Everest during his fateful summit attempt with Mallory in 1924, and rediscovered in 1933.
• For those unable to attend the exhibition in person or wishing to own a memento of the experience, the Alpine Club have produced an exhibition catalogue detailing the full collection. It is available for purchase via the Alpine Club website.
Notes to the Editor:
• Founded in 1857, The Alpine Club is the world’s oldest mountaineering club and remains at the forefront of cutting-edge mountain exploration. It has members throughout the world and works to provide a forum and authoritative body for all those who travel and climb in mountain environments.
• The three 1920s expeditions to Everest were jointly organised by the Alpine Club and the Royal Geographical Society.
• The 1922 and 1924 Everest Expeditions succeeded in climbing above the mountain’s North Col, with Edward Norton setting a world altitude record of 8,572m in 1924.
• On 6 June 1924, George Mallory and Andrew ‘Sandy’ Irvine departed to make an attempt on Everest’s summit. The pair disappeared during the attempt, giving rise to the still lingering question of whether or not they had succeeded in reaching the “roof of the world”.
• Private press viewings, interviews with exhibition curators and additional photography are all available on request. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange.
Main photo: Expedition group of 1921, by Sandy Wollaston. Courtesy of Alpine Club