AN EXHIBITION based on the tragic mystery of two ‘Boys Own’ adventurers who died together on the slopes of the world’s highest mountain is in line for a top award.
Sandy Irvine and fellow climber George Mallory, both from Cheshire, were last sighted on June 8, 1924, on the north east ridge of Everest, just a few hundred yards from the summit.
Since that fateful day arguments have raged over whether the intrepid duo died beforeŠreaching their goal or descending from the summit - 30 years before Everest was conquered by Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay.
The story fascinated Cheshire’s Salt Museum curator Matt Wheeler, who spent over two years researching the life and times of the Cheshire-born Corinthians and compiling a fascinating exhibition which broke all attendance records at the Northwich museum.
Now Above the Clouds - Mallory and Irvine and the Quest for Everest – which attractedŠvisitors from across the country- has been short-listed for a 2010 Museums and Heritage Award for Excellence.
Matt said: “I have always been interested in explorers and when I first heard about Irvine and Mallory I couldn’t resist trying to find out more, particularly because ofŠtheir Cheshire links.”
The ill-fated 1924 expedition was the main focus ofŠhis exhibition which included original photographs and artefacts loaned by the Alpine Club, Magdelene College Cambridge, Merton College Oxford, the Royal Geographic Society and many other organisations and individuals.
Irvine’s remains may well have been found by a Chinese expedition in 1975. TheyŠ came across ‘an English dead’ at 26,740 feet.
And in May 1999, George Mallory’s body was discovered at 26,800 feet frozen into the ice–gravel scree on Everest’s North Face and in a remarkable state of preservationŠ
Some of his possessions, including a broken pocket watch, letters and some lint ointment, were featured at Northwich and Birkenhead’s Williamson Art Gallery, when the exhibition moved there.
But the Kodak cameras that both men took on their climb, which may hold a vital clue to the mystery, were never unearthed.
Winners of the Museums and Heritage Awards will be announced at an awards ceremony on May 12 at Church House in Westminster.
Said event director Anna Preedy: “This year’s awards have attracted more entries than ever which has made for a incredibly tough short listing process. The evening will be a tremendous celebration of our cultural industry.”
Added the curator: “I’m delighted that our exhibition has been short listed. I enjoyed every minute researching the subject – it was certainly the most satisfying project I have ever worked on.”
The most comprehensive exhibition ever mounted on the third British Everest expedition, the project was part of a wider objective to increase the scope of the Salt Museum to showcase other history in the Cheshire area.
Story note to editors.
Irvine, who died at the age of 22, was born and grew up in Birkenhead, then parted Cheshire. A talented sportsman who rowed for Oxford against Cambridge in the 1922 and 1923 boat races. Mallory a clergyman son, was born in Mobberley. His family moved to Birkenhead in July 1904. A outstanding gymnast he was 38 at the time of his disappearance.