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Everest climber George Mallory's letters published 100 years on from disappearance

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Published Time: 22.04.2024 - 07:40:39 Modified Time: 22.04.2024 - 07:40:39

Among the letters is one to his wife where he sums up the odds of reaching Everest's summit"50 to 1 against us", he says, not knowing that the world's highest mountain would go on to claim his life

Among the letters is one to his wife where he sums up the odds of reaching Everest's summit"50 to 1 against us", he says, not knowing that the world's highest mountain would go on to claim his life.

Monday 22 April 2024 04:59, UK

Letters written by one of Britain's most famousand ill-fatedmountaineers and explorers have been published online.

The letters from George Mallory, who disappeared on Mount Everest in 1924, to his wife Ruth have been published by his former Cambridge University college, Magdalene.

He was 37 when he and his climbing partner Andrew Irvine vanished close to the summit of the world's highest mountain.

Seventy-five years later, Mallory's body was found, but Irvine's remains lost.

It is still not known whether they made it to the top of the mountain.

The letters have been published to mark 100 years since his disappearance.

Most of the correspondence was between their engagement in 1914 and his death, including the last letter he wrote before his final summit attempt, where he described the odds as "50 to 1 against us".

"Darling I wish you the best I canthat your anxiety will be at an end before you get thiswith the best news. Which will also be the quickest," he wrote.

"It is 50 to 1 against us but we'll have a whack yet & do ourselves proud."

He signed off the letter: "Great love to you. Ever your loving, George."

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His letters also cover his first reconnaissance mission to Everest in 1921 and his second expedition a year later, when seven sherpas were killed in an avalanche, for which he blamed himself.

He also described his service in the First World War, including being in the Artillery during the Battle of the Somme.


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A letter Ruth Mallory wrote to her husbandthe only surviving one from this periodhas also been published online, where she writes: "I think I want your companionship even more than I used to.

"I know I have rather often been cross and not nice and I am very sorry but the bottom reason has nearly always been because I was unhappy at getting so little of you.

"I know it is pretty stupid to spoil the time I do have you for those when I don't."

Three other letters found with Mallory's body in 1999 have also been publishedone from his brother, Trafford Leigh-Mallory, a letter believed to be from expedition support Stella Cobden-Sanderson, and a letter from his sister Mary Brooke, written from Colombo in Sri Lanka.

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Magdalene College archivist Katy Green said: "It has been a real pleasure to work with these letters.

"Whether it's George's wife Ruth writing about how she was posting him plum cakes and a grapefruit to the trenches (he said the grapefruit wasn't ripe enough), or whether it's his poignant last letter where he says the chances of scaling Everest are '50 to 1 against us', they offer a fascinating insight into the life of this famous Magdalene alumnus."

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