Francis Younghusbad

The recklessness of George Mallory

George Mallory bookended the 20th century history of Everest with his pioneering attempts in the 1920s to climb the mountain – and with the spectacular discovery, in 1999, of his body high up on the North Face, preserved by the ice for 75 years after he had failed to do so. His flip remark to a journalist that he was climbing Everest ‘because it was there’ became mountaineering’s most celebrated quote, while masking other less noble reasons. Mick Conefrey has become one of our finest gazetteers of the Himalaya, with successive books on K2, Kangchenjunga and later exploits on Everest. Now he turns his attention to a great conundrum of