George Mallory (18th June 1886 to 9th June 1924)

 

After 75 years the mummified remains of climber George Mallory were found near Mount Everest. In 1924 he and his fellow climber Andrew Irvine disappeared while trying to reach the summit. An unusually warm spring thaw in 1999 revealed the body and a passing climber spotted it. Nobody knows if they made it to the summit. Both climbers were last seen about 800 feet (245 m) from the summit. Irvine has not been found.

 

George was born in Mobberley in Cheshire (not far from home) and when I read an article saying his boyhood home was still standing derelict I decided to go and have a snoop around. Even though I had printed out a photograph of a large derelict house on a country lane I drove passed it three times. I pulled over by a church to check my paperwork. This was lucky as a man passing by told me the huge house where George was born was around the corner (see last photos) and where the derelict family home was.

 

Derelict rotting buildings fascinate me so I was more interested in finding the next big home they moved into, Hobcroft House. I’m not sure where the money came from as George’s dad was a clergyman and his mum was the daughter of a clergyman.

 

Five minutes away and the side elevation of derelict home appeared behind passing hedges. Blimey what a waste of a cracking Victorian home. It was overgrown and I could barely get my bread-box-shaped car onto the drive. I got out and wandered around overgrown buildings - coach house, stables, paddock and outhouses. This must have been a glorious a century ago.

 

I couldn’t get inside but had a stroll around overgrown gardens. A small sun house had a mattress in it. The stables and paddocks were shamefully neglected - the whole place lies derelict following a compulsory purchase by nearby Manchester Airport. It sits under the take-off and landing zone after runway two was opened. I’d read that planes flew 100 metres above the property but they weren’t that close. I was there for about thirty minutes and three planes passed over. Some developers would love to get their mitts on this as nearly homes sell for about £2 million.

 

It’s said George was inspired by the used to practise climbing on this house but it was while attending Winchester College he’d been introduced to rock climbing and mountaineering by a master who took a small number of people climbing in the Alps each year. George was nuts about climbing, resigning from Charterhouse School to join the first Everest expedition. Between expeditions he attempted to make a living from writing and lecturing but with limited success.

 

It was quite refreshing to see the place turning to rust. Nowadays too many places are developed, shined up and offer yukky “contemporary living”. A couple rented this 10-bedroom home for £1500/month but moved out in 2011. It’s a shame I couldn’t get inside and have a snoop around. George's brother Trafford born in one of the ten bedrooms (he died in 1944 when his plane crashed in the French Alps.)

 

I took lots of photos of the sorry house as I’m sure I’ll drive by one day in the future and see a glossy apartment block offering “contemporary living.” Apparently the Mallory family left Hobcroft House in 1904 when Reverend Mallory moved to another posting.

 

In 1924 George was 37 when he joined the Everest expedition and thought it would be his last time to get to the summit before he got too old. On 4th June 1924 George and Andrew Irvine set off from Advanced Base Camp. Three days later they reached Camp 6 and George only had one bottle of oxygen left.

 

They never returned to their camp and nobody knows if they made it to the top. News of their disappearance spread across the world and there was a memorial service held St Paul's Cathedral, London. Many expeditions tried to find their bodies. In 1933 empty oxygen cylinders and Andrew’s ice axe were found - but not on the summit. In 1986 a Chinese climber said he had stumbled across "an English dead" in 1975 but he died in an avalanche the day after revealing this. In 1999 an expedition was sent out to find the bodies and they found George’s frozen body within hours. They were hoping to find Andrew and his recover his camera which may prove they’d made it to the summit. 

 

As I strolled around the rotting Hobcroft House I looked at the large roof and you wouldn’t guess the little lad who practised climbing here would die and on a mountain in Nepal. It’s doubtful he had a slow death: a golf-ball size hole was found in his forehead which was consistent with an ice axe. It’s been concluded he was sliding down a slope while dragging his ice axe to reduce speed. The ice axe probably struck a rock, bounced off and struck his head.

 

Some things point to George and Andrew had been on the summit: (A) George always carried a photograph of his wife in his pocket and as this wasn’t found on his body so he may have deposited it on the summit (though Chinese climber who found him may have taken it for identification purposes) and (B) his snow-goggles were found in his pocket suggesting they were descending after sunset.

 

He left behind a wife Ruth and their three children. Later she re-married. One of George’s sons climbed Mount Everest in 1995.

 

If you would like to visit George he’s buried where he fell and the address is: North Slope of Mount Everest Tibet (Xizang) Region, China, 27,000 feet altitude. GPS (latitude/longitude): 27.99596, 86.93015. I’m going this Sunday after fried eggs on toast.

 

 

 

 

I bet George got onto this spire…

 

 

 

 

Around the back…

 

At the back of the house…

 

 

 

Behind the overgrown bushes and trees was a happy family home…

 

George’s body was found after 75 years…

 

Nearby is the 10-bedroom home where George was born…

 

The bottom left photo is the last taken of the two climbers…