Celebrating 100 Years of Everest

Posted by Emma Travers on 01/06/2021
Everest seen from 20,000 camp, last day of the 1921 expedition. Photo: Sandy Wollaston

2021 marks the centenary of the first expedition to Mount Everest. To commemorate the occasion, The Alpine Club is hosting a landmark exhibition entitled ‘Everest: By Those Who Were There’ at its premises in Shoreditch, London.

Today every detail of Everest, from its precise dimensions to the exact wind speed on its summit, can be accessed at the click of a button. But for the men of these early expeditions, it was an entirely different prospect. In 1921, even its exact location was uncertain and the first expedition undertook a 200-mile trek across Tibet as they, in the words of George Mallory, ‘walked off the map’ in search of it. The achievements of these expeditions, climbing as high as 8,572m in 1924, were accomplished with rudimentary equipment and no concrete understanding of the effects that such extreme altitudes would have on the human body.

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.’
 

View the exhibition

The exhibition uses the words of expedition members from 1921, 1922 and 1924 to explore the mountain as a symbol of adventure, an expression of empire and a site of significant tragedy. As well as diary entries and hand-written notes, visitors can explore the art works and photography produced on the expeditions, as well as the clothing and equipment that was first used to climb the mountain.

'Everest: By Those Who Were There’ opens to the public from the 21 June and can be visited on Tuesdays and Wednesday between the hours of 12:00 and 17:30 until October 17, with a closure for the month of August.

It takes place at The Alpine Club's premises 55 Charlotte Road, Shoreditch, EC2A 3QF

Capacity will initially be limited due to Covid restrictions and booking is therefore encouraged to avoid long waits. This can be done by emailing admin@alpine-club.org.uk.

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

WATCH: Did Irvine and Mallory ever climb Everest?

Everest and The Alpine Club 

Expedition group of 1921. Photo: Sandy Wollaston

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.

Base camp in 1922. Photo: George Finch

WATCH: The Alpine Club and Everest's secrets with Melanie Windridge on BMC TV


We want to say a big thanks to every BMC member who continues to support us through the Coronavirus crisis.

From weekly Facebook Lives and GB Climbing home training videos, to our access team working to re-open the crags and fight for your mountain access, we couldn’t do it without you.

Did you know that we've launched a U27 membership offer for just £1.50 / month? And with full membership from £2.50 / month, it's never been easier to join and support our work: 

https://www.thebmc.co.uk/join-the-bmc-for-1-month-U27-membership


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