These illustrated talks by Julie Summers, Irvine’s great niece and biographer, bring to life one of the great mountaineering mysteries of Everest. Photo © Merton College Oxford
The disappearance of Mallory and Irvine close to the summit of Mount Everest in June 1924 is perhaps the most compelling, the most romantic and the greatest unsolved mountaineering mystery. What happened to the two men, last seeing going strong for the top, has never been resolved. Were they coming down from the summit or had they turned back, defeated? The discovery of Mallory’s body in 1999 answered none of these questions but it excited speculation and enthralled a new generation.
At twenty-two Sandy Irvine was the youngest member of the 1924 Mount Everest Expedition but he was far from the inexperienced ingénue that history has suggested. He had crammed into his short life what most men do not manage in a lifetime: from outstanding mechanical inventions during the First World War, via a double blue in rowing at Oxford and exploration in the Arctic, to a passionate love affair with his best friend’s stepmother.
This beautifully illustrated talk by Julie Summers, Irvine’s great niece and biographer, will bring to life one of the most great stories linked to Mount Everest. Set in the Edwardian era, when the conquest of the mountain represented the last, great challenge of exploration after both the poles had been discovered, it evokes the mood of the early twentieth century and of British climbing at the time of the First World War.
It is a compelling story and will leave you believing that whether or not Mallory and Irvine stood on the summit 29 years before Hillary and Tenzing, they were far from amateurs. Mallory was indisputably one of the greatest climbers of his generation and Irvine an outstanding athlete and a worthy climbing partner on the final attempt.
Julie Summers is a writer, broadcaster and historian with the same spirit for adventure as her forebear. A full time author since 2004, she has appeared regularly on radio, television and, most recently, in the film about Mallory’s last climb The Wildest Dream. She is current Chair of the Mountain Heritage Trust and believes strongly that the rich heritage of British mountaineering and climbing has an enduring appeal beyond the sport itself.
When not caught up in writing, research or lecturing, Julie is a keen oarswoman and this year defended her title as a veteran national sculling champion.
Tour dates and venues 2011
Friday 30th INVERNESS Eden Court 01463 234234
Monday 3rd EASTBOURNE Congress Theatre 01323 412 000
Wednesday 5th BUXTON Arts Centre 0845 1272190
Thursday 6th LLANDUDNO Venue Cymru 01492 872000
Friday 7th BRECON Theatr Brycheiniog 01874 611622
Sunday 9th ILFRACOMBE Landmark Theatre 01271 32 42 42
Wednesday 12th HALIFAX Victoria Theatre 01422 351158
Friday 14th DARLINGTON Arts Centre 01325 486555
Tuesday 18th STOCKPORT Stockport Plaza 0161 477 7779
Thursday 20th RADLETT The Radlett Centre 01923 859291
Tuesday 25th SOUTHEND Palace Theatre 01702 351135
Wednesday 26th DERBY Guildhall Theatre 01332 255800
Thursday 3rd ANDOVER The Lights 01264 368368
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