The year 2021 is special one in the world of mountaineering as it marks a century since the first expedition to Mount Everest took place. In celebration of this milestone, The Alpine Club will be hosting a landmark exhibition in Shoreditch, London, called ‘Everest: By Those Who Were There’.
The showcase will be using the words of expedition members from 1921, 1922, and 1924 as it explores the mountain as a symbol of adventure and site of significant tragedy. It will also feature diary entries and hand-written notes, with visitors being given a chance to explore the art work and photography produced on the expeditions. You will also be able to view the explorers’ clothing and equipment.
“These men lived in the true age of exploration”
These days, you can type into your phone any question about Everest and you’ll find information on everything from precise dimensions to the exact wind speed on its summit. For the brave men of these early expeditions though, it was an entirely different prospect. In 1921, even its exact location was uncertain. The first expedition involved a 200-mile trek across Tibet as they, in the words of George Mallory, “walked off the map” in search of it.
When you think about the basic equipment available at the time, it makes the exploration of the highest mountain in the world even more impressive. The expedition in 1924 saw the team reach a height of 8,572m 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.”
‘Everest: By Those Who Were There’ opens to the public from the 21 June and can be visited on Tuesdays and Wednesdays between the hours of 12:00 and 17:30 until 17 October.
Some of the items on display include:
- A photograph taken on Everest by George Mallory in 1922 which was, at the time, the highest photograph ever taken.
- Watercolour paintings of Everest by Howard Somervell.
- Sandy Irvine’s ice axe, lost on Everest during his fateful summit attempt with Mallory in 1924, and rediscovered in 1933.
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 all over 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. 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.
Capacity will initially be limited due to Covid restrictions and booking is therefore encouraged to avoid long waits. This can be done by emailing [email protected]