Science & Technology

Everest mountaineer’s letters, that survived 75 years, digitised for 1st time

New Delhi, April 22 : In a key scientific feat, letters written by the late Everest mountaineer George Mallory, which survived 75 years in his jacket pocket before his body was discovered, have been digitised and made available to a global audience for the first time.

The bulk of the collection is made up of letters written between Mallory and his wife Ruth, from the time of their engagement in 1914 until his death on Everest in 1924.

Among them are the very last letter he wrote before his final Everest summit attempt and three letters that were retrieved from his body in 1999.

These letters have now been made available in the centenary year of Mallory’s fatal attempt to scale Everest.

The letters are free to view on the website of Magdalene College, University of Cambridge.

“It has been a real pleasure to work with these letters,” said College archivist Katy Green.

“Whether it’s George’s wife Ruth writing about how she was posting him plum cakes and a grapefruit to the trenches (he said the grapefruit wasn’t ripe enough), or whether it’s his poignant last letter where he says the chances of scaling Everest are ‘50 to 1 against us’, they offer a fascinating insight into the life of this famous Magdalene alumnus,” Green noted.

An alumnus of Magdalene College, Mallory is known for purportedly replying “because it’s there” when asked by a reporter why he wanted to climb Everest.

The letters cover some fascinating topics including his first reconnaissance mission to Everest in 1921.

There were no existing records or maps, it was uncharted and this was the mission to see if it was even possible to get to the base of Everest.

“The letters to Mallory from his wife Ruth are a major source of women’s social history, covering a wide variety of topics about her life as a woman living through the First World War,” according to the university.

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