George Mallory

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George Mallory (18 June 18868 June/9 June 1924) was a Himalayan climber who famously perished on Mount Everest in 1924.


  • Because it is there.
    • From an interview, ('Climbing Mount Everest is work for Supermen', New York Times, 18th March 1923) on being asked why he wanted to climb Mount Everest:
    • "Why did you want to climb Mount Everest?" This question was asked of George Leigh Mallory, who was with both expeditions toward the summit of the world’s highest mountain, in 1921 and 1922, and who is now in New York. He plans to go again in 1924, and he gave as the reason for persisting in these repeated attempts to reach the top, "Because it’s there."
  • One comes to bless the absolute bareness, feeling that here is a pure beauty of form, a kind of ultimate harmony.
    • Letter to his wife Ruth Malloy (1921). See Walt Unsworth, Everest: The Mountaineering History‎ (2000), 47, and Peter Gillman and Leni Gillman, The Wildest Dream: The Biography of George Mallory (2001), 13.
  • I look back on tremendous efforts & exhaustion & dismal looking out of a tent door on to a dismal world of snow and vanishing hopes - & yet, & yet, & yet there have been a good many things to see the other side.
    • Diary entry (May 27, 1924). See L. V. Stewart Blacker, Kingdom of Adventure - Everest (2006), 124.
  • Gradually, very gradually, we saw the great mountain sides and glaciers and aretes, now one fragment and now another through the floating rifts, until far higher in the sky than imagination had dared to suggest the white summit of Everest appeared.
    • Chapter XII: The Northern Approach, "The Reconnaissance of the Mountain." From Mount Everest, The Reconnaissance, 1921, 186.
  • "Why do we travel to remote locations? To prove our adventurous spirit or to tell stories about incredible things? We do it to be alone amongst friends and to find ourselves in a land without man."
    • The Wildest Dream: The Biography of George Mallory (2001), 53.


  • The first question you will ask and which I must try to answer is this, 'what is the use of climbing Mount Everest ?' and my answer at once must be, 'It is no use'. There is not the slightest prospect of any gain whatsoever. Oh, we may learn a little about the behaviour of the human body at high altitudes, and possibly medical men may turn our observation to some account for the purposes of aviation. But otherwise nothing will come of it. We shall not bring back a single bit of gold or silver, not a gem, nor any coal or iron. We shall not find a single foot of earth that can be planted with crops to raise food. It's no use. So, if you cannot understand that there is something in man which responds to the challenge of this mountain and goes out to meet it, that the struggle is the struggle of life itself upward and forever upward, then you won't see why we go. What we get from this adventure is just sheer joy. And joy is, after all, the end of life. We do not live to eat and make money. We eat and make money to be able to live. That is what life means and what life is for.
  • For the stone from the top for geologists, the knowledge of the limits of endurance for the doctors, but above all for the spirit of adventure to keep alive the soul of man.

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