National Geographic : 2003 May
Two Sherpas (above) look into Tibet from the sum mit ridge of Chomiomo, a 22,405-foot peak on the border between China and India, inthis photo by Scot tish chemist Alexander Mitchell Kellas. One of the first to study the effects of altitude on the body, Kellas learns that Sherpas, a people from the high valleys south of Everest, function well at high altitude. He dies a decade later on the first British expedition to Everest and is buried within sight of Chomiomo. Led by Charles Howard Bury, this expedition seeks a northern route to the peak. At the Lhakpa La (bottom), a 22,500-foot pass, the men camp within sight of what they hope to find-a route to the top. From Everest's North Col, the saddle on the right, the North Ridge route rises to the left toward the summit, hidden behind the apex of the ridge. Climber George Mallory feels over joyed. 'This success brings our reconnaissance to an end," he writes, "we have found out the way and we're now planning the attack." A taste for the bare essen tials finds Mallory naked (below) while fording a river with half-clad Howard Somervell, at left, and Arthur Wakefield on the first assault of Everest. Mallory's free-spirited views include a disdain for bottled oxygen. But teammates using it climb to 27,300 feet, 300 feet higher than Mallory.