A muse on the 91st anniversary of my father's birth, 18 March. And reflections on how the Mystery of Mallory and Irvine's fate has taken a personal tone.
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This is the happiness quotient on Thom Pollard. In this episode I'm going to share with you some thoughts on a curious development in the mystery of Mallory and Ervin about their fate, but not so much about the actual mystery of Mallory and Irvine. But regarding the sleuths, endeavoring to solve the greatest mystery in all of adventure, or at least of all of mountaineering, it seems that some divisive Ness has entered the ranks. And it's curious to me and a little bit troubling as I and some of my friends and cohorts have been the subject of numerous volleys. Let's put it that way. So more about that later. It's been a while, I took a bit of time to jumpstart and set the foundation for another, an additional podcast called tools for nomads, which many of you may or may not know about. It's sponsored by a Topdrawer. It's a company that I did an Everest presentation for in 2017. And we liked each other so much that we decided to partner in the creation of tools for nomads. So it's a podcast that you can find virtually anywhere that you listen to podcasts. And I just very recently started a YouTube channel tools for nomads with Thom Pollard, I hope if you appreciate what you hear, and ultimately we'll be seeing on the YouTube channel, I hope that you'll subscribe and click likes, leave comments and share with those that you care about. I wanted to share with you a short episode that I recorded last week on the anniversary of my father's birthday on March 18, he would have turned 91, which is just an amazing thing for me to think about and boy how time flies. So I'm going to talk a little bit about that and also reflect on the divisive nature of this Mallory and Irvine debate. It's just incredible that people who are all interested in the same thing, can disagree and start to take it personally. I guess that's modern politics too. So I should not be so surprised but my thoughts are forthcoming. Next week, I will bring you an interview with the amazing Bruce Means he's a biologist, environmentalist herpetologist, he's been bitten by rattlesnakes, not on purpose, a scientist and he's identified numerous new species and he's also the subject of a cover article on National Geographic this month, he went down to Guyana with my friends Mark Synnott and Renan Ozturk and he discovered some new frog species. Pretty cool stuff. So we'll hear from Bruce in about a week. Alright, so today an off the cuff recording about my father's birthday anniversary, and an observation, curious development that is taking place around the mystery of Mallory and Irvine and not about their fate, unfortunately, but about people who seem to disagree with various theories, and it's taken a personal turn. If you prefer, you can watch the following on my YouTube page at the happiness quotient with Thom Pollard. Okay, here it is from March 18. Enjoy. Greetings, it is March 18. And today is the anniversary of my dad's birth and he would be 91. Today, every time this year on my dad is and also on my mom's birthday and on my brothers who another person that I've lost. I think, Wow, 91 years ago today, a little baby boy was born. And he was the apple of his mother's eye. And all the hopes and dreams of a beautiful life awaited him with a family that adored him. And he grew up a happy little boy. And so loved and cherished. These are things that my dad shared with me over the years. And 91 years later, when I was a little kid 91 years seemed like a long, long time, but it's the blink of an eye. And now my dad has been gone for 16 or 17 years now. He died when he was 73 years old, which is way too young but I had him so I knew him I had a great relationship with him and I felt like any things that We needed to work out as a son growing up with a dad we had worked out. But the only thing that kind of nags at me from time to time is that my dad isn't around so that my sons could get to know him even remotely in the way that I knew him. And so I have to tell stories, which is their mom is pretty funny about that. Here's another story from dad about his dad. But yeah, that's the way you CIT you cherish a loved one from the past and how you carry on his or her tradition. And my dad was a good man, he was a very, very good man, he's 30 years older than me. And boy, did he really have a cool life. And it was just way too short. 73 ain't bad. But I sure would have loved it had he made it another 10 or 15, or Magian, him being 91. I can't even imagine my dad having been around another 17 or 18 years. So I wanted to talk to you ever so briefly from Casa Pollard today, about, well, one spring time, because we're at the beginning of spring. And another cool thing is that it's a full moon today. And I love how the full moon is here on my dad's 91st birthday. We only get the full moon on our birthday every what would a cycle be every 30 years or something like that the length of a month I would imagine. So it's a special one. And it means a lot and I saw the the full moon the almost full moon setting on the horizon this morning when I went out to put bird food out for the birds. And I will await its arrival this evening as the sun goes down over here on the east of the home and will say a prayer and a message to my awesome dad, who if people do look down from wherever they are, I know he'll be looking down smiling and wishing that he was remembered along with all the other beautiful people in my life that came before me. So the thing I really wanted to talk about today, other than my pops was a little bit about the Norton Khullar. I have a video that's on this YouTube channel that has gotten a lot of attention, not that much. 50 some odd 1000 views or 40 some odd 1000 views about the mystery of Mallory and Irvine and my experience in that story on the mountain. For those who don't know, in 1999, I was hired to be a high altitude camera man on the Mallory and Irvine research expedition. And at the time when I got hired, honestly I didn't really even know much about Mallory and Irvine I mean very little, maybe I had heard stories, I just become a member of the American Alpine Club. And so you've heard stories of Everest lore. But I was more familiar with Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing who we knew, as the people are still known as the people who first summited in 1953. And so when I went really I was at the mercy of, of what I was given as information for our ascent and our filming up high. And that was to go and trace Mallory and Irvine's route up as far as we knew them to last have been seen, or at least surmise them to have last been seen. Look through their bodies, and see if we could make determination if they made it to the summit or not. Back then I knew a little bit about the Norton cool war, which is a more direct route across the north face that goes straight up the summit period, pyramid and this is on the north face from Tibet looking south essentially as as we look at the, the landscape of the mountain, and, but but we followed a route that I accepted at the time as having been that they tried the second step, which is the notorious second step, which until the 70s had was pretty much impossible to climb. And while Mallory and Irvine may have attempted the second step, there's no knowledge of whether they did or not they Malyon Ervin, more seen on the summit ridge by Noel Odell on June 8 In the afternoon, and he saw them for a very short amount of time. And after he spotted their bodies getting up onto the ridge, the clouds came in and they disappeared. Jake Norton, my friend from 1999, make some great observations about that, and shares photographs on his website. I'll share the link to that on this on the show notes of it. He shows about what have Visual Representation really would be from the from a human eye viewpoint, not a zoomed in shot of the first, second and third step and back then in 1924. During that expedition, the third step wasn't really even recognized. I don't even know if they called it the first step of the second step, they per se they call it the second step, but not the second step. And so my Inkling was always that Noel Odell saw them above the first step and not above the third or near the third step, as many people like to believe, these days and many people believe that the people in the 99 expedition were were misinformed or dead wrong at looking at all the clues that we might find on the second step might be right. We went back in 2019. I went with Mark Synnott, and Renan Ozturk and an amazing group of filmmakers. And we continued to do our searching in a spot that we had believed Irvine had been found we need made no presuppositions that it was the second step. Of course, we talked about the second step a lot, but it wasn't as much about did they do the second step or or not? It was that we were looking for Irvine's body, which we did not find, unfortunately. But my good friend Jochen Hemmleb, who many of you know, he's an Everest historian, I believe one of the most knowledgeable in terms of the facts of the expedition. I spoke to him a little bit about the Norton Couloir route. And he believes Yeah, indeed, that is back in the pre war era, at least before the ladder was placed on the second step that the Norton Couloir probably would have offered a better chance of success for Mallory and Irvine but really all we really know is that there was an oxygen bottle found near the first step before you get to the first step, essentially, where Norton and Somerville had been previously so we really don't know anything after that and and people can say what they want about Odell they can they can guess one way or the other but Odell did change his story on numerous occasions when he spoke with Bradford Washburn back in the 1980s. I believe he visited Boston and Brad asked him point blank, show me on this topographical map where did you see Mallory and Ervin and Odell pointed to a spot above the first step? Not where many people like to put him at? Did he reverse his story in later years? Yes, No. Maybe? Anybody who says they absolutely know which way Mallory and Irvine went, certainly does not know. And probably the most troubling thing in all of this is that while there are so many people drawn to this incredible mystery, and it's one of the most amazing stories of adventure and mountaineering, certainly that has ever happened. You'd think that people would come together to try to solve it. But what's happened is there's been a faction of people who believe very strongly in the the route that I have very little knowledge about, that I've taken it to a personal level. And it's mind boggling to me that that people can Well, let's put it this way. I've blocked a lot of comments on my YouTube video. And recently, I actually just turned comments off altogether. It anybody, all I want to say is anybody who says they know, and that somebody else does not know is a fool. That's all I'm going to tell you. And I respect everybody's opinions on what might have happened. But nobody knows. I don't care if Mallory wrote 500 times in a notebook or two letters that he intended to take the Norton cool wall route. It doesn't mean anything. When you get up to high altitude things change. Things change dramatically due to the weather due to certain conditions due to oxygen. We don't even know if they got past the oxygen bottle that was found near or at the base of the first step. We know nothing really, other than that Odell did see them and where they were at that sighting, we really don't know. We do not know. Did they make it to the summit? My gut tells me they did not make it to the summit. I would love to think that they did, but here's why I don't think they made it. The position of Mallory's body was a very long distance east of of even the first and second step or of the second step, at least, you know, kind of the fall line, and east of where Urban's ICEX, was found in 1939. And in order for them to have gotten to the summit, and all the way back down, where we found Mallory's body at least above that on the fall line of it would have been, in my opinion, impossible. But But I don't know, I'm not telling anybody that I'm right, because I, Nobody knows, nobody can tell. I just don't think that they made it. I looked at Mallory's face, his face was in good condition other than the hole over his eye, which I, I have a couple of ideas on that. And I'll talk about that on another video. Sometime, His fingers were frostbitten, his hands were but his toes were in very, very good shape. So what this really is about is that we don't know nobody knows, nobody knows a thing about it. This is a mystery that will probably endure forever, unless the camera is found. And now the whole thing about pebbles in the pocket. I thoroughly checked every single pocket on the front of Mallory's body, there was nothing in his pocket that would say, here's a pebble or here's a rock, because believe me, we took everything out of that buy in and took care to not lose anything that was in his pocket. I read the one of the reasons that I can tell you for sure that we got everything out is when I took his watch out of his pocket, the crystal was gone. There was no broken crystal, the crystal was gone. 100% entirely, there were no shards or anything. So which surmise to come to the belief that the watch crystal was broken, then Mallory took it off, put it in his pocket at that time. So in looking through his pocket, I did not find even a tiny shard of crystal. And believe me, I looked really thoroughly at the time and we kept absolutely everything, with the exception, that the hour hand of the watch fell off, and it was lost, it was in a ziploc baggie with Andy pullets. and I were up at Camp five at about 26,000 feet. And somehow that little our hand got away from us, we do have one photograph of it with the hour hand on it. But yeah, the mystery endure. So if anybody tells you they know they don't, and if anybody tells you that the other people are thinking differently or a fool. Well, you know how I feel about that I have a respect for everybody's opinion on this. The only place where I start to get off the tracks and get off the train and stop communicating with people is when they start to accuse others and, and kind of take it to a personal level. I'm just not interested in that. This is a mystery that we can all come together in. And don't we need a little more togetherness in this world, given what's going on with Russia and the Ukraine? My my love and blessings go out to all those people of all those countries. And you know, so maybe we could take a hint from that and, and bring it together as a community and try to solve the mystery, or at least have a discussion about the history as a you know, decent people and respectful caring people. Thank you to the wood brothers and their management for the use of their song happiness Jones for our theme song here on the happiness quotient and their publicist Kevin Calabro for helping make it happen. And as I save this, I'm immediately reminded that I actually saw the Wood Brothers live in Portland, Maine back on February 1. And Kevin was kind enough to set me up with a PhotoPass as well to get in. And well, it should come as no surprise what they played for their encore. Yes, happiness Jones. And the band was looking at me they all winked at me kind of on a count of 3 123 wink at Tom boom, play happiness Jones. I'm actually just kidding with you there, but amazing. So if you ever have a chance to see the wood brothers make gosh darn sure they are going on tour. I plan to see them again in June at least once and so check the wood proz.com And go check them out real soon if you can. If you're so inclined to support the work that I do here at the happiness quotient. Find me on Patreon where you can also get a free downloadable PDF of the happiness quotient a course in happiness visit me at patreon.com/the happiness quotient. There is also some content in there for my actual patrons, which is going to cost you big money, I think You can get in the door for three bucks a month. There are some patrons out there interested in that. So go check it out. Let me know what you think. 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