The Happiness Quotient

#70 - Everest Historian Tom Holzel and The Fascinating Mystery of Mallory & Irvine

February 17, 2021 Thom Pollard Season 3 Episode 70
The Happiness Quotient
#70 - Everest Historian Tom Holzel and The Fascinating Mystery of Mallory & Irvine
Chapters
The Happiness Quotient
#70 - Everest Historian Tom Holzel and The Fascinating Mystery of Mallory & Irvine
Feb 17, 2021 Season 3 Episode 70
Thom Pollard

What was the fate of famed British mountaineers George Mallory and Sandy Irvine? And were they the first to climb Mount Everest?  Today's guest is noted historian and author Tom Holzel to talk about his fifty plus year fascination with solving the mystery of Mallory & Irvine. 

Mallory and Irvine’s disappearance on Everest on June 8th 1924 has captivated and intrigued  generations of mountaineers and would-be sleuths. Did they make it? What happened to them?

Tom Holzel has studied this more than anyone alive. This interview will inspire you, intrigue and, it just might turn you into a modern day detective…. What happened on that fateful day, high upon the slopes of the world’s highest peak.

For a free, downloadable copy of The Happiness Quotient's A Course In Happiness, please visit www.patreon.com/thehappinessquotient, or find it at eyesopenproductions.com/happiness


Three important interviews/videos with Tom Holzel:
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLliwwVA2bFR4yw9K9XQV-eu42AUCIzsUK

I'd like to thank Oliver and Chris Wood, Jano Ricks and The Wood Brothers management, as well as their publicist Kevin Calabro for granting us the rights to use HAPPINESS JONES for our theme music. We are deeply honored. 

Find The Wood Brothers at: 
https://www.thewoodbros.com/

The Wood Brothers on YouTube:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCTvWKQovDZlLceuct1EEMMQ

Happiness Jones video can be seen here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LKIoiVWwF5A

For more about Thom Dharma Pollard, about personal coaching or his inspirational presentations, virtual or in person, look for him at eyesopenproductions.com

To join his mailing list for A Course In Happiness, email him at [email protected]

Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/thehappinessquotient)

Show Notes Transcript

What was the fate of famed British mountaineers George Mallory and Sandy Irvine? And were they the first to climb Mount Everest?  Today's guest is noted historian and author Tom Holzel to talk about his fifty plus year fascination with solving the mystery of Mallory & Irvine. 

Mallory and Irvine’s disappearance on Everest on June 8th 1924 has captivated and intrigued  generations of mountaineers and would-be sleuths. Did they make it? What happened to them?

Tom Holzel has studied this more than anyone alive. This interview will inspire you, intrigue and, it just might turn you into a modern day detective…. What happened on that fateful day, high upon the slopes of the world’s highest peak.

For a free, downloadable copy of The Happiness Quotient's A Course In Happiness, please visit www.patreon.com/thehappinessquotient, or find it at eyesopenproductions.com/happiness


Three important interviews/videos with Tom Holzel:
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLliwwVA2bFR4yw9K9XQV-eu42AUCIzsUK

I'd like to thank Oliver and Chris Wood, Jano Ricks and The Wood Brothers management, as well as their publicist Kevin Calabro for granting us the rights to use HAPPINESS JONES for our theme music. We are deeply honored. 

Find The Wood Brothers at: 
https://www.thewoodbros.com/

The Wood Brothers on YouTube:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCTvWKQovDZlLceuct1EEMMQ

Happiness Jones video can be seen here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LKIoiVWwF5A

For more about Thom Dharma Pollard, about personal coaching or his inspirational presentations, virtual or in person, look for him at eyesopenproductions.com

To join his mailing list for A Course In Happiness, email him at [email protected]

Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/thehappinessquotient)

Thom Pollard:

This is the happiness quotient. For a free pdf download of a course in happiness, go to patreon.com slash the happiness quotient or find it on my website at eyes open productions.com slash happiness.

The Wood Brothers:

All of my wisdom came From all the toughest days.... I never learned a thing being happy All of my suffering came, I didn't appreciate it, I never learned a thing being happy. .......MUSIC FADES UNDER

Thom Pollard:

Welcome to the happiness quotient. I'm Thom Pollard. Today I'm going to share with you an inspiring and intriguing interview about explorations greatest unsolved mystery. What is the fate of famed British mountaineers George Mallory and Sandy Ervin, who disappeared high upon the slopes of Mount Everest on June 8, in 1924, with a first to climb Mount Everest. My guest is noted historian and author Tom hole Zell, who's going to talk about his 50 plus year, half a century fascination with solving the mystery of Mallory in irvan. Did Mallory and Ervin climb Everest in 1924 29 years before Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay are known to have summited Mallory and Urban's disappearance on Everest is a mystery that has captivated and intrigued generations of mountain ears, and would be sleds. So many people want to know if they made it or not so many people want to believe that it happened. Tom hole Zell speaks plain truth and plain facts. What happened to them? Let's hear what Tom has to say. In previous episodes of the happiness quotient, I've done a deep dive on the fate of Mallory and irvan with noted historian, I'll be it a generation or two removed from Tom wholesale yuchen hem lab, as well as my good friend and partner in the 2019 Urban Search expedition and New York Times best selling author Mark Sennett. I myself have talked in previous episodes about my experience of being on the team that discovered George Mallory in May of 1999. Tom Wolfe, Zell has studied this more than anyone alive, the interview will inspire you intrigued you and it just might turn you into a modern day detective. What happened on that fateful day high upon the freezing icy, windswept snowy slopes of the world's highest peak? Before I bring you our conversation, it's important to note that Tom invited me and Mark Senate to his home in December of 2019, to show us what he believed was definitive proof of the location of Sandy Urban's body at about 27,000 feet on Mount Everest. Sometime after our first round of cocktails that evening, and before Tom's wife emerged from her bedroom in the wee hours of the morning, to tell us to be quiet and go to bed. Mark and I were sufficiently sold on the information Tom had shared with us. And that was ultimately the genesis of the 2019 expedition, which led to the National Geographic film last on Everest, and Marc's forthcoming book, The third pole, mystery, obsession, and death on Mount Everest, which will come out in April of 2021. only weeks away from this episode. Here's my conversation with the one the only Tom wholesale from his home in Connecticut. Tom, tell me, how on earth did you get so interested in what has become one of the most enduring mysteries in all of exploration? Like, what's the what's the genesis for you? Yeah, of course, you would ask that question. I can tell you how it started, but I can't tell you why.

TOM HOLZEL:

Okay, and I have to say one other thing on on that line, I do a lot of writing and I write short stories and stuff like that. And often what I do is I start off with a very simple premise, o(?) r for example, which is a 400 page novel, a very simple premise, and then I start writing Start writing and the whole thing takes on a life of its own and goes on and on and on, you know, and, and everything turns out, right, you know, all the love stories and all that all come together, I had no idea how that happens. It's just a little homunculus in the back of their head is doing all that work. But so the way this one started was I was reading in the New Yorker magazine, I think this was probably 1969. short article, and it was an article and they mentioned, Marian urban having been spotted shortly below the summit, last of you going strong for the top wants to view. And then the guy went on writing about whatever he was writing. And I thought to myself, as well, did they make it? And so I was working very near the New York Public Library on 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue. I went into the upper section, got a lot of books. Wow. So I pulled out, first of all, the 1924 Everest expedition book. And I looked through that, and I said, Wow, there's a lot of information here. actually ended up buying most of the Everest, I have all the expedition books, you know, everyone had a lot of other ones. And I started reading it, reading it. And I suddenly realized that as I said, the key thing here is they were using oxygen, which is almost often is left out in the summary. And the English don't like the idea was still to them. Oxygen is kind of a way to cheat. But certainly their their demigod Maui, he couldn't have lowered himself using oxygen. But of course he did. So I said, okay, because using oxygen, he did it too, because it lets you climb faster, how much faster? So then I went and So I said, Oh, boy, that's a better thing. And then another thing came up. And by the way, this time, nobody knew really about the second step. You know, we just had the Chinese account and gnashing of teeth, and so forth. But nobody really knew. And they were not experienced climbers. So nobody knew how difficult it really was. So I said, Okay, now he's going there, but they everybody agreed it was severe. In the sense of exposure, you know, you get super cheap and all of a sudden, you're standing there, you know. And then the other thing occurred to me is, now that we know what it's like, it's easy to say, oh, I'll just 15 five meters, you know, I'll just climb up. Because I know that they handle it, though. They didn't know there was a handle. They didn't know that it kept it kept on going like this. They didn't know anything. So I'm thinking well, Mallaby, Sandman with urban urban is not a skill time at all strong. And it was really a height of folly for him to drag Irvine up, and it would cost oxygen. So I claimed one thing that he could have done is that now he could have said urban you go back down, you can see all the way back down. It was not a difficult time. I'll take your oxygen, you don't need it going down. And I'll give it a whirl. So when you did the numbers that made it in a (?), and oh, here's a sensible way that he could have been wishing for the top music, how he could have done it here the numbers.

Thom Pollard:

Wow.

TOM HOLZEL:

the climbing community, he was so outraged that these grave robbers would go and try to disturb their hero, that one of them broke the embargo. You know, when a new book comes out, they say, here's a book, but you're not allowed to review it until a session says one of them broke the embargo in order to trash and, and that was, that was disgusting. That's what they said. Anyway, so I couldn't care less. On the other hand, this one on on the other hand, they were very quick to demand any money should the camera be found, you know, money being made on pictures inside the camera, stuff like that? Yeah. Even though they haven't contributed a filing, to the research of any of the research, but they wanted the money. So, you know, it took me a while I said, you know, Alex, you guys, this is a hobby. You. You don't employ me. You can't work nowadays, of course, they would call up my employer and try to get me fired. But that wasn't the case in those days, and there wasn't a damn thing they could do about it. So I enjoyed it. And I would stop. And I tried. I tried a couple times. Did you Did you see the 2003 interview that? Oh, you got it. You gotta see it.

Thom Pollard:

On YouTube?

Unknown:

you?

TOM HOLZEL:

Yeah, it was up me. It's on YouTube. Yeah, it's on youtube, I believe. Yes. I you sent that to me a couple of weeks ago, I believe. Yeah, right. Well, I made it now. in a row, there's that one. 2003 is the one in my basement, where we show you know, the route and then I put a renenspicture. So you get all three, and I'm gonna put links to those in one link. I'll send it to you, which which gets you to the top of that, and then you go 123 got it. Okay, okay. Yeah. And by the way, the first one, the one of me in the basement that's already got 60,000 views.

Thom Pollard:

Wow.

TOM HOLZEL:

Well, you know, there's some obviously was some interest. So as you said, the Brits hadn't contributed in your words a farthing to solve the mystery, yet, they had already drawn a line in the sand and said, if anything is ever found, it's ours. And you better not get any money for we're gonna take you to hell and back again to sue you for Yeah, let me jump in there.

Thom Pollard:

So what's happening here... Is this, this little kernel of a mystery for you started out just as a little hobby, and you're a writer, you're just doing what you do. And people are reading it and, and, like any good mystery, people are attracted to it, it starts to build up steam or we could say it's like a snowball rolling downhill, getting bigger and bigger and bigger. And suddenly, you know, people are actually taking exception to it. How dare you talk about our George Mallory and Sandy Irvine.

TOM HOLZEL:

So not only am I an American yet I'm also a German. Yeah.

Thom Pollard:

That's true. And and so suddenly, you are all in now like now this is like part of like this has gone well beyond a mystery This is, it seems like it, it just got under your skin and in to every fiber of you know, I know, I know that everybody thinks that it's very interesting, but I had no problem at all shutting it down when there was somewhere inflammation. Inflammation guy, if there's no inflammation stuff, you know, do not confabulate do not have dreams. Just Just wait until the next comes along. my livelihood didn't depend on it. Nothing. Yeah. And I thought the things but I did realize after spending a lot of time researching

TOM HOLZEL:

that it was you weren't gonna (?) the answer in the library.It would be, you know, on the ground, right, right.Thefirst timewas in1974. I remember the I don't know if you remember the book. Wilson say or1962 they snuck over the border into Tibet and went partially up the North Polewas a really arduous thing. There wasn't many of them for four or five of them.Remarkable secret illegal thing that inspired me.

Thom Pollard:

Four Against Everest.

TOM HOLZEL:

That's it. That was it. Yeah. Woodrow Wilson Center. Yeah. So I decided that they, they took the long route. I said, if we could go past mcaloon mcaloon is sort of next on Everest. I think it's a barren glacier, sort of separates Everest and mcaloon. And Hillary actually went to the top of the Berlin glacier once and then stopped. But he looked down. And he saw that he said, America so we said, Well, why don't we go up? Follow the footstep of Hillary and then down, he said of Everest, and then pick up Mallory's route when he was there. And he went up, and he crossed over the bridge there. And there he was at the North Pole. So I said, let's do it. Wow. We need to get a permit to climb. So I applied me and Joe Poindexter a friend of mine, for the Atlantic Alpine club.Andand about a month later, we got it. The Atlantic Alpine club, you have to start your own club. Yeah, start on club, guys.

Thom Pollard:

Cuz back in the day, when when in order to get permits, you had to have like the American Alpine club give you their

TOM HOLZEL:

Guess how that happened.

Thom Pollard:

And that's why they wouldn't they wouldn't give you the thumbs up or something.

TOM HOLZEL:

Well, I got the permit from, from the Nepalese. And all of a sudden, I got a call from the AAC the real AAC. So Who the hell are you guys know what's going on? I said, Well, we just got a permit to climb, actually, what's the problem? Well, the Nepalese it turns out, when they got the, when they get any requests, they make initials of the club. And our initials are AC. So yeah, so whoever was doing the things that give it to them, you know, so we got it. And then what happened was, somebody said, I said, Oh, shit, get going. So then what happened was the British or the French were caught climbing a forbidden. And they came back to Kathmandu, and the political media was all calm down, calm down, we're exhausted. Let us sleep this off. We'll have a press conference tomorrow. And everybody went home, and they land went back to Paris. And there was no press conference. And the Nepalese were outraged. Wow. And so they call the French Alpine club and the French Alpine club said, Yeah, yeah, these people are refreshing, but we don't know who they are. They're not they're not part of our club. So from that point on the Nepalese set up, so all permit holders. And this was for 1975. The year we wanted to go need the imprimatur of their national climbing. So we went to that's beautiful, really, they said, I forget. But turns out my God, about saving our bacon, if we had gone when we climbed over the ridge there we would have run into the Chinese army because they were making their major huge 1975 really, no kidding. Talk about serendipity. Yeah, so the in a backward way, the friendship I begun but on the other hand, they gave you a different outcome. In 80, I learned that the French at this time hardly anybody could climb on the north side, the Chinese, the Japanese were the first in 1979. And that's when I wrote them. And they sent back this, this letter saying, Miss Roselle. We're really delighted to have that in your letter, and you'll be happy to know that we did. The Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper did a four page article on you in this theory. And not only that, but when we went for our reconnaissance expedition 979, a Japanese Chinese climber Porter came up to Haas acaba, who's our climbing leader and said he had discovered a sleeping dead at at 100 meters. And, you know, we it was he was English, English, he said the word English English speaking language. And so we think that that might be your mouth. So I took that information. I got the article. And I called up Walter Solomon at the New York Times, he is the Assistant science editor, I gave him the whole story. He was in Thrall. He said, that was a 45 minute phone call. I said, Wow, that will do a great story and send me all the information. So I did send him a three or four page letter. And about a week or so 10 days later, a big half page article came out aN MALLORY, the discovered body. Not a word of me. It really pissed me off

Thom Pollard:

(LAUGHING) rotten bastard.

TOM HOLZEL:

Yeah, that's right. So So I sent a letter to ape Rosenthal, who was at the time the senior editor or the maybe even the publisher, and I explained the thing, and about a week later, I got back this sappy, we reply from the science editor. weasoner, I think his name was saying, sort of beating around the bush, and they they use all the sources, blah, blah, blah. They did their original research. But they didn't say is how they get started. Because the only people who wrote to me was the Japanese to me, you know? And somehow they discovered they discovered within seven. Secondly, what about my 45 minute talk? 10 days earlier with the system science, I didn't mention that. And finally, I made a mistake, sort of an egregious mistake and what I sent them not on purpose, and they publish that too. And then they said, Oh, and your letter didn't get to us until after the article appeared. In other words, a special delivery letter from Boston's in New York takes eight days, we know that. Anyway. So that's the kind of stuff you know, one goes, that kind of stuff. And if I was a bitter person, which I'm not, I would bear a grudge. I don't, I couldn't care less. There are small people. Still, that went and tried to get them. They had the next permit in 1981, the fall of 1981. And I invited myself over to France, to Grenoble, and talk to their team there. And they were very sort of skeptical to meet the spreche. American. But we had it we get along really well. Yeah. And they invited me and they said yes. And I have a letter from the the Commanding General, that group, come on down. As George saying, remember the team, I suppose? Great. Wow. Then, so I started getting ready for that. And then all of a sudden that the visa wouldn't come through the Chinese and the French are so apologetic. You can't get the Chinese to agree to a visa. Very sorry, you know, blah, blah, blah. It's all bullshit. The generals in Paris was aghast that an American will be going on their expedition. So so you know, that's, that's fine. So but at that time, I realized, Okay, enough. Second rate stuff, I gotta do it myself. So that's what I put in for my own firm. And I got george bush to help me he was the chief liaison officer in Peking.

Thom Pollard:

Wow. I've seen that leetter, I believe

TOM HOLZEL:

believe he'll push.

Thom Pollard:

Yeah. I think I believe I've seen that ladder. Is that one hanging?

TOM HOLZEL:

Yeah, yeah.

Thom Pollard:

Yep. Yep. Very, very cool.

TOM HOLZEL:

And I don't know what happened under the, you know, in the backroom or anything like that. He said, that, you know, it's really difficult to deal with these people. But he was revered in China because he was a straight shooter. And I think that probably played the trick. And all of a sudden, boom, I got the permit to go there.

Unknown:

And what year was that to go see to go search for yourself? Well, they said you can have the fall of 86 or the spring of 87. And I was torn because I know that the spring is better. But you know, the spring is almost a year further out and a burden Hand is tilling the bush, and also the French when they went, although they had terrible weather, there were pictures showing the mountain fairly clear of snow. And I didn't realize that there wasn't much known about the north side of Everest in the fall because nobody, nobody went. And I said, Well, that's kind of interesting, because that's what we need if we're going to find a body at 8200 meters. And so I chose that. And then somewhere around then we moved Diane, I moved up to Boston, and I started the company there. And we, you know, started the expedition. I called AC again, this time, it's legit. So we did it was a great, it was great fun. I loved it. We got creamed, of course.

Thom Pollard:

Yeah. But But that said, so Didn't you publish the book? The mystery Mallory & Irvine. In 1986? Yeah,

TOM HOLZEL:

that was in 1985. That was shortly before we left. That was everything we knew. Audrey Salkeld and I had written that.

Thom Pollard:

I will, yeah. So I have to make an admission. I've read the book. But it's been long enough that I just assumed your expedition to search for Mallory & Irvine came before the book. And now I've been educated it when you did the book, then went to look.

TOM HOLZEL:

I did an article. I did an article for summit magazine, which described the fact that we failed. And they put that in a second edition of the same book, this time by the Mountain News. And they did a real nice job. So they put that chapter. So now we have the 85 book with a chapter on what happens, you know, so that man is sort of a complete story. Also, David breshears made a lovely film The ministry.

Thom Pollard:

So you would Is it fair to say that you are that expedition and your book, while your book really with Audrey? Is what coined the term that is synonymous with it the mystery of Mallory and Irvine? Because if you think about it, people say that but it had to start being said somewhere.

TOM HOLZEL:

Yeah, of course. That's that's a perfect title. Right?

Thom Pollard:

Yeah.It is. But But now just people say it, and it's almost it's bigger than the book even now. It's

TOM HOLZEL:

like because it's there. Yeah. And then you get the petite not sure who say because it is there. I discovered that because we've been looking at everybody's been looking at for years. And I wish that they were Public Library doing research and their machine broke down there. microfilm reader broke down, and I was getting to be you live in a hurry because I wanted to get the book finished. And I, the librarian said, you know, they they have the new film in Philadelphia at the Philadelphia Public Library. So I called them up and they said, Yes, we'll put it aside for you. So I drove down there a couple hours. And when leafing through leafing through it makes me nauseous to watch the microphone. Boom, there it is, because it's there. So, so I got that into the book.

Thom Pollard:

That's amazing. And when so when he said that, when when was that published for the first time?

TOM HOLZEL:

1923

Thom Pollard:

1923. That's pretty amazing

TOM HOLZEL:

Also, it didn't say it. Okay, so

Unknown:

what what's the, set it straight

TOM HOLZEL:

The backstory is there was a reporter Valley, had some really good meetings or, you know, lectures, especially in Harvard, in the northeast United States, and one of the reporters, and I guess it was the New York Times was sort of taken in with him. But this this writer was a short, short sentences, you know, real spiffy, slam BAM type of writer. And it was he who said, Yes, when somebody asked Mallory, why'd you come there? Can you sit back because it's not even Mallory saying it. Other people have said, You know, I think some of us even when Harris said, you know, it just didn't sound like now, usually when you ask your questions, they go into a long, rambling thing you know, scientist wants to know and stuff like that. Nobody wants that. Another little mystery song. That was fun.

Thom Pollard:

Well, I I on a little side note talking about Mallory traveling around the United States around the world, if you will, to share his enthusiasm about you know, climbing Mount Everest and how important it was. I read. One of his talks was at the Harvard travelers club. And I about two or three years ago, I was invited to give a talk at the Harvard travelers club and do my Talk about George Mallory about my expedit. Well, if the expedition I participated in in 1999. And I was really excited because they gave me a booklet that had every speaker who had ever appeared at the travelers club, and there was the date, where when George Mallory did the talk, and I was pretty excited about that. And on another little side note, when Andy pullets, and I returned to the site of, of George Mallory on May 16 1999. I stopped and I said to Andy, what right do we have? What right do we have to even approach this body? It's hallowed ground. And we stopped and we paused momentarily before going about whatever work that we did that day. And then I thought out loud, I said, you know, Mallory traveled around the world sharing his enthusiasm for this. For Everest, and, and NAS, three children who never knew about his fate for us to not do everything in our power to try to discover the truth of what happened to him and Sandy that day, we would be doing him a great disservice to walk away, boom, and then we just went for it.

TOM HOLZEL:

on that line. When Simo (Eric Simonson, expedition leader of 1999 expedition) discussed expedition discovered Mallory. I remember hearing I don't know, radio what it was or internet, saying that hold on a second, I've got a sensational world smashing announcement to make. We think we've discovered the body of choice Maui, but we're just double checking right now. But we'll get back to you in 15 or 20 minutes. Well, I called up his his daughter, Claire. And I said, because I've been to visit for a couple of days, a nice lady said, Claire, I said sitting down. And she said yes. I said I think I may have found your father. I'll be I'll get the proof positive in about a half an hour and I'll call you back. Now she was all fluttering. And but then, so a little bit later came in there. And she said, I called I said Blair, it's true. They found the body of your father. It was a big surprise. Everybody thought it would be urban. And, and just thought, you know, but you know, it'll obviously been in the news a lot. And so you can, you can learn as fast as I can learn it. She was really, she was a real nice lady. Wow.

Thom Pollard:

ApWell, and then it wasn't long after that, Tom. Paula Apsell, the executive producer of Nova had a dinner at was at the four seasons in Boston. You were there. I was there with my wife at the time. Liesl Clark, the producer of the film, David Breashears.

TOM HOLZEL:

She was on the Simo expedition.

Thom Pollard:

Who's that? Lisa is the producer.

TOM HOLZEL:

She was on the expedition.

Thom Pollard:

Yes, yes. She was the producer of the film. And I and she's the one who technically hired me to be the high altitude cameraman. And Brad Washburn and Barbara were also at that dinner. And that was quite an oh and JOHN Mallory, the son of George Mallory, was there.

TOM HOLZEL:

Something one of them's the Mallory the third? You know, of course, I have a theory on exactly what happened. So let you have it. I think I've written anywhere.

Thom Pollard:

I'd love to hear it.

TOM HOLZEL:

Yeah, you know, I call it the 8200 meter snow tears because it starts at 8100 meters goes up to 8300 meters. And there's a picture when Norton was climbing, and it it looks back towards that snowfield. And you notice that the top half of the snowfields is covered in snow, and the bottom half is free. No snow. So then we have the school and the school covered. Everything was snow, at least visually. But you know that there's snow at the second part, which was clear, there wasn't there wasn't that much snow, right. So my theory is that Mallory somehow miraculously climbed down after his fall with urban, urban, I don't know how the he got the modeling, you know, because it doesn't seem to be like urban could have made anything useful. But anyway, he climbed down and then he realized that he was if he didn't get down quickly, he's a dead man. So he did a nice x we say, common practice, right? The problem is the first half. That works because you got you know, a foot or more of snow, dragging the ice axe, but then all of a sudden you get to four inches of snow. That doesn't work. You can't do that the ice ice will be ripped out of his hand. So what does he do? What do you do?

Thom Pollard:

Put your heel down?

TOM HOLZEL:

You try to stand up. Almost Yeah, that's right. And he did that a couple times. And he was speeding down, you know, and he was found pretty close to the edge. And he got desperate, he probably tried to absolutely stand right up, his foot got jammed into a rock. He fell over, put his hands out to stop the fall, which then broke his foot because it wasn't coming out. And there was this ice axe into his head.

Thom Pollard:

That is very believable.

TOM HOLZEL:

I can pitch on it. It makes sense. Well, then, yeah. That is how what state did Wang find him in? Was the iseq still in his head? I hate to be so gruesome, but I'm the analytical type guy. And if so, would he have pulled it out? It's certain It was pretty sure to me that he would have flipped the body over as a sort of a honorary thing to do, you know. And then and then leave. There's a mystery about whether the ice axe exists, you know, whether, who knows what, but anyway, that's, that's how

Thom Pollard:

you know, it's, it's funny, there's been a lot that this mystery, this, this interest in, it just continues to grow and get bigger. And it's really wonderful. But there are a lot of people who are incredibly opinionated about it. And it's kind of hard to enter into the fray without someone. If you're anonymously chatting online with someone, let me tell you, they people come at you hard, you know. But one of the things that I've noticed and it's been of interest is that the the 1999 team, which I was a part of, it gets a lot a lot of criticism for how we and the team handled the search. Granted, none of us are archaeologists or scientists. We're just mountain climbers who happen to discuss with Conrad's fortuitous discovery, you know, just did what we knew best. And that wasn't right, knowing a lot

TOM HOLZEL:

I have no patience for those people. I don't answer their things. I've spent very little time at that association, you know, but every now and then there's somebody has an interesting question, I get my two cents worth. I don't care what they think this is what I think if that's what you want to know, do you want to unburden yourself?

Thom Pollard:

Okay, so So okay, that's great. Let me ask you this. So in December of 2018, Mark, and I visited you at your home and, and you had shared with me a lot of information, but you had told me that, that you had some very interesting information that could change the whole that could solve the entire mystery. Well, at least not necessarily solve the mystery, but could change the game. And so mark, and I visited and tell us what you shared with us.

TOM HOLZEL:

This is also on YouTube. But it is a description. What I did was I got a Swiss photo, he has had Brad Washburn hired a jet a Lear jet to fly over 40,000 feet to do a mapping survey, he got special permission from the Chinese. He flew this way, click look at it this way. It got a lot of high resolution, nine inch negatives, images of this was in December of 84. And Swiss photo, you know, publish those and manipulate them and so forth. And I wrote them asking if they could send me the highest possible resolution of the yellow band in the area of the icex. And they said yes, we can do that. And I explained it to them, you know, and they get kind of interested in it because here's a mapping company who comes up with a saying, Can we find a body you know, and all of a sudden, they got interested in it. And so what they did was they they first sent me a colored version, which I printed out, I think eight feet long. staple suit for me. And it wasn't it was okay but wasn't that good. That's what the word read slash gaming because there was this very noticeable crevice that was not pointing straight up and it was read. But I wrote him back as a tea. I really appreciate it but can't you do better? I mean, it's just it's not enough. We read all about reading license plates from a satellite. They said Well, hold on a second. So they sent me this new one, black and white, so you don't have a problem with color and they said that our finest laser scanner is eight microns. For this we made a five micron scan. So we get the highest resin we've ever scanned, you know? And that's where I went right back to the spot. And I said, Yeah, this is this is got to be you. And that's when I started. Okay, if that's where he is, why would anybody have seen him? Well, we all know that two people did seem to climbers to see a hugely different time periods. And, and why? Well, it turns out that both of them were at the end of the first step. And both of them decided they could go on for one reason or another. And they returned, well, the return is not obvious, there is a turn off as a little past where the ice axe was found, you really have to bear right. And the entrance to that route is not that obvious. It's wanted so that you don't miss it, because people did miss it. But there is a very obvious, lower thing. And one of the climbers even said he said he knew the route, but he took a more direct route, because there's never a good time. So that's a more direct route. So this map, this five micron scan that you saw the eight foot wide, showed exactly where that had had to be. I mean, it was very obvious. So okay, they went down this now. Both of them said they saw a dead person, dead, sleeping person sleeping or an unfortunate. How far away? Can you be and see somebody when you're not looking for anybody? You're just got you on your own, but not very far. Okay? That's a key thing. We actually laid down in rocks in the rain in the summer, to see how far you would notice somebody what it's not far at all. Yeah, it's close. They're wearing olive drab uniforms, you know, something like that. You're lucky if you see somebody 30 feet away. But both of the climbers saw him. So that means that'd be really close to their route. Now, here's the route. And then the the key thing was, and it can't be so there's a short area where we could be if it was farther than that, the path that he took, that he was trying to take, he would have started picking up speed, he would have gone all the way down. So he could also not have been too far from the path for a very short area. Then there were some other interesting clues. One was the description of the body and how it lay. And they were words like he lay in a crack. He lay on two sides of a ridge, you know, and I think none of this is possible. But I realized that I imagined that the guy who was telling the Americans where he lay was not a mountaineer. He just knew English, you know, the higher level. He didn't know the words, or the correct mountaineering terms. And so that's why I use the sloping sidewalls. He was like, Well, you can't be in a sloping sidewalk and be seen, you know, so I said he lay in a trench. And how do I know that's true? Well, it's almost proven by the fact that one of the guys said he wore suspenders. braces, they called them right. And you're not going to be deep in a crack. You see braces, well, guy just walking by. He had to be maybe four inches deep. That's what I'm thinking something like that. Just a slot. The slot is probably the best term. And the other thing he said was that his face was black. Now, what does that mean? Now his face was not black. Now he died immediately. He just running a deep freeze. There was no blood to turn black. Urban died who didn't who didn't die right away. Fell into this slot, but she was upside down, face up. So you don't do that on purpose. Head down hill, you don't do that on purpose. So that means and he didn't die right away. So that means he fell. He could not move. For whatever reason, not unconscious, broken neck, though. Who knows, but he couldn't move. And he slowly got frostbite and slowly died. Okay. And the other thing you said was his feet pointed to the summit. Well, that was kind of a puzzle for me. Because, again, translating into English, does that mean this feet were pointing uphill? Or does it mean which is one way of saying it? Or does it mean is people pointing diagonally actually to its to summon? So I said, Well, what the hell? Let's go with Let's run with that one. And we found the one with all the premises like this, but there was one like that the red slash? I said, Nope. That's what I put on to summarize it, it could have been any one of four or five others in that immediate area. But that's the likely one.

Thom Pollard:

So that's how I got them. Amazing. And then you had a GPS coordinate made up for that. And yeah, that was another

TOM HOLZEL:

such a good story as it sounds. Yeah. first photo, said that they would plop the GPS location on that map for $2,000. So I said, Thank you very much.

Thom Pollard:

I'm all set.

TOM HOLZEL:

Yeah. But what happened was then I mysteriously got from, from Europe, the GPS location, some GPS locations. This is the under the table time thing. I didn't actually look at it very closely. And then a friend of mine did look at it closely, john wood, and it wasn't correct. What may have been the can't see six. But then I went to Mark's suggestion, I went to Google Earth. Now Google has is not that reliable. They've fixed it up. But, you know, five years ago, they were really crappy on it. So I don't blame them. And I then move, I got the location. And that's the one I sent to mark. And Mark said, you know, we did the same thing. And we came up pretty much with the same results. So there we go.

Thom Pollard:

Yeah, well, that was, that was all we needed. When when Mark and I got in the car to drive home the next day, we pretty much shook on it. And as Mark fondly calls it, it was we made our blood pact, that no matter what we were going to go to Everest in 2019, even if we had to pay our own way. And and then rennen got involved in a big budget happened in the film, but Mark and I were almost thinking be so much easier, just the two of us go and go have a have a poke around, and nobody notices us. But now I've got I wrote,

TOM HOLZEL:

Moscow rule came up,

Thom Pollard:

that's where Moscow rules came up. So without over, I don't want to make this too long. But let I want you to talk a little bit about when you advised us on, on we really brought you into the kind of the the secret chambers of planning this, and one of the first things you told us is that we had to have, you know, just practice the utmost level of secrecy. Because if the Chinese should find out about our intentions, what no chance in hell, they would ever give us a permit. And they and so just kind of explain that a little bit. Like, like, why why why would anybody in China?

TOM HOLZEL:

Well, first of all, you've mentioned several times, and you're absolutely right, the interest in this mystery is intense. And then you go to Kathmandu which is filled with a bunch of ne'er do wells, you know, unemployed climbers, you know, hangers on and so forth. And all they have to do is sniff and boy, do they have effort that somebody is making a try and well they want to get in, you know, they can help they've got rumors to tell bla bla bla bla, but the thing would spread like wildfire, and then you're done. So I mean, I even get to the point where I thought to myself, you know you really even can't let's say you're flying into Katmandu, you can't even tell the stewardess on the plane. Oh, what do you guys come in for? Oh, we're looking for a boat. Yeah, she's friends. Right? So I think it was smiley and Lem Dayton's one of his mysteries that that described the Moscow rules, absolute hermetic silence. Even live, you have to, you can always come back and say, Look, I was obliged to lie, because otherwise, the vision would have failed. But just don't tell anybody. And you know, and you have this desire, because you're trying to promulgate the idea. And you're used to spreading the PR and stuff like that. And I think you did a good job.

Thom Pollard:

Yeah, we did. And you know, this, there's a lot of really cool tangents on the story, which we won't over. Analyze today. But it was interesting that we were very closely watched by the the ctma, the the authority, the Chinese, the mountaineering authority. And we didn't really quite know this, but four of the Sherpa who were assigned to our team, were technically if you will, there to look out for us and keep tabs and share notes with the officials. So we had what I remarked to mark and Ronan early on, I said there's something different about this team usually one weekend you feel like these are all your brother's trip, and there was just something going on. And we didn't find out till what way later in the expedition that these are guys It had been assigned to us. You couldn't even get him to look at you or smile at you.

TOM HOLZEL:

Pretty cool anymore. You know, we were there. And it was one it was our little settlement at this is a base camp and there was a bunch of Californians over, you know, 300 yards on the other, and they were the other 300 yards and that was it. Wow. That's no ropes. You know, you went up, you climbed wherever you are, you could. Wow.

Thom Pollard:

Those were the days. Yeah. So, Tom, what do you think that George Mallory and or Sandy Ervin made it to the summit? What what? How far do you think they went? And do you think that they took the second step route? Like what what do you believe?

TOM HOLZEL:

Okay. I had the same conversation with Messner. I met Messner at the Alpine club, annual dinner on December 2015. And I just want to shake his hand and move on. He is a waste of my time. And I said, Yeah, I got to talk to you. A whole lot of people wanted to shake his hand, he just turned his back on them. And we discussed this. But anyway, so I said, Look, you gotta handle your guests. And I'll be glad to listen to your show. So in the meantime, I asked, I asked you to get get us two glasses of wine and find a table to sit down because there's still a half hour to go, which you did. And then I've left and went over to our table, and I went to get the one went to our table, and there was Messner sitting with Diane. And we continued to discussion. And so he asked the same question. And I said, he said, did they make it as an absolutely not? And we shook our hands, we shook hands on it. So we both agreed that they absolutely could not make it. So that answers that mega question. What actually, I'm pretty sure what actually happened, pretty sure this is my theory. They climbed up the standard second step route, got to the base of the second not the actual base of the step at the beginning of that steep cliff. And the amount we looked at first of all, Mallory was tired. He had already made a unsuccessful attempt up to 25. And I know he may be a strong guy, but you making two attempts. It's not It's not something you do every day. So here he was, looking at this really difficult climb, he's got a young kid with him, who's strong as he may be unwilling as he may be, that is not a climber. And they're low on oxygen. So he said, Well, screw it, you know, we blew it. So they went back. And then just as in 1981, when the French tried to climb, they had terrible weather, lots of snow, they got to the base of the second step. And they said, it's too difficult. went back and just sort of do something, they climbed up the first step, get a chance to look around, you can see Mac a little over there, you know, maybe take a picture of the backside of the second step, and you have something to show. Now he did the same thing. And he climbed up. And that's the only possible way you can interpret odel sighting of seeing one person climb on the ridge, and then a little bit later, a second followed. Well, if you're climbing the second step, you're not just scampering up, it's impossible. So they both kind of the type of the first step came down. And then as they came down, we started to go back the normal route. They got hit by the weather. The two o'clock the intense storm started. There's a physiologist in England, who got a, an exact replica of their clothing, put it on one of these dummies to measure thermal temperature and he said, if the weather is good, this clothing will do but in a storm like that they could not survive more than one or two hours.

Thom Pollard:

Okay, so, um, Mallory, so yeah, they turned around and around and

TOM HOLZEL:

Mallory had a slip. Now remember, they were in the, so if Mallory would not have slipped under normal conditions, so that me and Odell says that the storm the Squall, I call it a swirl started at two o'clock. So at one o'clock they were seeing on the first step, and at two o'clock the storm started and that sometime after that, and probably not too long after that Maui slipped to paint the latest 230. Then, urban, not an expert mountaineer threw his ice axe aside so if you grab the rope with both hands, natural thing to do, right especially if you're not a rock disclaimer, he would never have thought of doing the icex belay, you know, all that stuff. I mean. So the midst of that the unknown thing is what how did Maori get those the modeling around his waist because that couldn't have been done by Urban just holding the rope. Maybe that happened, but urban rug was pulled out of his hand. So here was urban, Shinola, and he realized he can't see you can't hear you can't shout, I mean, you shout didn't do anything. So he realizes the only thing you can do is to continue on what she did. Maori In the meantime, had to let themselves down and he may have used the rope to let himself down off some difficult spot and fell and still caught himself at wham, got that rope roadburn then he, he ended up going down. And of course, you notice he went to the left when you see him, kept going to the left, because a the strata slopes somewhat to the left, and B, he wanted to get to C six. And so he was he was separated by like, 250 yards from the vertical spot where the ice axe was. And any any must have gotten there, let's say 330 no later than no later than four o'clock, because at four o'clock, the school stopped. Odell got out and started walking around and shouting, but it was all already over there. All everyone stood by them. And so, you know, Odell realized that he was they had, he had to go down because there's only room for two in the tent. And they would be in an extremist, and they don't need a third body there. So he went back down, rocketed back down, I might say. And that's it.

Thom Pollard:

One last little detail. That's a big detail is Odell originally said he saw them that he thought maybe they were climbing below the final summit pyramid above that third step. But I think he changed that over the years. But is it possible that his view was so occluded by clouds here and there that he had no way of knowing whether the final pyramid was where we today try to put into our minds that it was a clear ridge

TOM HOLZEL:

People have taken shots, Jake Norton took a wonderful shot of the entire Ridge, you know, that shows the first second and third step but realize at the time, nobody, the third step didn't exist. Nobody thought of it. I mean, named it It wasn't part of the nomenclature. So he couldn't have been referring to that. Because he would have said, so you know, he would have said, Oh, you know, and by the way, there's another step above. The second step. didn't mention that it was the first step. But the second step, I interviewed Odell, and I forget what it was. And I've also read a lot of what he wrote in the Alpine journal in the book. My feeling is that he thought that they were climbing the second step did not put any rationale behind why he's why they didn't think how could they have done or anything like that, you know, didn't overanalyze it. And then he got, he got really hammered by the climate establishment. In fact, his view caused him not to be selected for the 1933 expedition, which he would have been perfect for. But he just tick people off. And I think the real reason is, the climbers did not want Molly to have succeeded. They wanted that prize. If Odell was right, and he saw them in the second step, everybody agreed that if you saw a second step, there was a good chance that he got to the top and they didn't like that. Okay, and so and so he got along, and then he went along, because he did want to go into 33 explanation, so he waffled a little bit, you know, could have been the first. I don't think he truly believed that, but we'll never know he's dead, you know. And

Thom Pollard:

he's, Yep. Yep. It's It's a wonderful mystery. And, and a tragic mystery. And, you know,

TOM HOLZEL:

yeah, the alternative. Let's say Mallory got back to C six (Camp 6). Oh, well, first of all, he led this young kid, inexperienced kid and then abandoned him. That's what that's what have been that that would have been the scenario. It would have gone through the rest of his life, being you know, selfish, vainglorious and poor urban, you know, blah, blah, blah. It would have been a whole different story. Hmm.

Thom Pollard:

Ya know, people don't typically talk about that. I mean, he did take I mean, granted, he was younger, stronger, but certainly not the most experienced. That was probably

TOM HOLZEL:

Well, I'll tell you who really was and it was Odell. Not so much for climbing skill, but for physiology. Yeah. And hold down the physiology. I think Odell is one of the one of the few people who possibly in that time period could have summited with that without oxygen to the only person who had that kind of tremendous physiology didn't even realize himself, you know, but the description of him climbing without oxygen, you know, it was amazing, but he did. So, but yeah, there we go.

Thom Pollard:

Yeah, it's it's a great, a great story. I wish in 2019, we could have come to have more answers. But sinet did, in his estimation, get right to the the red slash the urbans slot, I think is or no, he called it hole. Zell's slot he thought. And so he went there, he saw nothing. It was a quick search, but he got at the very least to that spot. And, and so at least that got determined to, you know, kind of wipe that one out

TOM HOLZEL:

It ends the search, really, because since he was there for 80 years, he did not accidentally fall down from there, okay, which means he was removed, that's almost a certainty. And if he was removed, they're not going to remove them a little bit. He's going to go the whole way. So the mystery is, I mean, the search is over. That's what we have to come to grips with. Too bad.

Thom Pollard:

There's no reason to go back.

TOM HOLZEL:

That's right.

Thom Pollard:

Very, very cool. There's so much more to this mystery. You can see how getting through 15 questions was going to be nigh impossible. Tom and I have made a promise to convene at his home with Mark Senate. Sometime after the release of Mark's book where Tom and his wife Diane will have already been vaccinated. It will most certainly be another late night of conversation and intrigue. I apologize in advance to Tom's wife for keeping her up with our loud conversation and music.

The Wood Brothers:

I got a Happiness Jones, my friend. Happiness Jones...

Thom Pollard:

Tom Holzel. The man who coined the now ubiquitous term, the mystery of Mallory and Irvine. if you'd like to purchase Tom's book, The Mystery of Mallory and Irvine head on over to amazon.com first published in 1986. It is a must read for anyone who wants to do their own deep dive into the greatest mystery in all of exploration. Thank you to The Wood Brothers for their gracious permission for the use of their song happiness Jones as the theme music for the happiness quotient, as well as their publicist Kevin Calabro for helping make it all happen. If you'd like a free, nothing's free these days. Well, this is if you'd like a free downloadable PDF of the happiness quotients a course in happiness, visit me at patreon.com/thehappinessquotient or head to eyesopenproductions.com/happiness, where you'll see a PDF to download. For more information about me to inquire about personal coaching or public speaking in person or online, please visit eyes open productions comm or join my mailing list. Email me at [email protected] Please share this episode with anyone that might find these words inspiring or entertaining. I rely on the kindness of the listeners to share and distribute these episodes. Remember, something very bright awaits us even in the darkest of tunnels. Set your mind to things of good intent. Even though the search can often be dark, and deep and frightening. Something bright awaits us even in the tragedy that is life. Thank you for visiting the happiness quotient. I will see you all, real soon....

The Wood Brothers:

MUSIC UP/HAPPINESS JONES BY THE WOOD

BROTHERS:

And all a thoses songs I was singing and next thing I'm thinking I'm happy I might as well change my name to happiness Jones my friend Happiness Jonnnneeeeesssss MUSIC CAPS AND FADES