In 1924, two British mountaineers — George Mallory and Andrew “Sandy” Irvine — pioneered an unthinkable expedition. The duo set out with minimal equipment and attempted to summit Mount Everest. They were last seen on the mountain’s northeast ridge just a few hundred meters from the top. Did they ever summit? Were they actually the first to do so? National Geographic’s Lost on Everest (Tuesday, June 30 9/8c) sets out to answer those questions.
“This story jumped out because it was trying to figure out one of the greatest mysteries in exploration,” renowned filmmaker and expedition climber Renan Ozturk shares. “I give the utmost level of respect and honor [to Mallory and Irvine] having done what they did.”
With no commercial planes, trains, plotted out maps or satellite photos, everything about this early 1920s expedition was complex. “Just to find the route [from England to India] to get to the base of the mountain took multiple expeditions,” Ozturk says. “By the time they even got to the mountain, their bodies were more depleted.”
In this one-hour thrilling special, an expedition team that included Ozturk, Thom Pollard (a history-making mountain climber) and Mark Synnott (bestselling author and pioneering climber) attempt to find Irvine’s body and recover the explorers’ lost camera footage. [In 1999 revered mountaineer Conrad Anker found Mallory’s body, almost perfectly preserved, on Everest’s inhospitable North Face.]
For Ozturk, who survived a near fatal mountain accident in 2011 that shattered his vertebrae [all captured in his award-winning documentary Meru], returning to film a climb of this scope was worth it.
“I will take more risk when it’s a story that I believe in and I think will help reshape the way people look at these high places in the world, whether it’s culturally or historically,” he adds. “A big part of this film, for us, was trying to give the world a really honest look at what [climbing] Everest is, because it’s become such a polarized thing in the media.” Last year was dubbed “the year that Everest broke” after photographs of a traffic jam of climbers trying to summit in May (the first day of good weather) made headlines. “I hope that through Lost on Everest, as well as thebehind the scenes show [Expedition Everest immediately following], people can really see that it is this incredibly challenging thing. You can really feel that connection to those early explorers in how difficult it still is even with all the modern gear,” Ozturk concludes.
Lost on Everest
June 30 9/8c
June 30 10/9c