The camera that explorers George Leigh Mallory and Andrew “Sandy” Irvine brought with them on their trek to the summit of Mount Everest likely still has printable images on it close to 100 years later, experts from Kodak have said.
Whether the camera itself will ever be found is another mystery.
Warning: There are some light spoilers ahead for Lost On Everest.
The story of the two lost explorers is being retold on the NatGeo television special series Lost on Everest. As Ars Technica reported, the program seeks to put to rest the still unresolved question of whether Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa mountaineer Tenzing Norgay were really the first men to successfully reach the summit. There has long been speculation that Mallory and Irvine actually reached the peak during their 1924 climb before they were swallowed by a storm and their bodies lost for 95 years.
The program also focused on the search for the two Vest Pocket Kodak cameras the two brought with them, which have still never been found. The discovery of Mallory’s mummified remains in 1999 raised hope that it could be found, but the search for Irvine — and the pair’s cameras — continues. There have been several expeditions to search for his remains, including others that were the subject of television specials. The latest one aims once again to find Irvine’s body and discover whether the pair’s lost camera reveals anything about where their trek ended.
There has long been hope that the camera, once found, will be able to show whether they reached the peak. As Discovery News reported in 2010, experts from Eastman Kodak Co. have detailed what would need to take place to pull printable pictures from the camera, once found.
While trying to reach the summit of Mount Everest in 1924, George Mallory and Andrew Irvine disappeared without a trace. #LostOnEverest premieres Tuesday at 9/8c on National Geographic. pic.twitter.com/qhkaaIN7QD— Nat Geo Channel (@NatGeoChannel) June 28, 2020
But as the report noted, it would take a very careful process in order to first find the camera and then pull it safely off the mountain.
“The camera has to be recovered without ruining what images might exist on the film,” the report noted.
“Just how to do that has been studied exhaustively by Eastman Kodak experts, who have provided [Mount Everest researcher Tom Holzel] with a series detailed procedures to follow.”
It’s already known where the Lost on Everest series will end, as the camera has never been found, despite a number of expeditions looking for Irvine’s remains. However, the series may be able to shed more light on whether there is other evidence that the pair may have reached the mountain’s summit before Hillary’s expedition in 1953.