The Third Pole: Mystery, Obsession, and Death on Mount Everest

Dutton. Apr. 2021. 448p. ISBN 9781524745578. $29. HIST
Were George Mallory and Andrew “Sandy” Irvine the first to summit Mt. Everest, in 1924? Journalist and professional climber Synnott (The Impossible Climb) joined National Geographic’s 2019 Sandy Irvine research and documentary expedition with the goal to find Irvine’s body on Everest’s uppermost slopes, and more importantly to find the pair’s camera, which could definitively solve this mystery. Synnott enlisted the help of experts who specialize in the 1924 expedition to aid in locating Irvine’s body. (Mallory’s body was found in 1999; see The Lost Expedition by Conrad Anker and David Roberts.) Throughout the book, Synnott skillfully intertwines Irvine’s story with his own expedition’s progress, while highlighting some of his fellow travelers’ stories. He also discusses the physiological effects of altitude, the development and use of supplemental oxygen, the environmental impacts of Everest tourism, and the challenges of filming at an elevation where altitude plays havoc on bodies and equipment. As in his previous book, the author’s writing comes alive when he recounts life on the mountain, including low visibility and high winds, along with his determination to find answers.
VERDICT Did Synnott and his team solve mountaineering’s greatest mystery? No spoilers here, but this is a must-read for outdoor enthusiasts and readers of Everest and exploration history.
Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing