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I watch a lot of adventure shows on cable TV and this past Sunday evening Discovery Channel had a 2 hour long one titled "Everest's Greatest Mystery".

To set the background for this post, in 1924 two British climbers (one quite experienced -- George Mallory, and a novice climber -- Andrew Irvine) disappeared from the view of others (below) within a few hundred meters of the summit, never to be heard from again.  It took 29 years until Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay accomplished and documented the supposed first human conquest of the summit, but questions remained.  Did Mallory and Irvine actually reach the summit and succumb in their descent?  In 1999 an expedition went to find Irvine, who carried the camera for the 1924 attempt, to hopefully determine if his photos would show that they reached the top.  That expedition ironically failed to find Irvine's body, but Mallory's instead.

Four experienced (each with multiple Everest trips) climbers from the USA were filmed in a spring 2019 expedition for this program.  Their goal once again was to find Irvine and his camera.  The weather in 2019 was particularly bad (12 climbers perished) and they spent over a month at base camp (17,000 ft = 5200 m) or above.  Their ultimate trip lasted 3 consecutive days above 27,000 ft (8200 m), apparently shattering a record for most time consecutively at or above that altitude on Everest.  Although they carried supplemental oxygen, for most of that time they had to conserve it and breathe the 33% (relative to sea level) dense air.  At night the temperatures dipped to -20 F (-29 C) and although I don't recall the daytime temps I doubt they were much above 0 F (-18 C).  Those are air temps, not windchills.  (BTW, their high camps were set up by local guides who departed as soon as their task was complete.)

I noticed a metal detector in the backpack of one of the expedition members, and he carried it all three days they searched near the summit.  That's pretty amazing when you consider the conditions:

1) With so little oxygen, weight is critical.  Even carrying an extra pound matters a lot;

2) At these temperatures I'm surprised a metal detector will even function;

3) The setup and operation had to be simple and any searching looking for just metal signal or not.  The brain doesn't work well with low oxygen.

As it turns out I never saw the detector being used, and I doubt it was.  The climbers wore ice crampons but much of the terrain was windblown and thus rocky, not icy.  Movement had to be delicate and anything held/carried in hand made it that much more dangerous.  Also, without snow/ice cover there was nowhere for metal to hide.  But that didn't stop the climber with the detector to bring it along every one of the three days they searched.  He had to have considered it quite important.

Oh, you may be wondering which detector he had with him:  Garrett AT/Pro.

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I'd like to see that.  I watch a lot of Everest stuff and read a few books.  Those guys got some will power to drive themselves up that mountain.

Garrett AT Pro on Mt Everest.  Very cool...I guess the real question now is,,,did they summit with the Garrett?

I liked seeing the Whites GMT on Antarctica ice fields looking for meteorites.   Did you see that one?

Thanks for sharing. 

Mike

 

 

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4 hours ago, Mike Hillis said:

Garrett AT Pro on Mt Everest.  Very cool...I guess the real question now is,,,did they summit with the Garrett?

From what I can tell they didn't go to the summit.  They had all been there multiple times and this trip was strictly to look for (and hopefully find) Irvine and his camera.  So any side excursion would be too costly in terms of health.  In fact on the last days of the expedition the summit climbers filled the trails, making it more dangerous for anyone on the upper part of the mountain.  Before that the weather was horrendously bad which is why it took them over a month just to get a chance to search the areas they had researched.

 

4 hours ago, Mike Hillis said:

I liked seeing the Whites GMT on Antarctica ice fields looking for meteorites.   Did you see that one?

I have not but wish I had.  Maybe I'll get another chance.

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9 minutes ago, phrunt said:

The camera would have been very deep under years of snow turning to ice.  I doubt the AT would be the best choice for the job.  I would suspect there wasn't too much junk metal up there like pulls tabs and so on 🙂 so a lightweight PI would have been better.  I'll have to watch it, thanks for the tip off.  Garrett do manage to wiesel their detectors into these TV shows regularly, sponsorship I guess.

Their plan/hope was that the camera would still be with Irvine's body.  My guess was that the detector was intended to find any metal in the snow, which could be something on/with a body.  They couldn't see all the areas they wanted to search from their high altitude camp so even though they knew there was a lot of bare rock, possibly they figured some of their search area would be snow/ice covered.

I bet there isn't 1/100 viewers (in fact that is ridiculously low estimate) who would have even recognized the detector.  I only saw the control unit once for a few seconds.  I had to surmise it was the Pro model from the color of the lettering.  I did see the searcoils a few times including once for each day they searched, though.  Those familiar with Garrett detectors should recognize them, but again, we are the exceptions, not the rule.

I see more Minelab detectors on these adventure & treasure hunting shows than all others combined.  So, is that due to wieselling, or should we change our tune to "well, of course, they are the best!"??

 

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My twin brother Rolfe Oostra has summited twice on Mt. Everest out of 4 attempts.. he's been a high altitude guide for the last few decades all over the Himalaya..  i'll get him to bring up my nox 800 next time he's up there.. he's also been at the spot where Mallory and Irvine disappeared.. 

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    I think i watched that same one! They found his body face down! ( Mallory's)! It was basically mummified! I believe they determined that he did not fall to his death, but succumbed to the cold and lack of oxygen! 

    I think a detector up there would be useless for several reasons! Not designed to operate in those extreme  temperature's! And from what I've gathered on other documentaries, there is so much trash, and empty oxygen bottles left along the way, (not packed out) that unless it was a sight find, they will never locate that camera! Not to mention, there are literally dozens, if not hundreds, of bodies littering the mountain! Also, the film of that time would probably be ruined, even if they found the camera intact; which by itself, is doubtful!👍👍

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I would have taken the SDC. Better machine and lighter (5.1 vs 6.9 lbs). The SDC manual says the operating temperature range is –33°C to 70°C (–27°F to 158°F). So, that would work if climbing in summer (average temp -19 deg C). But I have to agree, probably more iron trash up there than bullets at a mine site. And so much more fun digging it up....

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9 minutes ago, Hard Prospector said:

Everest is one giant grave stone to the un lucky yet brave, some things are  better left never  discovered.

What better place than to dump a SDC?!  😉 

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