It's That Man Again

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Hugh Lofting, in his Dr Dolittle books,  gave us the remarkable Pushmi-pullyu,  a creature with a head at both ends. Mountaineering has its own equivalent, the Didhe-didn'the, also known as George Mallory. Lofting's invention has been regularly brought to the screen, as has George Mallory, most recently in Anthony Geffen's docu-drama The Wildest Dream, premiered last year at the Kendal Mountain Film Festival but only now getting a limited release in cinemas. Not surprisingly there's been a rash of news stories about Mallory and his partner Sandy Irvine, earning Everest 'experts' around the world a few extra quid. (Alas, not this one.) Most of this has just rehashed familiar stories for the hundredth time, but there was one fascinating contribution, from Graham Hoyland, whose involvment in the Mallory story is long, deep – and often overlooked thanks to some unpleasant jiggery-pokery from former colleagues hogging the limelight. In The Independent, Hoyland has been back over the meterological records from the 1924 expedition and noted the rapid drop in air pressure that accompanied the bad weather Mallory experienced, and contrasted it to the storm in 1996, made famous by Jon Krakauer's bestseller Into Thin Air. I'm not sure that I would necessarily be as definitive in my conclusions as Hoyland is, but it's an interesting take, and one that made Hoyland change his mind on whether Mallory could have made it or not. Hoyland has a new book out next year, details on his website.

Posted by Ed Douglas at 9.54 AM