The Search for the Real First Climbers to Summit Mount Everest—30 Years Before Sir Edmund Hillary squib

National Geographic/Renan Ozturk

On May 29, 1953, Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa mountaineer Tenzing Norgay became the first two people to summit Mount Everest, the highest peak in the world. But... what if they weren’t? 

It’s not just a historical hypothetical, but one of climbing lore’s greatest mysteries. Now, it’s a search-and-rescue mission, too, and the subject of the new National Geographic special, Lost on Everest, premiering Tuesday. 

In June of 1924, explorers Andrew “Sandy” Irvine and George Leigh Mallory disappeared during an attempt to be the first pair to summit Everest. They were last spotted 800 vertical feet from the top, before never being seen nor heard from again. 

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