Mark Synnott’s “The Third Pole,” tracks an expedition to find the body of one Sandy Irvine, a member of the 1924, British attempt on Mt. Everest. Irvine, and his partner George Mallory, disappeared and were lost to history until the early 2000s when the body of Mallory was discovered. Irvine, still to this day, remains a mystery. And the question lives on, did they summit prior to meeting their fate on the return? (And did Irvine’s camera survive?)
The Third Pole is several books in one. The first book chronicles the attempt at finding Irvine’s body, a trail that tentacles together a small team as well as the knowledge and expertise, not to mention obsession, of many others. Something my audience might find particularly interesting from this section is the inclusion of Renan Ozturk, Sony Artisan photographer and filmmaker. Renan is also a world-class climber. Watch Meru if you need more evidence. Ozturk attemps to fly drones over Everest, a first, at least at the altitude he was after.
The second book is the story of Everest itself, a mountain that has seen plenty of controversy. The meaning of the mountain in local culture as well as the integral part the Sherpa community plays in anything that transpires near this region. The third book is that of the 2019 climbing season, referred to as the “Year that Everest Broke.” All told eleven climbers died that year as one route to the summit saw massive traffic jams that forced climbers to remain in the Death Zone far longer than normal.
If you’re like me you can’t get enough of this type of read. I have zero interest in climbing Everest, or any other 8000 meter peak for that matter, but the story of the place continues to intrigue. There are heartbreaking scenes, things that make you wonder how our species could become so lost, but there is also the history of place that acts to counterbalance the nonsense of modern humanity.