Oliver's Site

22. Inter-War Years

Table of Contents | 1. Earth | 2. The Origin of Life and Evolution of Man | 3. Civilisation | 4. Fertile Crescent | 5. Egypt | 6. Indus Valley | 7. Yellow River (Haung He/Huang Ho) | 8. Hittites, Canaanites, Phoenicians, Assyrians | 9. New World (B. C./Pre-Columban) | 10. Greeks and Persians | 11. Rome ( - B. C. - A. D. 96) | 12. Saul of Tarsus | 13. Rome ( - A. D. 275) | 14. Rome and Byzantium (Nova Roma) | 15. Islam | 16. Charlemagne | 17. Vikings | 18. Turks, Crusaders, Mongols, Moors, Explorers and Conquistadors | 19. Reformation, Enlightenment (1300s -1700s) | 20. Mid-1700s - early 1900s | 21. The Great War | 22. Inter-War Years | 23. The War in Europe and Africa | 24. Second World War | 25. War in the Pacific | 26. Defeating the Axis in Europe and Africa | 27. End of Japanese Imperialism | 28. Ending the War | 29. Conquest of Space | 30. Averting Nuclear War | 31. End of Empire | 32. Man on the Moon | 33. Arms Race and Limitation | 34. Lifting the Iron Curtain | 35. Outer Space | 37. | 42.

Continued from previous page, 21, The Great War

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The Inter-War Years
   The Jazz Age
      The Roarin' Twenties   -   Années folles
         The Golden Twenties
            The Golden Age of Sports              
               The Great Depression

The Jazz Age
The frst jazz recording was released in 1917
The Original Dixieland Jass Band
New Orleans 
Livery Stable Blues (1917)
also known as
Barnyard Blues (1917)

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Felix The Cat
Feline Follies
(Pilot cartoon 1919)
Felix Saves The Day (1922)
False Vases (1929)

First Aerial Journey Across the Atlantic
From Trepassey, Newfoundland to Lisbon, Portugal via the Azores 
From 16 May -  27 May 1919
A six-man crew
A journey of 10 days and 22 hours, with 26 hours and 46 minutes airborn, in  a U. S. Navy Curtiss NC-4 seaplane.
From Trepassey to the Azores in 15 hours and 18 minutes.  
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Curtiss NC-4 Navy seaplane
File:NC flight path.jpg
Naval ships stationed every 50 miles along the way guided the flyers.
Three NCs took off together from Trepassey but only one made it to the Azores.
Silent newsreel
Description of flight
Excerpt from a US Navy documentary film (1960): 
Naval Aviation
A Personal Story
The Weapon Is Developed 
The Great Flight
U. S. Navy documentary (1970) (14:36)
Naval Aviation
A Personal Story
The Weapon Is Tested
US Navy documentary film (1960) (25:37)

First NON-STOP flight across the Atlantic
British pilots John Alcock and Arthur Brown flew non-stop across the Atlantic, from St. John's, Newfoundland to Connemara, Ireland, in 15 hours and 57 minutes.
14 June 1919
The flight was made in a twin-engine Vickers Vimy bi-plane bomber from the Great War. Photo of the take-off from Newfoundland.
Image result for British pilots John Alcock and Arthur Brown flew non-stop across the Atlantic, from St. John's, Newfoundland to Connemara, Ireland, in 15 hours and 57 minutes.

Captain John Alcock, pilot, on the right in the above photo, and Lieutenant Arthur Whitten Brown, navigator.

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Alcock and Brown crash-landed in a field in Ireland.

Those Magnificen Men
Pathé Gazette
First Atlantic Flight
40th Anniversary
Pathé News
How the Gallant Atlantic Airmen Landed on Irish Soil
Clifden, Ireland
Pathé Gazette
The take-off, landing and reception
Short documentary

New York Herald, front page, 19 June 1919 

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              New York Times, front page, 16 June 1919


Another NON-STOP flight across the Atlantic
2 July to 6 July 1919
The First Round-Trip across the Atlantic
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A Royal Air Force rigid airship, the R-34, built for coastal patrol during the Great War, flew non-stop across the Atlantic Ocean with a crew of 26 from 2 July to 6 July.
It flew back later in the month, making the first east-west aerial crossing of the Atlantic.
It was the first aircraft to fly a round-trip across the Atlantic.
Image result for map - Royal Air Force rigid airship, the R34, flew nonstop across the Atlantic Ocean 2 July to 6 July 1919
The R-34 departed from its base in East Fortune in Scotland on 2 July 1919 and landed at Mineola on eastern Long Island in New York on 6 July.
A trip of 108 hours and 12 minutes in the air.
The return trip, from 10 July to 13 July, took 75 hours and 3 minutes.
British Pathé newsreel
Airship That Made History
R 34
British Pathé newsreel


After the War

1918 – 1923

Volume 1, Chapter 2 of 1953 documentary series about the the history of the U. S. Air Force













Jess Willard
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Jess Willard (1881 - 1968). world heavyweight boxing champion, nicknamed the Pottawatomie Giant. was the most popular man in America. 1913 photo.
Willard won the championship title by knocking out Jack Johnson in 26 rounds in Havana, Cuba in 1915.
Willard defended the title in 1916, beating Frank Moran.
Willard did not defend his title again until 1919. It would be improper to fight during the war.
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In 1919, Willard defended the title against the number one contender, Jack Dempsey.
Jack Dempsey

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William Harrison Dempsey (1895 - 1983), boxed as Kid Blackie and Jack Dempsey; nicknamed the Manassa Mauler and Jack the Giant Killer; world heavyweight boxing champion from 1919 to 1926; won 65 fights, 51 by knockout, lost 6 fights, drew 11 times and fought one no decision-no contest.
Dempsey was born and raised in Colorado, Utah and West Virginia. He was called Harry. He was raised a Mormon.
Dempsey's older brother John fought as Jack Dempsey, recalling the popular Irish world middleweight champion of the late 1800s, Jack "Nonpareil" Dempsey. Standing in for his brother in one fight, Harry took the name of Jack Dempsey.  
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Dempsey knocks out Fred Fulton in 23 seconds of the first round in Harrison, New Jersey on July 17, 1918
Dempsey fought 21 fights in 1918, winning 19, losing once and drawing once. He defeated all the top contenders   -   Gunboat Smith, Fireman Jim Flynn, Battling Levinsky and Bill Brennan.
Willard vs. Dempsey
Champion Jess Willard defends the title against challenger Jack Dempsey in Toledo, Ohio on July 4, 1919
Scheduled for 12 rounds
Willard was a 6 to 5 favorite to win.

The Champion

Standing 6 ft., 6 3/4" tall, in 1919 Jess Willard was the biggest heavyweight champion in history.


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Jess Willard, left, sparring in
Toledo, Ohio in 1919.
The Challenger
Jack Dempsey (1919)
A ticket for a bleacher seat at the Willard - Dempsey fight cost $15.
Pre-fight newspaper coverage
Pre-fight poster
Souvenir program and scorecard
Jack Dempsey sparring with Big Bill Tate in training for his fight with the champion Jess Willard (June 1919).
The Fight
Jack Dempsey, the challenger, in his famous "Dempsey Crouch", and the heavyweight champion Jess Willard, Toledo, Ohio, July 4, 1919.
Famous painting of the fight
Everlast Equipment: “The Choice of Champions”
Worst Beating in Heavyweight History
Dempsey charges Willard
Dempsey hits Willard with a right
Willard had never been knocked down in his boxing xareer. Dempsey knocked Willard down seven times in the first round. 
In the photo above, the referee counts Willard out. But the bell at the end of the round saved him.
There was bedlam. The crowd drowned out the bell. Nobody heard it. Everyone thought the fight was over. Dempsey left the ring and had to be called back.   
The fight continued. There were no more knockdowns but Willard could not continue 
after the third round and gave up the fight and the championship to Dempsey.
Jack Dempsey vs Jess Willard
July 4, 1919
Front page of the Daily Advance, Staten island, New York, July 4, 1919.
Kings of the Ring:
Jack Dempsey
Jack Dempsey
From ESPN Sports Century
Jack Dempsey
Jack Dempsey
Boxing's Best (HBO) (45:07)
Jack Dempsey


Newsreels from the 1920s




The Manassa Mauler

Episode from the documentary series Colorado Experience (28:19)



Jack Dempsey

Episode from the documentary series The Champs on the program Power Profiles (22:37)






Jack Dempsey's First Title Defense

Dempsey KO's Billy Miske in 3rd Round

Benton Harbor, Michigan, September 6, 1920  



In his first title defense, Jack Dempsey knocked out Billy Miske in three rounds in Benton Harbor, Michigan  

This was the first time Miske was knocked out in his boxing career.

This was their third fight. In 1918, Dempsey and Miske fought twice. The first fight ended in a draw. Dempsey won the second fight.

This was the first time the results of a boxing fight were broadcast over radio. This was not a blow by blow account but a relay of the latest news from ringsiders.


Champion Jack Dempsey fights challenger Bill Brennan
New York City, December 11, 1920
This was a rematch. It was their second fight. In 1918, Dempsey stopped Brennan in six rounds.
Dempsey wins by KO in 12
Champion Jack Dempsey knocks out challenger Bill Brennan in the 12th round at Madison Square Garden in New York City on December 11, 1920
Dempsey defends title against Bill Brennan
Dempsey wins by KO in 12
Silent film

The Golden Age of Sports
The Million Dollar Gate

Heavyweight champion Jack Dempsey and his boxing manager Jack "Doc" Kearns teamed up with sports promoter George Lewis "Tex" Rickard to make boxing a glamorous big-money sport


Jack Dempsey, left, and Doc Kearns, right


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Jack ("Doc") Kearns


Jack Dempsey and promoter Tex Rickard

Tex Rickard, left, and Jack Dempsey, right


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Tex Rickard
New book on Tex Rickard captures his larger than life accomplishments
Al Bernstein
or, the same:
       The First Million-Dollar Gate

Jack Dempsey - Georges Carpentier title fight poster

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Georges Carpentier of France (1894 - 1975), won the French bantamweight title at age 15 in 1909; won the French and European welterweight titles in 1911; won the European middlewight title in 1912; won the European and world light-heavyweight titles and the European heavyweight title in 1913; won the world white heavyweight championship title in 1914; an aviator with the French Air Force and a war hero in the Great War (1914 - 1918); on the champion French national rugby team in 1919; won again the European light-heavyweight and heavyweight titles in 1919. He beat some of the best heavyweight boxers of the day, including Battling Levinsky.  
For the first time in history, a single sporting event pulled in more than one million dollars.
80,000 fans paid $1.8 million at the gate (ticket office) to see a fight. 
French champion George Carpentier challenged world champion Jack Dempsey in New Jersey on July 2, 1921.
This was the first live radio broadcast from ringside of a boxing championship fight.
Dempsey won by a K. O. in four rounds.    
Jack Dempsey & Georges Carpentier - Training Footage 1921
Silent film in 2 parts
Part 1.
Part 2. 
Jack Dempsey Vs Georges Carpentier
How it ended
Jack Dempsey vs Georges Carpentier
Fight film with commentary
Jack Dempsey vs Georges Carpentier
Silent film of entire fight

Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955), German scientist, in photo taken in early 1900s
Albert Einstein
Episode from the 2005 documentary series Biography
Interview with Denis Brian, Einstein biographer, in 1996
                 Explaining Einstein
Lecture # 10, Review and Einstein, from the course Physics 20B Cosmology by James Bullock at the University of California-Irvine Campus, Winter 2013 
Go to the 00:29:12 mark
UC-Irvine website:
You Tube:
Old version
Einstein for the Masses
Lecture by Ramamurti Shankar
Yale U., May 2010
E = mc2
Lecture by Hitoshi Murayama
2005 Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Summer Lecture Series
Discussion on the weekly Thursday BBC radio programme In Our Time
Hosted by Melvyn Bragg
6 June 2013

Einstein and Eddington

2008 BBC documentary film about the correspondence between Albert Einstein, a German scientist, and British scientist Sir Arthur Eddington during the Great War



The Search for Vulcan

Ep. # 2 of the Universe Unleashed

Was Mercury's eccentric orbit caused by the gravitational force of another planet between Mercury and the Sun? This planet, which astronomers could not find, was called Vulcan.



Einstein in 1921 photo, after winning
the Nobel Prize in physics.  

Einstein greeted by crowds in New York City, on his first visit to the United States, in April 1921 

Going to see Einstein's lecture
Edward Teller
As Time Goes By
Rudy Vallee (1931)

Barnstorming stunt pilots

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Changing planes in mid-air in 1921
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Wing walking in 1922

Al Jolson
Poze Al Jolson
Asa Yoelson (1886 - 1950); born in
Lithuania; stage name: Al Jolson;
popular singer and actor on stage
and in moviesfrom 1911 to 1950
Al Jolson in blackface routine
Swanee (1920)
1945 movie with Jolson portrayed by actor and Jolson singing
1926 movie
Excerpt from the silent movie The Jazz Singer (1927)
Only part of film with direct on-set recording
Episode from the TV series Hollywood and the Stars, narrated by Jospeh Cotton (1962) 
(2 clips)  
The Real Al Jolson Story
Presented by Melvyn Bragg (1986)
4 clips
Technicolor Sequence 1930
I Love to Singa
Al Jolson and Cab Calloway (1936)
Al Jolson and The Yacht Club Boys (1936)

The Roaring Twenties
The Roaring 20's
Episode #32 of Crash Course US History with John Green


The Roaring Twenties


Episode from the documentary series America in the 20th Century





1920-1929: Boom to Bust


Episode from the documentary series

The Century: America's Time






The Roaring 20s
The Charleston
How to do it:
James P. Johnson
Composed by Johnson in 1923
Player piano roll (1925)
Recording by Arthur Gibbs and His Gang (1923)
First sung by Elizabeth Welch in the 1923 broadway show Runnin' Wild
Paul Whiteman and his Orchestra
Ishan Jones Orchestra
The 1926 Black Bottom Dance
Performed in 1956
Bix Beiderbecke
Leon "Bix" Beiderbecke (1903 - 1931)
Royal Garden Blues (1927)
My Ohio Home
With the Paul Whiteman Orchestra (1928)
I'm Coming Virginia (1927)
King Oliver
Canal Street Blues (1923)
Camptown Meeting (1923)
Frankie and Johnny (1929)
Louis Armstrong
Louis Armstrong and his Hot Five

From left: Johnny St. Cyr, Kid Ory, Armstrong, Johnny Dodds, Lil Hardin-Armstrong

Louis Armstrong & His Hot 5
Savoy Blues (1927)
St. James Infirmary (1928)
After You've Gone (1929)
St. James Infirmary (1928)
Copenhagen (movie 1933)
I Cover the Waterfront, Dinah and Tiger Rag
Copenhagen (movie 1933)
Sidney Bechet
Maple Leaf Rag
Duke Ellington


Take It Easy (1928)
Creole Love Call
with Adelaide Hall (1927)
Black and Tan Fantasy (1929)
Duke Ellington & His Orchestra (1929 - 1943)
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The Cotton Club in Harlem, Manhattan  
Cotton Club
1923 - 1940

The Babe
George Herman ("Babe") Ruth, Jr. 
(1895 - 1948) ("The Babe", "The
Bambino", "The Sultan of Swat")

In 1927, professional major league baseball in America was played by 16 teams from April to September.
There were two leagues   -   the American League (AL) and the National League (NL)   -   with eight teams each. Every team played 154 games in a season. Teams played within their league (there were no inter-league games).
The team winning the most games and finishing the season in first place in each league met in the best-of-seven games World Series. The winner was the world champion.
In the 1919 baseball season, Babe Ruth, a pitcher with the Boston Red Sox of the American League, hit 29 home runs, breaking the record of 24 home runs set in 1915.

Babe Ruth with the Boston Red Sox
Babe Ruth was a pitcher and outfielder with the Red Sox
The Red Sox traded Ruth to the New York Yankees after the 1919 season.
The Sultan of Swat
Babe Ruth poses in the visitors dugout in Cleveland in this 1927 photo. Photo by Louis Van Oeyen/Western Reserve Historical Society/Getty Images
Babe Ruth in 1927


File:NewYorkYankees PrimaryLogo.svg

NY Yankees Logo

In the next season, 1920, Ruth, now with the Yankees, hit 54 home runs.
In the following season, 1921, Ruth hit 59 home runs.
Six years later, in the 1927 season, Ruth hit 60 home runs.

In his new book, "One Summer: America, 1927," author Bill Bryson explores the turmoil and triumph of a few months in American history. Click through the gallery to see some of the events that unfolded.<br /><br />In September 1927, Babe Ruth of the New York Yankees hit his 60th home run of the season, a record that stood for decades.
Babe Ruth hitting a home run in 1927

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Babe Ruth hits 60th Home Run

60th homer, New York, September 30, 1927


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Babe Ruth
Episode from the Sports Greats documentary series

Babe Ruth


Episode from the HBO Sports documentary series Sports of the Twentieth Century




Ruth’s record of 60 home runs in a season stood for decades.




Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig comedy routine (1927)
Play Ball with Babe Ruth
Just Pals
Slide, Slide, Slide
Fancy Curves

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George Herman (Babe) Ruth, Jr.
(1895 - 1948), The Great Bambino,
The Sultan of Swat, played major
league baseball from 1914 to 1935.  

Ruth hit 714 home runs in his major league career. Ruth's batting average was over .300 in almost every season, with his highest in 1924 with .378. Ruth retired with a .342 batting average.
Ruth played with the Boston Red Sox (AL) from 1914 to 1919, the New York Yankees (AL) from 1920 to 1934 and the Boston Braves (NL) in 1935.

Ruth's home run record:
Boston Red Sox (AL) Ruth was a pitcher

1914  -    0 
1915  -    4
1916  -    3
1917  -    2
1918  -  11
1919  -  29

New York Yankees (AL)

1920  -  54
1921  -  59
1922  -  35
1923  -  41
1924  -  46
1925  -  25
1926  -  47
1927  -  60
1928  -  54
1929  -  46  
1930  -  49
1931  -  46
1932  -  41
1933  -  34
1934  -  22
1935  -    6

Bold type = Most home runs in major leagues 
Ruth's season home run record of 60 in 1927 was not equalled for many decades.
Ruth played in ten world series   -   three with the Boston Red Sox and seven with the New York Yankees.

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Babe Ruth and Jack Dempsey in Yankee Stadium in 1933.

Paul Whiteman
The King of Jazz
Paul Samuel Whiteman (1890 - 1967)
Arrangements (A selection)
Chicago (That Toddling Town) (1922)
Rhapsody in Blue (1924)
After You've Gone (1929)
Happy Feet (1930)
Smoke Gets in Your Eyes (1933)
It's Only a Paper Moon (1933)
My Reverie (1938)

Big Bill Tilden
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Bill Tilden
Bill Tilden's Tennis for Beginners

The Gershwin Brothers
George and Ira
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George and Ira Gershwin
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George Gershwin (1898 - 1937)
George Gershwin Remembered
Episode from the documentary series Biography on the History Channel
(87 min.)
Gershwin in Focus
Documentary with Ben Kingsley
(103 min.)
The Legend of George Gershwin
Ira Gershwin talks about George Gershwin
Rhapsody in Blue
Gershwin plays Rhapsody in Blue solo on piano
Original first recording by Gershwin on piano, with the Paul Whiteman Orchestra (1924)
Paul Whiteman talks about Gershwin and Rhapsody in Blue
Toscanini and Benny Goodman (1942)
The Man I Love (1924)
George Gershwin (1924 piano roll)
Janet Hall & Ken Christie (1924)
Vaughn De Leath with the Paul Whiteman Orchestra (1928)
Lena Horne (1939)
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Somebody Loves Me (1924)
Bing Crosby (1939)
Helen Forrest (1944)
Piano roll
Fletcher Henderson (1930)
Benny Goodman
Benny Carter
Coleman Hawkins (1944)
With Jack Teagarden
Lester Young (1945)
With Nat King Cole and Buddy Rich
Tex Beneke
Bud Powell
Erroll Garner
From Porgy and Bess (1935)
Billie Holiday
John Coltrane
Sung by Harolyn Blackwell for Paula Blackwell

Simon Rattel conducting the Glyndebourne Chorus and the London Philharmonic


Kathleen Battle



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It Ain't Necessarely So

From Porgy and Bess (1935)

Sung by Paul Robeson


Bess, You Is My Woman Now
From Porgy and Bess (1935)
I Got Rhythm
George Gershwin on piano (1931)
So Am I
Gershwin on piano (1925)
Gershwin on piano
Al Jolson (1920)
George Gershwin plays four songs
Gershwin on the piano (piano rolls?)
1. Make Believe by Nathaniel Shilkret
2. Grieving for You by Joe Gibson, Joe Ribaud and Joe Gold
3. Land Where the Good Songs Go by Jerome Kern
4. Some Sunday Morning by Richard A. Whiting
Rhapsody in Blue
Hollywood movie about George Gershwin (1946)

Jack Dempsey
Jack Dempsey in 1922
Denpsey did not fight in the two years after his fight with George Carpentier in 1921.
William Harrison Dempsey
Image result for jess willard boxer 1919
Jack Dempsey in 1923
Champion Jack Dempsey vs challenger Tommy Gibbons
Shelby, Montana, July 4, 1923
Dempsey won the 15-round decision
Dempsey, left, and Gibbons, right
Jack Dempsey vs Tommy Gibbons
July 4, 1923
The Dempsey - Gibbons Fight Pictures
or in 5 clips:

      Jack Dempsey vs. Luis Firpo
New York
September 14, 1923

Front cover of Time Magazine,
September 10, 1923

Fight program

Luis Angel Firpo of Argentina in 1919 photo.
Firpo was the first Latin-American to fight for the heavyweight championship title. Nicknamed The Wild Bull of the Pampas. He beat all the top heavyweights and then challenged Jack Dempsey.
80,000 fans paid $1.2 million to see the fight in the Polo Grounds in New York City.
Second million dollar gate in boxing history.
Dempsey knocked Firpo down seven times in the first round. Firpo knocked Dempsey down twice, the second time knocking him out of the ring.
Challenger Luis Firpo of Argentina knocks champion Jack Dempsey out of the ring in the first round, New York, September 14, 1923
Famous painting in 1924 of Dempsey through the Ropes by George W. Bellows (1882 – 1925)
Dempsey won by K. O. in 2 rounds. 
The final knockdown.
The final knock down. Jack Dempsey knocks out Luis Firpo in the second round.
Jack Dempsey vs Luis Angel Firpo
Sept. 14, 1923

Lenin Dies
21 January 1924
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Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov (Lenin) (born in
1870) died at age 53 at his home in Gorki
in Moscw on 21 January 1924.
Lenin was a Marxist-socialist revolutionary and a Communist.
Lenin led the Russian Revolution of 1917.
Lenis headed the governments of Soviet Russia from 1917 and the Soviet Union from 1922 till his death. 
Two bullet wounds from an attempted assassination in 1918 caused a gradual decline of his heatlh. He was ill much of the time since late 1921. Two heart attacks in 1922 and one in 1923 led tto his evetual death. 
Russia was in a civil war from 1917 to 1923.  There were two major sides. The anti-communists, called the Whites, or the White Army, fought the communists, the Red Army. The Whites included rightists, monarchists and conservatives. The Red Army and the communists won. There were also armies of nations fighting for independence from Russia. They formed the countries of Finland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Poland.   


The First Expeditions to Mount Everest


View of the north side of Mount Everest from the Rongbuk Valley in Tibet.


File:Mount Everest North Face.jpg

Photo by Carsten.nebel

View of the North Face of Mount Everest from the Rongbuk Valley in Tibet. The mountain before it is Changste (Tibetan for "North Peak)".


Mount Everest is the highest mountain in the world at the generally agreed height of 8,848 metres (29,029 feet) altitude above sea level.

Mount Everest is on the border of Tibet and Nepal. To its north is Tibet and to its south is Nepal.

The mountain is called Chomolungma in Tibetan, which means Holy Mother or Mother Goddess of Snows. 

The mountain in called Sagarmatha in Nepali, which means Mother of the Universe. 


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The mountain was first registered in 1841 by Colonel George Everest, the British Surveyor-General of India from 1830 to 1843. The mountain was listed as Peak XV.

The mountain, Peak XV, was declared the tallest in the world by a British surveyor, Andrew Waugh, in 1856.

Waugh gave the mountain its official name, Everest, in honour of Sir George Everest, in 1865.


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Sir George Everest (Everest pronounced his name with a long "e":  "ee' - ve - rest".)



Note the brown layer below the summit of Everest. This is a layer of limestone and marble called the Yellow Band.


Until the late 1940s Nepal was a "forbidden kingdom", and foreigners were not allowed to enter the country, so Mount Everest had to be approached from the north, in Tibet.

Tibet was closed to most westerners until a British military campaign, led by Col. Francis Younghusband, in 1904 forced Tibet to open.

British plans for expeditions to Everest were delayed by the Great War (1914 - 1918).  

Tibet allowed a British expedition to Everest in 1921.



The First Expedition


File:1921 Mount Everest expedition members (cropped).jpg

Some of the members of the first expedition to Mount Everest, a British reconnaissance expedition, led by Charles Howard-Bury. 

Seated on the left is George Leigh Mallory, considered the best rock climber of the day. Mallory's name would be forever linked to Everest. Beside Mallory is Oliver Wheeler, a Canadian climber. Charles Howard-Bury is standing, second from left.


Charles Howard-Bury



The Rongbuk Monastery

Photo by British Everest expedition 1922

Photo taken in 1922 of the north side of Mount Everest from Rongbuk Monastery in Tibet.

Expeditions to Everest established their Base Camp about one kilometre beyond the monastery.

Farther up is the Rongbuk Glacier.


The Rongbuk Glacier

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The Rongbuk Glacier (also known as the West Rongbuk Glacier and the Main Rongbuk Glacier) in a 1921 photo. The view is from the north.

Immediately below and to the left of the summit of Everest is the Northeast Ridge.

The smaller mountain immediately below and to the north of Everest is Changste (Tibetan for "North Peak").

The Rongbuk Glacier leads to the bottom of the North Face of Everst.


Chang La (North Col)

Everest North Col.jpg

Chang La   -   North Col


A Canadian member of the 1921 expedition, Oliver Wheeler, discovered the best route to the summit of Everest.

Instead of approaching Everest by the Main (West) Rongbuk Glacier, an expedition could set out from Base Camp and march up the East Rongbuk Glacier to its head at a vertical ice wall about 1,000 feet high. 

This point, at the bottom of the North Face of Everest, is called the Chang La Pass. Chang means "north" in Tibetan. La means "hill". The North Hill Pass. The expedition called Chang La the North Col. (A col is a gap.)

Chang La (North Col) separates the West (or Main) Rongbuk Glacier from the East Rongbuk Glacier. 


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Photo by Chris Seart (2005)

The two above photos of the North Col are recent photos, taken in different seasons, from the northeast, of the steep, nearly vertical 1,000-ft.-high ice wall at the head of the East Rongbuk Glacier.

The ice wall connects the North Ridge of Everest, on the left in the photo, to Changste (North Peak), the mountain immediately to the north of Everest (the snowy mountain, partially obscured by a cloud), on the right in the photo.


The North Ridge

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The North Face of Everest

Recent photo of the North Col, foreground, and the North Ridge beyond.


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1922 photo of the head of the East Rongbuk Glacier at Chang La, or North Col. On the left in the photo is the eastern half of Northeast Ridge of Everest.

The North Ridge of Everest, to the left of the North Col, leads directly up the middle of the North Face of Everest to the middle of the Northeast Ridge at the Northeast Shoulder, which appears as the high point in the photo.

The summit pyramid appears above and beyond the Northeast Shoulder in the photo.  


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Dead centre in this satellite photo is the summit of Changste (North Peak). The ridge down from Changste (going toward the top of the photo) leads to the North Col (Chang La) at its low point.

The North Col separates the head of the West (Main) Rongbuk Glacier (on the right in the photo) from the East Rongbuk Glacier (on the left in the photo).

From the North Col, the ridge continues up the North Face of Everest (at centre in the top half of the photo) as the North Ridge. The North Ridge leads up to the Northeast Shoulder at the middle of the Northeast Ridge (at the top of the photo).

Unfortunately, the above photo does not include the Northeast Ridge.

From North Col climbers could climb up the North Ridge to the Northeast Ridge and continue to the summit.


The Unsung Hero of Mount Everest

Edward Oliver Wheeler

Excerpt from a lecture by Wade Davis

National Geographic (2012)



The Northeast Ridge

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Photo by Alexander (Sandy) Woolaston in 1921.

View from the east or northeast of the south side of the Northeast Ridge of Everest (on the left in the photo) in Tibet. This is the 11,000-ft. steep South Face   -   sometimes called the East Face and Kangshung Face   -   of Everest.

The Northeast Ridge is in the foreground in the photo. It leads to the Northeast Shoulder.

Beyond the Northeast Shoulder, the Northeast Ridge leads up to the summit.

Below and to the right (north) of the Northeast Shoulder is the North Ridge.

The North Ridge leads up from North Col to the Northeast Ridge at the Northeast Shoulder.  


At the snow-top of the ice wall of Chang La, climbers pitched camp. This was Camp IV, also called the North Col Camp.

The 1921 expedition climbed to the top of the North Col.

The most apparent way of reaching the summit was from Camp IV on the Nortth Col, all the way up the North Ridge to the Northeast Ridge at the Northeast Shoulder. The Northeast Ridge led up to the summit.

On the way up to the Northeast Shoulder, Camp V could be pitched about half-way up the North Ridge.

From Camp V, climbers could go farther up the North Ridge and pitch the highest camp, Camp VI, just below the Northeast Shoulder.

From Camp VI, climbers could continue up the North Ridge to the Northeast Shoulder and then follow the Northeast Ridge to the summit.

Instead of going all the way up to the Northeast Shoulder, climbers could also set out from Camp VI on the North Ridge and climb up and diagonally across ta corner of the North Face to the Northeast Ridge.

The main obstacles on the Northeast Ridge are the extreme cold, the sudden fierce winds, the loose rocks and snow, and three difficult high rock steps, which would have to be climbed. The second of the three steps, called the Second Step, looked particularly difficult if not impossible to climb.

Another possible way to the summit was not by the Northeast Ridge but from the North Ridge, either at Camp V or Camp VI, diagonally up and across the entire North Face to the steep and snowy Grand Couloir. 

The Grand Couloir would have to be scaled up to the Northeast Ridge or summit pyramid.



The Second Expedition

The First Summit Assault

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The second expedition to Everest, a British expedition in 1922, led by Charles Bruce, attempted the first climb to the summit.

In the photo, George Mallory is on the left in the front row; George Finch, an Australian climber, is beside him; Charles Bruce, the expedition leader, is in the centre.

In the back row, Edward Norton is on the right; Howard Somervell is third from the right; film maker John Noel is fifth from the right; and Geoffrey Bruce, a cousin of George Bruce, is second from left.

The names of Mallory and Norton would be forever linked to Everest.

Finch would lead the first assault on the summit of Everest with Geoffrey Bruce as his partner.


George Mallory, on the right, on the 1922 expedition to Everest. The three men have just crossed a stream. They undressed before crossing.  


Three attempts to reach the summit were made in 1922.

On the first attempt Mallory, Norton and Somervell climbed up the North Ridge from Camp V to within 150 metres of the Northeast Shoulder and the Northeast Ridge (altitude: 8,225 metres/26,985 feet).

They intended to pitch the highest camp, Camp VI, but were turned back by snowing.

The climbers were roped together on the descent down the North Ridge. At one point, the snow and ice collapsed, taking Norton and Somervell. As the two climbers fell from the North Ridge, the lead climber, Mallory, thrust his ice axe into the snow and wrapped his rope around it. The ice axe held and saved Norton and Somervell from a long fall to the East Rongbuk Glacier.   


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George Mallory and Edward Norton climbing Everest in 1922.


The First Assault on the Summit

Finch and Bruce

The second attempt launched the first assault on the summit.

George Finch, the lead climber, and Geoffrey Bruce set out directly from Camp V on the North Ridge and headed for the Grand Couloir by traversing up and diagonally across the North Face.

Finch and Bruce used oxygen, the first time oxygen was tried in an assault on the summit.

They reached the bottom of the Yellow Band (the thick layer of marble) and an altitude of 8,326 metres/27,316 feet.

Finch aborted the climb when Bruce's oxygen set failed and Bruce became ill.

Finch and Bruce were the first to launch a final assault on the summit of Everest. It was the only assault of the expedition.


On the third attempt, led by Mallory, seven Sherpa porters were killed in an avalanche half-way up the ice wall at the head of the East Rongbuk Glacier at Chang La (North Col). They were the first men to die on Everest. The attempt was halted. The expedition headed home.




The Third Expedition

Two summit assaults

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The third British expedition to Everest, in 1924.

In the photo, standing, from left to right, are Andrew ("Sandy") Irvine, George Leigh Mallory, Edward ("Teddy") Norton and Noel Odell.

Seated, second from left, is Geoffrey Bruce, a cousin of the expedition's original leader, Charles Bruce. Beside him, immediately to the right in the photo, is Howard Somervell.

Photo taken on 29 April 1924.

Norton took over leadership of the expedition when Charles Bruce was incapacitated by malaria on the expedition's march from Darjeeling through Tibet.


Three attempts to reach the summit were made in 1924.

The first attempt, by George Mallory and Geoffrey Bruce, was abandoned without pitching the last (highest) camp, Camp VI, on the North Ridge.  


The Second Attempt (The First Assault)

4 June 1924



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Edward Felix ("Teddy") Norton (1884 - 1954)


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Edward Norton at base camp in 1924.


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Howard Somervell (1890 - 1975)


The Grand (Great) Couloir

On the second attempt, two climbers, Edward Norton and Howard Somervell, pitched the highest camp, Camp VI, on the North Ridge about 300 metres below the Northeast Shoulder.

For the assault on the summit, Norton preferred to avoid the windy Northeast Ridge with its particularly difficult Second Step.

On 4 June, Norton and Somervell set out from the high camp, Camp VI, on the North Ridge and climbed up and diagonally across the North Face, over the Yellow Band (marble), and traversed along the top of the Yellow Band to the Grand Couloir.

Norton and Somervell climbed without oxygen.

Somervell was too ill to continue and stopped below the First Step, at the top of the Yellow Band.

Norton continued alone, crossed the 50-foot- wide snow gully of the Grand Couloir and scaled up the west wall of the Grand Couloir until he was forced to turn back by snow and ice, the extreme cold, lack of oxygen and lack of time.

Norton reached a height of 8,570 metres (28,126 feet) and came to within 280 metres (920 feet) of the summit, a height and altitude record not surpassed for the next 28 years, until 1952.


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Recent photo of the North Ridge and Northeast Shoulder above it (on the left); the North Face and the Northeast Ridge above it (centre); and the Grand Couloir (in dark shadow) and the summit pyramid above it (right). The west wall of the Grand Couloir is in shadow.


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Photo by Howard Somervell of Edward Norton traversing the North Face along the top of the Yellow Band on his way to the Grand Couloir.


Photograph showing Colonel Edward Felix Norton (1884-1954) climbing Everest, at a height of about 28,000 feet, 1924

Somervell's photo of Norton and other photos, taken at 28,000 feet, were celebrated as photos taken at the highest altitude ever.  


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Somervell's photo of Edward Norton (in the red box) on his way to the Grand Couloir. Norton has stopped to rest.

To note the highest point reached by Norton, draw a straight horizontal line from the top of the red box across the photo. Sixth-tenths of the way to the right margin is the point.

This point is on the near-vertical west wall of the Grand Couloir.

To the right of that point is a long vertical stretch of snow called the Subsidiary Couloir, which leads tp from the Grand Couloir onto the top of the huge rock wall below the summit pyramid. If it could be reached and climbed, to the top of the wall, Norton thought it might offer a quicker route to the summit.


The small black "X" in the photo, taken in 1938 by Frank Smythe, marks the approximate highest point of Norton's climb. It is about half-way up (or down) the photo and about one-third of the way across from the right margin.    


Highest point of Norton's climb. (Zoom in to see.)

As can be seen, Norton was not far from the summit pyramid when he stopped.

The Grand Couloir was subsequently called the Norton Couloir.


Norton rejoined Somervell at the top of the Yellow Band below and slightly west of the First Step.

As the two climbers set out on their return to Camp VI, Somervell dropped his ice axe. Norton recalled that the ice axe cartwheeled noisily down the North Face and out of view. 

Norton and Somervell returned to Camp VI.

They descended to Camp V and reached Camp IV on the North Col after dark.


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Theodore Howard Somervell after the summit attempt. 


Norton suffered frostbite and snow blindness and had to be carried by Sherpas from the North Col to camp on the East Rongbuk Glacier two days later.


The Third Attempt (The Second Assault)

8 June 1924


Mallory and Irvine

For the third and last attempt of the expedition to reach the summit, two climbers, George Mallory and Andrew Irvine, were to set out from their high camp, Camp VI, on the North Ridge for the Northeast Ridge and follow it to the summit pyramid.


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George Herbert Leigh Mallory (1886 - 1924). Mallory was the only climber to go on all three expeditions   -   1921, 1922 and 1924. He had the most experience on Everest. He was considered the best rock climber of the day. Mallory was a graduate of Cambridge, where he had been an oarsman, and a school teacher and headmaster in England. Mallory left a wife and three children in England.

Mallory's surname sometimes appears as Leigh-Mallory. Mallory's father, Herbert Leigh Mallory, changed his surname to Leigh-Mallory in 1914. (Leigh is pronounced "Lee", with a long e.)


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Andrew Comyn ("Sandy") Irvine (1902 - 1924), an oarsman and chemistry student at Oxford. (Irvine is pronunced "Er - vin", with a short i.) 


British climbers Andrew Irvine, left, and George Mallory, right, in Tibet in 1924. Mallory was age 37 and Irvine 22.


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The last photo of Mallory and Irvine

The last photo of Mallory and Irvine, taken by Noel Odell, as they set out from camp on the North Col on 6 June 1924.

Mallory and Irvine carried oxygen bottles, the only time oxygen was used on an assault on the summit in 1924 and the first time oxygen was tried on a final summit assault since Finch and Bruce in 1922.

Mallory and Irvine were to carry two oxygen bottles each, a heavy load at high altitude and not enough to climb to the summit and return to camp. However, Sherpas brought additional oxygen bottles to the high camp for Mallory's and Irvine's assault.



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Mallory's and Irvine's planned route to the summit.


The Northeast Ridge or Grand Couloir?

Mallory intended to follow the Northeast Ridge all the way to the summit. If not, there might be another way.

Mallory could forego the ridge route if it took up too much time. Instead, he could traverse below the First Step and the Second Step and try to regain the Northeast Ridge at some point before or below the Third Step or climb up to the summit pyramid from the Grand Couloir, like Norton, or try to climb the Sunsidiary Couloir to the big rock wall below the summit pyramid.


On 5 June, before setting out from camp on the East Rongbuk Glacier for the North Col, Mallory suggested to John Noel, the expedition's film-maker, that he focus his lens on the summit pyramid.

On 6 June, Mallory and Irvine set out from Camp IV on the North Col (Chang La), atop the head of the East Rongbuk Glacier, climbed up the North Ridge and spent the night at Camp V, half-way up the North Ridge.

The next day, 7 June, they climbed farther up the North Ridge and spent the night about 300 metres below the Northeast Shoulder at the highest camp, Camp VI. 

No climber had been to the Northeast Ridge before.

Mallory sent a note from the high camp, Camp VI, carried down by descending Sherpa porters, to John Noel on 7 June:


Dear Noel,

We'll probably start early to-morrow (8th) in order to have clear weather. It won't be too early to start looking out for us either crossing the rockband under the pyramid or going up skyline at 8.0 p.m.

Yours ever

G Mallory


rockband under the pyramid  =  the 100-metre-thick Yellow Band of marble below the summit pyramid.

The rockband immediately above the Yellow Band and below the Northeast Ridge is a layer of dark grey limestone slabs called the Black Band.

skyline  =  the Northeast Ridge  

A climb following the ridge line up to the summit pyramid (or perhaps a climb up the north ridge of the summit pyramid itself).   

pyramid  =  summit pyramid

8.0 p.m.  =  8:00 a. m. Mallory actually meant a. m.


Many have wondered about the meaning of Mallory's note.

Most have assumed Mallory meant that by 8:00 a. m. he would be approaching the summit pyramid by a traverse along the crest of the Northeast Ridge ("skyline') or climbing up the Yellow Band ("rockband") to the ridge.

That would be the most logical expectation of climbers setting out at dawn.

But Mallory wrote "rockband under the pyramid".  

Perhaps Mallory meant he might try climbing up the Yellow Band to the summit pyramid from the Grand Couloir or the big rock wall below the summit pyramid.

Setting out at dawn, climbers might reacch the Grand Couloir by 8:00 a. m.

If Mallory chose the Grand Couloir, he might try to reach the Subsidiary Couloir, which Norton indicated might offer another way up to the summit pyramid.

Mallory and Irvine set out from the highest camp, Camp VI, to attempt the summit on the morning of 8 June 1924. The exact time is not known.



- John Noel trained his camera with a telescopic lens on the summit pyramid, as shown in the above frame from Noel's film, but he did not spot the climbers. He did not see them on the Northeast Ridge near the summit pyramid or on the rock bands below the summit pyramid. He did not see them on the summit pyramid. He did not see them on the north ridge of the pyramid.

- Noel Odell was the only expedition member to see Mallory and Irvine on their final assault on the summit.

Odell set out from Camp V for Camp VI to wait for Mallory and Irvine to return. On his way up the North Ridge to Camp VI, he saw the pair on the Northeast Ridge. (Odell was actually on the North Face, a short distance to the west from the North Ridge.)

In his first recollection, Odell wrote, in his diary:


At 12.50 saw M&I on ridge nearing base of final pyramid.


Many assume that the "final pyramid" meant the summit pyramid.

This could mean that Mallory and Irvine were approaching the base of the summit pyramid.

But the Second Step was also called a pyramid.

This could mean also that the pair were approaching the base of the Second Step.

In the Alpine Journal, on 14 June 1924, Odell wrote:


"At 12.50, just after I had emerged from a state of jubilation at finding the first definite fossils on Everest, there was a sudden clearing of the atmosphere, and the entire summit ridge and final peak of Everest were unveiled. My eyes became fixed on one tiny black spot silhouetted on a small snow-crest beneath a rock-step in the ridge; the black spot moved. Another black spot became apparent and moved up the snow to join the other on the crest. The first then approached the great rock-step and shortly emerged at the top; the second did likewise. Then the whole fascinating vision vanished, enveloped in cloud once more."


Odell saw the pair on the Northeast Ridge, climbing one of the three rock steps   -   the First Step, Second Step or Third Step   -   at 12:50 p. m., just before clouds covered the mountain. It was a ten-minute sighting.

The "great rock-step" should mean the Second Step, the biggest and most difficult step to climb.

Thus, Odell saw them on the Second Step.

Mallory and Irvine were never seen again.


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The North Face and Northeast Ridge of Mount Everest in Tibet.

The notes on the photo above indicate that Noel Odell saw Mallory and Irvine on the Second Step.

The most experienced climbers on Everest question Odell's recollection of two figures reaching the base of the Second Step and then quickly climbing it. The Second Step is forty metres high. The last five metres are vertical. Thus, Odell saw the climbers reaching the top of something else. Others were certain that Odell saw them at the First Step or the Third Step.

The Second Step has been climbed, as Mallory would have had to climb it, by modern climbers only four times. 

In 1960, four members of a Chinese expedition to Everest, including a Tibetan climber, successfully confronted the Second Step. They took five hours to climb it. They required three hours to climb the last five metres. One climber, standing in bare socks on the shoulders of another, was able to fix ice picks and ropes at the top of the step. His feet suffered frostbite and the three other climbers had to continue without him.  

The next Chinese expedition, in 1975, installed a metal ladder over the last five metres up the Second Step. Later expeditions fixed guide-ropes up the entire step. 

A Spanish climber soloed up the Second Step in 1985 without the use of the installed artificial climbing aids. (Today, this is called free-climbing.)

An Austrian climber soloed the Second Step without prior first-hand knowledge of it, without use of the artificial climbing aids and without climbing gear in 2001. He took about an hour to do it.

An American climber free-climbed the Second Step and belayed his British partner up in 2007. They took about an hour to climb it.  

Descending the Second Step can be more difficult and more dangerous than ascending it.


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Recent photo of the Second Step from the First Step (Northeast Ridge). The Summit Pyramid, covered with snow, appears beyond. Seen from the east, the Second Step appears to be a pyramid.


The photo below was taken in recent years from Odell's approximate vantage point.


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Odell's view, from the North Ridge, between Camp V and Camp VI, of the Northeast Ridge. On the left is part of the First Step, barely distinguishable. To its right is the Second Step (or the Great Rock Step). Just before the summit pyramid, or at its base, is the Third Step.

Note the Grand Couloir on the right in the photo. Note the long streak of snow leading up from the couloir to the top of the rock wall, the west wall of the couloir, to the top of the wall. This is the Subsidiary Couloir.   


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Another photo taken from Odell's vantage point. The First Step, on the left, is clearly distinguishable. The Second Step is at centre on the ridge in the photo. The Third Step appears at the base of the summit pyramid, projecting out from it. The summit pyramid above the Third Step is in shadow. 

Note again, on the right in the photo, the Grand Couloir and the long near-vertical streak of snow leading up the west wall of the couloir to the top of the wall. This is the Subsidiary Couloir.


Many thought it more likely that Odell saw Mallory and Irvine climbing the First Step. His description of his sighting fit the First Step or Third Step rather than the Second Step. 

According to Mallory's schedule, the climbers were many hours late. By 12:50 p. m. they should have been high up on the summit pyramid. Thus, some assumed Odell saw the pair on the Third Step.

Odell was concerned that the climbers were far behind schedule.

Odell reached the high camp, Camp VI, in the early afternoon to wait for Mallory and Irvine. He found possible indiciations of difficulties with the oxygen sets.

Odell climbed farther up. He was caught in a snow squall between 2:00 and 4:00 p. m. and took shelter behind a rock for an hour. To leave the two-man tent to the climbers, he headed back to the North Col at 4:30 p. m.

Odell returned two days later, on 10 June, and climbed higher up. He saw no trace of the climbers.


A sketch of Mallory and Irvine climbing the Second Step for a lecture by Noel Odell in 1924


The Mount Everest Expedition of 1924

A. Camp VI.: 26,000 feet.

B. The point reached by Somervell in 1924.

C. The point reached by Norton in 1924.

D. "The Second Step" where Mallory and Irvine were last seen alive.

E. "The First Step."

F. The point reached by Mallory, Norton and Somervell in 1922.

G. The Summit: 29.002 feet.

From Fifty Great Disasters and Tragedies that Shocked the World by A. F. Russell (1939)


For an interactive 3-D view of Everest, visit the following site:



Yet, some do not believe that Mallory and Irvine followed the Northeast Ridge to the summit pyramid. They believe it more likely that, at some point, probably the First Step, Mallory decided not to bother with the approach along the rest of the ridge and instead tried to reach the summit pyramid from the Grand Couloir.  


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25 June 1924 issue of the Daily News


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Photo of John Noel on the North Col in 1922. Noel filmed the 1922 and 1924 expeditions to Everest. 


The Epic of Everest

The official film record by John Noel of the 1924 expedition to Mount Everest.

Advertisement for the copy of the film restored by the British Film Institute.


Introduction to a showing of the British Film Institute restoration (2013):


Short sections of the film footage







Colour sketch by Edward Norton on 26 June 1924.

View of Everest from the Northeast of the Northeast Ridge (sometimes called the East Ridge), the Northeast Shoulder and the North Ridge, the Northeast Ridge, the summit and the West Ridge far beyond. Below the North Face is the East Rongbuk Glacier and the North Col (or Chang La).



The Affair of the Dancing Lamas

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The 1924 British expedition returned to England with a group of Tibetan monks and a lama. They performed dances before showings of John Noel's film, The Epic of Everest.

This offended some Tibetans and Tibet banned expeditions for the next eight years, until 1933.


British Pathé






The Everest Air Expedition


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Members of the Houston-Westland Expedition in India in 1933


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The first aerial photos of Everest, taken by British airmen in April 1933.

Approaching the summit of Everest.


The 1933 Houston Everest Flight Castrol Oil

Advertisement for the Westland Wallace 


Everest Air Expedition

British Pathé



Wings over Everest

The Story of the Houston-Mt. Everest Flight

Gaumont-British Picture Corporation (32:39)






The Fourth Expedition


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Members of the 1933 British espedition to Mount Everest, led by Hugh Ruttledge, at their base camp in June 1933. Ruttledge is at centre in the second row.


The next expedition to Everest, the fourth, led by the British in 1933, made two attempts to climb to the summit.


1933 Everest Expedition

Percy Wyn-Harris, Hugh Ruttledge, W. McClean, Tony Brocklebank, Lawrence Wager

Silent film



Expedition leaves Darjeeling for Everest

Silent film



Highest town in the World

Phari in Tibet in 1933

Silent film



The attempt to climb Mount Everest

Silent film (14:52)



The First Attempt  (The First Assault)


Wyn-Harris and Wager

29 May 1933

The Northeast Ridge and the Grand Couloir

Two assaults on the summit were launched by the Grand Couloir.


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Percy Wyn-Harris (1903 - 1979)


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Lawrence Wager (1904 - 1965)


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Wyn-Harris and Wager climbing Mount Everest in 1933.


Two members of the expedition, Percy Wyn-Harris and Lawrence Wager, set out from their high camp, Camp VI, at 5:40 a. m. on 29 May 1933.

This camp was well out on the North Face, 250 to 300 feet below the Northeast Ridge and 600 feet higher than the 1924 Camp VI. 

Wyn-Harris and Wager climbed without oxygen.

They climbed up to the Northeast Ridge and traversed along it,

About an hour after setting out from camp, and about half-way from their camp to the First Step, the lead climber, Wyn-Harris, found one of the Swiss ice axes used by the 1924 expedition. (See below.)

Wyn-Harris and Wager reached the First Step at 7:00 a. m.

Looking beyond the First Step at the Second Step, they decided to search for a way around the two steps by traversing below them along the top of the Yellow Band and regaining the ridge beyond the Second Step by climbing up the Black Band of dark loose rocks.

They descended from the Northeast Ridge to the top of the Yellow Band and traversed below the First Step to the Second Step.

Finding the Second Step unclimbable from that point, or requiring too much time, they traversed along Edward Norton's 1924 route below the Second Step.

But they could not regain the ridge beyond the Second Step.

They continued to traverse by Norton's route to the Grand Couloir and crossed the 50-ft.-wide gully of snow to its west wall.

Wyn-Harris and Wager climbed up the west wall of the Grand Couloir to about Norton's high point. There, they decided not to continue. Though tired, they might push on for an hour or more but they were uncertain of making much progress towards the summit or doing so in time to return to camp safely.

They reconsidered the possibility of climbing the Second Step. 

They turned back at 12:30 p. m.

They returned to the Second Step but they were too exhausted to try climbing it.

On the way back to camp   -   from the point of the 1924 ice axe   -   Wager climbed up to the crest of the ridge to look down the steep 11,000-ft. South Face of Everest (also called the Kangshung Face and sometimes called the East Face of Everest).

The climbers returned to their camp.


The Second Attempt (The Second Assault)



1 June 1933

The Grand Couloir


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Frank Smythe (1900 - 1949)


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Eric Shipton (1907 - 1977)


Upon their return to Camp VI, Wyn-Harris and Wager met two climbers, Frank Smythe and Eric Shipton, who had climbed up to make the next assault on the summit.

Smythe and Shipton were concerned about the approaching monsoon.

After receiving an account from Wyn-Harris and Wager of their climb, they decided to head directly to the Grand Couloir.

Smythe and Shipton set out from Camp VI on the North Ridge two days later, at 7:30 a. m. on 1 June.

Smythe and Shipton climbed without oxygen.

Smythe and Shipton climbed up and across the North Face and followed Wyn-Harris's and Wager's route to the Grand Couloir.

Shipton became too ill to continue and stopped at the Yellow Band, below the First Step, and returned to Camp VI.

Smythe climbed up the west wall of the Grand Couloir to about the same high point as Norton in 1924 and Wyn-Harris and Wager two days earlier.

Smythe turned back between 10:00 and 11:00 a. m.

Smythe returned to Camp VI. An hour later, Shipton descended alone to Camp V.

The following day, Smythe thought he might examine the Second Step. But the monsoon had arrived and he had to descend the mountain. He was nearly blown off his feet several times by strong winds.  



Mallory and Irvine

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The Ice Axe

On the traverse along the Northeast Ridge, about one hour after setting out from Camp, Wyn-Harris, the lead climber, found one of the Swiss ice axes of the 1924 expedition.

The ice axe was about 60 feet below the crest of the Northeast Ridge and 230 metres before the First Step. 

It was assumed that the ice axe marked the point of accident   -   a fall down the mountain.

But a climber is most unlikely to fall from that point, which is in a flat and almost level area along the 30-degree slope.

For a climber to fall from that point he would have to be blown off by a very strong wind or pulled off by a falling partner to whom he is roped.

The ice axe lay atop a rock, as if it had been deliberately set down, as shown in the above photo of the ice axe on display in a museum.

No climber wants to be without his ice axe.

The ice axe could indicate that one climber descended alone, without the other.

Was the ice axe set down to indicate the point of an accident? Or was it abandoned there?

It has been pointed out that a climber disoriented by the high altitude and lack of oxygen could discard an indispensable ice axe.

It was not known whether the ice axe was Mallory's or Irvine's.

Most assumed it was Mallory's axe.

Later, three straight notches across one side of the wooden handle of the ice axe were noticed. Because Irvine cut notches on his walking stick it was assumed the ice axe was his. 

In an interview with the Sunday Times in 1971, Wyn-Harris recalled that he found the ice axe without notches and instructed his Sherpa assistant, Kusang Pugla, to cut the three marks on the handle to distinguish it from the other axes.

How the ice axe wound up there has long been a subject of discussion.

Was it dropped on the ascent or the descent?

No other evidence of Mallory and Irvine was found on the North Face or the Northeast Ridge.  

It was thought more likely that the axe was dropped on the ascent because it was assumed that Mallory and Irvine would have descended from a point higher up the ridge and traversed farther below the ridge on their return to camp.  

After attempting to climb the Grand Couloir, Wyn-Harris and Wager returned to their path along Northeast Ridge. Wyn-Harris picked up the 1924 ice axe and left his own in its place.

What happened to Wyn-Harris's ice axe? As far as is known, no one reached the ridge until the 1960 Chinese expedition 27 years later. 


For an account of the 1933 Mount Everest Expedition by its leader, Hugh Ruttledge, see The Himalayan Journal, Vol. 6, 1934:


Also by Ruttledge, the Alpine Journal, 31 October 1933: 






Photo of the North Face of Everest. The notes on the photo indicate the routes and most important points of the 1933 expedition and related points of Mallory's and Irvine's climb on the 1924 expedition.



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Aerial photo of the Northeast Ridge and the summit taken in 1933.

In the two photos above, note the Grand Couloir. Note the long steep Subsidiary Couloir that leads up and to the right from the Grand Couloir. An "X" marks the highest point reached by the 1933 expedition.



Expeditions in 1935, 1936, 1938

The British led three more expeditions to Everest from Tibet   -   a reconnaissance expedition in 1935 and two expeditions to attempt the summit in 1936 and 1938.

The 1935 reconnaissance expedition was led by Eric Shipton.

The 1936 expedition was led by Hugh Rutledge. Early snowfalls prevented the expedition from getting farther than the North Col.

The 1938 expedition was led by William Tilman. Conditions prevented the expedition from climbing much beyond the highest camp, Camp VI, on the North Ridge. Climbers did not reach the Northeast Ridge.

The 1938 expedition climbed the North Col from the Main (or West) Rongbuk Glacier for the first time. This climb up to the North Col was led by Sherpas.


Mallory and Irvine

Below is an excerpt from a letter in 1937 from Frank Smythe, who was a member of the 1936 British expedition, to Edward Norton, leader of the 1924 expedition. The excerpt begins with a reference to one of the 1924 expedition's ice axes found in 1933 on the Northeast Ridge.

The letter was made public in 2013.

. . . I feel convinced that it marks the scene of an accident to Mallory and Irvine. There is something else, which I mention with reserve – it’s not to be written about, as the press would make an unpleasant sensation.

I was scanning the face from base camp through a high-powered telescope last year when I saw something queer in a gully below the scree shelf. Of course it was a long way away and very small, but I’ve a six/six eyesight and do not believe it was a rock. This object was at precisely the point where Mallory and Irvine would have fallen had they rolled on over the scree slopes.

The spot Smythe referred to is uncertain but believed to be at the bottom of the big snow field in the middle of the North Face about 300 metres below the Northeast Ridge.


Tenzing Norgay

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Tenzing Norgay, a Nepalese Sherpa from Khumbu in Nepal and Darjeeling in India, was a high-altitude porter with the three British climbing expeditions to Everest   -   1935, 1936 and 1938. Known as Sherpa Tenzing.

On the 1938 expedition, Sherpas led the first climb of the North Col from the Main (West) Rongbuk Glacier.  


Plans for further British expeditions to Everest were cancelled by the Second World War (1939 - 1945).

Tibet did not respond to British requests for permission to climb Everest after the Second World War. There were no more British expeditions to Tibet.  

In 1947, a Canadian climber and Tenzing Norgay entered Tibet and tried to climb up the North Col. They reached 6,700 metres (22,000 feet) before a storm forced them back.

The Chinese communists gradually took over China from 1946 to 1950.

Invading Tibet in 1950 and 1951, the Chinese closed Tibet to most western foreigners.

Nepal opened to foreigners in the late 1940s and allowed mountain climbing expeditions in 1949.


1950 Trekking Party
In 1950, a small British trekking party led by William Tillman, with two American climbers, Oscar Houston and his son Charles Houston, reached the Khumbu Icefall and looked at possible routes to the summit of Mount Everest.
The party found an area suitable on the Khumbu Glacier for a base camp.
The 1951 British Reconnaissance Expedition
A British expedition led by Eric Shipton the next year, in 1951, searched for the best way to the summit from the Nepalese side.
The expedition decided that the best route to the summit was by the Khumbu Icefall, the Western Cwm and the South Col.
On the expedition was a climber from New Zealand, Edmund Hillary.

The 1952 Swiss Everest Expeditions

In 1952, the Swiss led the first expedition to Mount Everest to attempt the summit since the 1938 British expedition. All the Swiss climbers were from Geneva.

The Swiss climbed from the south side of the mountain, in Nepal.


Related image

Two climbers, Raymond Lambert of Geneva, Switzerland, on the left in the photo, and Tenzing Norgay, a Nepalese Sherpa from Darjeeling, on the right, climbed to within 250 metres of the summit before they were forced to turn back. They climbed higher and closer to the peak than anyone had before.   


For more about the 1952 Swiss Everest Expedition see Page 30. Averting Nuclear War and Page 31a. End of Empire - Decolonisation.


1952 British Expedition to Cho Oyu
Eric Shipton led an expedition in 1952 to Cho Oyu, a mountain 30 kilometres northwest of Mount Everest, in preparation for an expedition to Everest in 1953.
On the 1952 expedition were Edmund Hillary and George Lowe of New Zealand. Hillary, Lowe and several Sherpas clmbed into Tibet undetected and reached the head of the East Rongbuk Glacier. They attempted to climb to the summit of Changste by its east ridge but were turned back by the loose snow.




The Conquest of Everest 

29 May 1953

In the following year, 1953, on a British expedition in Nepal, led by John Hunt, two climbers, Edmund Hillary of New Zealand and Tenzing Norgay of Nepal, followed the Swiss route of the previous year and reached the summit.


Tenzing Norgay of Nepal on the summit of Mount Everest in the late morning of 29 May 1953, photographed by his climbing partner, Edmund Hillary of New Zealand.


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Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay on their descent from the summit.  


Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay at their camp on Mount Everest. The summit is the taller peak on the left.


The Conquest of Everest

Documentary film of the 1953 expedition to the summit (1:12:00)




French version



The Race for Everest

BBC documentary film recounts the 1953 expedition (58:55)



For more about Hillary and Tenzing see Page 30. Averting Nuclear War and Page 31a. End of Empire - Decolonisation.




Mallory and Irvine


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After the 1938 British expedition to Everest, there were no official climbs from the Tibetan side until 1960, when three members of a Chinese expedition attempted the summit.


Chinese find Mallory and Irvine

1960 and 1975

- In 1965, at a meeting of climbers in Moscow, a Chinese climber, Xu Jing, reported finding the body of an European climber five years earlier, during the 1960 Chinese expedition to Everest, close to his camp, high up on the North Face. This could only have been Mallory or Irvine.

Xu Jing added that the dead climber wore braces (suspenders). Irvine wore braces. Mallory did not.

The next expedition to the North Face of Everest was in 1975, also led by the Chinese.

- A member of the 1975 Chinese expedition, Wang Hongbao, reported finding the body of an English climber not far from his high camp, 300 metres lower down the North Face than the 1960 high camp.

This could only have been Mallory or Irvine.

Two different camps at two different locations. A body near each camp.


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- In 1991, an American climber spotted one of Mallory's and Irvine's oxygen bottles, No. 9, displayed in the photo above, along the ridge route 200 yards before the First Step, fifty metres higher up the ascent from the spot where the 1924 expedition ice axe was found in 1933.

The oxygen bottle was recovered by a later expedition, in 1999.

This would indicate that Mallory and Irvine climbed 50 metres farther up along the ridge than the ice axe recovered in 1933.  

However, there was some question about the bottle's actual location when abandoned in 1924 and spotted in 1991 (and recovered in 1999). It could have been moved.  


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- In 1999, an international team of American, British and German climbers, searching an area of the North Face about the 1975 Chinese high camp, the exact location of which was not yet known, found Mallory's body.

In the bove photo, an American climber, Conrad Anker, finds George Mallory. The view is from the snow field in the middle of the North Face. In the distance below is Changste.