It was one of the most poignant days in my life. High on Everest's North Face, on a lonely, wind-whipped slab of rock, lay the remains of George Leigh Mallory, lost on Everest with his partner Sandy Irvine on June 8, 1924.
It took a while for the magnitude of our discovery to sink in. My teammates - Conrad Anker, Dave Hahn, Tap Richards, and Andi Politz - and I stood in silent disbelief for a while. Eventually we began to investigate the hero lying at our feet, recovering artifacts frozen in time: a letter from brother Trafford; a tube of zinc oxide; a box of matches in perfect condition; goggles tucked away in a pocket; equipment lists and last minute notations. Each piece told more of Mallory & Irvine's final days and hours on Everest.
While the day and the discovery was stunning and awe-inspiring, the more rewarding moments came later on when Mallory's belongings were placed in the lap of an 83 year old woman in Berkeley, California, named Claire Mallory Milliken. Her last memory of her dad was bouncing on his knee at the docks of Liverpool in February, 1924, and playing with his goggles. 75 years later, we were able to put those very same goggles back in Claire's hands and hopefully give her some closure on her father's life, and death.