George Mallory Statue: Good Idea or No?

8000ers Everest Sherpa
George Mallory (right) and Sandy Irvine on Everest in 1924. Photo: Chester Chronicle

The year 2024 marks 100 years since British climbers George Mallory and Sandy Irvine disappeared somewhere near the first step on Everest. To mark this centenary and to celebrate the life and climbs of Mallory, Anthony Harrison — who grew up in a village close to Mallory’s birthplace in the north of England — wants to build a life-sized bronze statue of Mallory and Irvine.

“Before all this, I didn’t know a lot about Mallory, so I was a little bit shocked that I grew up local to such a fantastic British hero,” says Harrison.

“Mallory has inspired so many global leaders over the decades, from King George VI to U.S. president John F. Kennedy, who directly quoted him in his 1952 space-race speech. Kennedy said that the U.S. is going into space ‘because it is there.'”

In addition to the statue, Harrison wants to place a plaque on Hobcroft House, Mallory’s childhood home, as well as install information boards around the village of Mallory’s birth.

Mallory and Irvine still capture the imagination of climbing fans worldwide due to the tantalizing possibility (however unlikely) that they may have reached the summit of Everest before vanishing, some 30 years before Hillary and Tenzing achieved that first in 1953. It wasn’t until 1999 that Mallory’s body was recovered by Conrad Anker in an expedition led by Eric Simonson.

Memorializing Mallory and Irvine in a statue may be a controversial move though. In recent years, we have seen many colonial-era statues hauled off of their plinths in the UK and U.S. by social activists. And in some cases, rightly so, given the links of these individuals to past injustices such as slavery.

With Mallory and Irvine, some argue that equal attention should go to the Sherpas who assisted Mallory across several attempts on Everest. A number of Sherpas lost their lives in the process.

Whatever side of the argument you reside on, Harrison nicely sums up the qualities that many still admire in these British climbers of yesteryear: “He was fully aware of the risk but he had the passion and the drive to achieve something that nobody else had.”

And regardless of whether he gets a statue or not, Mallory’s tale still echoes through the generations and inspires adventure goers worldwide. That’s more powerful than any physical memorial.

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About the Author

Ash Routen

Ash Routen

Ash is an outdoor and adventure writer from the UK. He juggles a day job as a public health scientist with a second career in outdoor writing.

His words have featured in national newspapers, international magazines, and on various websites. Major bylines include Financial Times, Daily Telegraph, Porsche, Outside Magazine, Rock and Ice, and Red Bull.

He holds two degrees in Exercise and Health Sciences, and a PhD in Public Health.

His areas of expertise are polar expeditions, mountaineering, hiking, and adventure travel. In his spare time Ash enjoys going on small independent sledding expeditions, outdoor photography, and reading adventure literature.

Read more at www.ashrouten.com or follow Ash via @ashrouten on Twitter and Instagram.

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Trish
Trish
2 months ago

“Is it time to end memorials to heroic white guys?” Really?

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Last edited 2 months ago by Trish
Not a climber
Not a climber
2 months ago
Reply to  Trish

Yea, what a ridiculous title and question. Why does it matter that he was white? Are white people not allowed to have statues? The last paragraph says that he inspires generations of climber, is that not enough justification for someone to build a memorial if they want to?

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Not a climber
Not a climber
2 months ago
Reply to  Trish

Ah, I see the title has been changed…

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marjeitz@pt.lu
marjeitz@pt.lu
2 months ago

Then a statue of Reinhold Messner the only man who climbed Everest alone and without O2 too

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Frederick
Frederick
2 months ago

I think a statue to the whole 1924 team would be a better idea. But Mallory was an outstanding climber of his era.

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Lenore Jones
Lenore Jones
2 months ago
Reply to  Frederick

I agree that a statue of the whole team would be a better idea. I’ve never even heard the Sherpa team members’ names, and only barely the other white members. They were all vital to the effort, and as the article says, Mallory and Irvine were not the only ones who died.

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John Mathews
John Mathews
2 months ago

It is fine to build a statute to those two men in England. It was their vision, courage, and versisitude that made the expedition possible and served as a heroic example to those that came after. Let’s get off the woke bandwagon, it only serves to divide. We have ignored boys for 40 years in public policies, and we need good examples of men for our boys to look up to as they grow to become good men, such as these.

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Damien François
Damien François
2 months ago

Don’t give in to cultural marxism. Why should a Mallory-Irvine statue NOT be erected?

+6
ipgon
ipgon
2 months ago

Even being from a colonized country, I totally agree with such statues, theirs was a beautiful and inspiring story.

+3
Richard
Richard
2 months ago

If the locals want a memorial to the Sherpas then let them make one. If slavery was normal in those days then they committed no societal wrongs…slavery today should be shamed however in our own country.

+2
Everything is racist
Everything is racist
2 months ago

“It would be racist to put up a statue of these guys”

“why?”

“because they’re white”

— 🙄

+1
Kelly
Kelly
2 months ago

Are we seriously suggesting that we should factor in the colour of someone’s skin as to whether we have a statue of them? Seriously? In the 21st century that is something we’re doing?! Good grief.

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