This site evaluates Mallory and Irvine’s 1924 summit attempt of Mount Everest. It presents a viable theory that George Mallory and Andrew “Sandy” Irvine summited on June 8, 1924. They climbed a moderately difficult route just above the Couloir (pictured above) which had been identified by E.F. Norton two days earlier. They did not climb the Second Step, but instead took a lower route, just the way Mallory described in the 1921 reconnaissance report. Although Mallory climbing the ridge route is a popular theory, Mallory stated the ridge route was impossible.
Mallory and Irvine’s planned route to the summit
Mallory described his potential routes to John Noel, the 1924 expedition photographer, in the days prior to his climb. Mallory stated his first choice was to go up the Couloir to access the north-east section of the final pyramid. His backup route was to cross above the top of the Couloir and access the ridge of the East Face at a point above the Couloir. This second route matches with the sighting of Odell at 12:50.
As part of a deliberate deception, E.F Norton created the myth that Odell saw Mallory and Irvine on either they First or Second Step. Odell sent a mountain dispatch down to Norton at Advanced Base Camp stating they were seen at the Final Step (Third) at 12:50. Norton destroys this dispatch and then falsifies the altitude and time in a report to The Times.
Summit rocks in Mallory’s pocket? We will never know.
When Mallory was found in 1999, the multiple searches of his body and having to bury him, dig him up, and then search again ruined the ability to determine whether they made the summit. Had Mallory made it to the summit, he would have collected summit rocks and put them in his pockets. In the haste to locate a camera, they ruined the chance to show whether they made it to the top.
UPDATE: I have some comments on the 2019 search which is described in National Geographic and has a very different take on Mallory and Irvine’s 1924 climb. I had nothing to do with that search.