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Original Issue

Under Review

For years the Mallory mystery has haunted armchair adventurers and professional climbers alike. Did George Mallory--an irreverent Brit who coined a phrase when he said he wanted to summit Mount Everest "because it's there"--ever reach the top during his June 1924 expedition? He and his climbing partner, Andrew Irvine, were last seen 500 feet from the forbidding 29,028-foot summit. Seeking to solve the mystery, in 1999 a team led by Eric Simonson, a professional guide from the Pacific Northwest who'd scaled Mount Everest three times, set out to find Mallory's body--and did. That journey is recounted in the first 15 minutes of Expeditions to the Edge: CSI on Everest (National Geographic Channel, Nov. 16, 8 p.m.). But the question remains: Were Mallory and Irvine on their way up or down the mountain? If they had in fact reached the peak and were on their descent, that would mean Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay were not the first to summit, in 1953. To investigate further, Simonson and his colleagues returned in May 2001. Despite some hokey dialogue and narration, as well as unnecessary reminders of the expedition's danger, Mallory's trail of clues, and the Simonson expedition's harrowing second climb, make for an often compelling hour. --Nancy Ramsey