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He wrote to his wife: "We are about to walk off the map..." After five months of arduous climbing around the base of the mountain, Wheeler explored the hidden East Rongbuk Glacier and its route to the base of the North Col.

He returned, picked up Irvine and the two decided to climb the First Step for a look around and to photograph the complex approach to the Second Step.

It was when climbing this small promontory that they were spotted from below by Odell, who assumed that, since they were ascending, they must therefore have been on the Second Step, although it is now difficult to believe that the two would still be climbing from so low down at a time—five hours late—that was considered to be the turn-around hour.

Descending from the First Step, the two continued down when, at 2PM, they were hit by a severe snow squall.

Roping up, Mallory, leading, may have slipped pulling himself and Irvine down.

It was the last time the two were seen; whether either of them reached the summit remains a question that has reverberated through the decades.

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At that moment, Mallory and Strutt had exceeded the summit of all but five other mountains on the planet.

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Based on his final location, it would seem that Mallory had continued straight down in search of his partner, while Irvine, also injured, might have continued diagonally down through the Yellow Band.Edward Norton, with Mallory promoted to climbing leader.Geoffrey Bruce, Howard Somervell, and John Noel returned from the previous year, along with newcomers Noel Odell and Andrew Irvine.On September 23, Mallory became the first person to set foot on the mountain and he, Bullock, and Wheeler reached the North Col at 7,020 metres (23,030 ft) before being forced back by strong winds.The second British expedition, under General Charles Granville Bruce and climbing leader Lt-Col.As the health of Raeburn broke down, Mallory assumed responsibility for most of the exploration to the north and east of the mountain.