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Son of Famous Mountaineer Wanted to Know His Dad

George Mallory was an English mountaineer who took part in the first three British expeditions to Mount Everest in the early 1920s. Mallory and his climbing partner both disappeared somewhere high on the North-East ridge during their attempt to make the first ascent of the world's highest mountain.

Before his disappearance, when Mallory was asked why he wanted to climb Mount Everest, he famously answered, "Because it is there." But on another occasion George expanded his answer:

If you cannot understand that there is something in man which responds
to the challenge of this mountain and goes out to meet it, that the struggle is the struggle of life itself upward and forever upward, then you won't see why we go. What we get from this adventure is just sheer joy. And joy is, after all, the end of life.

A personal letter to George's wife, Ruth, reveals even more about what drove him to climb the mountain. "Dearest," he wrote, "… you must know that the spur to do my best is you and you again …. I want more than anything to prove worthy of you."

However, although George Mallory became famous for his achievements, his son John had a different perspective. Proud of his father but sad too, John would later write, "I would so much rather have known my father than to have grown up in the shadow of a legend, a hero, as some people perceive him to be."

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