As a small boy, English mountaineer George Leigh Mallory (1886–1924) climbed everything he could climb. At age 18, the adventurous Mallory explored the Alps and became hooked on mountain climbing.
"For the stone from the top for geologists, the knowledge of the limits of endurance for the doctors, but above all for the spirit of adventure to keep alive the soul of man," the ambitious climber explained.
The son of an English rector and educated at Cambridge, Mallory served in World War I and his love of climbing led him to join the expeditions to Mount Everest in 1921, 1922, and 1924. When asked why he wanted to climb the highest mountain in the world, his famous reply was, "Because it's there."
"The highest of the world's mountains, it seems, has to make but a single gesture of magnificence to be the lord of all, vast in unchallenged and isolated supremacy," Mallory explained. His quest to the summit became a heroic symbol of freedom and determination.
In 1924, he and novice companion Andrew Irvine were lost as they tried to conquer the North Face of Mount Everest. Although a 1999 search team found Mallory's remains, the question lingered: Did Mallory reach the summit 29 years before Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay?
"From boyhood he belonged to the mountains," Mallory's friend Geoffrey Young wrote, "as flame belongs to fire. He lived their romance, their simplicity, their open power, their unchanging loveliness. As a mountaineer he was a genius."
The spirit craves adventure and joy.