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Veteran climber Mark Synnott never planned on climbing Mount Everest, but a hundred-year mystery lured him into an expedition–and an awesome history of passionate adventure, chilling tragedy, and human aspiration unfolded.

On June 8, 1924, George Mallory and “Sandy” Irvine set out to stand on the roof of the world, where no one had stood before. They were last seen eight hundred feet shy of Everest’s summit. A century later, we still don’t know whether they achieved their goal, decades before Sir Edmund Hillary and Tensing Norgay did, in 1953. Irvine carried a Kodak camera with him to record their attempt, but it, along with his body, had never been found. Did Mallory and Irvine reach the summit and take a photograph before they fell to their deaths?

Mark Synnott made his own ascent up the infamous North Face along with a filmmaker using drone technology higher than any had previously flown. His goal: to find Irvine’s body and the camera he carried that might have held a summit photo on its still-viable film. Synnott’s quest led him from oxygen-deprivation training to archives and museums in England, to Kathmandu, the Tibetan High Plateau, and up the North Face into a storm during a season described as the one that broke Everest. An awful traffic jam of climbers at the very summit resulted in tragic deaths. Sherpas revolted. Chinese government agents turned adversarial. An Indian woman crawled her way to safety and survival. Synnott himself went off the safety rope–if he had slipped, no one would have been able to save him–desperate to solve the mystery.

A magnificent story a la The Lost City of Z, The Third Pole conveys the miracle of a mountain the world wants to own, and the first explorers who may have done so.

Reviews

The Third Pole is an elegy of extremes, a white-knuckle tale of obsession and survival. From the archives of London's Royal Geographical Society to a tent battered by howling winds in the Death Zone, Mark Synnott puts it all on the line in his quest to solve Mount Everest's most enduring mystery.
Susan Casey, author of The Wave and Voices in the Ocean
A hundred-year-old detective story with a new twist. A high-altitude adventure. The best Everest book I've read since Into Thin Air. Synnott's climbing skills take you places few will ever dare to tread, but it's his writing that will keep you turning pages well past bedtime.
Mark Adams, author of Tip of the Iceberg and Turn Right at Machu Picchu
Join Mark Synnott on a quest for an artifact that could change Everest mountaineering history. Part detective story, part high adventure, Synnott engages obsessed historians, dodges Chinese bureaucrats, and ultimately risks his life high on the mountain's north face. As the tension rises, he discovers astounding strengths in his fellow climbers, tragic frailty, and an ineffable truth he never imagined.
Andy Hall, author of Denali’s Howl