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  Part I
Who climbed Everest first? Part II of III
09:21 a.m. EDT Jun 27, 2003
Today in Part II, Noy writes about Wilson's death, the finding of his body, and that unaccounted for tent:

In the Spring of 1934, after a recuperation period, Wilson, on his second attempt on Everest, had struggled back up to the foot of the ice cliffs of the North Col; the last real obstacle to the summit, this time accompanied by his two Sherpas, the third being too ill. They set up two tents at Camp III (ABC); Wilsonís, and one for the Sherpas, borrowed from a cache of equipment left by the 1933 British Expedition at Rongbuk monastery.

The mystery begins

Thatís where the mystery begins. A year later, in 1935, when Eric Shipton and Charles Warren found Wilsonís body, he found only one of the tents. Oddly enough, he noted that no clothes, sleeping bag, or personal items were to be found anywhere.

Everyone presumed Wilson had gone mad and died a hapless, tragic suicide. They wrapped his corpse in the tent and dropped it into a crevasse. They were astonished to see that it left no hole in the snow-filled crevasse. It simply just vanished from sight.

The unaccounted for tent

What they (and everyone else over the past seventy years) didnít realize was that Wilson had apparently carried higher, above the Col, leaving the Sherpas below in their tent. When Wilson failed to return on schedule, the Sherpas apparently abandoned their tent and departed. Wilson, according to theory, abandoned his tent - the ďunaccounted forĒ tent that Gombu found - at 8500 meters, descended, thinking he would find the Sherpas in theirs. But they were gone.

Maurice Wilson froze to death, exhausted, for lack of a sleeping bag, and the comfort of his comrades. His incredible string of luck had run out, perhaps only by the distance it took the wind to carry away his cries for helpÖ.

On Sunday, Part III of III: More supporting evidence, Wilsonís mirror

Image #1 is a close-up on the moraine at ABC: all that remained of Wilson in 1985. Note his jawbone, which was retrieved by my colleague Mari Abrego of the 1985 Catalan Expedition, which I still have in my temporary possession (it belongs back at ABC, where I will carry it myself on our return expedition seeking clues).

Image #2 of Wilsonís remains (in foreground), 1985

Image #3 is another exceedingly rare photo, given to me by the Chinese Mountaineering Association, of Wilsonís body as they discovered it in 1960 below the North Col.

Images and article courtesy of Thomas Noy

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