First Person to Climb Mount Everest?

The Wildest Dream poster

Who was the first person to climb Mount Everest, the highest peak in the world?

The film The Wildest Dream: Conquest of Everest, is a thrilling documentary that explores George Mallory’s attempt to climb Mount Everest in 1924. Mallory and his climbing partner, Andrew Irvine, were last seen 800 feet from the summit of Everest in 1924, and in 1999 American mountaineer Conrad Anker discovered his body frozen on the mountain. Did Mallory make it to the summit?

Mallory had promised his beloved wife Ruth to leave a picture of her at the top of the mountain. No picture of her was found in Mallory’s very much intact remains. Does that mean he left the picture at the summit, and therefore made it to the highest peak in the world decades before Edmund Hillary officially climbed Everest?

The movie The Wildest Dream: Conquest of Everest, is a mix of historical documentary and modern day climbing adventure. It is a love story intertwined with Mallory’s insatiable passion that haunted him to achieve his “Wildest Dream” to climb Mount Everest. It parallels Mallory’s fears and desires with that of modern day climber Conrad Anker.

Wildest Dream
Modern climbers Conrad Anker and Leo Houlding dress in attire and use gear that Mallory and Irvine would have used in their 1924 climb of Mount Everest. Courtesy National Geographic Films.

Conrad Anker, with the help of National Geographic Entertainment, decided to find out if Mallory could have indeed reached the summit in 1924. It seems very appropriate the the man who discovered Mallory’s body was the one who would return to Everest and find out. Using hobnailed boots, and recreated gabardine apparel, Anker simulates some of the climbing conditions Mallory would have faced. Using modern gear, but no fixed ladder, Anker and his climbing partner attempt the “Second Step”, the famous last section of Everest that Mallory would have had to free-climb to reach the summit.

An additional element of intrigue is that the film was narrated by Liam Neeson and his late wife Natasha Richardson. Richardson recorded the part of Mallory’s wife, Ruth. Just before the actress Richardson passed away in a fatal ski accident in March 2010, she was reading the part of Ruth Mallory, who had to tell her children about their father’s death. Movie director Anthony Geffen said that she teared up and said she just couldn’t imagine telling her own children such news. Just a few weeks later Liam Neeson had to do exactly that! 🙁

Overall, the story is engaging, and the imagery is beautiful. There was a good mix of historical and modern day footage, yet it would have been nice to see more film and photography of Conrad Anker’s and his climbing partner Leo Houlding’s time on the summit of the highest mountain in the world!

Hiking Lady Rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

The movie is based on the biography of George Mallory: The Wildest Dream and there is another great related book by Conrad Anker, The Lost Explorer.

Have you seen the movie? Do you think that Mallory reached the summit?

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10 comments

  1. kim says:

    Oh shoot…it looked like in was in dc at the smithsonian imax but couldn’t find out if it was coming again…..I all syked to see it…do I have to go.to Hawaii…lol

  2. Hiking Lady says:

    Hi Kim, I went to their website and it doesn’t look like it is going to be in Baltimore anytime soon 🙁

  3. Hiking Lady says:

    Thank you for your wonderful comment, Fran! That is so neat that you got to meet Conrad Anker – I would love to meet him one day. You’ll really like the movie!

  4. Fran says:

    I just want to thank you for all the great info you share on your site. I actually met Conrad Anker at REI. He was there promoting his movie. He is a real nice guy. I havent seen the movie yet but intend to do so real soon. Again, I look forward to your e-mails and reviews of movies, books, gear, etc. Keep up the great work!!

  5. Donna says:

    Hello Hiking Lady,

    I too saw the Wildest Dream on Friday night. It had me sitting at the edge of my seat at several points during the movie. I think Mallory did make it to the top because his wife’s photos was not on his body.

    Donna

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