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April 2016, vol 12 no 1

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Tim Gardiner

The Second Step

In Odell’s glimpse, a clearing of the atmosphere, a tiny black spot against the snow below a rock-step on the precipitous ridge. A second black spot moves to meet it on the snow-crest, before both, with considerable alacrity, conquer a prominent rock. This fleeting glance terminated by enveloping mist, the last sighting of Mallory and Irvine; 12.50 pm, 8th June 1924. No mountainside lights as darkness descended, occulted stars the only reliable guide. Did a Vest Pocket Kodak capture the triumph of a summit reached? A photograph, destined for Everest's peak, missing from Mallory's torn clothing. The truth rests in its high grave; face down in loose scree, wreathed by clouds.

     for the summit

gap    in    the    clouds