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The Third Pole: Mystery, Obsession, and Death on Mount Everest

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*One of the 57 Most Anticipated Books Of 2021--Elle Shivering, exhausted, gasping for oxygen, beyond doubt . . . A hundred-year mystery lured veteran climber Mark Synnott into an unlikely expedition up Mount Everest during the spring 2019 season that came to be known as "the Year Everest Broke." What he found was a gripping human story of impassioned characters from arou *One of the 57 Most Anticipated Books Of 2021--Elle Shivering, exhausted, gasping for oxygen, beyond doubt . . . A hundred-year mystery lured veteran climber Mark Synnott into an unlikely expedition up Mount Everest during the spring 2019 season that came to be known as "the Year Everest Broke." What he found was a gripping human story of impassioned characters from around the globe and a mountain that will consume your soul--and your life--if you let it. The mystery? 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 still "going strong" for the top. Could they have succeeded decades before Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay? Irvine is believed to have carried a Kodak camera with him to record their attempt, but it, along with his body, had never been found. Did the frozen film in that camera have a photograph of Mallory and Irvine on the summit before they disappeared into the clouds, never to be seen again? Kodak says the film might still be viable. . . . Mark Synnott made his own ascent up the infamous North Face along with his friend Renan Ozturk, a filmmaker using drones higher than any had previously flown. Readers witness first-hand how 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 massive storm. The infamous traffic jams of climbers at the very summit immediately resulted in tragic deaths. Sherpas revolted. Chinese officials turned on Synnott's team. An Indian woman miraculously crawled her way to frostbitten survival. Synnott himself went off the safety rope--one slip and no one would have been able to save him--committed to solving the mystery. Eleven climbers died on Everest that season, all of them mesmerized by an irresistible magic. The Third Pole is a rapidly accelerating ride to the limitless joy and horror of human obsession.


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*One of the 57 Most Anticipated Books Of 2021--Elle Shivering, exhausted, gasping for oxygen, beyond doubt . . . A hundred-year mystery lured veteran climber Mark Synnott into an unlikely expedition up Mount Everest during the spring 2019 season that came to be known as "the Year Everest Broke." What he found was a gripping human story of impassioned characters from arou *One of the 57 Most Anticipated Books Of 2021--Elle Shivering, exhausted, gasping for oxygen, beyond doubt . . . A hundred-year mystery lured veteran climber Mark Synnott into an unlikely expedition up Mount Everest during the spring 2019 season that came to be known as "the Year Everest Broke." What he found was a gripping human story of impassioned characters from around the globe and a mountain that will consume your soul--and your life--if you let it. The mystery? 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 still "going strong" for the top. Could they have succeeded decades before Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay? Irvine is believed to have carried a Kodak camera with him to record their attempt, but it, along with his body, had never been found. Did the frozen film in that camera have a photograph of Mallory and Irvine on the summit before they disappeared into the clouds, never to be seen again? Kodak says the film might still be viable. . . . Mark Synnott made his own ascent up the infamous North Face along with his friend Renan Ozturk, a filmmaker using drones higher than any had previously flown. Readers witness first-hand how 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 massive storm. The infamous traffic jams of climbers at the very summit immediately resulted in tragic deaths. Sherpas revolted. Chinese officials turned on Synnott's team. An Indian woman miraculously crawled her way to frostbitten survival. Synnott himself went off the safety rope--one slip and no one would have been able to save him--committed to solving the mystery. Eleven climbers died on Everest that season, all of them mesmerized by an irresistible magic. The Third Pole is a rapidly accelerating ride to the limitless joy and horror of human obsession.

30 review for The Third Pole: Mystery, Obsession, and Death on Mount Everest

  1. 4 out of 5

    Holli

    I did not expect to love this one so much but I actually stayed up late and woke up early to keep reading. This book feels like a perfect update/companion to Jon Krakauer's "Into Thin Air" with its modern take on the mountain and the culture around it. I read "Into Thin Air" in college and ever since I have sneered at the idea of Everest and the people that pay $65k to "climb" it. That infamous conga line/traffic jam picture from March 2019 further confirmed that assessment. If you saw that pict I did not expect to love this one so much but I actually stayed up late and woke up early to keep reading. This book feels like a perfect update/companion to Jon Krakauer's "Into Thin Air" with its modern take on the mountain and the culture around it. I read "Into Thin Air" in college and ever since I have sneered at the idea of Everest and the people that pay $65k to "climb" it. That infamous conga line/traffic jam picture from March 2019 further confirmed that assessment. If you saw that picture or read the think pieces about Everest I would encourage you to read this. Synnott takes the time to give context for why Everest became famous and why it continues to draw crowds despite its commercialization. But more than that he provides an honest, first-hand account of being on the mountain in 2019 with all it's politics and modernizations. The narrative swaps between recounting the 1924 expedition and the events that lead to Synott being part of an expedition whose goal was not to summit but to find the body of Sandy Irvine. I found both storylines compelling. Even if you are well acquainted with the story of Mallory and Irvine I think you would still enjoy this book for some of the new information and its insightful look at the 2019 season. Perhaps my favorite part of the book was the exploration of the question "why climb Everest?". Synnott doesn't seem to know the answer since he had never been obsessed with the highest peak. So he introduces us to other climbers, both past and present, and tells their stories. He brings us to Base Camp and Advanced Base Camp and shows us the people that populate it. He describes in vivid detail what it feels like to be in the shadow of the mountain and consider *not* trying to climb it. In the end, I think I understood a little bit of the obsession. I don't want to climb Everest and I still think those that do are a bit crazy but I have more sympathy for them now. I particularly enjoyed the section that tried to illuminate why so many people get left for dead on the route. I think that is probably the hardest thing to understand about the situation of Everest today. I still find it horrific and hope one day some of my friends read this book so we can talk about it... cause I have opinions! I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  2. 4 out of 5

    William Lowe

    Mark Synnott's The Third Pole will transport you to Mount Everest during the 2019 climbing season as he searches for the remains of Sandy Irvine that may help prove the British summited Everest in the 1920s. Through extensive research from the original British Everest expedition as well as the 1960s China Expedition Mark set out to solve a mystery almost 100 years in the making. Mark shares with the reader not only his story but the story of people he meets along the way. Showing that there isn' Mark Synnott's The Third Pole will transport you to Mount Everest during the 2019 climbing season as he searches for the remains of Sandy Irvine that may help prove the British summited Everest in the 1920s. Through extensive research from the original British Everest expedition as well as the 1960s China Expedition Mark set out to solve a mystery almost 100 years in the making. Mark shares with the reader not only his story but the story of people he meets along the way. Showing that there isn't a single answer to the question, “Why are you climbing Mount Everest?”. The Third Pole is a thrilling book that really grabs the reader with the sense of adventure and danger. Before setting foot on the mountain you are on a treasure hunt while Mark uses modern technology to analyze the mountain to aid in the search for Sandy. By the end of the book I was drained and felt like I had been on Mount Everest myself. The Third Pole was hard to put down, you just didn’t know what was going to happen next once they were on Mount Everest.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Franziska

    I’ve read many books about people who climbed/ wanted to climb Everest. But this book definitely stands out. Why? Mark Synnott is not your typical mountaineer who’s looking to stand on top of the world. Actually, climbing Everest has never been on his list. Instead, he was busy climbing big walls (Yosemite is his favorite playground). But then he heard about this project to go and look for Sandy Irvine’s body. You know, this Irvine who attempted to climb Everest in 1924 together with Mallory. Mal I’ve read many books about people who climbed/ wanted to climb Everest. But this book definitely stands out. Why? Mark Synnott is not your typical mountaineer who’s looking to stand on top of the world. Actually, climbing Everest has never been on his list. Instead, he was busy climbing big walls (Yosemite is his favorite playground). But then he heard about this project to go and look for Sandy Irvine’s body. You know, this Irvine who attempted to climb Everest in 1924 together with Mallory. Mallory’s body has been found a couple of years ago but it didn’t provide any answer to the big question: did they summit? It’s really a big question because it would mean that not Hillary and Norgay were the first who stood on top of the world (that was in 1953) but Mallory and Irvine who attempted to summit about 30 years earlier... Synnott knows how to tell a story. I’ve learnt many new things about climbing Everest in general (especially about how the Chinese government controls any movement on the north side of the mountain), about people who have lost their lives on the mountain and also about people who (some miraculously) survived their adventure. I’ve also learnt many new things about how the British tried to measure the world almost a 100 years ago, what their challenges were, which tools and clothes they used... It might sound a bit like a nerd story but I think the book tells about one of the great adventures and unsolved mysteries of recent history. Mark Synnott has done his research very well. He also spoke to many people who dedicate(d) a large part of their life to climbing the mountain or researching the history of the early climbs. Nevertheless, it’s a well written book, almost a page turner. Go, read it!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jenna

    3.5 stars One of the great mysteries in the climbing world is whether or not Mallory & Irvine died on the way up or down Everest. In 1999, Mallory's body was found but no evidence could substantiate whether he'd made it to the top. Irvine still hasn't been found nor has the Kodak VPK camera which may have photographic proof. And having already read on the subject, I too am fascinated by the mystery. The writer (Synnott) joins an expedition to search the mountain to solve the mystery. And as they'r 3.5 stars One of the great mysteries in the climbing world is whether or not Mallory & Irvine died on the way up or down Everest. In 1999, Mallory's body was found but no evidence could substantiate whether he'd made it to the top. Irvine still hasn't been found nor has the Kodak VPK camera which may have photographic proof. And having already read on the subject, I too am fascinated by the mystery. The writer (Synnott) joins an expedition to search the mountain to solve the mystery. And as they're climbing the North Side (which is Tibet not Nepal) it means dealing w/China. I didn't know much about that so that was interesting. This book gives the history of the area, the early explorers, background on the team and the description of that expedition. They're also aiming to use drones for filming of images so as to help with the search. I thought it was an interesting use of technology. It was easy to tell that the writer had done extensive research and I thought he did a good job of reiterating concise details. (ie. thru other books cited, interviews, etc.) Once the team is on the mountain, you get caught up on the stories of the other climbers. I thought the writer did a great job of summing up the details/experiences of the people who either died or were injured during the climbing season. I'll have to admit with as much reading as I've done on the subject of various mountain climbs, I didn't know that area was referred to as "the third pole". (which is the reason for the title) So I learned about that. The only negative is that it was a long book which meant it's not easily read in one sitting. But it was still a fascinating subject & I've learned things I didn't know.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    Sir Edmund Hillary was the first person to summit Mt. Everest in 1953…or was he? Presented with new information about a possible first ascent in 1924, the author makes his first trip to Mt. Everest to investigate. The body of Sandy Irvine, who attempted Mt. Everest in 1924 with George Mallory, has never been found. With him might lie a camera with proof they made it to the summit of Mt. Everest 29 years prior to Hillary and Tenzing Norgay. Synnott writes a compelling story that combines the 2019 Sir Edmund Hillary was the first person to summit Mt. Everest in 1953…or was he? Presented with new information about a possible first ascent in 1924, the author makes his first trip to Mt. Everest to investigate. The body of Sandy Irvine, who attempted Mt. Everest in 1924 with George Mallory, has never been found. With him might lie a camera with proof they made it to the summit of Mt. Everest 29 years prior to Hillary and Tenzing Norgay. Synnott writes a compelling story that combines the 2019 season on Everest, historical attempts to climb Mt. Everest, and mountaineering culture as a whole. Although I personally enjoyed every aspect of the book, it is a long book and there are parts of the book where the lay reader may lose interest. For example, I had followed Cory Richards and Topo’s 2019 attempt at a never-before-climbed route, but the time spent discussing Richards’ troubled childhood seemed a little out of place in this book. All in all, I highly recommend The Third Pole for fans of mountain climbing or who want to know “Why climb Everest?”

  6. 4 out of 5

    Steve Earl

    Audio-book listen. Solid historical novel about George Mallory and Sandy Irvine's unsuccessful (most likely) 1924 Mt Everest ascent attempt interwoven with the author's 2019 attempt to find Irving's body (and camera) to finally determine if they actually summitted. The climbing detail narrative of both trips is very good. He portrays the journey as excoriatingly grueling with a high danger/death risk and plenty of drama; these are the best parts of the book. The use of drones to scope potential Audio-book listen. Solid historical novel about George Mallory and Sandy Irvine's unsuccessful (most likely) 1924 Mt Everest ascent attempt interwoven with the author's 2019 attempt to find Irving's body (and camera) to finally determine if they actually summitted. The climbing detail narrative of both trips is very good. He portrays the journey as excoriatingly grueling with a high danger/death risk and plenty of drama; these are the best parts of the book. The use of drones to scope potential areas where his remains might be was also very interesting. Ascent from the Chinese side also presented interesting political challenges that were unique from other mountaineering books I've read. I was particularly struck by his discussion of the ethics (or lack of) regarding potential rescue of troubled climbers by other climbers and his conclusion that the reality is almost no one feels a duty to help others above 8000 meters. However, like many historical novels, parts of this book were just too detailed and barely relevant, which really bogged down progress through it.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen Gray

    I know that I am never going to climb Everest but this well researched and quite gripping book made the back of my head tingle a bit with a desire to experience it. Not. Synnott did this climb to find a camera -and perhaps the body- of Andrew Irvine, who, along with George Mallory, may have summited in 1924. He's detailed both men's lives, as well as what is known about their efforts, but what made this different and more valuable for me was the information about the region. He examines not just I know that I am never going to climb Everest but this well researched and quite gripping book made the back of my head tingle a bit with a desire to experience it. Not. Synnott did this climb to find a camera -and perhaps the body- of Andrew Irvine, who, along with George Mallory, may have summited in 1924. He's detailed both men's lives, as well as what is known about their efforts, but what made this different and more valuable for me was the information about the region. He examines not just the mountain but also the politics of the region. Best of all, the details about the climb, which was made during the infamous 2019 season. This is much more expansive than other books about climbing Everest and I learned a great deal. Synnott has a good way with building tension and his writing will pull you in and keep you turning the pages. Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC, Armchair adventurers will love this one.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Mark Rippy

    I wanted to like this book. As a climber and someone who has read numerous books about Mt. Everest since the 1970's, I looked forward to reading The Third Pole. But instead I found the book anticlimactic, and while it provides a deep dive into the mystery of Mallory and Irvine including international intrigue and politics; the book suffers from a lack of focus. Synnott’s narrative is a bit of a mishmash bouncing back and forth in time, characters, events, and locations. Synnott neglects to includ I wanted to like this book. As a climber and someone who has read numerous books about Mt. Everest since the 1970's, I looked forward to reading The Third Pole. But instead I found the book anticlimactic, and while it provides a deep dive into the mystery of Mallory and Irvine including international intrigue and politics; the book suffers from a lack of focus. Synnott’s narrative is a bit of a mishmash bouncing back and forth in time, characters, events, and locations. Synnott neglects to include discussing the results of the search with Tom Holzel, who was the impetus for the expedition. And while Synnott did successfully summit Mt. Everest, that climb was insufficient to carry the book. For readers with an interest in Mallory and Irvine and all the minutiae of locating Irvines’ body, this book is somewhat intriguing. Readers looking for an exciting read of a Mount Everest expedition might look elsewhere.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Audra Falk

    You won't find me climbing mountains, but I can't get enough of high-altitude adventure accounts. This book is an excellent overview of all things Everest. It is definitely not just about attempting to solve the mystery of Mallory and Irvine. There's lots of near-and-far history, along with more than a little political intrigue. The author raises all the usual questions of ethics and moral dilemma that go along with the commercialization of Everest, but he does so in a very balanced way that giv You won't find me climbing mountains, but I can't get enough of high-altitude adventure accounts. This book is an excellent overview of all things Everest. It is definitely not just about attempting to solve the mystery of Mallory and Irvine. There's lots of near-and-far history, along with more than a little political intrigue. The author raises all the usual questions of ethics and moral dilemma that go along with the commercialization of Everest, but he does so in a very balanced way that gives the reader multiple viewpoints to consider. Definitely not a fast read, but I still got through this book quickly because it was just so fascinating. This is the perfect book for someone who is interested in Everest but doesn't want to read 10 different books about the mountain. You get such a great overview here, and then an appendix that can easily lead you on to other books, depending on your specific interests.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Misti

    I don’t know why books about climbing the 8000 meter peaks fascinate me. It’s not just Everest, but all of those crazy high mountains. I certainly don’t want to do it myself. I thought this book was so interesting, especially for anyone who has read Into Thin Air or Dark Summit as this expedition is from the north side of Everest starting in Tibet. They were looking for Sandy Irving’s remains in addition to trying to summit. I didn’t realize until after I started reading, but I already knew how I don’t know why books about climbing the 8000 meter peaks fascinate me. It’s not just Everest, but all of those crazy high mountains. I certainly don’t want to do it myself. I thought this book was so interesting, especially for anyone who has read Into Thin Air or Dark Summit as this expedition is from the north side of Everest starting in Tibet. They were looking for Sandy Irving’s remains in addition to trying to summit. I didn’t realize until after I started reading, but I already knew how their expedition turned out because I had watched the National Geographic program on Disney+ a while back. Still, there is so much more in the book: history, politics, ethics, to name a few. I loved it.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Bowe

    This was an interesting look into Mark's quest to find the body of Sandy Irvine who was lost on Everest in 1924. I like that there is a history of stories throughout the book. Often the stories are harrowing. There are so many things that can happen to even a very experienced climber. I enjoyed learning about the many expeditions that people have undertaken to climb this mountain. It also reaffirms my stance on never wanting to do this myself. I am content to read or watch movies about others who This was an interesting look into Mark's quest to find the body of Sandy Irvine who was lost on Everest in 1924. I like that there is a history of stories throughout the book. Often the stories are harrowing. There are so many things that can happen to even a very experienced climber. I enjoyed learning about the many expeditions that people have undertaken to climb this mountain. It also reaffirms my stance on never wanting to do this myself. I am content to read or watch movies about others who do it.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Kylie Jenner

    Awesome novel. I love it. You can join in NovelStar writing contest with a theme "WEREWOLVES" Prices are amazing! https://author.starlight.ink/essay/in... (PC) http://app.novelstar.top/index/index/... or email any of the following editors; [email protected] [email protected] [email protected] app.novelstar.top Awesome novel. I love it. You can join in NovelStar writing contest with a theme "WEREWOLVES" Prices are amazing! https://author.starlight.ink/essay/in... (PC) http://app.novelstar.top/index/index/... or email any of the following editors; [email protected] [email protected] [email protected] app.novelstar.top

  13. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl

    I very much enjoyed a lot of the history and the narrative on this climb itself. There were many facts about the discovery of George Mallory's body that I did not know in spite of having read many books and articles on it. I also watched the various documentaries on this climb which focused on finding Sandy Irvine's body. Best book I have read on Everest in a long time. 4.5* I very much enjoyed a lot of the history and the narrative on this climb itself. There were many facts about the discovery of George Mallory's body that I did not know in spite of having read many books and articles on it. I also watched the various documentaries on this climb which focused on finding Sandy Irvine's body. Best book I have read on Everest in a long time. 4.5*

  14. 4 out of 5

    Vanessa

    I heard about this book from an interview on the Enormocast. As far as Everest books go, I had only read "Into Thin Air" (which had made it seem like money = summit.. It's only party true.) This was an entertaining listen, very well-written, and researched. It's heavy at times, but I definitely recommend it. I heard about this book from an interview on the Enormocast. As far as Everest books go, I had only read "Into Thin Air" (which had made it seem like money = summit.. It's only party true.) This was an entertaining listen, very well-written, and researched. It's heavy at times, but I definitely recommend it.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Alastair Cook

    Good book to join panoply on enduring Everest mystery Interesting read focussed on new technologies which may reveal the truth behind the Mallory/Irvine mystery.... BTW Mark Inglis is a New Zealander not an Aussie

  16. 4 out of 5

    Emily Schnabl

    Everest books are a guilty pleasure. This is one of the finest of the lot. A lot of detail but also reflection on ethical dilemmas and the pull of the mountain. I have had trouble concentrating during the pandemic but this gripped me.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Ryan

    Well done Hard to imagine writing a book like this any better. Kept me interested the whole way and added all of the details that I wanted to know after watching the movie about the same expedition. If you saw the movie and were intrigued, you will definitely want to read the book and you will find it far more gripping and fascinating. Once you read this book, if you haven’t seen the movie, you will definitely want to go watch the movie because there’s actual footage of Mark going after his chief Well done Hard to imagine writing a book like this any better. Kept me interested the whole way and added all of the details that I wanted to know after watching the movie about the same expedition. If you saw the movie and were intrigued, you will definitely want to read the book and you will find it far more gripping and fascinating. Once you read this book, if you haven’t seen the movie, you will definitely want to go watch the movie because there’s actual footage of Mark going after his chief objective. My son had nightmares after watching it, that’s how intense it is. A kid might get nightmares after reading this book, too.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Sharon McNeil

    Great Book about Mt. Everest! Every bit as exciting as Wade Davis' Into the Silence!!! Great Book about Mt. Everest! Every bit as exciting as Wade Davis' Into the Silence!!!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Tushar

    Well written travel memoir about the search for Irvine on Mt Everest. With parallel writing on Mallory and Irvine’s journey. I enjoyed reading the book.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jason

    4.5 stars. Absolutely riveting.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Bob Peru

    outstanding mountaineering writing.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Katharine Rudzitis

    I love a good Everest book, and this certainly did not disappoint. It was fascinating to read about the multiple adventures taking place during this narrative.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Bashford

    Absolutely loved this! What a surprise - it covered everything from WWI to Chinese history. I can't wait to read other books by the author. Absolutely loved this! What a surprise - it covered everything from WWI to Chinese history. I can't wait to read other books by the author.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Cecil

    I was up WAY past my bedtime finishing this deftly-told account of the 2019 expedition to solve an almost-100-year-old mystery at the Top of the World.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    4.5 stars- very good book!!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Onceinabluemoon

    4.5, I have read numerous climbing books over my lifetime, always baffled how recreation can be so deadly but hotly pursued!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Susan Dunker

    Truly amazing and horrifying. I was fascinated and caught up in the excitement the whole time.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Alec Manougian

    Adventure on paper, an honest account of one's ascent and search for the conclusion of a mystery 100yrs in the making. Adventure on paper, an honest account of one's ascent and search for the conclusion of a mystery 100yrs in the making.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Keith Hollingsworth

    So good that I couldn’t put it down!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Meag McKeron

    If you have any interest in Everest or mountaineering in general, this is a welcome addition to books on the topic. I found the history surrounding Mallory and Irvine to be particularly interesting, but of course the moments when the author describes his own experience on the mountain are often jaw-dropping/heart-stopping/nightmare-inducing (for me, anyway). For anyone who read Into Thin Air and is curious how Everest climbing culture has changed since then, this is a well-done modern take.

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