3Graham Hoyland Climbs Mount Everest With No Modern Gear
One of the great mysteries of the 20th century was "What was up with Beanie Babies?" Another was "Did George Mallory make it to the top of Mount Everest in 1924?" If so, he and his climbing partner would have beaten the supposed record holders Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay by 29 years. But we'll never know, because Mallory disappeared on the mountain, and the camera that was supposed to document his triumph went missing.
Which is a shame, because the guy could take a picture.
But the best argument against Hillary having completed the climb is the total lack of equipment that would have made it possible. Even today, climbers wearing the best, most technologically advanced North Faced mountain climbing gear in the world fail against the elements on Mount Everest. So how could George Mallory, with his 1924 knickerbockers and newsie cap, have possibly reached the summit without freezing to death? Well, that's what Graham Hoyland wanted to find out.
In 2006, Hoyland commissioned an exact replica of Mallory's expedition gear to see how it would hold up on Everest. And we're talking everything -- from the wooly underwear on his privates to the Indiana Jonesish fedora on his head. And then he climbed Mount Everest. And while he often found himself talking in old-timey movie slang and inexplicably doing the Charleston, the clothes themselves held up. He actually had more freedom of movement and warmth than other climbers in their modern climbing gear. And he looked infinitely more dashing.
Jen Peedom via BBC
Behold, the elusive mountain hipster.
Except for that screeching sound that the DJ makes when a bear walks into a house party. Four years later, Hoyland discovered some meteorological data that changed all of his previous conclusions about the 1924 journey. Base camp records suggested that a sudden drop in barometric pressure meant that Mallory and his partner must have encountered a sudden blizzard while en route to the summit, the same kind of storm that killed eight Everest climbers in 1996. So while George Mallory's retroville clothes probably would have done just fine in regular Everest weather, there's no way he could have withstood the intensity and killing power of an Everest blizzard.
"My pee actually froze inside my wang."
In other words, Graham Hoyland climbed Mount Everest while looking like Judge Doom in vain.
2Tom Avery Sleds to the North Pole Using 1909 Methods
Adrian Dennis / Getty
Legendary explorer and Stalinesque mustache wearer Robert Peary spent his life boasting that he had led the first expedition to the North Pole in 1909. Nobody knew if he was telling the truth -- he didn't Instagram the journey, so for all they knew, Peary could have been the equivalent of the drunk guy at the bar boasting that he once had sex on a motorcycle. It didn't help that no one on the expedition was a navigational expert -- so they could have just stopped at a particularly isolated spot in Siberia and said, "Looks like we're here! Let's find Santa!"
We choose to believe that he's just wearing one enormous mustache, rather than a shitload of animal pelts.
So from 1909 on, the whole world just kind of smiled and nodded at Robert Peary's "first to reach the North Pole" claim while other explorers went through the trouble of getting independent verification and proper documentation of their expeditions. After almost a century of this, British explorer Tom Avery decided he'd find out the truth. And as you probably guessed, he decided that the only way to do that was to replicate the damn journey himself.
"Honestly, we did it for the style alone."
He tracked down the exact breed and number of dogs that Peary used to pull his 1909ish sleds. He even trained to handle the dogs per Inuit tradition, just like Peary. He and his team left from the exact location of Peary's 1909 camp in Canada. Avery and his team even maintained Peary's disgusting diet, eating raw butter and olive oil to consume enough calories to stay warm in the Arctic (about 10,000 daily).
Result: Despite several falls (one into freezing ocean water) and frostbite (each morning, 40 minutes were spent chipping ice out of boots), Avery and his team made it to the North Pole in just under 37 days, and he found artifacts from the 1909 expedition all along the way, which he promptly shoved into the face of every Peary doubter who ever lived, which also required a time machine. Hell, they even beat Peary's time by five hours.
So the guy wasn't a liar, he just sucked at keeping records.