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Did the Chinese find Irvine’s body and camera?

Will Everest's greatest mystery ever be solved? Photo: Rdevany, Creative Commons

A wrap of the biggest stories and best writing about the outdoors from New Zealand and around the world.

It’s one of the great mountaineering mysteries. Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay were undoubtedly the first to summit Everest and live to tell the tale. But had George Mallory and Andrew Irvine reached the top before they perished on the mountain in 1924?

There’s a fascinating article by mountaineer and writer Mark Synnott whose friend Conrad Anker found Mallory’s body back in 1999. However, Irvine’s body and, crucially, the camera that might have shown the two climbers standing on the summit, have never been found.

At least that’s what we think. For the writer has reason to believe that Irvine might have been found in the 1970s by the Chinese.

Did they find his body and camera? If so, did they mess up the recovery of the film then not tell anyone out of embarrassment? Did they hide the evidence so the Chinese could still claim to be the first to summit via the North Face? Or is the camera still to be found? Read Synnott’s compelling article here

“The only way I could get him out was sliding him on his bum”

A father has spoken about a three-hour trip that turned into a four-day nightmare in Fiordland when his 14-year-old son fell and seriously injured his ankles.

Alan Mortimore and his boy Danny went for a short hunting trip near Lake Hauroko when the accident happened. “It was a matter of walking for five minutes and having a break for 20,” Alan told Stuff. “I got my son out, and that’s what matters.”

The pair ran out of water and drank from creeks, and Alan says it’ll teach him to carry more next time they head out into the bush. Read more here

Bird numbers double thanks to long-term pest control

Conservationists are delighted at native bird numbers in the Landsborough Valley, West Coast, after a pest control programme that has been going for 24 years.

Traps are set every 200m on each side of the valley, and 1080 is dropped every two years. The result is that the number of birds have doubled, according to annual bird counts.

One species that’s really benefitted is the mōhua (yellowhead). When the first count was conducted there were only 14, but now there are 517.

Principal Scientist Colin O’Donnell said: “It still surprises me each year when bird numbers keep going up because we don’t know what’s ‘normal’ or how far birds can recover in this environment.” Read more at 1News

Eighty one-year-old climbs Taranaki Maunga… for the 870th time!

Climbing the 2518m volcano of Taranaki Maunga is no mean feat. The underestimated peak catches many trampers out. But not 81-year-old Derek Andrews, who’s just summited for the 870th and final time.

He set himself the target after his wife died of cancer in 2000. And on his journeys he began collecting rubbish – he now has more than 18,000 pieces of glass, as well as golf balls and clubs, some old crampons and aircraft debris from a crash in 2004.

“He’s an absolute marvel, a machine; I don’t know how he does it,” says mountaineer Lindsay Maindonald. “He’ll be a legend who goes down with the history of Taranaki.” Read more from Stuff

School pupil might just have made multi-day trips that bit easier

Annoyed with the plastic waste caused by toothbrushes and toothpaste, Southland Boys’ High School pupil Aubrey Page has come up with an alternative solution.

As part of the Lion Foundation Young Enterprise Scheme, the 16-year-old has founded Eco-Smile, a company that manufactures toothpaste tablets.

As well as being plastic-free (plus vegan and gluten-free), these tablets are light and compact, so might be very useful for trampers trying to save a bit of space in their pack. Read more at the Otago Daily Times