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Sponsored by The Upper Saco Valley Land Trust


Thom Pollard presents 'Lost on Everest,' March 13



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Members of George Mallory’s 1924 expedition to Mt. Everest at base camp included (back row, left to right) Andrew Irvine, George Mallory, Edward Norton, Noel Odell, John Macdonald, and (front row) Edward Shebbeare, Geoffrey Bruce, Howard Somervell and Bentley Beetham. (click for larger version)
March 11, 2010
One of the great mysteries in exploration and mountaineering history has come back to life again with newly discovered evidence found high on the slopes of Mount Everest. In June 1924, George Mallory and his climbing partner, Andrew Irvine, attempted to make the first ascent of Mt. Everest, the world's highest mountain. Although last sighted only 800 feet below the summit, Mallory and Irvine disappeared into the clouds – never to be seen again.

It is unknown whether or not they reached their goal before they died. Irvine's body has not, as yet, been found, but in 1999, at 26,750 feet, Mallory's body was discovered by an expedition organized for the very purpose of searching for both climbers.

Pollard, the Emmy Award-winning creative director of Eyes Open Productions, was part of that expedition. As photographer, he brought back pictures which were later published in National Geographic magazine and his film footage was used in both BBC and PBS productions. On March 13, Pollard will speak about his experiences on Everest, including never before seen photographs from the expedition and will also show rare footage of his interview with Sir Edmund Hillary. This presentation is in support of Upper Saco Valley Land Trust, a local conservation group committed to protecting open space in perpetuity through the use of conservation easements or, when warranted, through the use of land purchase.

In addition to Everest, Pollard has participated in and filmed many mountain expeditions over 20,000 ft., including Gasherbrum, Denali, and Aconcagua, as well as many ascents in the French Alps. His documentaries include "Power of the Mountain" (1993), "Storm over Denali" (1994), and "Alive on Everest" (1996). Pollard has also been the cameraman for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration covering attempts to save the life of an entangled Right Whale and later an Orca Whale.

Pollard's previous experiences made him a natural to be selected for such a prestigious expedition led by world famous climbers. He had previously produced another Everest production that ran nationally on the well known PBS documentary program, NOVA. The expedition shown on that program featured International Mountain Equipment's Rick Wilcox and his 1991 ascent of Mount Everest.

Pollard was contacted by the executive producer of NOVA just six weeks before the expedition and was hired as part of the climbing team. His primary role was High Altitude Cameraman and NOVA Web Photographer and, in addition, before and after the expedition wrote for the NOVA website. Logistics and planning were spread to a manageable degree because the team was a large one. Pollard's main responsibility was the video and photographic equipment to be used on the mountain.

The group was a world class climbing team, including Conrad Anker, who at that time was generally considered one of the world's strongest climbers and of the eight actual climbers, four of whom had previously reached the summit. To get to the search area the team had to climb into the "Death Zone," where it is physically impossible to stay alive for an extended period of time. Each day at the altitude of the search zone brought more deterioration on their bodies, which meant keeping the time there as short as possible. But for Pollard the challenge was especially daunting, since his responsibility was to film the events as they unfolded.

The discovery of the remains of the man many considered the world's most famous explorer brought immense pressure on the team from the outside world. The discovery was on the front page of newspapers ranging from the New York Times to the local paper in western Massachusetts where Pollard grew up. Sale of the photographs from the initial discovery created immense tension among the climbing team and almost brought an end to the expedition. The team and the work on Everest still receives great criticism, but Pollard believes the work is misunderstood. George Mallory is still an icon of exploration and mountaineering and revered in England; the team of Americans was under immense scrutiny for its perceived actions and decisions that took place at the site of Mallory's body.

More details and incredible photographs and video will be shown at the presentation sponsored by the Upper Saco Valley land Trust. The Upper Saco Valley Land Trust (USVLT) is a private nonprofit organization working with local landowners to permanently protect the lands and waters that define our communities and enrich our quality of life. This protection is generally in the form of conservation easements that the land owners voluntary place on their property. The easements are then donated to the Land Trust, which accepts the operational and financial responsibility of monitoring the easements to insure the terms and conditions are complied with. In this manner the land is retained in private ownership while permanently preserving the ecological and conservation values that are present. The Land Trust is a member of the Land Trust Alliance, a national group of land trusts and serves the towns of Bartlett, Hart's Location, Jackson, Conway, Albany, Madison, Eaton and Chatham in New Hampshire, and Fryeburg, Brownfield and Denmark in Maine.

More information can be found at www.usvlt.org.

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