Graham Hoyland Interview taken in 2009
Graham Hoyland has been on eight Expeditions to Mount Everest and reached the summit in 1993. He is an avid researcher into the history of George Mallory and Andrew Irvine, and hopes one day to be the person who finds the camera that Mallory had in 1924.
I believe you were the great nephew of Howard Somervell, the man who lent George Mallory his camera in 1924. Do you think that one day the camera will be found?
Howard Somervell and I were actually cousins. We share an ancestor and are therefore blood relatives: this is relevant if you accept that tolerance to altitude hypoxia is genetically determined. I think there is a 50:50 chance of the camera being found as the glaciers are melting, and I am still looking.
In 2006 you went to Mount Everest testing exact replicas of the clothing worn by Mallory in 1924. How did you find it compared to the modern clothing worn today?
I found it lighter, more comfortable, sufficiently warm for a climbing day but insufficient for an overnight bivouac. Irvine probably died because of this.
You have been to Mount Everest 8 times. What draws you back there each time?
Because it is an epic arena where the best and the worst of human behavior is played out. I’ve seen both from fellow expedition members. And to paraphrase Mallory:- Because it is still there.
Do you think that Mallory & Irvine climbed the Second Step or took another route and missed it out altogether?
No way had they climbed the second step- look at his boots. No-one else tried the step pre-War. They went another way. Wait for my book to find out which way.
You reached the summit of Everest in 1993 via the South East Ridge route. I would have thought because of your interest in Mallory etc, you would have climbed the North East Ridge route instead. Why didn’t you?
I was on the North East Ridge route with the International Peace Expedition in 1990 but had to film. You take what routes are available to you at the time. The South Route came up as I was offered a job guiding Brian Blessed.
What has been your most frightening moment on Mount Everest?
Nearly being killed by an avalanche in 1993 just above Camp 1. And nearly being killed by an ice collapse in the ice fall in much the same place in 2007. Maybe I should stop going there for my holidays.
What was your reaction when in 1999 the body of George Mallory was found?
I knew exactly where he was, but cannot reveal anymore until my book comes out.
How did you find the Hillary Step, was it as expected or easier/harder than you thought it would be?
My oxygen had been intermittent all day, and at the bottom of the step it failed and I lost consciousness for a while. So when I came round I was on no supplementary oxygen. So I climbed the Step in a bit of a daze. Didn’t seem too hard.
Are you involved in any future Expeditions to look for Andrew Irvine?
Do you think that George Mallory and Andrew Irvine reached the summit of Mount Everest?
I am more and more sure of it the more I learn.
If you would like to find out more about Graham then please pay a visit to his website at www.grahamhoyland.com