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“Dead” Mountain Climber Mallory Says He Never Made It To The Top

Posted on 06 May 2013, 17:18

“Because it’s there,” was the succinct reply of Englishman George Herbert Mallory (below) to the question of why he wanted to climb Mount Everest.  Sometime later, on June 8, 1924, Mallory and his climbing partner, Andrew Irvine, disappeared as they approached the summit of Everest, never to be heard from again, at least in a normal way.  Indications were that Mallory had left Irvine behind and attempted to climb the final leg on his own. There was much speculation as to whether Mallory made it to the summit before he died.  His body was found in 1999 at a point still short of the summit, but the speculation remained that he might have reached the summit and died on his way back down.


I recently came upon an apparently little-known communication purportedly coming from Mallory several months after his death, in which he said that he did not reach the summit.  It came through the mediumship of Geraldine Cummins (1890-1969), (below) probably the most celebrated automatic writing medium ever, and was communicated to Beatrice Gibbes, Cummins’s friend.  As Gibbes was a member of the Royal Geographic Society and feared that she would be banned from the organization if it were known that she “dabbled in the occult,” the communication with Mallory was not made public.


It was left to Charles Fryer, an Anglican priest and college lecturer in history, to uncover the scripts in the Cork (Ireland) City Archives as he did research for a biography of Cummins, first published in 1990 and recently republished by White Crow Books under the title, Geraldine Cummins: An Appreciation, while subtitled, The Inside Story of Ireland’s Greatest Medium.

an appreciation 

Around November 30, 1924, Gibbes decided to see if she could make contact with Mallory. She was careful not to inform Cummins of her intentions and was reasonably certain that Cummins did not know anything about Mallory.  She asked Astor, Cummins’s spirit control, if he could locate Mallory and bring him to her to communicate through Cummins. The records are vague as to the first few attempts at communication, but apparently Mallory was still not fully awakened and found it difficult to communicate. It was not until the fourth try that he finally made himself known.  “I want to talk,” the transcript reads. “I am clearer tonight.  You called me before and I was puzzled.  I am Mallory. I am wondering if my people are known to you.  I don’t think they would believe I was alive.  I am getting away now from the darkness I slipped into after that suffocating time. I can remember still the struggle for breath, and how the hammer seemed to go on beating in my head, knock, knock, and I wouldn’t give in.  I had got so far, and after the awful cold, I wonder, has anyone succeeded, or will anyone?  I’d like to warn chaps not to try; it can’t be done.”

Mallory said that he slipped, caught hold of something, then slipped again, and while he didn’t fall very far something in his body broke, he wasn’t sure what. “I couldn’t stir, just lay there waiting, such a dreary time.  I believe I was a bit queer for a while, all mixed up in my head, seeing figures and shapes, then that passed, mercifully, and I only felt weak and light, my body numb.”

Gibbes asked him if he made it to the top.  “Not quite,” he responded. “It rose right above me.  I remember my despair.  Oh, if I’d got to the summit and died I wouldn’t mind, but I am just like so many others.”  Though still confused and apparently unable to recall Irvine’s name, he added that he left his climbing partner behind and died alone “I think I was delirious at the end, everything danced about me and I had curious dreams…” 

Mallory told Gibbes that he was “losing hold” and had to leave.  In a later sitting, he told her that things were becoming more clear to him.  “It was all a muddle at first, you see, I took a long time getting clear of my body,” he explained.  “It didn’t decompose rapidly in that great cold.  I found myself outside it, watching the man that was myself and yet not myself, tied to him still by threads…it took a long time to snap, perhaps because I was a pretty strong chap and died hard.  You know, I believe people don’t die when doctors pronounce them dead, they are still very often only just outside their bodies, as I was.”  He added that he was so determined to live that if someone had found him he thought he could somehow get back into his body.  Eventually, other spirits came and broke the last threads holding his spirit body to his physical body.

Mallory went on to tell Gibbes that he had started a new adventure of sorts.  “It is difficult to explain mathematically and there is no physiology here,” he said.  “But a segment of me has gone forward, if you like to put it that way.  I mean I have been in a place of many colours.  I have been conscious of my shape, it is not as difficult as you imagine, but it is very flexible.  I have been learning how to control it, but these periods when I am not resting come to me as dreams come, and pass rapidly.  I shall have this life permanently, probably, after a while.”

Gibbes asked him to elaborate on those who came from the coloured place to help him.  “They are very curious,” he said.  “I will try and explain how I perceive them.  I know what I see breaks all scientific laws, but as I shan’t have to argue about it with any of the old buffers who call themselves scientists I shall go ahead.  They seem like long and pliable shapes that are shrouded and change continually different colours.  They seem to float, or rather swim, without any exertion, in some strange buoyant stuff which they can pass through or can drift on.  There is usually a kind of light with each of these beings, they seem to project that, and it gathers or sucks in thought and ejects it.  I am afraid this sounds very tall, but through this stuff or fluid, if you look close enough, are tiny little ripples which remind one a little of threads.  I mean each ripple has a sequence and a colour and suggest what is thread-like.  I have noticed these ripples are made by what seems to be an intelligence.  I conclude these ripples are the thought or speech of people; they have drifted into me several times, and I have been sensible of words framing an image or thought for me.”

He continued, informing Gibbes that he passes through matter without knowing he is doing so.  “But I have learnt to adjust my focus to reach those conditions of mind when I can again make the earth seem real, and I can in your life even become associated with it again.  It’s awfully comforting.”  He added that he didn’t know how much of what he was telling Gibbes was getting through.  “It’s rather like telephoning; one never knows quite how much you get at the other end.  You know, I’m awfully glad I can get on to you.  Things have cleared up for me, since, so much.  I’ve got free of what was keeping me in that confused darkness.  A kind of husk, I think, was dropped off me since I began to think more clearly.  Talking helps me to formulate my thoughts, a case of Q.E.D., Euclid, you know; the proposition proved at last.  The worst of it is, if one proves one proposition in Euclid one has to go on to another.  That’s about what it means to me here.”

There were difficulties, Mallory further explained, in remembering things.  “I have tried to put through to you any fragment of memory I could; my memory has been all in pieces since I died; the queer thing is that though I have moments when I remember most things in my life, there are other when my memory shuts off like a moving picture and I am in a blank.  I think I shall understand myself better soon.  I am helped of course by others who have shown me how to see without eyes and hear without ears.”

The communication from Mallory wasn’t really evidential in the sense that it could not be verified or could have been researched beforehand by someone intent on deception.  However, there was considerable evidential material coming through Geraldine Cummins with others to attest to her genuineness as a medium, thereby lending itself to the truth of the Mallory communication. 

The daughter of Professor Ashley Cummins, M.D., Cummins was introduced to mediumship during June 1914, when she met Hester (Dowden) Travers Smith in Paris and observed her receive messages from “alleged deceased persons” by means of the ouija board. With Dowden and Cummins working the ouija board together at a later date, the often-cited “Pearl Tie-Pin Case” unfolded in which Cummins’s cousin, who had been killed on the battlefield in World War I, asked Cummins to make sure his pearl-tie pin was given to his fiancée.  At the time, no one knew of the fiancée or the pearl tie-pin, but both were later verified. 

Cummins’s dedication to mediumship actually began in 1923, after she met Gibbes, a London resident and member of the Society for Psychical Research.  Gibbes took her under wing and helped her develop as a medium.  Gibbes described Cummins’s condition during the automatic writing as “semi-trance or light dream-state or sometimes in a deeper condition of trance.”    Her hand appeared to be controlled by some outside entity or influence, quite separate from her own personality. The handwriting almost always resembled that of the communicating entity when alive.

Interestingly, Cummins was initially skeptical relative to the spirit hypothesis. At first, she subscribed to the theory that it was all coming from her subconscious. “My slow, conscious mind could not have invented these impersonations,” she wrote. “So [I] became all the more interested and conceitedly pleased with [my] subconscious powers.”

At some point during the 1920s, Cummins came to agree with Gibbes on spirit communication, thus abandoning her subconscious theory. “…these investigations presented to me a vision of the latent powers of the individual self and also a belief in the immortality of the soul,” she wrote. “Better still, they gave me a philosophy with which to withstand the buffets of the world – best of all, an understanding of many of the mysterious sayings of Christ, and they cast for me a certain illumination on His recorded life…”

Although author Charles Fryer never met Cummins, he thoroughly researched her and offers a very interesting and intriguing summary of her career.

Geraldine Cummins: An Appreciation: The Inside Story of Ireland’s Greatest Medium by Charles Fryer is available from White Crow Books

Michael Tymn is the author of The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After We Die is published by White Crow Books. His latest book, Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife is now available on Amazon and other online book stores. 

Next blog:  May 20


Cummins was not the channel for Mallory. It was her friend Beatrice Gibbs, according to the article. Further, Cummins was not informed of the attempt? Some details not to be overlooked here…

Chris, Wed 27 Nov, 18:32

Lost me at he could not recall his climbing partner’s name. He picked Irvine to summit on his final attempt because of his knowledge of the oxygen apparatus and his physical strength. He referred to him by name in his letters.

Kyle, Mon 27 Nov, 17:03


Thanks you for your comments. It sounds like the autopsy information is somewhat consistent with the communication purportedly coming from Mallory through Cummins.  But, of course, it is too sketchy to be really evidential. 

Whenever I hear the name Scott, I immediately think of my old friend, Scott Hamilton, a member of the Oxford University Mountaineering Club who was part of the 1957 fatal attempt to climb Haramosh.  Of course, Scott remained at Camp Three and survived until about 10 years ago.

Michael Tymn, Thu 9 Apr, 09:22

Let me preface by saying that I do not believe in the supernatural, the afterlife or spiritualism; however, it’s interesting to how the “contacted” George Mallory described his death.

A short fall, something breaking, and a short wait for death. When Mallory’s body was found in 1999 it was in the following condition:

1. Relatively little damage, indicating a short fall.
2. His hands were in a self-arresting position.
3. The wounds on his body included a compound fracture just about the right ankle and a puncture wound in the forehead. This wound was likely the fatal one and might have resulted from his own ice axe while attempting to arrest a fall.
4. His left leg was over the wounded right leg. This could indicate he moved it there himself to reduce the pain. If so he probably lived a few minutes after the fall.
5. Andrew “Sandy” Irvine has yet to be found, meaning it’s possible they became separated before Mallory’s fall.

Having said that, there is some circumstantial evidence—based on the body—that he did summit. The only way we will ever know, most likely, is if we recover Mallory’s camera, which Irvine was carrying.

Now saying all that

Scott, Wed 8 Apr, 21:07


You should be able to just copy the URL at the top of the page and post that on Facebook.

Elene Gusch, Wed 22 May, 02:47


Thank you for that information.  The photo has now been changed.  Much appreciated.

Michael Tymn, Wed 15 May, 01:41

The photo of the young man that you have labeled “Mallory” at the top of your article, is NOT George Mallory.  It is his climbing partner who also perished in that expedition, Sandy Irvine.

Rebekah Sisk, Tue 14 May, 09:21

I probably should amend what I said. Using Myer’s terminology, Mallory was probably a Soul-man experiencing the Plane of Colour. This may seem a coincidence until it is realized that Cummins was the channel for both Mallory and Myers. Makes you wonder, even though Mallory was channeled, as you indicate, first in 1924 and then Myers in 1933. Am I missing something?

Tom Davies

Tom Davies, Fri 10 May, 09:19


That’s an interesting observation. Indications are that so much of what the spirits attempt to report is beyond human language and therefore left to how it is filtered through the medium’s mind.  Thus, it is difficult, if not impossible, to generalize. Much discernment is required and usually the best we can hope for is the gist of the message.

I don’t see lower-level spirits as necessarily being “delinquent,” in the usual sense of that word. They are just less advanced. At the same time, it has been reported that more advanced spirits are at too high a vibration to effectively communicate and must relay their messages through lower level spirits.  This adds to the distortion. That is, the lower level spirit must interpret what the higher level spirit is communicating and might very well misinterpret some of it.  Then, there is further distortion when it comes through the medium’s mind. In effect, a higher level spirit may come across as less advanced than he/she really is because of the double distortion.

It is all very confusing and mind boggling,but still very interesting. I am satisfied to know that the communication is taking place, even if subject to distortion, and just look for the gist of the message.

Michael Tymn, Fri 10 May, 00:49

Great evidence of survival, Mike! Another of your really fine contributions to our field, bringing forgotten and unknown truth to light! I’d like to be able to share this on Facebook. Could you make that easy for me?
Very best wishes,
Jane Katra

Jane Katra, Fri 10 May, 00:17


I find it interesting that so soon after his death Msllory was in the process of moving to “a place of many colors,” and referred to beings of different colors. I wonder if he is not experiencing the transition to his soul group (home) that is typical of many who have died and as is described by Michael Newton. However, most of the spirit communications seem to come from spirits “stuck” in Myer’s Plane of Illusion. When one of Newton’s subjects (subject 16 in Destiny of Souls) was asked about this place where spirits go when they do not return immediately home, he replied:

“It’s any place they want to create for themselves. They design their own reality with memories of a physical life. Some souls live in nice places like a garden setting. Others—those who have harmed people, for instance—design terrible spaces for themselves like a prison, a room with no windows. In these spaces they box themselves in so they can’t experience much light or make contact with anyone. It is self-imposed punishment.”

It would seem, if this is true, that almost all NDEs and spirit communications represent these “delinquent” spirits and not those who have avoided getting caught up in this illusion (although some do seem to knowingly choose to remain there for various reasons).

What do you think?

Tom Davies

Tom Davies, Thu 9 May, 03:41

Mallory’s account of the process of dying as he experienced it is not only confirmed by other accounts reported in several books on the afterlife but also presents a scenario that is rationally feasible and thereby should be reassuring to the living. Another excellent post, Mike!

Dr Howard A. Jones, Tue 7 May, 13:59

One of your best ever, Mike.  For me the very strangeness of Mallory’s communication is powerful evidence that it was he who was coming through.  No one’s imagination could have dreamed this up!

Many thanks to Charles Fryer for doing the research.

Stafford Betty, Tue 7 May, 00:32

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