Nearing the end of a gruelling lecture tour of the USA in 1923, mountaineer George Mallory attends the final press conference and is asked the obligatory question from a New York Times reporter: "Why climb Everest?"
"Because it's there." he deadpans – and coins one of the most famous 'one-liners' in history.
But also 'there' was the 22 year old 'herculean' engineer Andrew 'Sandy' Irvine. He served not only as the team's 'great experiment' – but perhaps also as its talisman – whose obsession to go 'all out' would spur Mallory on.
If this cold, treacherous infernal mountain held any fear for Mallory, Irvine was oblivious – steadfast as the mountain itself. His heart never sank and his hand never failed. Mystery now hangs over them – as heavy as the clouds that draped over their final moments.
George Mallory's legend was assured. But what of his partner Sandy Irvine, the charismatic playboy adventurer?
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He has become a misnomer – Everest's scapegoat. The question of whether he will ever be found is unknown – but with him may lay all the answers. His ice pick was discovered placed on a ledge a few feet from the summit, and a single Alpine violet was passed on to Irvine's sister that he had picked for you at the foot of the mountain.
With exclusive access to the Sandy Irvine Archives at Birkenhead School, fellow Birkonian Dean Johnson presents the most in-depth portrait yet of the young enigma.
Performed with live narration, poetry and song, featuring Dean himself with a small ensemble, Icepicks and Violets is the first ever musical biography of Mallory and Irvine. Produced by Dean Johnson, who has been called 'the best songwriter in Liverpool'. His debut musical, based on the war poet Wilfred Owen, Bullets and Daffodils, transferred to London's West End.
"Drew me in completely. The story of Mallory and Irvine, truth and thoughtful possibilities well merged."
Mark Holmes (@eyesparky)