Click on each image for a larger version.

In the wake of the recent earthquakes that put Nepal's Everest Region so tragically back in the news, the story of the mountain's most famous mountaineers George Mallory and Andrew 'Sandy' Irvine is to be told in a unique musical production that comes to Cumbria this autumn.

Mallory and Irvine left for their fateful expedition from Birkenhead, Merseyside, never to return. Songwriter Dean Johnson, who grew up in the area, has written their first ever musical biography. Mystery still surrounds their disappearance; theories still rage as to whether they made the summit of Everest or not.

Entitled Ice Picks and Violets, the show aims to shed light on what might have happened in the climbers’ last moments. It will feature narration recorded by iconic mountaineer Doug Scott CBE, who as part of Sir Chris Bonington's 1975 expedition, was the first British climber to reach the summit of Mount Everest. The mountain was eventually conquered partly using the same route that claimed Mallory and Irvine.

With exclusive access to the Sandy Irvine School Archive, the production addresses Mallory and Irvine's personalities, and recreates Sandy's unbelievable feat of daring as a teenager when he rode a motorcycle to the peak of a mountain in Snowdonia. In Mallory's final letter to his wife Ruth, he spoke of going 'beyond imagination’. Dean hopes to take the audience beyond their own thoughts to discover the duo's ultimate fate.

Dean explains, “Whatever became of Mallory and Irvine is the stuff of legend. We have consulted veteran climbers to help piece together Mallory and Irvine's last moments as accurately as possible. I first spoke to Doug Scott [who lives near Penrith] in March this year prior to the Nepal earthquake. He was so encouraging and knowledgeable of the mountain’s spectacular but often harrowing history. Following his summit of Everest, Doug had to spend the night without oxygen or food. He recalled a sense of being joined by the presence of a spirit, willing him to survive. That Doug has contributed narration is such an honour.

“The script has been read by Irvine’s niece, the writer Julie Summers (Home Fires), and she liked it and only suggested a few minor changes.”

A Kindle version has been published in aid of the Community Action Nepal charity, set up by Doug Scott in aid of Nepal's Sherpas and their families.

Ice Picks and Violets will preview in September.

Friday 11 September
The Heron
Stanley Street, Beetham, Milnthorpe, Cumbria, LA7 7AS

Saturday 26 September
Stanwix Theatre
University of Cumbria, Fusehill Street, Carlisle, Cumbria, CA1 2HH


Click on each image for a larger version.

This very fine pair of climbing boots were a gift from Doug Scott. As with everything else he undertakes, Doug has a unique and generously spirited concept to his Community Action Treks company.

Participants are requested to take two pairs of boots out to Nepal, then asked to leave one pair behind for other climbers after their departure.