Blog: Leonie BarrieHi-tech heights

Leonie Barrie | 14 June 2006

Shock news for all makers and wearers of today’s hi-tech climbing and mountaineering gear: the old-style clothing worn in 1924 by climbers George Mallory and Sandy Irvine on their fated attempt to reach the summit of Mount Everest not only provides protection at high altitude but is also more comfortable.

The outfit was recreated after a team of forensic textile experts took samples of Mallory’s clothing from his preserved body found on the north face of Everest in 1999. The layered gabardine, wool, cotton and silk garments not only provided insulation by trapping air next to the skin but were also considerably lighter than modern gear.

The only downside to this impressive recreation is that although the project has taken three-years to get to this stage, the garments have so far been field-tested for two days. The next step is to test the rebuilt garments on Everest itself, when the proof really will be in the wearing. But it already seems that 80 years of research and development into the latest hi-tech fabrics and constrictions can't beat the climbing kit of the Twenties.

Replica clothes pass Everest test


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