JACKSON — The network premiere of “Lost on Everest,” featuring local journalists/climbers Mark Synnott and Thom Pollard, both of Jackson, will air on the National Geographic channel (Channel 50 on Spectrum) Tuesday night at 9 p.m.
The documentary chronicles their quest to scale the Tibetan north side of Everest in the spring of 2019. In it, the team tackles the age-old mystery of what happened to fated British climbing pioneers George Mallory and Sandy Irvine, last seen on June 8, 1924, climbing toward the base of the summit pyramid.
Pollard said the film is “top of the charts,” which is high praise coming from an Emmy award-winning documentary filmmaker.
“‘Lost on Everest’ premiered at the Banff Film Festival about a month ago,” he said. “People who saw it have been calling me saying they now get it about Everest; I have had people in their 80s telling me after seeing it that now they wished they had tried to climb it. It is a very, very, very good film — one of the most unusual films about Everest that has ever been made,” said Pollard on Monday, who along with Synnott and several others in the expedition are key figures in the film directed by Renan Ozturk.
An article on the film also appears online in National Geographic (nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2020/07/our-team-climbed-everest-to-try-to-solve-its-greatest-mystery-feature).
It notes, “Our team climbed Everest to try and solve its greatest mystery.”
Pollard was part of a PBS “Nova” expedition that located Mallory’s body in 1999. The award-winning photographer and filmmaker has been to Everest four times, summiting in 2016.
A feared medical condition kept him from reaching the summit last spring, but Synnott did achieve the feat, as Sun readers will recall (“Brotherly quest: Jackson climbers tackle Everest,” July 5, 2019).
Synnott — author of the New York Times best-selling “Impossible Climb” about free-climbing sensation Alex Honnold — is currently working on a book about Everest. “The Third Pole” is scheduled for release in spring 2021.
The mystery concerning whether Mallory and Irvine fell after summiting or on their ascent is one of mountaineering’s enduring mysteries.
In spring of 2018, after hearing Pollard speak on Everest at Fryeburg Academy’s Leura Hill Eastman Center, Synnott began talking to him about going to Everest in pursuit of finding Irvine’s remains and solving the mystery.
Although their expedition last year did not answer the question of what happened, that only adds to the tale’s allure, they note.
“Although we would have loved to have solved it once and for all,” said Pollard, “the fact that the mystery continues is good because it keeps people wondering. It gives people something to think and dream about — it draws people to the mountain, and what endures is the thought of people attempting to do things that they thought were impossible.”
Synnott was sailing up the East Coast and thus was unavailable for comment this week, but he and Pollard tackle the questions of why people climb Everest and the baffling mystery of Mallory and Irvine in Pollard’s “Baker Street with Thom Pollard” podcast, “The Day Everest Broke” (buzzsprout.com/268133/4306604), which also talks of the notorious climbing traffic-jam day when more than nearly 300 people attempted to scale Everest in May 2019.
In the podcast, Synnott shares with Pollard his view that that people are always fascinated by stories about people trying overcome the impossible and how it especially relates to Everest, particularly in terms of the Mallory and Irvine mystery.
“That’s still there. And that will just resonate with the ages. I think we know they probably didn’t do it it and know that no one is going to solve this and that will continue to resonate,” said Synnott on the podcast.