Irvine, Andrew Comyn (1902-1924), mountaineer

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Irvine, Andrew Comyn (1902-1924), mountaineer

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  • Sandy Irvine

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Andrew C. Irvine was a member of the 1924 British Mount Everest Expedition. He disappeared with George Mallory attempting to summit Mount Everest in 1924. His body has not been discovered (George Mallory's body was discovered in 1999).

Andrew 'Sandy' Irvine was born at 56 Park Road South, Birkenhead, Cheshire, on 8 April 1902, the second son and third of six children of William Fergusson Irvine (1869–1962), a merchant trading with Africa and a distinguished Cheshire antiquary, and his wife, Lilian Davies-Colley (d.1950), daughter of Thomas Charles Davies-Colley, a Manchester solicitor. He had four brothers and a sister.

He was educated at Birkenhead preparatory school, Shrewsbury School, and Merton College, Oxford, where he matriculated on 24 January 1922 to study engineering. He was tall and stout, with a muscular physique, and was nicknamed Sandy because of his blonde hair and fair complexion. He was known as a powerful oarsman at Shrewsbury and Oxford, and gained his blue as a freshman in 1922, when he rowed no. 2 against Cambridge.

In 1923 he joined a sledging party to Spitsbergen with Noel Odell, who recommended him for the Everest expedition in 1924. Despite Irvine's inexperience as a climber, Mallory appears to have chosen him as his partner on Everest because he valued his mechanical ability with the unreliable oxygen apparatus, admired his strength and stamina, and may have seen him as a protégé. He died alongside Mallory in the final attempt to summit in June 1924. His body has never been recovered.

A memorial to him, by Eric Gill, was placed in Merton College grove. Irvine's Everest diaries were published in 1979.


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Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

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