While Mallory's clothing was lighter than modern clothing it was not so good at providing protection against high winds and lowering temperatures according to scientists at Loughborough University.
In a presentation at the Innovations for Extremes Conference held at Lancaster University in September, Dr. George Havenith, Professor of Environmental Physiology and Ergonomics at Loughborough University demonstrated that George Mallory's clothing was less able to withstand changes in temperatures and high winds. Could this be a contributing factor to his ability to have reached the summit of Everest in 1924?
The graph below shows how warm clothing was on the vertical axis with air temperature is shown along the horizontal axis. The red and blue diagonal lines show how warm your clothing needs to be at a windspeed of 7km/h (blue line) and 40km/h (red line) to avoid hypothermia.
The two horizontal dotted lines represent two clothing systems. The blue dotted line represents a modern down suit and Mallory's clothing is represented by the red dotted line. So you can see that Mallory's clothing was rated for warmth as 3 and moderrn clothing was rated as 5 for warmth.
Clearly as the temperature goes down and you move from left to right across the graph, you need greater insulation, hence lines go diagonally from left to right. Also in higher winds (red line) you need even more insulation.
Note that if the wearer is breathing more oxygen then both lines could move down as the body is better able to produce warmth and resist hypothermia without having to wear extra clothing.
Mallory's clothing, represented by the red dotted line, crosses the blue line at -22 and the red line at -5
Modern clothing crosses the blue line (off the graph) and the red line at -26
So Mallory clothing was not as warm as modern clothing and also would not be able to keep the wearer warm in a change of air temperature and wind speed.
So while Mallory's clothing was lighter than modern clothing it was not so good at providing protection against high winds and lowering temperatures. This suggests that Mallory was sailing closer to the limits of his equipment and would be less able to survive if the wind or temperatures changed during his climb? Could this be a contributing factor to his ability to have reached the summit of Everest?
For more information about Mallory's attempt on Everest in 1924 go to Innovation for Extremes web site
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