The Third Pole by Mark Synnott is a gripping story of mystery and discovery on the top of the world. Synnott tells the harrowing story of his own and others’ adventures on Mount Everest in 2019, going into detail about May 22, 2019—“the day Everest broke.”

Synnott was drawn to Everest by a mystery that has perplexed climbers for nearly a century: the deaths of George Mallory and Sandy Irvine. In June of 1924, the two men departed for the top of the mountain. They were reported dead several days later, last seen only 800 feet below the summit. It is known that Irvine carried a Kodak camera with him, and Kodak had stated that the film in that camera might have survived.

Synnott details how Mallory’s body was discovered on May 1, 1999, by a team of climbers that included Conrad Anker and Thom Pollard, who also feature heavily in this book. They had found Mallory’s body, but he did not have the camera and there was no sign of Irvine.

So, 20 years later, Synnott put together a team to travel to Everest in hopes of finding Irvine and the camera he carried. Pollard, who had been part of the team that discovered Mallory’s body, was also part of this expedition. And although many had searched for Irvine’s body, Synnott was confident that he would have a better chance. With the help of Renan Ozturk—a renowned climber and photographer—Synnott had found a way to use drones for an aerial search of the mountain at high altitudes that put them at a much lower risk of death by staying outside at high altitudes for too long. Instead, Synnott and Ozturk were able to stay in the comfort of their lower altitude tent for much of the expedition and search with the drone.

Synnott and his team did not end up finding Irvine’s body or the camera. There are many theories as to where they are—the most popular is that the body was recovered by a Chinese team years later—but no one truly knows where they are. And while they did not succeed in their mission, Synnott and others on the team did summit Mount Everest—a massive achievement. 

Synnott crafts this book into not just a tale of mystery, but also of survival on Everest. He weaves first-hand accounts of the horrors people experienced on “the day Everest broke” with stories about his own life, the lives of Mallory and Irvine, and the search of the mountain. It is a gripping, exhilarating read that will make you dream of mountains and the top of the world.