Host City: Chamonix, France
Venue(s): Olympic Stadium, Chamonix
Date Started: February 4, 1924
Date Finished: February 4, 1924
The gold medal in this event was awarded to the participants in the 1922 Mount Everest expedition. Led by Brigadier Charles Bruce , it had set out to climb the world's highest mountain, Mount Everest, on the Chinese-Nepali border. In three attempts, the expedition failed to reach the summit, and on the third attempt seven Sherpas died in an avalanche. In his speech, Pierre de Coubertin explained why the medal had been awarded to the expedition:
"For the first time a gold medal is awarded for alpinism, and it is awarded to the glorious expedition to the Mount Everest. Not content with having almost succeeded, they are preparing a renewed effort to finish the ascent.
Mr. Representative of the mission, we welcome your presence for the beautiful heroism displayed. At the foot of the highest mountain in Europe, we present you and your wonderful companions with this small testimony of the admiration with which all nations have followed your journey towards the untouched peaks of the highest mountain in the world. We accompany this gesture by prayers for the completion of a work that will honor not only your country but all humanity."
The awards were received by Lieutenant Colonel Bill Strutt, as Bruce was unavailable due to preparations for another expedition, starting in February. The second attempt to climb the 8,448 m-high mountain would also fail, and 1922 participant George Mallory would not survive an attempt to reach the peak. But his ultimate fate was only fully known in 1999, when his body was found after 75 years.
Several question marks surround this event. It is not known if there were any other nominations other than the winners of the gold medal. Secondly, it is unclear if all members received a medal, or if just one was awarded for the entire expedition - sources are unclear on this. Finally, we do not know all the names of the expedition members. The names of the Western participants are known, as are those of one Nepalese guide and the Sherpas that perished during the expedition, but some 160 people were supposedly involved.