Pipes, monks and glaciers: Climbing Everest, 1920s-style

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image captionA member of the expedition relaxes with his pipe

British mountaineer George Mallory took his last breath on the imperious slopes of Everest in 1924.

But three years before that, he made history as part of the first British reconnaissance expedition to the world's highest peak.

Led by soldier and explorer Charles Howard-Bury, this was the first group of Westerners to set foot on Everest.

Mallory and fellow climber Guy Bullock made it 23,000ft up the mountain via the North Col, on Everest's north ridge, before searing winds forced them to turn back.

Their journey proved that there was indeed a path to the top of the world. These are the pictures they took on the way:

The rocky shot below was captured on the Kyetrak Glacier on Cho Oyo, a mountain whose name means Turquoise Goddess in Tibetan. The peak is the world's sixth-highest.

The team were lucky to get it, as they encountered some early technical difficulties. Specifically, Mallory realised a month into the trip that he had put the glass-plate negatives in his camera the wrong way round.

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He had clearly mastered photography to a greater degree by the time the team reached these cairns, at a rest stop on the way up to the Kharta Glacier:

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The three below are some of the Sherpas who helped the British team ascend the mountain, pictured climbing a ridge.

The accomplished local mountaineers are toting the climbing tools of the age - not to mention the clothing.

The British reconnaissance team, which took no oxygen equipment, would be considered dangerously ill-equipped by modern standards.

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Some parts of the trek featured deep snow conditions, as this Mallory snap demonstrates.

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Guy Bullock, who took this picture, captioned it, "George Mallory climbing like a spider". It shows Mallory leading a team up Everest's North Col.

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Charles Howard-Bury, the expedition leader who later became an MP, took this picture from the team's Everest base at 22,500ft - described as "windy Col Camp".

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Also immortalised were these Tibetan monks. This arresting picture shows the abbot of Shekar Chote monastery.

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This image, another by Mallory, was one of the first ever to capture the snow-capped majesty of Earth's highest mountain range.

The location was described as, "Camp at 20,000ft - the last day".

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This collection of pictures was digitised by the Salto Ulbeek studio in Belgium from the original silver nitrate negatives.

They will go on display in a free exhibition - Everest - A reconnaissance - at the Royal Geographical Society (RGS) in London from 29 October.

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