Beetham and Irvine aboard SS California, Liverpool
29th February 1924, en route for Darjeeling © The
Sandy Irvine Trust, UK. Not to be reproduced
Bentley Beetham was an experience and enthusiastic mountaineer and a member of
the 1924 British expedition that saw the disappearance of Mallory and Irvine.
He was a close friend of fellow expedition member Dr. T. Howard Somervell,
with whom he had made 32 alpine ascents in 1923, in just six weeks. He was also a
photographer and took a number of excellent photographs of the expedition. Beetham was a schoolmaster by profession and taught at the Barnard Castle
School, County Durham, for over 40 years. He was also an expert ornithologist
and wrote several books on birds.
During the expedition Beetham contracted dysentery in the Indian state of
Sikkim and suffered from painful sciatica as well. This limited his
participation at times and often kept him in base camp instead of climbing.
Following Everest, Beetham continued to climb in the Tirol and the High
Atlas mountains of Morocco. Over the war years he single-handedly surveyed the
Lakeland climbing area. He was still an active climber in his later years but
was turned down for a 1953 expedition at the age of 66. He suffered serious
injury in a fall in Britain and never fully regained his health.
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