Mallory and Irvine Memorial Expedition - with Rebecca Stephens

Remote trekking in Sikkim
Remote trekking in Sikkim

With 2024 marking the centennial of the demise of British mountaineers Mallory and Irvine, Rebecca Stephens, the first British woman to climb Everest, heads to Sikkim with World Expeditions for a memorial trek that goes through the sites where climbers in the 1920s ventured en route to the world’s highest peak.


What memories do you have from your previous expeditions in the Himalaya?

The Himalayas are of a scale found nowhere else in the world, that inspires awe within us. 

And, like every great landscape painting, there is the minutia as well: the footpaths weaving through the forest and over high mountain passes, the tiny Alpine flowers, the yaks, the brilliantly coloured prayer flags catching the wind, and of course the people. 

I’ve been blessed to climb with Sherpas and get to know them well, especially Ang Passang and Kami Tchering who I have to thank for climbing Everest.

For me, walking and climbing in the Himalayas ranks among the most enriching experiences in my life.

Rebecca Stephens |  <i>Rebecca Stephens</i>

What makes this trek so special for you that made you want to lead this trip?

2024 marks 100 years since the disappearance of Mallory and Irvine on Everest, “still going strong for the summit”. 

I didn't want to let the year pass without a nod to these extraordinary pioneers and the all-time biggest mystery in mountaineering: did they or did they not make it to the summit?

I’m intrigued by how the geopolitics of the day shaped where people could travel and climb, just as it does today, and I can’t wait to be walking on this less-trodden path, experiencing something of the remoteness and beauty of Mallory’s and Irvine’s pioneering walk to Everest.


Why is the trek in Sikkim and not Nepal?

Nepal was a closed kingdom 100 years ago, so Mallory and Irvine couldn't approach Everest from the south as so many people do today. 

In the 1920s, a few people were granted permits into Tibet which allowed them to approach the mountain from the north. The journey was on foot, or pony, from Kalimpong in West Bengal into Sikkim and across the Jelep La into Tibet, and ‘off the map’ into an unknown land.

Today, we can still trek in Sikkim, breathe in the mountain air on the Singalila Ridge, the divide between Nepal and Sikkim, and soak in the magnificent panoramic views to Mount Everest, Makalu and, close enough to touch, the third highest mountain in the world, Kanchenjunga.

Hiking through Sikkim's rhododendron forests towards Dzongri Kanchenjunga, the world's 3rd highest mountain, as viewed from the Sikkim side Darjeeling, with Kanchenjunga in the background

What specific links with the history of Mallory and Irvine do the areas this trek goes through have?

We will visit the historic sites of Darjeeling and Kalimpong, where climbers in the 1920s ventured en route to the highest mountain in the world.

In Darjeeling, we will visit the Tea Planters Club, where the British interwar expeditions stayed before assembling their Sherpa crews that would accompany them on the long march through Sikkim and across Tibet to the base of Everest; and also the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, founded by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru in 1954 to commemorate the first ascent of Everest by Tenzing Norgay Sherpa & Sir Edmund Hillary, the year before.


What do you expect will be the highlights for the people joining this trip?

This is a trip for people who enjoy trekking in the mountains, particularly on the less-trodden path, meeting the local people and seeing a different way of living. 

To be up high, surrounded by the highest mountains in the world, with time to slow down, switch off from our overly hectic lives and relax into the beauty of one of the most stunning landscapes in the world is really what it’s all about.


Do you have any advice for someone who wants to do this trip?

A trek is always more enjoyable if you start fit. It’s definitely worth building up to it early, stepping up the exercise routine and ideally doing lots of what you’re going to be doing – namely, walking up hills!

A rest spot with spectacular mountain vistas |  <i>Gavin Turner</i>

How do you hope they will feel upon completion of the trek?

Healthy, uplifted, inspired, humbled. 

A landscape where the views afforded are so vast offers a new perspective; we realise how small we are in the grand scheme of things. 

The simplicity of walking day after day, surrounded by beauty and without the demands and clutter of our daily lives, can also lead to an extraordinary clarity about what is good in life, what isn’t, and what needs to change. Life’s trajectory might be different after a trek on the Singalila Ridge… but undoubtedly better!

Comment (0)

Your comment will be visible after the administrator's approval.

b i u quote

Save Comment
Join Newsletter
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/ADS.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="Adventures South"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>Adventure South</div>
Adventure South NZ is unrivalled in their geographic coverage, originality and overall quality of adventures holidays in New Zealand. Choose from walking, cycling, winter or multi-activity holidays, on either the North or South Island.
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/AWH.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="Australian Walking Holidays"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>Australian Walking Holidays</div>
Australian Walking Holidays specialises in small group guided walking adventures. Since 1982 we have been guiding small groups of travellers on Australia's finest walks across our tropical, coastal or red centre landscapes.
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/GCT.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="Great Canadian Trails"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>Great Canadian Trails</div>
Great Canadian Trails specialises in active holidays in Canada. With both guided and supported self-guided options available, our unique itineraries draw upon some of Canada's most inspiring parks, trails and landscapes from coast to coast.
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/HUM.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="Humac Challenge"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>Huma Charity Challenge</div>
Huma enables those with adventurous spirits to challenge themselves and make a difference for a cause close to their heart. Travel, fundraise and meet life-long friends on one of Huma's meaningful and unique challenges around the world.
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/WB.jpg?v2' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="Walkers’ Britain"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>Walkers' Britain</div>
Walkers' Britain (formerly Sherpa Expeditions) have specialised in walking and cycling trips in the United Kingdom and Europe since 1973. Explore iconic trails and destinations on a self guided or small group active holiday with Walkers' Britain.
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/WB.jpg?v2' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="Walkers’ Britain"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>Walkers' Britain</div>
Walkers' Britain (formerly Sherpa Expeditions) have specialised in walking and cycling trips in the United Kingdom and Europe since 1973. Explore iconic trails and destinations on a self guided or small group active holiday with Walkers' Britain.
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/TAS.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="Tasmania Expeditions"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>Tasmanian Expeditions</div>
Tasmanian Expeditions is the most experienced operator of treks and adventure travel holidays in Tasmania. We own and operate the most comprehensive range of adventure holidays available across Tasmania's varied landscapes.
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/UTX-new.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="Utracks"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>UTracks</div>
UTracks are the active European holiday specialists. Whether you prefer cycling or walking, 2-star or 4-star, small groups or self guided, land, river or sea – UTracks can help you to explore Europe exactly the way you want.
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/WYA.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="World Expeditions Schools"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>World Expeditions Schools</div>
World Expeditions Schools is our specialist division dedicated to organising tailor made overseas school group adventures. Specialists in Service Learning projects, choose from more destinations than any other school group provider.
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/YOM.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="Yomads"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>Yomads</div>
Yomads offers adventures for the 20s and 30s on six continents. Designed as a way to bring young and likeminded travellers together, Yomads caters to those interested in lightly structured and active trips that allow freedom to roam and explore.
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/ACT.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="Australian Cycle Tours"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>Australian Cycle Tours</div>
Australian Cycle Tours specialises in high quality self guided and guided cycling experiences in a selection of the most beautiful regions in Australia.
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/WEX.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="World Expeditions"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>World Expeditions</div>
The pioneers of original, worldwide adventure travel holidays since 1975
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/TJX.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="Trail Journeys"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>Trail Journeys</div>
Self-guided cycling experts on New Zealand's Otago Rail Trail and more
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/BMAC.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="Blue Mountains Adventure Company"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>Blue Mountains Adventure Company</div>
The original Blue Mountains canyoning, hiking, climbing and abseiling experts
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/GWNZ.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="Great Walks of New Zealand"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>Great Walks of New Zealand</div>
Explore New Zealand's most spectacular wilderness regions with the self-guided hiking experts
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/NAA.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="North America Active"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>North America Active</div>
USA Canada hiking & cycling tour specialists, choose from self-guided or guided trips