Audrey Salkeld, who has died aged 87, was a mountaineering author, researcher, scriptwriter and translator whose Everest research unlocked the story of Mallory and Irvine’s fatal last climb, and the early British attempts of the 1920s.
It was she who rediscovered the 56 boxes of Everest files held in the archives of the Royal Geographical Society (RGS). Her painstaking research, which she readily shared, led to a new understanding of those expeditions, ultimately paving the way for other writers to pick up the story following the renewed interest that came after the discovery of Mallory’s body in 1999.
Audrey Salkeld’s rise to Everest’s pre-eminent historian evolved from a column, “People”, that she wrote in the 1970s for the magazine Mountain, then essential reading for climbers. Her interviews with British climbing’s larger-than-life personalities were a light distraction from reports of new routes and hard climbs.
She was first drawn to the early British attempts on Everest following an article in the magazine that controversially suggested that Mallory had pushed on alone on his fateful climb in 1924.