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Body Of Everest Pioneer Found

It's a mystery that has been frozen in the treacherous terrain of Mount Everest for 75 years, reports CBS News Correspondent Sandra Hughes. Did British explorer George Mallory and his partner reach the peak first?

History gives the honor to Sir Edmund Hillary in 1953, But, 29 years earlier, the two explorers disappeared on their way to the top. Early this May, an American expedition found the body of George Mallory just 2,000 feet from the peak.

Climbers who discovered the body of Mallory on Mount Everest have sent a tissue sample for testing to prove conclusively the remains were those of the British explorer lost in 1924, an expedition official said on Tuesday.

Erin Copland, a spokeswoman for the Mallory and Irvine Research Expedition in Ashford, Wash., also said other artifacts were taken from the body, including "written materials" and a broken rope that strongly suggests Mallory plunged to his death in the ill-fated summit attempt.

Copland said the tissue sample was taken with the permission of Mallory's family and was already on its way to Britain for DNA testing, although she said there was no doubt the body was Mallory's, based on its position on the mountain, the type of jacket on it and labels sewn into the clothing.

The expedition stunned the climbing world over the weekend with news they had found Mallory's body at 27,000 feet, about 2,000 vertical feet below Everest's summit.

"Mallory really epitomizes Mount Everest and mountaineering," says expedition leader Eric Simonson, "and finding his body really puts closure on a mystery that has existed for 75 years."

Mallory took a camera with him, and if it is not found, there will be no way to verify if he actually reached the summit before he died.

What did Simonson's party do with Mallory's body after they found it?

"George Mallory remains a part of Mount Everest," says Simonson. "We buried his body beneath stones and rocks."

Speaking from his home in New Zealand, Sir Hillary says he isn't worried about the discovery.

"For 45 years, people have regarded me as the hero of Everest, so I've done pretty well, anyway," he says.

The world may never know if he got there first. But Mallory still holds a place in history for his famous answer to the question: Why do you climb Mount Everest?

"Because it's there."

Mallory and his fellow climber, Andrew Irvine, were bundled in woolen coats and trousers. The body of Mallory was identified by a name tag sewn into his coat.

"When we realized that it was George Mallory, we were really blown away by that," climber Dave Hahn said in a dispatch relayed on the Internet by one of the expedition's sponsors, Seattle-based

Eight climbers, including Simonson, plan to continue looking for the body of Irvine and the camera that could contain images proving they reached the smmit 29 years before Sir Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay.

The search is funded by PBS for the Boston-based television program Nova, which is documenting the expedition. Nova is also posting online updates throughout the expedition.

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