Royal Geographical Society 2017

Royal Geographical Society 2017

John Noel is known to many as the photographer on the Mount Everest expeditions of 1922 and 1924, but he was a person of many talents, and I hope, with the aid of photographs, maps, images and artefacts, to show aspects of his life and works far less widely appreciated.

He travelled extensively with his parents as a young child - to Japan and India - had no formal education, but felt obliged to follow his father and brother into the Army. Once in India, his clandestine forays into Tibet enabled him to find a route to Mt. Everest, and he would have been selected to join the first expedition, planned for 1914. This was thwarted by the onset of WW1, but Noel presented a paper to the RGS in 1919, which challenged the Society to mount an expedition to find and map a route.  War duties meant Noel could not join the first team, but he was selected as a climber in 1922;  however, he insisted that the attempt should be captured on film, thus be became the photographer, and again in 1924, when he recorded the departure of Mallory and Irvine on their final, fateful climb.

He was a man of great intellect, yet practical and forward thinking;  often considered eccentric, he was sometimes seen as out of step with his peers, but he had a keen mind and an artistic talent, in addition to a great belief in the ability of mankind to overcome. Join me on a journey through his 99 years, sharing his achievements, in map-making, exploration, film maker, army officer, painting, building restoration and a zest for life.

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