LONDON, Aug. 16 (UPI) -- Canadian researchers say they believe they've settled a historic controversy about the first men to conquer the summit of Mount Everest in the Himalayas.
One of mountaineering's most fiercely debated arguments is whether Britons George Mallory and Andrew Irvine were the first men to reach the summit when they attempted the climb in 1924, Britain's Daily Telegraph reported.
Researchers say they now believe the pair could not have reached the top and died during a severe storm that would have deprived them of oxygen.
Weather data collected at the time of the 1924 attempt shows Mallory and Irvine were enveloped in a blizzard that saw oxygen plunge to fatally low levels, scientists at the University of Toronto said.
Contemporary reports reveal there was a catastrophic fall in barometric pressure, which would have killed any climbers on the approach to the summit, they say.
They calculated the sudden drop in oxygen levels was even greater than one that killed eight climbers on Everest on a single day in May 1996.
The findings appear to confirm that New Zealander Sir Edmund Hilary and Tenzing Norgay were the first climbers to scale the 29,035-foot peak in 1953.