Mountains Are Awesome! - Oct. 2012

Peter Donnelly has created award-wining images spanning children’s books, advertising, and animation design for both television and film. A fascination with the epic Mount Everest led this Dublin based artist to the book In the footsteps of Mallory and Irvine by Mark Mackenzie —his inspiration for portraying Mallory’s last harrowing moments on the mountain in the illustration titled “Chomolungma."

AI: "What is it the Mallory and Irvine story that drew you in? What inspired you to create Chomolungma?"

PD: "I’ve always had an interest in the Mallory/Irvine story but it was only after digesting numerous books on the subject that their 1924 expedition really revealed to me what a monumental challenge they faced. While I read various accounts of great and tragic ascents of the mountain, all the while I was receiving visual flashes which inspired me to illustrate my thoughts. Instead of creating a single image I decided to illustrate a short narrative based on perhaps their controversial final moments. The starkness of long black shadows and blinding white snow made for striking imagery and helped me visualize the coldness and stillness of certain moments on the mountain. Whether they summited or not doesn’t really matter to me anymore, it’s their sense of adventure and bravery that I find inspiration in."

Adapted from 'In the footsteps of Mallory and Irvine'

"June 8 th1924…and suddenly he was falling. In the blink of an eye, George Mallory was off his feet. He held his breath, hoping it was no more than a slide and that it would soon come to an end. Instead, he continued downward. He began to gather momentum, the mountain he had coveted for so long rushing up past him. With the need to stop ever more urgent, his hands were suddenly empty – he’d dropped his ice axe. During Mallory’s sliding descent, his right leg broke, just above the ankle and his frantic clawing at the slope caused his right arm to snap. At some point thereafter he suffered the last of his injuries, a heavy puncture wound to the forehead. Slowly, with his heartbeat thumping furiously in his ears, Mallory finally came to a standstill.

Three quarters of a century would pass before George Mallory’s body is discovered lying facedown high on the Everest slopes."

Learn more about Peter Donnelly and his work at

*On the first of every month, we’ll take a little time to pay tribute to what we think is one of the most awe-inspiring things out there: Mountains.  It might be a photo, video, collage, painting, poem, etc. ... just a little something to say, "Hey, mountains, you're awesome!

Have mountain-inspired art you’d like to share, or know of an artist we should highlight? Send us an email at