The team filming a recreation of Mallory and Irvine’s ill-fated 1920s Everest expedition has summited the mountain.

Conrad Anker and Leo Houlding removed a ladder fixed to the Second Step, a 30m rock face just below the summit and free climbed it, using just hand and foot holds. The method was deemed by the climbers to be how the 1924 expedition would have climbed the face, seen as the crux of the route.

The team reported by radio that they had reached Everest summit at 10.45 this morning. Anker told colleagues at Base Camp ‘That was hard’ after topping the free climb at 7am. Four others joined Conrad and Leo on the summit, which was approached from the Tibetan side.

Conditions on the summit were partly cloudy, meaning the team disappeared from view of onlookers, just as George Mallory and Sandy Irvine did 83 years ago. However, the 2007 team is said to be well and descending from the mountain.

Yesterday, the team filmed at Mallory’s grave, close to the point Anker discovered the mountaineer’s body in 1999.  The team is donning replica 1920s clothing during filming to recreate a drama-documentary of the original summit attempt.

Mystery surrounds the Mallory expedition, with the jury still out on whether the pair got to the summit and died while descending or perished on the way up. The attempt on the Second Step without artificial aid was a piece in the jigsaw of what may have happened to Mallory and Irvine. The Anker team has now proved it is possible to climb the face unaided, after Sherpas cleared the ladder, having gained permission to remove it from the Chinese authorities who put it there.

The illusive camera from 1924, which may or may not contain proof of a successful summit, remains unfound.

The film crew had to bring in new members from New Zealand after illness and family medical problems forced the original high-altitude cameraman to abort their attempt.