Wednesday 29 March 2017

Climber makes Kilimanjaro plea to Kenny

Mark Hilliard

HE literally has a mountain to climb and he's hoping Enda Kenny might help.

Irish mountaineer Ian McKeever had hoped to smash a world record by becoming the fastest man to scale Africa's highest mountain.

Mr McKeever (41), from Lough Dan in Co Wicklow, had planned on climbing up and down the 5,895metre-high Mount Kilimanjaro in less than five hours and 38 minutes yesterday.

But his challenge was halted by Tanzanian officials who told him that under the rules of the national park he could only climb a particular route and was not allowed to descend the same way.

Mr McKeever is now hoping that the Taoiseach, a personal acquaintance and fellow climbing enthusiast, might throw him a lifeline.

He told the Irish Independent that there were strict rules against using the same 'rongai' route to both ascend and descend the mountain.

"I don't know why we can't; it's very safe and there are no dangers to coming down it so it makes no sense," he said.

The experienced climber once scaled the Taoiseach's beloved Croagh Patrick 35 times in one week.

"I have sent a letter by email asking him if he would be kind enough to help us (by contacting the Tanzanian authorities)," Mr McKeever said.

"He has climbed the mountain himself (in 2003) and he would be familiar with the route that we are trying to take."

Mr McKeever helps groups of Irish schoolgoers reach the summit. He believes that as they will contribute thousands in mountain fees he may be allowed to bend the rules.

"We are not asking the national parks here to be unreasonable, we just want some support," he said.

The next opportunity for Mr McKeever and climbing partner Samuel Kinsonga to ascend the mountain will be at the end of August.

A government spokesperson said last night no official request for assistance had been received from Mr McKeever.

Irish Independent

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