Monday 24 July 2017

Climber was motivated by passion and enthusiasm

I'VE known Ian McKeever since 2005. My first contact was when he was setting up his Seven Summits challenge, which he completed in 2007 and which I had done twice.

What came across was his passion and enthusiasm to climb Everest and do the challenges he set himself. He was a guy on a mission with a passion to do it, which is a very attractive quality.

He was private in his own way. The last time I met him was at the memorial for Ger McDonnell, who died in May 2008 during an avalanche while descending from K2.

We would have come across each other on occasions when somebody in the fraternity had died.

I would describe him as an introverted extrovert. He communicated with people but could be on his own. From the exterior, he looked very gregarious, but he was very focused and introverted when doing the challenges.

He was a sports climber and for him the challenge was to go for stuff as fast and as quick as he could.

He wouldn't have done anything like mountain rescue, but his big success was joining with very good teams in the things he did. He knew how to pick a team and that any shortcomings he might have could be overcome as a team member.

He took up climbing late, at 29, the same age as I did. He took it up later than normal, but today more and more people are getting into adventure sports later in life. You can become a very fast learner as a mature student.

I would classify him as an adventurer. He was more than a climber and I think he classed himself as that.

In the outdoors, it's not based on academia, it's based on needs and goals. Once he had achieved his own goals, he was unselfish and helped people achieve theirs. He had about 200 or 300 kids in Kilimanjaro during the summer. While all of them aspired to reach the summit, not all did, but it was about trying to achieve your goals.

Ian was in our sport for 12 years and there are very few people I know there as long with a high profile like his.

In our sport, very few people have a continuous life in it. A lot of people do one or two mountains and get out of it, perhaps for family pressures or because it's a high-risk business.

I'm not too sure he was religious, but he was a spiritual man. Anyone who is into the great outdoors tends to be spiritual.

People will miss Ian. In our industry, we're very aware of the fact that we lose a lot of people. When someone does go, you think about the good times and reminisce.

Irish Independent

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