Tuesday 25 October 2016

Youngest Irish climber (26) reaches the peak of Mount Everest

Catherine Devine

Published 24/05/2016 | 12:37

Rob Mortell in
Rob Mortell in "white-out conditions" at about 7,300metres on Everest.
Rob Mortell in Lhasa, Tibet, before his attempt to summit Everest.
Mount Everest. Reuters/Navesh Chitrakar/File Photo

A 26-year-old man has become the youngest Irish person to reach the top of Mount Everest.

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Rob Mortell, from Limerick, confirmed he reached the 9,000-metre peak when he sent a message from his GPS tracker yesterday.

The previous Irish record was held by 27-year-old Mark Quinn, also from Limerick, in 2011. Samantha O’Carroll, from Cork, reached the summit aged 28 in 2004.

Jordan Romero, from the US, reached the summit aged 13 in 2010. Age restrictions introduced since that mean that climbers must be at least 16-years-old.

Rob, a tax intern, left Ireland on March 17 and was the only Irish person who attempted the climb this year.

“Climbing Mount Everest is, I guess for me it’s a 'why not?' sort of question. I think a lot of people look at Mount Everest when they’re children, they learn about it and as you grow older you think of all the reasons why you shouldn’t do it, you know - too difficult, too expensive, too cold, too high but once you start addressing those problems you try to raise the money, you get the skills, you learn to cope with the cold, then things seem a lot more manageable,” Rob told Gavan Reilly on Today FM's The Last Word, a week after he left Ireland.

Rob trained for four years before taking on Mount Everest. In 2013 he scaled the Matterhorn in Switzerland and in 2014 he climbed the Denali, the highest mountain peak in North America. In October 2015 he reached the peak of Ama Dablam, beside Mount Everest.

“When you think about it as a child, you think of it as this big monstrosity of a mountain but so is the rest of the world and as you grow older the rest of the world becomes more manageable but what’s funny is that you look at Everest still and it is still that monstrosity that takes so much time and investment and strain on your body to adjust to these altitudes,” he said.

Rob has a GPS tracker so people at home can see his location and mark his achievements. There’s also an SOS button that goes to a rescue helicopter along with his exact location.

Three people were killed in recent days while trying to reach the peak of Everest.

Indian climber Subhash Paul died on Sunday night and two others from India were reported missing.

A Dutchman died on Friday and an Australian woman hours later, after suffering from altitude sickness on Everest. Dozens of other climbers have developed frostbite or become sick near the summit in recent days.

Favourable weather has allowed nearly 400 climbers to reach the summit from Nepal since May 11, but the altitude, weather and harsh terrain can cause problems at any time.

Thousands of people have summited 29,035-foot Mount Everest since it was first conquered by New Zealander Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay in 1953. But more than 250 people have died in the attempt.

Trekking companies were anxious to see foreign climbers return to Everest after two years of disasters.

Last year, Nepal's devastating earthquake caused the climbing season to be cancelled, and climbing attempts were largely abandoned in 2014 after an avalanche above the base camp killed 16 Sherpa guides. 

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