Sunday 4 December 2016

Kevin (80) is the oldest Irish person to scale Kilimanjaro

Published 07/07/2015 | 08:12

Kevin Gormley (centre) with his sons Fergal and Cathal at Kilimanjaro.
Kevin Gormley (centre) with his sons Fergal and Cathal at Kilimanjaro.

Dublin grandad Kevin Gormley decided to mark turning 80 with a big challenge.

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Now the former garda sergeant has become the oldest Irish person to reach the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.

Two of his sons, Fergal (45) and Cathal (48), were among a party of 14 who set out on the big adventure. The expedition was led by Pat Falvey, one of the country's most experienced mountaineers.

Kevin, who was a company director after retiring from the force, told the Herald he always plans something for his "big" birthdays.

"For my 50th I ran the Dublin Marathon that year, and then on my 60th I ran the London Marathon. On my 70th I ran the New York marathon," he said.

With his 80th approaching last January, he decided to scale new heights and climb Kilimanjaro.

"I would consider myself quite fit," said the dad-of-four, who lives in Stillorgan.

"I went down, saw Pat Falvey, had a chat with him about my background and my fitness and he felt I was capable of doing it."

Kevin began training for the expedition about eight months ago, and the group set off on June 20.

"It took us seven days to get to the very top because you are progressing very slowly," he said.

"Over the seven days you have to try and get yourself acclimatised, and that is the big problem at the top with the lack of oxygen."

Reaching the summit of the mountain was a "euphoric" experience.

"It was like nothing on this Earth. When you get to the top, the dawn is coming up and there are beautiful views from it," said Kevin.

Father and sons arrived home last Tuesday.

Kevin hopes that seeing somebody of 80 tackle a tough challenge such as the 5,895-metre Kilimanjaro might inspire others to do something just as strenuous.

Herald

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