'A dreadfully upsetting time' - Trinity professor missing on Everest
A search has been launched for a Trinity College professor who has gone missing while descending Mount Everest after reaching the summit.
Father-of-one Seamus Lawless (39), from Bray, Co Wicklow, had been part of an eight-member expedition team attempting to conquer the world's highest peak.
Led by fellow climber Noel Hanna, Mr Lawless is believed to have gone missing after falling at an altitude of 8,300 metres.
It is understood he slipped while in an area known as the Balcony after reaching the mountain's summit early yesterday.
It's understood his wife Pam and daughter Emma (4) are being kept up to date with developments from the Himalayas.
The other Irish climbers are reported to be safe and currently at 7,900 metres.
They are due to descend the mountain later today.
According to the 'Himalayan Times', sherpa guides accompanying the expedition said the other climbers had descended to Camp Four, but that the status of the missing Irish climber was still unknown.
A spokesperson for Trinity College said the university's thoughts were with Mr Lawless and his family during this "extremely distressing time".
"This morning his family, friends and colleagues shared his joy on reaching the peak of Mount Everest," they said.
"We hope that Seamus is found safely as soon as possible and until then we will be offering any support we can to his family."
Just weeks ago, Mr Lawless told the 'Sunday Independent' that the climb was part of a trip of a lifetime ahead of his 40th birthday this summer.
He said that he was climbing in a bid to raise €25,000 for the Barretstown charity, which provides support for seriously ill children and their families.
Dee Ahearn, chief executive of Barretstown, has said that everyone at the charity is thinking of Mr Lawless's loved ones as the search continues.
"This is a dreadfully upsetting and uncertain time for Seamus and his family.
"Our thoughts, and indeed the thoughts of the entire Barretstown community, are with Seamus, his family and friends," Ms Ahearn said.
Mr Lawless said when he was a child his father gave him a National Geographic map of the climbing route up the south face of Mount Everest. The map stayed on his bedroom wall as he grew up, staying there until he left for Nepal in April.
The father of one said that he had been preparing for the challenge alongside fellow climbers from the Ireland on Everest group for four years.
"I turn 40 in July," he said in February.
"My friends are joking that climbing Everest is my mid-life crisis."
Climbing beside him was mother-of-four Jenny Copeland (40), who swapped high-speed driving on race-tracks for climbing some of the world's toughest peaks.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Foreign Affairs confirmed it was aware of the situation.
"We are aware of media reports and stand ready to provide consular assistance if requested," a spokesperson said.
The Irish Independent has contacted the Seven Summit expedition company for comment.