Donegal man pays tribute to fellow climber who lost his life on world's second highest mountain as he receives hero's welcome home
Jason Black, the first Irishman from the Republic to successfully climb the world's second highest mountain, was given a hero's welcome at Dublin airport tonight.
Jason, (47), reached the summit of the K2 mountain in Pakistan on July 22.
Tragically, fellow Irish climber Ger McDonnell, who was the first Irish man from the Republic to reach the same summit, died along with ten other mountaineers when they were buried by an avalanche exactly a decade ago today upon their descent.
And to honour him, Jason retrieved the Tricolour that Ger had proudly erected on the summit and brought it home to Ireland.
"I was standing there (on the summit) with the Donegal flag and Irish flag in my hand, knowing the Irish flag had only got there once but had never been recovered from the mountain," he told Independent.ie.
"I felt a real sense of responsibility to take it home," he said of Ger's flag.
"I have it here in my hand today'" he said of the Tricolour he proudly draped over himself and his family upon his return.
A group of around 30 family and friends from his home of Letterkenny hired a bus to welcome him home after he returned from his Himalayan mountain adventure.
His wife Sharon Black, (44), joked that she wished she could "cellotape him to the couch" but she knows she won't ever be able to stop the extreme adventurer from future mountain-climbing treks.
But for the time being, she said she is just happy that he is home safe and well and able to spend time with her and their four children, Laura, (19), Kate (18), Billy (14), and Ella (12).
The former publican will be feted by locals in Letterkenny tonight at a homecoming party to thank his family, friends and other supporters for their support and encouragement as he embarked on his dream of a lifetime.
"We're absolutely delighted for him, he's worked so hard," Mrs Black told the Irish Independent.
A spokeswoman for the Irish Red Cross, of which Jason is an ambassador, said the charity was delighted that he also erected their own flag at the summit as part of his ongoing support for them.