News Irish News

Wednesday 27 March 2019

Friends in high places as Seamus and Jenny prepare for Mount Everest

Seamus Lawless and Jenny Copeland on one of their earlier treks in training for the big climb up Everest
Seamus Lawless and Jenny Copeland on one of their earlier treks in training for the big climb up Everest

Alan O'Keeffe

When Seamus Lawless 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 and now, aged 39, he will fly to Nepal to begin a climb to the summit of the world's highest mountain.

Seamus will be pursuing his lifelong dream by taking time off from his role of assistant professor in artificial intelligence at the School of Computer Science and Statistics at Trinity College, Dublin.

"I turn 40 in July. My friends are joking that climbing Everest is my mid-life crisis," said Seamus, from Bray, Co Wicklow.

His wife Pam and daughter Emma (4) will be awaiting the news from the Himalayas.

Climbing beside him will be mother-of-four Jenny Copeland (40), who swapped high-speed driving on race-tracks for the challenge of climbing some of the world's toughest peaks.

"I became an adrenalin junkie in motor sports when I was racing saloon cars in places like Mondello Park. I love a challenge and mountaineering definitely has an edge," said Jenny, a physiotherapist living in Drumree, Co Meath.

Her husband encouraged her to take up the Everest challenge. Bob and their four children, aged from six to 11, will track the ascent with the Mapshare app.

Seamus and Jenny, having prepared for four years, have climbed two peaks in the Himalayas. Last summer, they climbed Denali in Alaska, where they were in a team of five climbers stuck at 11,000ft for eight nights because of a snow storm. But the bad weather abated and they reached the 20,310ft peak in glorious sunshine.

They will fly to Nepal on April 10 and spend a month acclimatising to the thin air at high altitudes. They will be guided on their expedition to the summit in mid-May by Co Down professional climber Noel Hanna, who has reached the top eight times.

They hope to raise €25,000 for the Barretstown charity which provides support for seriously ill children and their families.

"We hope to inspire young people to take up hill-walking and trekking," said Seamus, who is also an associate director of ADAPT, a Science Foundation Ireland-funded digital research project which is based in Dublin universities.

Jenny reached the summit of Mount Blanc, the highest mountain in the Alps, when she was in her early 20s.

"My advice to young people is follow your dreams," she said.

The link for donating funds to Barretstown is https://give.everydayhero.com/ie/ireland-on-everest-barretstown. Seamus and Jenny also have a separate crowd-funding page to help cover the costs of the expedition at https://sponsor.me/IrelandonEverest

Sunday Independent

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News