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Irish father-of-three dies after team caught in bad weather on Russian mountain

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An Irish mountaineer has died after his climbing team was caught in bad weather on the southern Russian peak of Mount Elbrus.

Father-of-three Alan Mahon (40), from Monasterevin, Co Kildare, died on Sunday during an expedition to Europe's highest mountain.

He was with a five-man Irish group attempting the north route of the peak when tragedy struck.

His fellow climbers, Keith McDonnell, from Meath; Des Mulvihill and Robert Forbes, both from Longford; and Oliver Greene from Westmeath, are safe and well, but have said they are "heartbroken at the loss of our friend".

"We extend our sincere sympathy to his family at this very difficult time," the four climbers said last night.

The four men said that while camping at 5,300m, close to the 5,642m summit of Mount Elbrus, the weather conditions deteriorated rapidly, and they were forced to take refuge in a nearby emergency hut for two nights.

"On Sunday we made a collective decision to descend when a small weather window provided sufficient visibility to do so safely. The team appeared strong and in good spirits during the descent," they said.

"Unfortunately Alan's condition started to deteriorate during that descent," they said. A mountain rescue team met the group and gave medical assistance.

"Our other team members all descended safely; however Alan sadly passed away despite the best efforts of all, including the mountain rescue team," they said.

The Department of Foreign Affairs has said it "is aware of the case and is providing consular assistance".

Mr Mahon's death brings to three the number of Irish climbers who have died on mountains this season.

Trinity College academic Séamus Lawless (39), from Bray, Co Wicklow, died while on descent from Mount Everest's summit on May 16. And Kevin Hynes (56), from Galway, died on May 24 after he became ill on the northern side of Everest in Tibet.

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