Monday 20 May 2019

'An extremely distressing time' - Trinity College professor missing after reaching summit of Mount Everest

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

Kathy Armstrong and Ian Begley

A SEARCH has been launched for a Trinity College professor and mountaineer who has gone missing while making his descent from Mount Everest this morning.

Seamus Lawless (39), who is a father of one from Bray, Co Wicklow, had been part of an Irish led expedition team, attempting to conquer the world’s highest peak. 

It is understood that Mr Lawless went missing after he fell at an altitude of 8,300 metres. 

He is said to have slipped while in an area known as the Balcony after reaching the mountain’s summit early on Thursday. 

The other Irish climbers are reported to be safe and currently at 7,900 feet. They are due to descend the mountain tomorrow.

Mr Lawless is an Assistant Professor at the School of Computer Science and Statistics at Trinity College Dublin and the third-level institution has said they hope he is found safely as soon as possible.

A spokesperson for Trinity College said this evening: "Seamus and his family are in our thoughts during this extremely distressing time.

"This morning his family, friends and colleagues shared his joy on reaching the peak of Mount Everest. 

"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 Independent.ie that the climb is part of a trip of a lifetime ahead of his milestone 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' 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.

He said: "I turn 40 in July. My friends are joking that climbing Everest is my mid-life crisis."

They were guided on their expedition to the summit by Co Down professional climber Noel Hanna, who has reached the top eight times.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Foreign Affairs said: "We are aware of media reports and stand ready to provide consular assistance if requested."

Independent.ie has contacted the Seven Summit expedition company for comment.

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