Wednesday 18 September 2019

Tragic irony of climber swept out to sea by freak wave

NIAMH HORAN

THE devastated photographer friend of world-famous rock climber Michael Reardon, who was swept away by a freak wave while standing on a flat ledge along the coast of Kerry, has spoken of the tragic irony of the incident.

"The sad irony of it was that Michael wasn't climbing at the time. He was standing about a metre away from the sea on a flat ledge, which was only about three feet over the Atlantic, when a rogue wave came and knocked him over," said Con Moriarty.

"It buckled his knees so he fell onto his back and slid down an algae ledge and into the surf where he was unable to get back again. He was carried by a current and was last seen a few hundred metres out, shouting and waving."

Mr Reardon, an American in his early 30s and one of the world's leading free solo climbers, was staying with Mr Moriarty at the foot of the Macgillycuddy's Reeks, Co Kerry, during a month-long visit to the area, designed to promote Irish adventure holidays to the US market.

"We were to have dinner later that night," the stunned photographer explained. "He was anxious to taste some malt whiskey before he went home. He was here for a month and due to go home yesterday."

Mr Reardon is part of a group of extreme climbers who shun equipment such as ropes and crampons and instead use only their hands and boots to scale rock faces hundreds of feet high.

Mr Reardon's wife Marcy and daughter Nicky, 13, are due to arrive in Ireland today to wait for word on the outcome of the massive sea and air rescue operation.

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