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Irish climbers ready to complete the seven summits challenge after Sherpas deaths


Niall and Paul on Everest before the disaster

Niall and Paul on Everest before the disaster

Niall and Paul on Everest before the disaster

Two Irish climbers are hoping to complete their Everest mission, which had to be aborted last April following the deaths of 16 Sherpas on the deadly mountain.

Paul Devaney from Longford and Niall O'Byrnes from Kildare were on track to complete their mammoth challenge of scaling the seven highest mountains across the world's seven continents before disaster struck on Everest in April 2014.

Paul and Niall were 18 days into their two-month expedition to climb Everest when an ice fall claimed the lives of 16 experienced sherpa guides.

"A serac (block of ice) collapsed on the Khumbu icefall between Everest Base Camp and Camp 1," Paul told the Herald.

"The collapse triggered an avalanche of large ice sections, some as big as cars, which came thundering down the icefall and into the path of a large group of sherpas.

"The icefall is one of the trickiest sections on Everest. It is a frozen waterfall sitting atop a moving glacier and the route through it involves negotiating ladders across deep cravasses.

"The sherpa had encountered a broken ladder and were delayed as they attempted to fix it. The delay meant that there was now a back-up of teams at the broken ladder location, and when the now larger group moved off the serac collapsed above them - 16 sherpa were killed, 13 bodies were recovered, three remain missing."

Paul and Niall and their team only found out about the tragedy on their return to base camp the following morning.

"Everyone was thinking about the sherpa, their families and the villages which have been decimated," Paul said.


Paul and Niall are, however, determined to complete their Seven Summits Challenge and are already planning their return to the mountain in April.

The biggest challenge for the Irish adventurers this year will be funding. The Seven Summits mission has already raised over €35,000 for charities and the group's Everest expeditions are raising funds for Liam's Lodge.