After seven years spent climbing the highest peaks on six continents, two Irish men have set out on their greatest challenge yet – Mount Everest.
Paul Devaney (36) from Longford has so far climbed six of the seven summits: Kilimanjaro, Elbrus, Kosciuszko, Denali, Aconcagua and Antarctica.
His friend Niall O'Byrne (36), from Kildare, who will accompany him on the Everest mission, has completed five of the summits.
The two men left Dublin airport yesterday for Nepal where they will meet the other members of their ascent team.
Paul and Niall, who met as classmates in the University of Limerick 15 years ago when they were studying aerospace engineering, have undergone rigorous training in order to ready themselves for the mammoth task.
"I arrived back from the altitude house last Monday and I've been keeping busy and that has been keeping me calm," said Paul.
"This being the last of the seven summits will be for me a huge achievement, but I can't see past Everest for now. It's hard work, dreadfully hard when you're doing it, but the instantaneous high when you get there is amazing."
Paul admitted "falling into" climbing at the beginning, but now the bug has firmly taken hold of him.
"I got into it only in my adult life, but we have met so many incredible people and seen such incredible places along the way. We're hooked now," he said.
When they arrive at Everest, it will take them 12 days to reach base camp and eight to acclimatise before the climb begins.
"We'll go up a distance and come back down to base camp several times, so it's a mental challenge as much as anything else," said Paul.