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Scholarship memorial to Gerard -- the hero of K2

THE family of tragic adventure climber Gerard McDonnell has established a scholarship in his memory.

Gerard (37), from Limerick, was the first Irish man to reach the summit of K2, the second highest mountain in the world.

The mountaineer died while trying to save the lives of three other climbers on the peak in August 2008.

The Irishman was killed in an avalanche after trying to help three Korean climbers who had been caught in the ice fall and were hanging upside down on a rope.


K2 is in the Karakoram -- part of the Himalayas between Pakistan and China and is 8,616m high.

A total of 11 climbers died in the accident.

Now, family, friends and classmates at the DCU School of Engineering have established a scholarship fund in his memory.

The Ger McDonnell Memorial Access Scholarship Fund is being run as part of the University's Access Programme which provides over 400 talented students with the opportunity of a third-level education, which their circumstances would not otherwise allow.

Fiona McDonnell, a classmate of Ger's during his time in DCU, said that although the scholarship would not compensate for the loss of the brave climber, it would assist others who wish to gain access to university.

"One of the reasons Ger was so well known and respected by so many people was because of his commitment to helping others," she said. "It's fitting that he be remembered within DCU by an Access Scholarship that can help someone else."

More than €56,000 has been raised for the memorial fund with the first scholarship being awarded to a student studying Engineering at DCU.

And a scholarship will be awarded in Ger's name to a deserving DCU student each year in perpetuity. Ger's family said they were "extremely proud of his many heroic and brave achievements".

Since his death, Mr McDonnell's family in association with the charity, The Mountain Fund, have set up a fund to provide support to the children of four Sherpa guides who also lost their lives in the K2 disaster.

Brother-in-law Damien O'Brien said it was always a dream of Ger's to set up a climbing school for high- altitude porters, who are essential support for climbing expeditions in the region.

Dublin City University said it was "deeply honoured" to house the tribute to Ger.