Friday 18 October 2019

Second Irish mountaineer dies on Everest in little over a week

Kevin Hynes from Galway died while attempting to scale the world’s highest peak

Mountain climbers lining up to stand at the summit of Mount Everest. Photo: AFP PHOTO / PROJECT POSSIBLE
Kathy Armstrong

Kathy Armstrong

A second Irish climber has died on Everest in just over a week.

Kevin Hynes (56) from Galway died on Everest while attempting to scale the world’s highest peak from Tibetan side early on Friday morning, according to expedition organisers.

“It is with the greatest sadness that we have to confirm that Kevin Hynes from Galway, Ireland, one of our Everest team members, has passed away,” the 360 Expeditions said in a statement reported by the Himalayan Times.

“Kevin (56) was one of the strongest and most experienced climbers on our team and had previously summited Everest South and Lhotse,” it added.

It is understood Mr Hynes lived and worked in the UK, and had previously scaled Everest in May of last year.

The death of Mr Hynes is the second Irish tragedy on the world's highest mountain in little over a week.

Trinity College professor and climber Seamus Lawless
Trinity College professor and climber Seamus Lawless

Father-of-one Séamus Lawless (39) from Bray, Co Wicklow, fell at an altitude of 8,300 metres while descending from the world’s highest peak on Thursday of last week.

Just hours after Mr Lawless reached the summit tragedy struck and a subsequent search was later reclassified as a recovery mission.

That search was called off on Friday.

Meanwhile, it is reported that Mr Hynes had reached Camp III at 8,300m on Wednesday.

“Yesterday, while our summit climbers were heading higher, Kevin started his descent. He was accompanied by experienced guide, Dawa Sangee, who himself has summited Everest South twice, Everest North and Makalu twice,” it said.

It is understood Mr Hynes passed away in his tent at 7,000 metres in the early hours this morning.

The experienced climber was married with two children.

Efforts were underway to bring his body to base camp, the officials said.

The Irish mountaineering group Irish Seven Summits posted a tribute on its Facebook page.

"It is with great sadness that we learn today of the death of Galway native Kevin Hynes on Everest. Kev (who lived and worked in UK) was on his 2nd expedition to Everest having reached the summit via the Nepal side last year and was attempting the North side this time. His expedition company reported the following earlier today...," it reads.

'On the 22nd May Kevin reached Camp 3 at 8,300m. On the 23rd May, while our summit climbers were heading higher, Kevin started his descent. He was accompanied by experienced Sherpa, Dawa Sangee, who himself has summited Everest south twice, Everest North and Makalu twice. Kevin passed away in his tent at the North Col at 7,000m in the early hours (Nepali time) of the 24th May'

"I spoke to Kevin as recently as last Friday when the team was preparing for the summit push. He was extremely private and understated about his climbing but was a very experienced guy (including Everest & Lhotse & many others). Our deepest sympathies to his wife and 2 children at this terrible time. Thinking also of his expedition team & teammates (360 Expeditions) at this sad time."

The search for Seamus Lawless was called off yesterday.

"It is with deep sadness that we have learnt this evening that the search for our friend and colleague, Séamus (Shay) Lawless, has been unsuccessful," Trinity College said in a statement. 

"While the experienced search team has made every effort to locate Shay, the extremes of operating at high altitude and the sheer range of the search area ultimately proved too difficult and based on expert advice the Lawless family have decided to call off the search rather than risk endangering anyone's life in the treacherous conditions. 

"The tragic death of our friend and colleague, Séamus (Shay) Lawless, has come as a huge shock to all of us.  On behalf of everyone at Trinity College Dublin and the research centre, ADAPT, we want to offer our condolences to his wife, Pam, and their daughter, Emma, and to his large family, all his friends, students and colleagues.

"We are mourning the loss of one our rising research stars, an inspirational colleague, and a much loved and valued member of our College community. Shay’s legacy is enormous.  An expert in Information Retrieval, his peer-reviewed publications, his supervision of cutting-edge doctoral research, and his leadership of internationally acclaimed research projects have transformed the boundaries of the discipline. 

"As a colleague and as a friend, Shay’s enthusiasm, his creativity and his approach to his work was inspirational.  In the months ahead we will gather to pay tribute to his remarkable scholarship and his contribution to ADAPT and Trinity College Dublin and it will be an opportunity for friends and colleagues to remember someone who will never be forgotten.  We are heartbroken at this news."

Trinity plans to host a memorial service in honour of Shay in the coming weeks.

Three Indian climbers and one Nepali guide also died on Mount Everest in the past couple of days.

More than 120 climbers scaled Everest on Thursday, but some of them were caught in the crowd of people on the slopes, leading to exhaustion, dehydration and death, the officials said.

Hiking officials say between five and ten climbers die on Mount Everest in an average climbing year.

Two women from India were among those who died.

They were named as Anjali Sharad Kulkarni, 54, from the commercial capital of Mumbai, and 49-year-old Kalpana Das, from the eastern state of Odisha. Both died while descending from the summit, which is 8,850 metres (29,035 feet) high.

The Indian man who died, also while descending, was Nihal Ashpak Bagwan, 27, from India's western city of Pune.

"Bagwan died of dehydration, exhaustion and tiredness after being caught in the jam of climbers," said Keshab Paudel of the Peak Promotion hiking agency that handled the climber's logistics.

"We don't know for how long the jam lasted nor how many climbers were clogged by a single line near the summit," Paudel said.

Shakpa Sherpa of another agency, Arun Treks and Expeditions, said his client, Kulkarni, died of weakness while coming down to Camp IV on the South Col of Everest.

The deaths were confirmed by Mira Acharya, an official of Nepal's tourism department.

Nepal has issued permits to 379 climbers on Mount Everest in the season, which ends this month.

The Nepali guide fell sick and died on Friday, officials said without giving details. Another Nepali guide perished on nearby Mount Makalu, they said, also without providing more information.

A total of 17 climbers have died or are missing on different Himalayan peaks in Nepal, seven of them Indians, since the start of the climbing season in March.

On the Tibetan side of the mountain there have been additional casualties, though it wasn't immediately clear how many.

A member of a Swiss team died at 8,600 m (28,215 ft) on the Tibetan side of the mountain on Thursday, according to Everest blogger Alan Arnette, who cited a Swiss operator, Kobler & Partner. The climber's full name has not been released.

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