Ian McKeever once held the record for completing the seven highest peaks in the world in the fastest time An Irish mountaineer and charity fundraiser has died while climbing Mount Kilimanjaro inTanzania. Ian McKeever, who was 42 and from ...
Ian McKeever once held the record for completing the seven highest peaks in the world in the fastest time
An Irish mountaineer and charity fundraiser has died while climbing Mount Kilimanjaro inTanzania.
Ian McKeever, who was 42 and from Lough Dan in Wicklow, was leading a group of climbers when they were struck by lightning.
Mr McKeever was a leading member of the Kilimanjaro Achievers Team, a group of veteran climbers which led groups to the top of the mountain.
In 2007, the adventurer had scaled Mount Everest.
He is also the former holder of the record for completing the seven highest peaks in the world in the fastest time - 32 days fewer than the previous record.
In 2009, he was part of a team that attempted to row the South Atlantic Oceanin under 30 days, but the boat lost its rudder and they were forced to postpone the attempt.
More recently he had been attempting, along with African climbing guide friend Samuel Kinsonga, to break the record for the fastest ascent of Kilimanjaro, as part of their anti-racism Black and White Makes Sense Campaign.
Mr McKeever was the author of two books - Give Me Shelter and Give Me Heroes - and was working on a third book Give Me 28 Days.
On his Facebook page on Wednesday night, a statement said: "It is with deep regret, that we, Ian's family, fiancee Anna and friends, advise of his sudden death on Kilimanjaro, today, doing what he loved best."
Mr McKeever had been posting messages on the site during the ascent of the mountain.
His last post, on Tuesday, said: "Shira 2, 4,000m. Torrential rain all day. Spirits remain good even if drying clothes is proving impossible! We pray for dryer weather tomorrow - the big day. It's the Lava Tower."
It is understood none of the other climbers suffered serious injuries.
In a message of condolence, Irish Prime Minister (Taoiseach) Enda Kenny said: "I was very saddened to hear of the death of renowned adventurer Ian McKeever.
"I had come to know him over recent years and I admired him not only for his own achievements and charity work but also for his work with young people in challenging them to achieve their full potential.
"He was extremely passionate about what he did and driven in his belief that everybody can achieve their potential during their lifetime.
"Ian said to me once that there was no place he would rather be than in the mountains."
Site of the project:
Seven Summits record
“My Dad phoned my Mum from the hospital yesterday to convey the very sad news. He said that he was fine but he was thrown into the air by a bolt of lightning, so I’m anxious to hear from him again.”
Mr McKeever had climbed Kilimanjaro several times, often leading groups of youngsters, and was on this occasion leading a large team of mostly Irish climbers raising money for charity.
The attempt on the 19,340ft mountain,Africa’s tallest, began on December 30 and immediately ran into unseasonal bad weather.
On Mr McKeever’s Kilimanjaro Achievers Facebook page, colleagues wrote that the group was above 13,000ft but that conditions had been terrible throughout the climb.
“Torrential rain all day,” they wrote on Wednesday. “Spirits remain good even if drying clothes is proving impossible! We pray for dryer weather tomorrow – the big day.”
They were due to ascend to the Lava Tower, a key point of acclimatisation at 15,000ft, before descending slightly to sleep before pushing higher towards the summit, which they aimed to reach late on Friday.
The storm is understood to have worsened as the group was climbing towards theLavaToweron Wednesday.
Mr McKeever died later that evening.
Among those taking part in the climb was a school group from Ballinamore in north-westernIreland, with four students and a teacher, Aoife Ni Mhaille.
Padraig Leyden, head of St Felims College, said he had a brief conversation with Miss Ni Mhaille.
“It was very frightening and very severe,” Mr Leyden told The Daily Telegraph. “The group hid behind rocks for the entirety. I do not know whether they witnessed what happened.
“They were taken off the mountain and were brought to a local hospital for checks. All the students are physically fine, but naturally very upset about what’s occurred.”
Tributes poured in for Mr McKeever and his achievements during a decade-long mountaineering career in which he set a world record for the fastest successful summiting of the highest peaks on all seven continents, finishing the feat in 156 days in 2007.
Pat Falvey, renowned Irish explorer, said Mr McKeever “followed his dreams with conviction and inspired others”.
“It was a freak accident and a complete fluke,” he told the Irish Independent. “I have lost two friends in lightning strikes, including one on theHimalayas— but they are very rare on Kilimanjaro.”
Taoiseach Enda Kenny said: “Ian said to me once that there was no place he would rather be than in the mountains.
“I would like to extend my sympathies to his fiancee Anna and his family, friends and fellow adventurers.”