Tuesday, May 21, 2019

The body of a climber who was part of the group which reached the summit of the world’s highest mountain just hours prior to the disappearance of Irish father-of-one Séamus Lawless, has been recovered.

Indian climber Ravi Thakar, was found dead inside his tent on Mount Everest at 7,900m Camp Four in Nepal last Friday morning. Severe altitude sickness is being blamed for his death.

Just hours earlier, the Wicklow man fell from the treacherous area known as, the balcony – he is yet to be found.

The assistant professor in artificial intelligence at Trinity College’s School of Computer Science and Statistics had successfully reached the summit of 8,848m, last Thursday along with several others in his group of eight, led by well-known and respected Co. Down adventurer Noel Hanna.

The search for Mr Lawless has now turned into a recovery operation.

Mr Hanna has experienced another tragedy in his climbing career. In 2011, he was part of a team involved in another Everest summit attempt, where another Irishman and father-of-two John Delaney, 41, from Kilcock, Co. Kildare, died 50 metres from the Everest summit. His body remains on the mountain.

Weather conditions throughout last week were extremely difficult with high winds of 55km and frigid temperatures of -27C with a wind chill, making it feel more like -43C being persistent.

Mingma Sherpa, chairman of the Seven Summit Treks company, who climbed with both Mr Thakar and Mr Lawless, said that a team of seven Sherpas coordinated by Tashi Lakpa Sherpa, have brought the Indian climber’s body from Camp Four to Camp Two where they were forced to remain for a number of days due to safety concerns.

Speaking to The Himalayan Times, Mingma Sherpa said: “The team has recovered the body of Ravi Thakar, who was found dead inside his tent at Camp Four on Mt Everest.”

High winds have now eased but weather temperatures are still frigid at -26C which may enable any potential attempt to locate Mr Lawless to go ahead.

Meanwhile, the remains of two other men Biplab Baidya (48) and Kuntal Karar (46), who died on Mt Kanchenjunga also last week were airlifted to Nepal’s Capital Kathmandu. The duo died on May 16 after they were unable to continue their descent from near the summit point of the world’s third-highest peak.

To date, the prime climbing season has resulted in at least 11 fatal incidents with three deaths on Mt Kanchenjunga, two on Mt Everest, three on Mt Makalu and one each on Mt Lhotse, Mt Annapurna and Mt Cho Oyu.

Séamus Lawless.

Mr Lawless’ pregnant wife Pam and their four-year-old daughter Emma remain at their home in Bray being comforted by family and friends. Mr Delaney’s wife Orla was also pregnant with their third child when he attempted his climb.

A fundraising drive on the gofundme crowd sharing page, set-up by Mr Lawless’ family last Friday has so far raised almost €260,000.

They aim to raise €750,000 as they have said that they have been forced to look for donations, as the insurance company which provided a policy for Mr Lawless, are currently not providing assistance with the search and rescue operation.

Mr Lawless attempted the mammoth climb to raise up to €25,000 for Barretstown, a charity dedicated to seriously ill children and their families.

One of Ireland’s leading mountaineers and adventurers, Pat Falvey, who is the only Irish person to successfully ascend Mt Everest from the north and south faces said: “A lot of questions need to be asked as to how Mr Lawless fell.

“From what the experts in Nepal have told, is that he was only missed when Mr Hanna went looking for him after they had descended down from summit to the nearest camp.

“It would be a massive task to bring him down from the balcony area where he was last seen. Normally, a climber has fixed ropes attached to them and is accompanied by a sherpa in a type of one-on-one situation.”

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