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Saturday, August 02, 2008

Contact lost with Limerick man who reached K2 summit

The status of a native Kilcornan man remains unknown after he became the first Irish person to successfully climb the world’s second highest mountain.

Fears are mounting for the safety of Co Limerick climber Gerard McDonnell after he went missing only hours after reaching the top of the 'worlds most dangerous mountain'.

The 37 year old who now lives in Alaska reached the summit of the K2 Mountain late last night in what was his second attempt to climb the peak. In 2006 he reportedly came to within 600 meters of the top before having to be rescued.

The Limerick native is part of an international expedition and is climbing with Dutch, Australian and Nepalese climbers. The expedition group is named “K2 Norit expedition”. Six climbers in total have been reported missing after an ice fall. A major search and rescue operation has been launched with the aid of experienced sherpas and helicopters.

Reports from the official website of the expedition group say,

”Major problems on K2. A big chunk of Ice fell down and took a lot of the fixed lines with it. A large portion (latest estimate is 12) climbers who were descending can NOT move any further. They halted before the traverse or before the Bottleneck. Cas and Pemba climbed without fixed ropes and are safe in C4 and resting. Wilco and Gerard are in the group with Marco and at least a couple of Koreans waiting (we think, and hope).”
The official website (new link) of the expedition is now carrying emergency updates on the status of the team. The Department of Foreign Affairs has confirmed it is monitoring the situation.

A friend of the climber, Pat Falvey, spoke to the Press Association this morning saying,

"It looks at that moment that there is a big rescue on the mountain, above the 8,000 metre mark and it looks like Ger and a few other friends are actually trapped higher on the mountain."
A comment posted by a reader on the official site says the people of Limerick are praying for Gerards safe return,

"We are all here praying for the safe return for all the climbers, may the work of the rescue team be succesful. Our thought and prayers are with you Ger and all on K2. May the path to Camp 4 descend upon ye. From all of us praying so hard in Limerick Ireland"
More details as they become available.

K2climb.net is following the developments.
Everestnews.com is following developments.
Gerards personal
dispatches.

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