Everest Season 2016 – The Irish Story
The Everest 2016 season has reached its conclusion with expeditions heading home on both Nepal and Tibet sides. It was a very successful season for Irish climbers, with four summits creating new and exciting records, and bringing the total number of successful summits by Irish climbers to 53.
Mary Scannell became the first Irish person to reach the summit of Everest this season. Mary from Co. Kerry reached the top via the South Route (Nepal side) on 13th May with the Jagged Globe team, in rather tough conditions. She now joins a distinguished list alongside five other Irish women who have successfully completed this incredible feat. To top it off, Mary has now completed all of the Seven Summits so its congratulations on the double. Annascaul has a proud tradition of adventure going back to the great Tom Crean, and so it is fitting that on the 100th anniversary of Creans valiant efforts to save the crew of the Endurance, that another Annascaul giant should emerge. Bravo Mary.
Noel and Lynne Hanna (from Co. Down, now living in Johannesburg) reached the summit on 21st May via the North Route (Tibet side). This is the second time they have reached the top together as a married couple, having previously succeeded via the South Route (Nepal side) in 2009. They are most likely the worlds first married couple to have reached the summit of Everest together from both sides. Well done Noel & Lynne. This also marks Noel’s 8th summit of Everest (yes you read that correctly!!!). What a machine, and a genuine nice guy to boot. This is not the last we will hear from Noel for this year – In a few weeks he heads to the Karakoram range to focus on a little peak known simply as K2.
Rob Mortell from Limerick has become the youngest Irish person to summit Everest. The 26 year old reached the summit on 23rd May via the North Route (Tibet side) and I’m looking forward to hearing all about it over a pint soon. I met Rob at a talk in the Great Outdoors in Dublin back in early 2013 when I was preparing for Antarctica. The notion of taking on some big peaks was starting to take shape in his head at that stage. Rob went on to climb the Matterhorn later that year and I may have helped twist his arm into doing Denali in 2014 as a pre-cursor to bigger things (apologies to Liz and his family for that, my bad!). Rob now has the Irish record for youngest summit, previously held by fellow Limerick man Mark Quinn who reached the top in 2011 aged 27. Well done Rob, see you soon for that pint.
(Images from Facebook profiles of… Mary Scannell, Noel Hanna & Rob Mortell)
Congratulations to all who have enjoyed a successful season on Everest this year, including my good friend and Antarctica tent-mate Paul Pottinger (Seattle, USA) whose blog was without doubt the best on the mountain, offering us all a glimpse into the ups and downs of life on a 2-month expedition. Also congrats to Melanie Barnett Southward (UK) who reached the top this year (in the dark) on her third attempt after experiencing the disasters of 2014 and 2015. I met Melanie last year on Everest when success looked very far away indeed. She fought back and made it this year, which is a great testament to her and her determination. Its also great to see mission successes for Greg Vernovage (IMG) after two difficult years and Garret Madison (Madison Mountaineering) who had a very tragic and sad time last year too. Finally, a note on Mingma and Pasang Sherpa who Irish mountaineering enthusiasts will know from their talks last year and both of whom were part of my recent Everest experiences – Pasang Tenzing Sherpa became one of the first to summit this year as part of the Sherpa team who fixed the ropes to the summit on the Nepal side. His brother Mingma Tsiri Sherpa (19 summits) didn’t go for the summit this time after getting some bad vibes about this years attempt. It’s good to see everyone back safe and sound and good to see the Sherpa community enjoying a better season with all of the benefits that this will now bring to them and to Nepal in general.
Overall numbers on Everest were down on previous years by anything between 15-20% depending on who you believe. On the Nepal side it was reported by the Nepal Tourism Ministry that 287 permits had been issued to 32 teams. If you add the Sherpa and Tibet climbers to that total, the overall population on the mountain was still significant, so it was in many respects business as usual this year. Latest projections via Alan Arnette indicated in the region of 560+ summits in the 2016 Everest season. That is the third highest level of summits in one season in the history of Everest, indicating that Everest is back in business! It was also statistically one of the safest years on Everest in recent history. The graph below shows summit total for 2016 in comparison to other years in the recent past.
With many of the 2015 ‘unused’ permits still valid next year, it is almost guaranteed that 2017 will see a restoration of numbers to 2013 levels or beyond, and could end up being the busiest year in Everest history. That is not good news for anyone in the know about the effects of crowding on Everest. Also, looking at the graph, I would hate to have been the eejit who decided to climb Everest in 2014 and 2015…. oh wait, damnation!!! :-).
The Everest ER medical team who do an amazing job and who were complete super heroes last year during the Base Camp disaster, reported last week that they had seen 300 patients over 7 weeks of the 2016 season on the Nepal side, and they provided a very interesting breakdown of their stats…
– 65% of patients were Nepali, next 3 most frequent nationalities represented in patient visits include USA, India & UK.
– The vast majority of visits were related to cough (27%) with gastrointestinal complaints coming in a close second.
– Other commonly seen conditions included altitude illnesses, with a few serious cases of HAPE and HACE.
– Increased incidence of frostbite compared to past years (5% versus our usual 2-3%.)
– Dental problems came in at 3% of visits.
– One case of high altitude retinal hemorrhage causing visual field deficit.
– In total, 15% of patients required evacuation after stabilization.
Source: Everest ER Team (http://www.everester.org/387-2/)
Sadly there was 7 recorded deaths this season… Eric Arnold (Netherlands), Marisa Strydom (Australia), Ang Furba Sherpa (Nepal), Paresh Chandra Nath (India), Goutam Ghosh (India), Subash Pal (India) and an unnamed climber on Tibet side. Dutch native Eric Arnold, an accomplished athlete, had attempted Everest three times previously, and in 2012 came within 250m of the summit. His attempts on Everest in 2014 and 2015 were halted by the disasters which occurred in both years. Dr. Marisa Strydom was attempting the Seven Summits challenge with her husband Robert Gropel, and had previously climbed Denali & Aconcagua among other peaks. Ang Furba Sherpa (climbing Sherpa) was fixing ropes on the Lhotse Face for an Indian Army team when he slipped and fell to Camp 2. The 25 year old Sherpa had previously climbed Manuslu 8156m and a number of other 6000-7000m peaks. Indian climbers Paresh Nath, Goutam Ghosh and Subash Pal all died close to the summit of Everest, circumstances unknown. The only recorded death on the Tibet side occurred at basecamp where a 65 year old unnamed climber was reported to have suffered a heart attack and died. No further information is known at this time. Condolences to the families of all who lost their lives this year.
If you head over to Alan Arnette’s website you will see some great articles and insights from the season just gone. I would also recommend Paul Pottinger’s blog if you want to immerse yourself lightly and poetically in the whole experience.
When its all said and done, the season belongs to Mary, Noel, Lynne and Rob – Congratulations.
Onward & Upward.
The live list of people from Ireland who have successfully climbed Everest is as follows…
# Climber Name Age Born / From Permit Address Route Taken Summit Date Summit Time Year
1 Dawson Stelfox 35 Antrim Antrim North (Tibet) 27/05/1993 10:07 1993
2 Pat Falvey 37 Cork Cork North (Tibet) 27/05/1995 09:00 1995
3 Mick Murphy 44 Cork Cork South (Nepal) 22/05/2003 10:00 2003
4 Gerard McDonnell 32 Limerick USA South (Nepal) 22/05/2003 11:10 2003
5 Terence Bannon 35 Down Down North (Tibet) 31/05/2003 08:00 2003
6 Pat Falvey 46 Cork Kerry South (Nepal) 18/05/2004 06:45 2004
7 Clare O'Leary 33 Cork Cork South (Nepal) 18/05/2004 06:45 2004
8 Samantha O'Carroll 27 Cork Cork South (Nepal) 27/05/2004 10:20 2004
9 Humphrey Murphy 41 Dublin Donegal North (Tibet) 30/05/2005 07:10 2005
10 Grania Willis 49 Dublin Dublin North (Tibet) 05/06/2005 06:00 2005
11 Fergal Corrigan 31 Fermanagh Tyrone North (Tibet) 17/05/2006 06:40 2006
12 Neill Elliot 33 Fermanagh Fermanagh North (Tibet) 17/05/2006 06:40 2006
13 Raymond Hassard 33 Fermanagh Fermanagh North (Tibet) 17/05/2006 06:40 2006
14 Noel Hanna 39 Down Down North (Tibet) 21/05/2006 07:35 2006
15 Ian McKeever 37 Wicklow Wicklow North (Tibet) 16/05/2007 08:00 2007
16 Tom Lehane 49 Cork England South (Nepal) 17/05/2007 07:30 2007
17 Hannah Shields 42 Derry Derry North (Tibet) 19/05/2007 07:00 2007
18 Bill Hanlon 52 Wexford Canada South (Nepal) 22/05/2007 11:36 2007
19 Nigel Hart 41 Antrim Antrim South (Nepal) 23/05/2007 06:29 2007
20 Roger McMorrow 31 Antrim Dublin South (Nepal) 24/05/2007 07:55 2007
21 Michael O'Dwyer 32 Dublin Dublin South (Nepal) 24/05/2007 07:55 2007
22 John Dowd 53 Kerry Kerry South (Nepal) 21/05/2008 07:45 2008
23 Anselm Murphy * 24 Irish Citizen England South (Nepal) 21/05/2008 10:30 2008
24 Ian Taylor 29 Kildare Kildare South (Nepal) 23/05/2008 06:10 2008
25 Noel Hanna 42 Down Down South (Nepal) 21/05/2009 04:00 2009
26 Lynne Hanna 47 Down Down South (Nepal) 21/05/2009 04:00 2009
27 Christopher Jones 45 Unknown Galway South (Nepal) 21/05/2009 07:40 2009
28 Domhnall O'Dochartaigh ** 35 Irish Citizen Canada South (Nepal) 07/05/2010 06:00 2010
29 James Haydock *** 48 Lancashire Dublin South (Nepal) 22/05/2010 06:00 2010
30 Noel Hanna 43 Down Down South (Nepal) 23/05/2010 03:15 2010
31 Vivian Rigney 39 Dublin USA South (Nepal) 23/05/2010 09:00 2010
32 Fergus White 37 Dublin Cork South (Nepal) 23/05/2010 06:45 2010
33 Geoffrey Chambers 46 Armagh Armagh South (Nepal) 16/05/2011 06:15 2011
34 Basil Geoghegan 43 Dublin Dublin South (Nepal) 19/05/2011 07:25 2011
35 Gavin Bate **** 44 Kent Down South (Nepal) 20/05/2011 10:00 2011
36 Noel Hanna 44 Down Down North (Tibet) 21/05/2011 01:10 2011
37 Mark Quinn 27 Limerick Limerick North (Tibet) 21/05/2011 05:45 2011
38 Martin Byrne 58 Offaly Tipperary North (Tibet) 26/05/2011 11:30 2011
39 Noel Hanna 45 Down Down North (Tibet) 20/05/2012 08:00 2012
40 Cian O'Brolchain 32 Dublin Dublin South (Nepal) 25/05/2012 06:00 2012
41 Albert Connaughton 49 Dublin Dublin South (Nepal) 25/05/2012 07:00 2012
42 Peter O'Connell 29 Galway Galway South (Nepal) 13/05/2013 06:30 2013
43 Jason Black 42 Donegal Donegal North (Tibet) 19/05/2013 07:00 2013
44 Noel Hanna 46 Down Down North (Tibet) 20/05/2013 05:30 2013
45 Brian Meskell 33 Limerick Limerick North (Tibet) 22/05/2013 06:00 2013
46 Robert Smith 42 Tyrone Scotland North (Tibet) 22/05/2013 06:00 2013
47 Kieran Lally 54 Mayo Dublin South (Nepal) 23/05/2013 05:30 2013
48 Noel Hanna 47 Down Down North (Tibet) 24/05/2014 06:30 2014
49 Derek Mahon 52 Dublin Dublin North (Tibet) 24/05/2014 06:30 2014
50 Robert Smith 43 Tyrone Scotland North (Tibet) 25/05/2014 08:00 2014
51 Mary Scannell 41 Kerry England South (Nepal) 13/05/2016 09:45 2016
52 Noel Hanna 49 Down Down North (Tibet) 21/05/2016 06:45 2016
53 Lynne Hanna 54 Down Down North (Tibet) 21/05/2016 06:45 2016
54 Robert Mortell 26 Limerick Limerick North (Tibet) 23/05/2016 08:45 2016
55 John Burke 38 Clare Clare South (Nepal) 16/05/2017 09:30 2017
56 Terry Kelleher 56 Dublin Dublin South (Nepal) 22/05/2017 07:30 2017
57 Robert Smith 46 Tyrone Scotland South (Nepal) 22/05/2017 04:40 2017
58 Rory McHugh 40 Dublin England South (Nepal) 26/05/2017 11:00 2017
59 Louise McEvoy 49 Dublin USA South (Nepal) 16/05/2018 TBC 2018
60 Linda Blakely 44 Armagh London South (Nepal) 17/05/2018 07:48 2018
61 Adrian McNally 41 Meath Meath South (Nepal) 17/05/2018 05:30 2018
62 Robert Smith 47 Tyrone Scotland South (Nepal) 19/05/2018 06:58 2018
63 Kevin Hynes 55 Galway Galway South (Nepal) 21/05/2018 05:30 2018
64 Noel Hanna 52 Down Down South (Nepal) 16/05/2019 09:15 (?) 2019
65 Seamus Lawless 39 Wicklow Wicklow South (Nepal) 16/05/2019 09:15 (?) 2019
66 Jenny Copeland 40 Meath Meath South (Nepal) 16/05/2019 09:15 (?) 2019
67 Robert Smith 48 Tyrone Scotland South (Nepal) 23/05/2019 07:00 (?) 2019
The list above is county-centric for no other reason except that is how I tracked it. So I should also include with great admiration those climbers with strong Irish connections who also completed Everest including… Anselm Murphy in 2008 (London-Irish), Chris Jones in 2009 (UK, living in Clare), Domhnall O’Dochertaigh in 2010 (Canadian-Irish), James Haydock in 2010 (UK, living in Dublin), Patrick McKibben in 2013 (Canadian with Irish roots) & Sean Mooney in 2013 (Canadian with Irish roots).
(Data compiled using a range of publications by Lorna Siggins, Pat Falvey, Frank Nugent, Himalayan Database and PD’s own independent research).