Interesting Facts

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|   About the Seven Summits   |

The Seven Summits challenge was first completed by American Dick Bass in 1985 and involves climbing the highest peaks on all 7 continents including… Kilimanjaro (Africa), Elbrus (Europe), Aconcagua (S. America), Kosciuszko (Australia), Denali (N. America), Vinson (Antarctica) & Everest (Asia).

By 2012 only 234 people worldwide had completed each of the ‘Bass’ and ‘Morrow’ Seven Summits lists respectively. The difference between the two lists rests on a difference of opinion on what constitutes the continent of Australia. The world record for the fastest Seven Summits challenge was briefly held by Irishman Ian McKeever in 2009 at 156 days, while the first person in the world to have completed the Seven Summits including descent to sea level was Noel Hanna.

The list of climbers from Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland who have completed the ‘Bass’ Seven Summits list is as follows…

  • Pat Falvey (39 & 47) from Co. Cork in 1997 & 2005
  • Clare O’Leary (34) from Co. Cork in 2005
  • Ian McKeever (37) from Co. Wicklow in 2007
  • Vivian Rigney (39) from Co. Dublin in 2010
  • Noel Hanna (42) from Co. Down in 2010
  • Neill Elliott (42) from Co. Fermanagh in 2015
  • Mary Scannell (   ) from Co. Kerry in 2016

Note: Noel Hanna, Bill Hanlon, Ian McKeever and Vivian Rigney and Mary Scannell have all completed the ‘Morrow’ Seven Summits list which replaces Kosciuszko with Carstensz Pyramid in Papua New Guinea.

|   Seven Summits Costs   |

Our Seven Summits project has cost approximately €150,000 per person. The most costly expeditions are Antarctica and Everest. The disaster in 2014 meant a retry in 2015 (which ended after 25 days due to the deadly earthquake and avalanche), hence the combined Everest costs reached approximately €70,000. Training and equipment over the years also added significantly to overall costs. Around 90% of the total cost has been self-funded, with 10% coming from donors.

Ireland & Everest

By the end of 2016 season, Everest had been successfully scaled 46 times (28 RoI, 18 NI) by 37 different climbers (27 RoI, 10 NI) from Ireland since the first successful Irish expedition in 1993. Additionally, there have been 6 summits by climbers with very strong Irish connections.

  • The first climber from Ireland to reach the summit of Everest was Dawson Stelfox from Antrim in 1993.
  • The most summits from Northern Ireland is Noel Hanna (8) and from Republic of Ireland is Pat Falvey (2).
  • Charles Howard-Bury of Belvedere House in Westmeath lead the 1921 Everest expedition which included George Mallory.
  • R.W.G. Hingston who lived in Passage West in Cork was medical officer & naturalist to the 1924 Everest expedition.
  • The first successful Irish female ascent of Everest was Clare O’Leary (ROI) in 2004 and Hannah Shields (NI) in 2007.
  • The youngest Irish person to reach the summit of Everest was Rob Mortell from Limerick (aged 26) in 2016.
  • The oldest Irish person to reach the summit of Everest was Martin Byrne from Offaly (aged 58) in 2012.
  • Noel & Lynne Hanna (Co. Down) hold the world record for the 1st married couple to summit together from both sides (2009 & 2016).

The first team from Ireland to succeed on Everest took the North Ridge (1960 Chinese route), and included: Dawson Stelfox (leader); Frank Nugent (Deputy leader); Dermot Somers; Robbie Fenlon; Mike Barry; Richard O’Neill Dean; Mick Murphy and Tony Burke.

|   Everest Summits   |

Everest has been climbed over 7500 times by approx 4600 climbers between 1953 & 2016. The summit of the mountain sits on the borders of Nepal and Tibet at an altitude of 8848m. The mountain was initially named Peak XV before being renamed in 1856 after George Everest, a retired British Surveyor General who never actually saw the peak. The graph below shows the summit statistics for the period from 2004-2015 including the significant impact of the 2014 avalanche and 2015 earthquake/avalanche disasters. 2015 marks the first year that Everest was unclimbed since 1974.

Below is a full listing of successful ascents of Everest by climbers from Ireland from 1993 to 2016. This list has been researched by Paul Devaney from a range of sources including publications by Lorna Siggins, Pat Falvey, Frank Nugent, Himalayan Database and independent research to produce the first fully complete record of all successful Irish ascents of Everest. Please contact Paul with any corrections/updates.

#ClimberCountyYearAgeRoute
1Dawson StelfoxAntrim199335North via Tibet
2Pat FalveyCork199537North via Tibet
3Gerard McDonnellLimerick200332South via Nepal
4Michael MurphyCork200344South via Nepal
5Terence BannonDown200335North via Tibet
6Pat FalveyCork200446South via Nepal
7Clare O' LearyCork200433South via Nepal
8Samantha O'CarrollCork200427South via Nepal
9Humphrey MurphyDublin200541North via Tibet
10Grania WillisDublin200549North via Tibet
11Fergal CorriganFermanagh200631North via Tibet
12Neill ElliotFermanagh200633North via Tibet
13Raymond HassardFermanagh200633North via Tibet
14Noel HannaDown200639North via Tibet
15Ian McKeeverWicklow200737North via Tibet
16Thomas LehaneCork200749South via Nepal
17Hannah ShieldsDerry200743North via Tibet
18Bill HanlonWexford200752South via Nepal
19Nigel HartAntrim200741South via Nepal
20Roger McMorrowAntrim200731South via Nepal
21Michael O'DwyerDublin200732South via Nepal
22John DowdKerry200853South via Nepal
23Ian TaylorKildare200829South via Nepal
24Noel HannaDown200942South via Nepal
25Lynne HannaDown200947South via Nepal
26Noel HannaDown201043South via Nepal
27Vivian RigneyDublin201039South via Nepal
28Fergus WhiteDublin201037South via Nepal
29Basil GeogheganDublin201143South via Nepal
30Mark QuinnLimerick201127North via Tibet
31Noel HannaDown201144North via Tibet
32Martin ByrneOffaly201158North via Tibet
33Noel HannaDown201245North via Tibet
34Cian O'Brolcha‡inDublin201232South via Nepal
35Albert ConnaughtonDublin201249South via Nepal
36Peter O'ConnellGalway201329South via Nepal
37Jason BlackDonegal201342North via Tibet
38Noel HannaDown201346North via Tibet
39Brian MeskellLimerick201333North via Tibet
40Kieran LallyMayo201354South via Nepal
41Noel HannaDown201447North via Tibet
42Derek MahonDublin201452North via Tibet
43Mary ScannellKerry2016South via Nepal
44Noel HannaDown201649North via Tibet
45Lynne HannaDown201654North via Tibet
46Rob MortellLimerick201626North via Tibet

The list above is county-centric, so I should also include with great admiration those climbers with strong Irish connections who have 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 (Lancashire, living in Dublin), Patrick McKibben in 2013 (Canadian with Irish roots) and Sean Mooney in 2013 (Canadian with Irish roots). 

|   Everest Facts & Stats   |

|   Vinson Massif & Ireland   |

Vinson Massif is the highest mountain of Antarctica, lying in the Sentinel Range of the Ellsworth Mountains, which stand above the Ronnie Ice Shelf near the base of the Antarctic Peninsula. The mountain was first discovered in 1958 and first climbed in 1966. The mountain was named in 2006 after Carl Vinson – US Congressman from the state of Georgia and one of the main supporters of Antarctic research.

The first Irish person to climb Vinson Massif was Sheila Dyson in 1997. Sheila was born and raised in Dublin and like many of her generation she emigrated to UK in her early 20’s to find work. Her summit of Vinson Massif came two weeks before Pat Falvey became the first Irish male to complete the climb. Pat would return to Antarctica a decade later, firstly to lead the 1st Irish team climb of Vinson Massif with Clare O’Leary and then to lead the 1st Irish team to reach the South Pole in 2006. It is difficult to be exact about how many have people have climbed Vinson, or how many climbers from Ireland have reached the summit. The statistics I have collected (including records from Union Glacier in Antarctica) on Irish ascents of Vinson Massif from up to 2015 comprises the following:

  • Sheila Dyson – Dublin – 1997
  • Pat Falvey – Cork – 1997 & 2005
  • Clare O’Leary – Cork – 2005
  • Michael Lanigan – 2005
  • Ian McKeever – Wicklow – 2007
  • Noel Hanna – Down – 2009
  • Bill Hanlon – Wexford – 2009
  • Vivian Rigney – Dublin – 2009
  • Mary Scannell – Kerry – 2011
  • Senan Foley – Cork – 2011
  • Paul Holland – Galway – 2013
  • Paul Devaney – Longford – 2014
  • Neill Elliott – Fermanagh – 2015
  • Kevin Trundle – Cork – 2015

|   Antarctica & Ireland  |

Ernest Shackelton – Born in Ballytore Co. Kildare in 1874 to a Quaker family, the young Ernest joined the merchant Navy and worked his way up through the ranks. Shackleton’s first experience of the Antarctic was in 1902 as a member of Scott’s ‘Discovery’ Expedition when he first met his fellow countryman Tom Crean. Shackleton returned to Antarctica in 1907 with his own expedition when he got within 97 miles of the Pole, 360 miles closer than anyone previously. After Amundsen reached the pole, Shackleton was determined to be the first to cross the continent and returned with the ill-fated Endurance in 1914 to disaster and an Epic escape to South Georgia. Shackleton could not get the Antarctic out of his blood and returned once more in 1922 but only made it to South Georgia where he died and is buried.

Tom Crean – Born just outside Annascaul in Kerry in 1877. At the age of 15 he ran away and joined the Navy as a Boy 2nd Class. Crean played a major role in three of the greatest Antarctic expeditions. On his second trip to the Antarctic in 1911, Crean was a member of the tragic Scott Expedition narrowly beaten in the race to the South Pole by the Norwegian Amundsen. Crean retrieved the bodies of Scott’s polar party, frozen only 11 miles from a food depot. In 1914 Crean was back in the Antarctic for a third time, on this occasion with an old friend Ernest Shackleton on the ill-fated Endurance expedition. He was instrumental in the rescue mission and was one of three (Shackelton, Worsley being the others) who reached the whaling station in South Georgia to raise the alarm and spark the rescue of all hands from the doomed Endurance. On returning home, Crean resumed naval duties. On 15 December 1916 he was promoted to the rank of warrant officer (as a boatswain), in recognition of his service on the Endurance,and was awarded his third Polar Medal. On 5 September 1917 Crean married Ellen Herlihy of Annascaul in Co. Kerry. He retired from the Navy on medical grounds on 24 March 1920. He and Ellen opened a small public house in Annascaul, which he called The South Pole Inn. The couple had three daughters, Mary, Kate, and Eileen, although Kate died when she was four years old. His legend, statue and The South Pole Inn pub can still be found in Annascaul. 

Tim McCarthy – McCarthy was born on 15 July 1888 in Kinsale, Ireland. He signed on the Endurance as an able seaman, and participated fully in the dangers and privations of the Weddell Sea, particularly after the Endurance sank and the ship’s company and shore party were marooned on a nearby ice floe. He was one of the party of 6 who organised the rescue via the epic boat journey to South Georgia. On his return home, McCarthy (who was not an Irish Nationalist and identified himself with the British Empire) found his country fighting World War I. He joined the Royal Navy Reserve as a leading seaman. In these duties he was assigned to man a deck gun on the S.S. Narragansett, an oil tanker. On 16 March 1917, this vessel was torpedoed and sunk with all hands in the Western Approaches. McCarthy, aged 28, was the first member of the Weddell Sea party of the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition to die.

Edward Bansfield – Born in Cork in 1783. Bansfield was the first European to sight Antarctica. As a merchant seaman, he was pressed into the British Navy and took part in the blockade of Brest (1813-14) during the Napoleonic Wars. By 1815 he had risen to be a master, the highest rank available to him. From 1829 to 1821 he explored and charted the South Shetland Islands (as named by him). In 1819 he discovered Trinity Land, the north-western tip of the Antarctic peninsula. Bransfield Island, Bransfield Straight, Bransfield Rocks and Mount Bransfield are named after him.

Francis Crozier – Born in Banbridge, Co. Down in 1796. Crozier joined the British Navy in 1810. He made three Arctic voyages with Parry between 1821 and 1827. He explored the Antarctic as second in command to Ross from 1839 to 1843 and took over command of Franklin’s Arctic expedition in 1847 when Franklin died. Cape Crozier on King William Island, Canada, is named after him.

Francis McClintock – Born in Dundalk in 1819. McClintock entered the British Navy in 1831 and between 1848 and 1852 he made several Arctic voyages – his first as captain in 1852. He made a number of long journeys by sledge across the Arctic and developed methods that were widely adopted. In 1859 McClintok found the remains of Franklin’s expedition and the grave of Crozier and his men. Mount McClintok in Antarctica is called after him.

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