K2 climber’s ‘spiritual connection’ to Ger McDonnell

Jason Black who plans to reach the peak of K2 on the tenth anniversary of Ger McDonnell's death.

IRISH Red Cross ambassador Jason Black, who has just reached the K2 base camp in Pakistan ahead of his ascent of the world’s second highest and most dangerous mountain, says he will be “spiritually connected” to Limerick climber Ger McDonnell during his climb.

McDonnell from Kilcornan in County Limerick is the first and only Irish person to conquer K2. He died in an ice avalanche on his descent ten years ago, after successfully rescuing three stricken climbers.


This week, Donegal climber Jason placed a plaque from the Irish people at K2 base camp in honour of Ger. Jason expects to reach the peak of K2 on August 2, which is the ten-year anniversary of Ger’s death.

A global endurance athlete who has previously summited Everest, Jason holds the mountaineering world record for the double ascent of Kilimanjaro in 22.5 hours.

And this is not Jason’s first attempt at K2. He made it as far as camp two in 2015 but no further, as Mother Nature had other plans and he had to turn back.

Speaking before he departed for Pakistan, Jason said; “I recently visited Ger McDonnell’s family in Limerick and they are fully backing me in the climb. Ger’s mum Gertie gave me some of his precious equipment to climb with and it means a lot to me; I’ll mentally be climbing with Ger.

“I’ll be spiritually connected to him through the equipment and to some people that doesn’t make sense, but to me on a mountain where you’re alone, and it’s a big vast mountain, and you’re away from civilisation, you cling on to any small support and positive energy, and anything that makes life a little bit easier on the mountain. It gives you strength.”

Jason’s previous K2 attempt will serve as great preparation over coming weeks.

“I got up as far as camp two the last time and there’s four camps before the summit, so I do know half the mountain,” Jason revealed.

“It makes the enormity of the climb a little bit easier to digest, the knowing of what it’s going to take the climb the thing and the enormity of the exposure that’s involved. You’re reading all the statistics before you leave Ireland – the fact that just over 300 people in the world have ever got to the top, and of course the death rate, so my knowledge of K2 from the last attempt helps break in it down in terms of knowing exactly what it is I have to tackle.”