Ger McDonnell’s legacy recalled in historic mountain climb

Jason Black who reached the summit of K2 on the tenth anniversary of Ger McDonnell's death.
Jason Black who reached the summit of K2 on the tenth anniversary of Ger McDonnell's death.

WHEN Jason Black reached the top of the world’s second-highest mountain last weekend, he dedicated his achievement to the late Limerick mountaineer Ger McDonnell who was the first Irish person to climb K2 ten years earlier.

K2 is regarded as far more dangerous than Mount Everest and there have only been 306 successful ascents recorded with the loss of 80 lives, including the Kilcornan man died on his descent in August 2008 after rescuing a group of Korean climbers who were caught out in the bad weather.


He was one of eleven climbers who died in one of the deadliest days in mountaineering history when an ice fall swept away fixed ropes on the peak in Pakistan.

After reaching the 8,611-metre peak last Sunday morning, Jason Black recorded a message in which he described the climb as “hell” adding that Ger McDonnell’s “legacy will live on forever”.

The Donegal man took a climbing device which had been given to him by Ger McDonnell’s mother, Gertie, to the summit and he placed a plaque in the Limerick climber’s memory at K2 base camp in Pakistan earlier this month.

A “global endurance” athlete, Jason Black made his first attempt on K2 two years ago, and pledged to return on the 10th anniversary of the death of the first Irish K2 summiteer.

A few hours earlier, Noel Hanna from Dromore, Co Down became the second Irish man to conquer K2 when he reached the peak on Saturday morning.
Black was part of a separate international expedition led by Garrett Madison with Sherpa support.
Ger Mc Donnell’s brother-in-law Damien O’Brien told the Irish Times that they had just completed their final anniversary cycle for Ger, involving 91 cyclists travelling from Doolin in Clare to Kilcornan on Saturday.

“A few hours after leaving the community centre, we heard that Jason had made it to the top and was on his way to a lower camp,” he said.

“We are delighted and wishing him a good descent, as the summit is only half the climb and it is all about getting safely down,” O’Brien said.

He confirmed that Jason Black’s wife Sharon had flown out to meet her husband and she conveyed the best wishes of the McDonnell family on his remarkable achievement.