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Irish Everest on Balcony? A story of the North and South
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May 18, 2004 12: 51 EST
In just a few hours we may be witness to a new chapter in the history of Ireland. Clare O'Leary is climbing up the south side of Everest hoping to become the first Irish female to reach the summit. Pat Falvey is right there with her, he hopes to be the first Irish climber to reach the summit from both the North (1995) and the South sides.

Just arriving in BC from some rest days in Pheriche is Samantha O'Carroll. She is also from County Cork like Clare, and is also climbing Everest from the South Side. Sam is with the Adventure Consultants team. This will be Sam's first attempt at an 8000m peak.

Clare was a part of Pat’s expedition last year and reached the Lhotse Face (7500m). Another climber on Pat's team last year was Hannah Shields, from Northern Ireland, who reached the South Summit (8750m).

On the North side last year, was also a Northern Irish expedition. Richard Dougan was leading a small team from Northern Ireland (Terrence Bannon, David Sharp, Stephen Synnott, and Marin Duggan), with Jamie McGuinness managing the logistics for the team. They summited Everest late in the season.

Whilst Clare now returns with Pat for another shot at Everest, Hannah instead will join the Northern Irish Everest for a North Pole expedition for 2005 led by Richard Dougan. So will Pat.

Pat Falvey summited from the North side in 1995, and reached to within 160 feet of the summit from the south last year. On May 22nd, two climbers from Pat's Irish Everest 2003 reached the summit, Mick Murphy and Gerard McDonnell. The Irish team was one of the most popular teams down in base camp that year. Other expeditions said that their presence there lifted other climbers spirits.

The Northern Ireland North Pole expedition will be unsupported. It will cross the 775 kilometer's from Ward-Hunt Island on the Northwest tip of Canada’s massive Ellesmere Island on foot. It will tow all its equipment and supplies on sledge that can mass up to one hundred kilogram's.

Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom, while southern Ireland is an independent republic. Tensions in Northern Ireland between parts of the catholic community (the nationalists and republicans) and parts of the protestant community (the unionists and loyalists) resulted in a twenty-five-year period of sectarian violence, with over 3,000 deaths. A ceasefire was agreed between all sides in the mid-nineties in conjunction with the Good Friday Agreement, and is still in place today.

Live image of Irish climbers on Everest provided by Contact 2.0, courtesy of IrishEverest2004

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