THE LUXURIES enjoyed by mountain climbers are few, but if and when he gets to the top of two of the highest mountains in the world, Mark Quinn will have two imperishable foods at hand.
Cheese and onion Tayto crisps and jelly beans will be the unlikely treats for the history-making climber from Rhebogue if he’s able to make the ascent to Gasherbrum I and II, otherwise known as K4 and K5, the 11th and 13th highest mountains in the world.
No Irishman or woman has ever managed to climb one of these peaks, but Everest climber Mark is going for the double - looking to climb both in one expedition, and for the added thrill factor, he is aiming to resist using oxygen tanks.
The 29-year-old Rhebogue man, who in 2011 became the youngest person born in the Republic to conquer Everest, will leave Shannon Airport for Islamabad next week, for a 50-day journey, including a five-day trek across glaciers and another 40 days up the peaks, which both stand more than 8,000 metres above sea level.
By comparison, Ireland’s highest peak, Carranthouhill, is but a fraction of that, at 1,038m.
The trip has been in the making ever since he was on Everest and he has been “chomping at the bit” ever since to get back there.
“I am mad to get off and get on the road now. We run the risk of not having a weather window to climb, and if we do the major danger is an avalanche, but you have to make level-headed decisions,” he said, adding that safety has been a major focus of his preparations in the last two years since his learning curve on Everest.
“There is no point in worrying about it. You just have to make the correct decisions and after that it’s in the lap of the Gods.”
When he gets there, safety will also be first priority. “I always say my first priority is to get down safely, the second is to help someone in trouble if I can and the third promise I make to myself is to make it to the summit. The mountain will always be there.”
This trip will again naturally be a worrying time for his family.
“It always is, especially on summit day. I’m under no illusions that it’s a dangerous and selfish thing to do.”
This Saturday, June 15, he will hold a ‘goodbye party’ and a fundraising night in Bentley’s bar on O’Connell Street from 8pm. A special cocktail is being created with proceeds from its sales going to charity.
Over €1,500 has been raised to date for two of his designated charities from the climb, but he hopes to raise a lot more. After raising funds for the Shane Geoghegan Trust from his last expedition, he has chosen Limerick based Headstrong, which supports young people’s mental health, and Medicins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders), the world’s leading medical humanitarian organisation.
To prepare for the challenge he took part in the Connemarathon, climbed some of the notorious routes in Ben Nevis, the highest mountain range in Britain, and ran the marathon in the Great Limerick Run in May.
He will leave Shannon Airport on Thursday next, June 20, where he will later joined with a predominantly Belgian expedition, led by Dutch guide Arnold Coster who led his team on Everest.
Mark said the continuing support of his sponsors - Tayto, River Deep Mountain High, North Face, Ovio Studios, Altitude Gym, the Jelly Bean factory - will allow for all the money raised to go directly to charity.
- See www.mycharity.ie/events/k4and5 to make a donation