LIMERICKMAN Mark Quinn will be flying out of Shannon Airport at 7am this Thursday for one of the biggest challenges of his life.
The Rhebogue man, who scaled Everest, the highest mountain in the world two years ago, is now aiming to climb Gasherbrum I and II, otherwise known as K4 and K5, the 11th and 13th highest mountains in the world.
He has already claimed the title of being the youngest Irishman to climb Everest, and now Mark could become the first Irishman to climb not one, but both of these peaks in a single expedition.
After the 39-hour journey from Shannon via Manchester, Abu Dhabi and Islamabad, he will begin his 50-60 day journey, trekking across glaciers and climbing both peaks which each stand at more than 8,000 metres above sea level, along with a largely Belgian expedition under the expertise of a Nepalese sherpa.
“I just can’t wait to get going at this stage - no more training, my feet will finally be on the ground,” he enthused.
“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 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.”
While the luxuries enjoyed by mountain climbers are few, he said if and when he gets to the top he will have two imperishable foods at hand, provided by two of his sponsors, who have made the trip possible and allowed for public funds raised to go directly to charity.
Cheese and onion Tayto crisps and jelly beans will be his unlikely treats in the Karakoram mountain range, which spans the borders of India, China and Pakistan.
Over €1,500 has been raised to date for two of his designated charities from the climb - Headstrong, which supports young people’s mental health, and which is due to open a drop-in centre in Limerick, and Medicins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders), the world’s leading medical humanitarian organisation. In addition, he wants to show Irish youths what you can achieve when you put your mind to it, and when you take care of your mental health.
See www.mycharity.ie/events/k4and5 to donate