THE COUNTDOWN is on for Limerick climber Mark Quinn’s summit attempt on Mount Everest in just over two weeks, as his preparations at base camp draw to a close.
If he is successful, the Rhebogue man will become the youngest person in the Republic to have conquered one of the world’s most inhospitable places in the world.
Quinn left Limerick just over a month ago, but it is likely to be another month before he returns to his native city.
Several weeks remain before he has an opportunity to launch the Limerick flag at the summit, but he was pictured last week looking happy and healthy in his Munster jersey at the main base camp.
“He’s in high spirits, and he’s very confident and happy with the way he’s progressing,” said his friend Daragh Graham, who was in touch with Mark last week.
“He did sound a bit tired, but he has been up and down the mountain a lot. A lot of people think you go straight to the summit but you don’t,” he clarified.
Mark and his team descended from advanced base camp to lower base camp at the weekend, to help their bodies adjust to the sub-zero temperatures and high altitudes.
He is now making his way back up to the higher base camp, before descending the 6,500 metres again one last time. On May 20 he will be set to begin his summit climb, following several stages of the acclimatisation process.
Armed with high altitude boots, ice-axes and harnesses, the various stages are intended to practice techniques required higher up the mountain where there are greater risks involved.
Once he leaves camp 4, he will enter the ‘death zone’ and it should then take 18 hours to reach the summit depending on weather conditions.
From camp 4 on, he will require bottled oxygen while he sleeps and for he step he takes towards the summit.
Everest is 8,848m above sea level and above 8,000m climbers enter the ‘death zone’, where the level of oxygen drops dramatically, blood thickens, the risk of frostbite increases and brain function decreases as your body begins to shut down.
It has claimed more than 250 lives since the first ascent by Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing in 1953.
He is hoping to raise one euro for every foot conquered of the 29,000 feet climb, potentially €30,000 for the Shane Geoghegan Trust.
The Limerick based charity, which was set up after Garryowen rugby player was shot dead in a case of mistaken identity, raises funds for youth programmes in the city, and offers young people an alternative path to a life of crime.
“It’s an honour to be able to do it,” he said. “Not everyone is in a position to fundraise or train for something like this. Even climbing Caranthouhill, the first mountain I climbed, was inspiring.”
See www.highaltitudeireland.org for information on how to support Mark.