IT COULD have been his second entry in the history books, but Limerick climber Mark Quinn has been forced to make the descent down Gasherbrum II, one of the tallest peaks in the world, without reaching the summit.
The 29 year-old Rhebogue man, who scaled Everest, the highest mountain in the world two years ago, had aimed to become the first Irishperson to climb Gasherbrum I and II, otherwise known as K4 and K5 in one single expedition.
However, Mark’s support team said that as temperatures increased on K5 in the Karakoram mountain range, which spans the borders of India, China and Pakistan, the expedition became “too dangerous” and emphasised that safety is his first concern.
“Due to melting snow they weren’t able to securely anchor safety ropes, and so on the advice of the sherpas, and their own climbing knowledge, had to abandon their summit attempt,” stated his team.
“The weather window they were hoping for wasn’t with them. They gave it their best shot and were the last climbing group to leave the mountain.”
It’s believed that Mark reached a height of 7,600m - higher than Aconcagua, the highest mountain in South America at 6960m, and also higher than Kilimanjaro, which is the highest mountain in Africa and stands at 5,895m.
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 said he has been “chomping at the bit” ever since to get back there.
“Obviously he and the team are hugely disappointed, but safety is paramount, and risk was too high,” said a spokesperson.
Mark flew out from Shannon Airport in late June to begin a 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.
Before he left, Mark emphasised the importance of safety in any expedition.
“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.”
Over €1,700 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.
Mark said the 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.
Mark, who hopes to pursue a career in journalism, beginning with a BA in the University of Limerick in September, has further plans to climb some of the world’s tallest mountains last year.
In his last expedition to Everest, he raised funds for the Shane Geoghegan trust, in memory of the murdered rugby player who was shot in a case of mistaken identity.
- See www.mycharity.ie/events/k4and5 to make a donation