Cork woman looking forward to next adventure
18/05/2004 - 13:54:55
The first Irish woman to conquer the world’s highest mountain today vowed to continue hitting the heights after she recovers from her ordeal.
Clare O’Leary from Bandon, Co Cork, reached the summit of Mount Everest early this morning. After looking down on the world for almost half and hour, the 32-year-old doctor said she was now looking forward to her next challenge.
“I definitely want to climb some more big mountains but I don’t have any definite plans,” she said.
“Maybe the ‘Seven Summits’, which is the highest mountain on each continent, that’s something that I’m thinking about doing.”
Dr O’Leary reached the top of the mountain with expedition leader Pat Falvey and a number of guides. She described the feeling of reaching the summit as amazing, despite the conditions on the mountainside being very difficult.
“We are on oxygen continuously up here, the oxygen level here is only about a third what it is at sea level so you definitely feel pretty short of breath and light-headed even if you’re just sitting doing nothing,” she said.
“I think we probably spent 20 minutes (at the summit), Pat and myself, and four of our Sherpas got there at about the same time.
“When you get there, it’s about the size of a snooker table and you’re just looking down on all these amazing Himalayan mountains that you’ve read about and heard about and a lot of them you’ve seen on the trek in and to then be higher than all of those is absolutely amazing.
“From the other side of the summit you can look down into Tibet and you can actually see some climbers coming up on the north side.
“We were really lucky, the weather was perfect, it was cold but it was really clear when we were on the summit,” she added.
Dr O’Leary said she only made one quick phonecall to her parents Kevin and Alice from the summit because using a phone meant she had to remove her gloves and oxygen mask.
“I just called home and told them that we’d done it. To be honest, it was a pretty short call,” she told RTÉ radio.
“They were delighted. I’d said I might not call because I didn’t want them to be waiting and if the weather was too bad, I wouldn’t have called them, but it was brilliant to be able to do it from there.”
Expedition leader Pat Falvey said he was also delighted that he had managed to scale the mountain from both sides.
“It’s the first time in the history of the world that an Irish man and an Irish woman are standing on top of the world,” he said.
“We are so proud to be Irish standing on top of the world because it’s now we can hear the national anthem ringing in our ears as if we had won a gold medal at the Olympics.
“We are completely out of breath, the air up here is 33% of what it is at the foot, we’re absolutely knackered,” he added.