Tributes paid to adventurer McKeever

Tributes were last night paid to adventurer Ian McKeever, after a lightning strike on Africa’s highest mountain, Kilimanjaro, claimed his life.

Mr McKeever, 42, was leading a group of 23 Irish climbers up the Tanzanian mountain after they set off early this week, but the trek was blighted by severe weather.

Broadcaster Joe Duffy said on Twitter that Mr McKeever had guided both his sons up Kilimanjaro. Presenters Ruth Scott and Síle Seoige also paid their respects, as did his former colleague at AA Roadwatch, Conor Faughnan.

“I’m very sad and shocked to hear it. I worked with him for a few years and was proud to consider him a friend,” Mr Faughnan said.

It was reported that Mr McKeever’s fiancée, Anna, was among the other climbers injured in the lightning storm yesterday, as the group planned to rise above the 4,000-metre mark at the Lava Towers.

The mountaineer, from Lough Dan in Wicklow, was one of the most experienced at his craft, having broken the world record for scaling the highest mountain in each of the seven continents in 155 days. He achieved this in 2007 and also held speed records for reaching the highest peaks in Britain and Ireland.

Mr McKeever’s death was confirmed in a statement issued on behalf of his family and his fiancée.

A report he wrote on the previous day’s climbing said it had been affected by torrential rain, but the team had continued in good spirits. The expedition was organised as part of the Kilimanjaro Achievers group, which was led by Mr McKeever and had brought a number of schoolchildren to tackle the mountain.

Before his record breaking feats in 2007, Mr McKeever was known as a broadcaster with the AA Roadwatch team. He had taken social studies in UCD and, after leaving AA Roadwatch, he worked in public relations consultancy. He also lectured in communications.

In 2009, he was part of a team of five rowers who attempted to cross the Atlantic. That challenge had to be abandoned after one-third of the journey when the team’s vessel was hit by an unknown object, reported at the time as possibly being a whale.

Mr McKeever had written two books and had set himself a goal of breaking the four-minute mile after his 40th birthday, to emulate the feat of athlete Eamon Coughlan.

In 2008, the mountaineer helped his 10-year-old godson to become the youngest European to climb Kilimanjaro.

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