Irish climber: ‘If I don’t make good decisions, I die’

Jason Black

An Irish climber has reached K2 base camp in Pakistan ahead of his attempt to ascend the world’s second highest peak.

Irish Red Cross ambassador and Donegal man Jason Black hopes to make history as only the second Irish person to ever summit what is considered to be the world’s most dangerous mountain.

The only Irish person to conquer K2 is Limerick native Ger McDonnell who died in an ice avalanche on his descent 10 years ago, after successfully rescuing three stricken climbers.

Yesterday, Jason placed a plaque from the Irish people at K2 base camp in Ger’s honour. Jason expects to reach the peak of K2 on August 2, the 10-year anniversary of Ger’s death.

Speaking before leaving for Pakistan, Jason said; “I recently visited Ger McDonnell’s family in Limerick and they are fully backing me in the climb. Ger’s mum Gertie gave me some of his precious equipment to climb with and it means a lot to me.

I’ll be spiritually connected to him through the equipment and to some people that doesn’t make sense, but to me on a mountain where you’re alone, and it’s a big vast mountain, and you’re away from civilisation, you cling on to any small support and positive energy, and anything that makes life a little bit easier on the mountain. It gives you strength.

This is not the first attempt at K2 by Jason, a global endurance athlete who has previously summited Everest, and who holds the mountaineering world record for the double ascent of Kilimanjaro in 22.5 hours.

He made it as far as the second base camp in 2015 but was forced to turn back.

I got up as far as camp two the last time and there’s four camps before the summit, so I do know half the mountain,” said Jason. “It makes the enormity of the climb a little bit easier to digest.

The weather on the summit of K2 generally consists of 300km/h winds but, for four days, the weather becomes calm on the top — “and that’s when you have to strike” said Jason.

Saying he is proud to be Irish Red Cross ambassador, he also addressed the dangers of the climb.

“It’s going to call on every bit of mountaineering skill that I have in my body, not only from a skill and physical perspective, but mentally,” he said. “I need to stay strong to deal with the lack of oxygen, and to try to make good, conscious decisions on the mountain because if I can’t make good, strong, conscious decisions, then I can’t survive.”


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