An Irish father of two has died while attempting a climb on the world’s highest mountain.
Kevin Hynes, 56, a father of two from Galway was part of a group from the climbing company, 360 Expeditions, attempting to scale the Mount Everest summit which stands at 8,848 metres.
Mr Hynes, who was part of a team of six along with three expert sherpas, was attempting to scale Mount Everest from the Tibetan (North) side this morning.
The Galway man’s death comes just over a week after father-of-one Séamus Lawless, from Bray, Co Wicklow went missing after falling up to 500 metres from the Balcony area of Everest in temperatures of -27C.
A recovery operation for Mr Lawless is continuing. He had successfully submitted the mountain just hours before.
In a statement, 360 Expeditions said: “Kevin (56) was one of the strongest and most experienced climbers on our team and had previously summited Everest South and Lhotse.
"His wonderful wife, Bernadette and two children, Erin and James are comforted by all the communication that Kevin sent out from his expedition, letting them know that, "quote" "this was proving the most fun he had had on any one of his expeditions and the team was amazing and that he was loving being with Rolfe”.
"We had no inkling of the events that have now unfolded before posting the summit team news (23rd May). We were texting him yesterday afternoon (although had no replies) asking him how he was and knowing that he would have been devastated not to have been part of the summit push.
We thank everyone for your understanding and respect in the light of this tragic event. Our heartfelt thoughts and condolences are with all Kevin’s family and his friends. He really was a wonderful man and it was a great privilege to have him on our team.
"Although we might expand on this tragic event in the coming days we would appreciate that you do not speculate on the scenario or ask questions as we are unable to respond. We would welcome your love and thoughts for the family and ask that you all respect their privacy during this difficult time. "
A Department of Foreign Affairs said: “The Department is aware of reports of the death of an Irish citizen on the north slopes of Mount Everest. We stand ready to provide consular assistance.”
Kevin had reached Camp Three at 8,300m on Wednesday. The statement added: “Yesterday, while our summit climbers were heading higher, Kevin started his descent. He was accompanied by experienced guide, Dawa Sangee, who himself has summited Everest South twice, Everest North and Makalu twice.”
According to the Himalayan Times, Kevin passed away in his tent at the North Col at 7,000 m in the early hours (Nepali time which is five hours and 45 minutes ahead of Ireland) this morning.
“His wonderful wife, Bernadette and two children, Erin and James are comforted by all the communication that Kevin sent out from his expedition, letting them know that — this was probably the most fun he had had on any one of his expeditions, the team was amazing and that he was loving being with Rolfe Oostra.”
Efforts are underway to bring his body to base camp, officials at Base Camp said.
One of Ireland’s leading mountaineers and adventurers, Pat Falvey, who is the only Irish person to successfully ascend Mt Everest from the north and south faces twice in the world said: “I can confirm that Mr Hynes died on Mount Everest. It appears so far and from speaking with officials in Nepal that he died from altitude sickness.
“There are more Irish people dying on Everest than any other nationality which this season to date has seen 19 deaths. This news is just tragic.”
Mr Falvey added with regard to the recovery operation for Mr Lawless, whose wife Pamela is expecting their second child that the recovery mission is continuing, “as the weather has calmed to safe levels.
"The family have confirmed to me that if his body is found he will be buried on the mountain.
Mr Falvey added: “It’s being reported that there may be difficulties in finding Mr Lawless. It’s being suggested that if he is located and can or cannot be recovered then a funeral or memorial service will take place.”
The recovery operation for Mr Lawless is being led by Co. Down man Noel Hanna from Seven Summits Treks company and another eight skilled climbers.
In a statement on the crowdfunding page, gofundme.com, a family spokesperson said: "We would like to extend our thanks to all who have shown such support to the Lawless family at this very difficult time. We'd like to give an update on the plans for the search operation for Shay.
“The weather is improving on Everest and tomorrow the search will resume. The expedition team, led by Noel Hanna with eight highly skilled Sherpas, has flown to Camp II and will commence their search from Camp IV tomorrow, which is not far from where Shay went missing.
“The team are also using drone technology to assist them in the search operation and our thoughts and hopes are with them.”
Donations to the page have raised almost €270,000 from the public.
They aim to raise €750,000 as they have said that they have been forced to look for donations, as the insurance company which provided a policy for Mr Lawless, are currently not providing assistance with the search and rescue operation.