The Irish climber who died near the top of Mount Everest three days after his wife gave birth to a baby girl had not originally set out to reach the summit.
John Delaney (41), from Kilcock, Co Kildare, made the decision to push for the top of the world's highest mountain at the last minute. And it is understood the keen adventurer did not inform anyone of his decision.
He had originally planned to scale to the North Col of the mountain, a crossing carved by glaciers connecting Everest to the Changtse Mountain.
But it is understood that when he got there he felt strong enough to make it to the top. He got into trouble and is understood to have collapsed less than 50m short of the summit, in what is known as the “death zone”.
Mr Delaney, who had two young sons, Caspar (3) and Alexander (2), died without knowing his wife Orla had given birth to a baby girl last Wednesday.
The climber, managing director of an online market prediction company, died on Saturday, but because his team was out of contact his death was only confirmed yesterday.
“Orla didn't want to tell him that she had the baby until he was coming back,” his mother Massie said.
Orla's brother, Liam Hurley, said she was planning to call the baby Hope. “The one person who can describe him best is the one person who can't speak at the moment, and that's Orla,” Mr Hurley said. “He was a generous, loving guy — the family came first for him. He adored his two children and he spent as much time as he could with them.
“It's just a shame he's not going to get to meet the third.”
Mr Delaney and his wife married five years ago. He had been mountaineering for several years and was trying to conquer Everest after a failed bid, also five years ago.
Mr Delaney was among a team of 18, including one US and six Russian climbers, eight Sherpas and two other guides. The expedition left on April 9.
They left a camp at 8,300m on Friday evening in a bid to scale the final section of the notorious peak.
After he got into difficulties, Sherpas helped Mr Delaney down the mountainside, but attempts to resuscitate him failed.
His body will remain on Everest as it is too dangerous to retrieve.
Mountaineering Ireland chief officer Karl Boyle said the mountaineering community was devastated at the news of the tragedy.
“Anyone who climbs will feel this loss acutely. John would have been the 19th Irish person to summit Everest following on from the first Irishman to climb the mountain in 1993, Dawson Stelfox,” he said.
The expedition was separate from the team involving Mark Quinn (26), who became the youngest Irishman to reach the Everest summit at the weekend.
Last week Co Armagh man Geoff Chambers (46) reached the summit of Everest after leaving for the gruelling expedition in March.