NI couple who made history with Everest ascent scatter dog's ashes at summit
A Northern Ireland couple have become the first husband and wife team to climb to the top of Everest from both sides of the mountain.
A tired but jubilant Noel and Lynne Hanna stood on top of the world at 7am on Saturday - the same date as they reached the summit in 2009 - after a gruelling six-week climb.
As well as entering the record books, the couple fulfilled their dream of scattering the ashes of their beloved pet dog Babu on the top of Everest.
Safely back at Base Camp on Sunday, Lynne and Noel were congratulated by hundreds of well-wishers who have been following their a scent online.
Lynne also made history by becoming the first female from the UK and Ireland to summit Everest from both sides.
The couple battled a blizzard to make their final push.
Noel told the Belfast Telegraph last night: "We were pleased to be back down safe at Base Camp yesterday after being on the summit at 7am on Saturday.
"We had two objectives coming to Everest this time - to summit together and scatter Babu's ashes - and we did both.
"Lynne is the first female from the UK and Ireland to summit Everest from both sides, and as far as we can find out we are the first couple ever to summit from both sides together.
"We would like to thank everyone back home for their best wishes and support."
Lynne added: "We had very high winds heading for the summit, but it was very emotional on top. We are both delighted to be safely back in Base Camp."
Seasoned climbers Lynne (54) and Noel (49) first attempted the north side of the mountain in 2005 but were forced to give up when Noel experienced retinal haemorrhaging at 7,000 metres.
On their return home to Northern Ireland, they got Babu, a German Shepherd pup, to keep Noel company as he recovered. The pet's name means child or son in Tibetan, and the dog became as close to them as a child.
Babu ran and trained in the mountains with Lynne and Noel but died aged 10 in December last year.
As the couple made their second attempt to climb the mountain from the north side this month, they carried Babu's ashes with them. On Saturday, they said an emotional farewell to their beloved pet on the top of Everest.
Before leaving for the mountain, Noel told the Belfast Telegraph: "As we have no kids, we treated Babu like a child. We always said that when he died we would get him cremated and take some of his ashes to the highest mountain in Northern Ireland, which we did on St Patrick's Day.
"Babu had been to the summit of Slieve Donard with us about 50 times. We also want to take some of his ashes to the summit of Everest.
"As far as I know, we will be the first husband and wife to have climbed both sides of Everest, but for me it means more that we sprinkle Babu's ashes there. That has made us more determined to be on the summit together."