Belfast Telegraph

Dromara climber Noel hits summit of Kathmandu mountain to book place in history

By Michelle Weir

Dromara man Noel Hanna has scaled the heights to set a new world record after a mountaineering expedition in Kathmandu.

Noel and his team of Sherpas became the first ever climbers to scale the south east wall of Mount Burke Khang.

He had been taking part in Asian Trekking's Burke Khang expedition last month, led by legendary American climber and friend Bill Burke who was the oldest American mountaineer to reach the summit of Mount Everest, in 2014, at the age of 72.

Noel is no stranger to adventure also having scaled Mont Blanc, Mount Everest - the world's highest mountain - no less than eight times and Mount Kilimanjaro around a dozen times.

He explained that he took on the latest challenge after being invited to do the climb by Bill.

Although Bill did not continue to the summit of Mount Burke Khang on this occasion, Noel successfully reached the technical peak of Larkya Lha, the south east wall at 23,000ft, with climbers Sirdars Naga Dorje, Pemba Tshering and Samden Bhote, on October 5.

"It was the part that Bill had never done before. I knew him from a previous Everest climb.

"I have climbed it from Nepal and Tibet."

He said that the ascent and descent took three weeks to complete. "Because the monsoon season was longer than usual, we were expecting the mountain to get more snow.

"Conditions were not too bad - better than we expected.

"The snow was sugary, even at the top, although when it is like this, there is a greater chance of an avalanche. However, it is easier than blue ice.

"I worked with the Sherpas who sometimes did not want to go on, especially at one point, but when I crossed the crevasse, they were happy to continue."

When they finally reached the top, he said there was a realisation that it was "the first time that a human being had ever stood there".

He said that the party only remained at the summit for 20 minutes or 30 minutes knowing that they "had to get back down again".

There was an emotional moment for Noel when he scattered the ashes of his beloved German Shepherd which he had lovingly carried with him to the peak.

"It was emotional, probably the only time I had a tear in my eye was when I was leaving the ashes," he added.

Noel explained that when he went training in the Mournes with his wife Lynne, who is also an intrepid climber and has scaled Everest twice, they were accompanied by their beloved dogs.

The ashes of another pet were left at Kilimanjaro in September.

Noel said that his interest in climbing developed from long distance races, with runs taking place over five or six days. He maintains that "70%" of a challenge is "mental attitude".

"And if you are physically fit, this will keep you going mentally," he said.

His next challenge is to climb Aconcagua in Argentina.

Belfast Telegraph

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