Sunday, May 26, 2024


TRIBUTES have been paid to Dromara mountaineer Noel Hanna who passed away suddenly after scaling Nepal’s Mount Annapurna. Early yesterday (Tuesday) morning, the tragic news broke on Nepalese outlets The Tributes paid to Dromara’s inspirational mountaineer Himalayan Times and Everest Today that the renowned local man had died the previous evening in a high altitude camp on the world’s 10th highest mountain after returning from its summit. Both media sources reported yesterday afternoon that Mr Hanna’s remains had been airlifted to the country’s capital, Kathmandu, and that at least five climbers had been evacuated from camps on Annapurna after falling ill “while descending from the summit point”. Indian climber Baljeet Kaur, who had gone missing above the camp, was rescued yesterday, though a search, being carried out by a team of Sherpa climbers, remained ongoing for her compatriot Anurag Maloo, who was stated to have “fallen into a deep crevasse”. The Dromara climber had just become the first person from the island of Ireland to have summited the 8,091m Annapurna – he was also first in this regard when he scaled K2 in 2018 – and had conquered Mount Everest, the world’s highest peak, on 10 occasions. His global adventures over the years were chronicled on his website ( Tributes to the 56-year-old mountaineer, from within the district and beyond, began appearing online as the news broke. Mournes SDLP councillor Laura Devlin said that it was “awful news to wake to”. “Noel was an absolute gentleman, who I first met away back during my Burrendale Gym days,” she posted. “To say he was an athlete was an understatement. “He was an incredible climber who climbed Everest many, many times. “Noel was such an interesting person with so much life experience and always up for a chat – this news is devastating.” She concluded by stating that she was thinking of his wife Lynne and all their family and friends. South Down Sinn Féin MP Chris Hazzard described what had happened as “tragic news”, and hailed Mr Hanna’s Everest and K2 exploits. “Thoughts with Noel’s family and friends at this very tough time,” he wrote. Lagan Valley Alliance MLA Sorcha Eastwood said that the local man’s death was “absolutely tragic and desperately sad news”, and described him as “a true mountain man, athlete and adventurer, who was renowned the world over for his ability, passion, enthusiasm and zest for life”. “He gave generously of his time, supporting many charities, but graciously gave his support to many young climbers and mountaineers,” she added. “His heart was truly never far from the mountains of Slieve Croob, his homeplace, and he was the best ambassador for Northern Ireland, embodying our spirit of adventure and generosity.” North Antrim DUP MLA Paul Frew posted that he was “so sorry to hear of the death of Noel Hanna”. “Noel was an absolute legend, climbing K2, Manaslu and Everest 10 times,” he stated. “My thoughts and prayers are with his family at this sad time.” Saray Khumalo, whom Mr Hanna had accompanied as she became the first Black African woman to reach Everest’s summit, described him as “a friend, a mentor and my captain”. “There are people who come into your life for a reason and when all seems to have been lost, and ignite the fire in you and go the extra mile to support your dream, despite everything,” she wrote. “There would have been no Everest success for me without Noel Hanna, and, yet, he never asked for recognition. “I will remember Noel as a climber with passion, a heart so brave, whose spirit soared without fear at altitude, and longed to pave a path of glory with a daring quest. “Although he is gone, his legacy remains in all that he touched and in the annals of mountaineering. “Although a void has been left, a sombre void, a life extinguished and dreams destroyed, I remain thankful to God for allowing Noel Hanna to cross my path and for being a mentor to me and an inspiration. “Until we meet again.” Mourne Mountain Adventures said that they were “very saddened to hear of the passing of Noel Hanna this morning”, adding that he will be “greatly missed by all that knew him”. “There is some peace in that he spent his last moments doing what he loved best, such a great man and one of Northern Ireland’s finest mountaineers,” a post read. Mountaineering Ireland, which awarded Mr Hanna their Lynam Medal in 2021 in “recognition of his remarkable accomplishments in mountaineering”, wrote that his “positivity, enthusiasm and can-do attitude were infectious and his loss will be felt across the mountaineering community”. Dromore RFC stated that they were “deeply saddened to hear about the tragic death”. “Noel was an inspiration to many young and old people within our community, and his achievements will always be remembered,” a social media post read. “Our sympathies go to the Hanna family and the mountaineering community around the world.” Ulster Rugby said that their thoughts are “with Noel’s family and friends at this sad time”. Cancer Focus NI posted that they were “saddened to hear of the untimely passing of NI climber and past supporter Noel Hanna”. “Previously, he and his wife Lynne climbed Everest, raising £130k for us,” the charity wrote. The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Northern Ireland said that they were “devastated” by the news, and that the mountaineer’s “down to earth manner and incredible expertise were an inspiration to everyone he met”. Speaking to the Mourne Observer in 2018, Mr Hanna said that “any climb you do is about 70 per cent mental endurance and about 30 per cent physical”. “If you have a positive mental attitude, you can do anything,” he added. “My motto is what the Nepalese say, ‘Polie Polie’, which just means ‘slowly, slowly’.”

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