Youngest Irish person to scale Everest speaks from Base Camp

Robert Mortell, 26, reached the peak earlier this week, days after the mountain claimed more fatalities

A 26-year-old Limerick man has become the youngest Irish person ever to reach the top of Mount Everest.

Rob Mortell spoke to Newstalk Breakfast from the base camp at Everest shortly after he completed his final descent, and he says he is looking forward to getting home.

"For now I think I'll just be happy to go home, relax, appreciate life at home, food at home, and my life back in Dublin," he said.

"I'm looking for a bit of normality, I've been out here for two months now and it's been a challenging time.

"It's been a very enjoyable time, but it's been challenging, so just looking forward to settling back into a normal routine.

"I’m looking forward to normality. I’ve been here for two months, it’s been a challenging time, and an enjoyable time.

“I don’t know when we’ll get home We are at the mercy of the Chinese in terms of logistics, a lot of gear is still at base camp. It is going to take another few days before we can get home.”

He said there are many costs associated with such a project, “ a financial, emotional, family cost, work cost.

“It is hard to put together. When putting a plan together you have to assess how much you want this, how much you’re prepared to invest in terms of time and finances ,” he told Newstalk Breakfast.

“It’s all about everyone pitching in together.” He said the view from top of the world was “pretty incredible”.

“We could see Nepal and Tibet. It is quite special. But what’s special about Everest is that it dwarfs everything around it. There’s nothing close to it.

“Our summit was delayed so we couldn’t predict it with much accuracy. People have to make the best of what they hope will be the best weather day, to get the best views, to get the best safety, to have a safe climb.

“We were about two days off target when we did eventually [reach the] summit, but we were able to take shelter further down the mountain.

“The big thing about climbing Everest is that it’s a very personal goal. You can’t really be sure that it’s ever going to happen. There are so many things not in your control. You do your best, put the best foot forward, hope the weather plays ball, that your health is good.”

He said they were unaware of other incidents the mountain while they were preparing.

“On the north side where I was, we were unaware of major issues with other teams. All the teams help each other. We have a doctor on our team. You focus on your own climb and watch out for people around you."

The 26-year-old Limerick man confirmed he reached the 9,000-metre peak when he sent a message from his GPS tracker earlier this week.

"I am humbled and thrilled to be the youngest Irish person to stand on the top of the world," he said, in comments passed on to his Facebook page.

"This achievement has been four years in the making. I did not do this alone. It was made possible by the help and support of my family, girlfriend, friends, colleagues and sponsors. I look forward to coming home to celebrate in the next few days." 

The previous Irish record was held by 27-year-old Mark Quinn, also from Limerick, in 2011, beating Corkwoman Samantha O’Carroll, who reached the summit aged 28 in 2004.

American teenager Jordan Romero reached the summit aged 13 in 2010, but new age restrictions mean climbers must now be at least 16.

A tax intern, Rob left Ireland on March 17 and was the only Irish person to attempt the climb this year.

A week after he left Ireland, Robert told the Last Word on Today FM, and said: "Climbing Mount Everest is, I guess for me it’s a 'why not?' sort of question."

Rob trained for four years before taking on Mount Everest. In 2013 he scaled the Matterhorn in Switzerland and in 2014 he climbed the Denali, the highest mountain peak in North America.

Three people were killed in recent days while trying to reach the peak of Everest. Indian climber Subhash Paul died last Sunday night, raising the death toll on the world’s tallest mountain since it was re-opened to expeditions this spring to four.

A Dutchman died on Friday and an Australian woman hours later, after suffering from altitude sickness on the Everest.

Dozens of other climbers have developed frostbite or become sick near the summit in recent days.

Favourable weather has allowed nearly 400 climbers to reach the summit from Nepal since May 11, but the altitude, changeable weather and harsh terrain can cause problems at any time.

Over 250 people have died trying to climb Everest.

Last year, Nepal's devastating earthquake caused the climbing season to be cancelled, and climbing attempts were largely abandoned in 2014 after an avalanche above the base camp killed 16 Sherpa guides.