Mountaineer who pushed himself and inspired others

Sat, Jan 5, 2013, 00:00

Ian McKeever, who was killed by lightning on Mount Kilimanjaro on Wednesday, at the age of 42, spent his action-packed life challenging the barriers of both youth and maturity by undertaking arduous physical challenges.

His motivation was his belief that before you could ask others to make a change and push out their boundaries you must first demonstrate your ability to do the same.

He accumulated multiple mountaineering world records, but behind the accolades lay a man of immense purpose filled with humility and respect for the potential in others.

From an early age Ian McKeever’s unique sporting ability was very much in evidence. He was educated at Johnstown National School in Cabinteely, Co Dublin, and later at Clonkeen College secondary school in Blackrock.

Communication skills

He began his working career in publishing, where McKeever’s ability to build lasting relationships, enhanced by his outstanding communication skills, soon saw his talent to sell advertising overshadowed by an inherent ability to build brands.

This was the beginning of his move into public relations, and having completed his diploma in public relations with the Public Relations Institute of Ireland in the early 1990s, he set up his own PR consultancy. Within a short time he began attracting corporate clients and became an outstanding media relations strategist.

It was during this period that he began to fulfil a personal desire to help others and to devise various national fundraising campaigns for charities in Ireland. His Santa Cycle campaign started in 1995 and lasted for a decade.

His natural communications ability and broadcast voice soon saw him join the AA Roadwatch team for a number of years which would eventually result in his own radio show at the then Sunshine 106 radio station.

One of his first world records arose from his creation of the world’s largest coin mural. Then, climbing Croagh Patrick as part of a personal fitness regime, he discovered his passion for mountains. Early on, he set his goal of climbing the world’s seven highest summits in the fastest time ever.

Record-breaking climbs

This journey of preparation would include record-breaking climbs in 2002 in the UK five peaks challenge; in 2004 in the Irish five peaks challenge where he completed the climb in a new fastest time of 16 hours and 16 minutes, and in June 2006 in the 26 peaks of Ireland challenge which he completed in a record time of 98 hours and 45 minutes.

This was followed by the world’s biggest mountaineering challenge, the Seven Summits. In July 2007 he climbed the world’s seven highest peaks in a record time. He achieved an additional world record by including the eighth highest peak, Snowy Mountain, in Australia.

To harness his leadership and motivational talents he undertook his life and business coaching qualification in 2008 with the Life and Executive Coaching Institute. This qualification would be the catalyst for his Kilimanjaro expeditions where he would motivate and lead the youth of Ireland to develop their team and personal life skills and cultivate a belief in their own abilities.

His accolades continued over recent years and include the greatest number of non-stop climbs on Croagh Patrick and the revival of the Cork Santa Cycle Challenge in aid of Adi Roche’s Chernobyl Children’s Project.

He wrote two books and attempted, as part of a team, to row the South Atlantic in record time.

Personal generosity

A humble man, known to many simply as “McKeever”, he was capable of acts of great personal generosity. In February 2012, he offered to act as a kidney donor for an ill acquaintance, stating that he was as fit as he had ever been.

McKeever leaves a legacy of records and, for those he has inspired and touched with his friendship, a gift of hope and motivation for the future.

He is survived by his father Neil, mother Aedeen, sister Denise and fiancee Anna O’Loughlin