‘We have lost a friend’ - Fellow climber says Kildare man died after weather turned

Alan Mahon (40) was with group of five experienced Irish climbers

Mount Elbrus, Europe’s highest peak at 5,642m (18,510 ft), is in southern Russia, near the Georgian border. Photograph: iStock

Mount Elbrus, Europe’s highest peak at 5,642m (18,510 ft), is in southern Russia, near the Georgian border. Photograph: iStock

 

An Irish climber has died on an expedition to Mount Elbrus in Russia.

Alan Mahon (40), a father-of-three, from Monasterevin, Co Kildare was with a group of five Irish climbers when he died on Sunday during a planned descent of Europe’s tallest peak.

All of the climbers were experienced and their route was carefully planned but they were caught when severe weather conditions came in earlier than anticipated.

Fellow climber Keith McDonnell explained they had carried out routine forecasting checks which showed good conditions were due to turn on Saturday.

They had climbed the north side of the mountain and on Friday had been discussing how best to summit.

However, the weather conditions unexpectedly changed, bringing a near total white-out and heavy winds, making movement impossible.

The climbers remained in a mountain shelter, in good health and spirits, monitoring conditions at all times. They were later joined by a group of Russian climbers who had found themselves in the same circumstances.

A narrow window of opportunity emerged on Sunday to descent, although while visibility improved the conditions were still challenging, Mr McDonnell explained. They descended on the south side of the mountain as was their original plan.

Mr Mahon’s condition, however, began to deteriorate on the descent. They eventually managed to make contact with base camp who dispatched a snow cat transport and he was brought down the mountain.

“We are all deeply heartbroken over what happened to Alan. We have lost a friend,” Mr McDermott explained.

Fellow climbers Des Mulvihill, Robert Forbes and Oliver Greene are safe and well.

Mount Elbrus, Europe’s highest peak at 5,642 metres (18,510 feet), is in southern Russia, near the Georgian border.

Climbers can approach the mountain via two routes and generally undertake several days of acclimatisation due to the mountain height. Poor weather conditions are known to affect climbs.

The Department of Foreign Affairs said it is aware of the case and is providing consular assistance.

Mr Mahon’s death comes shortly after that of Seamus Lawless, the Trinity College professor from Co Wicklow who fell to his death on Mount Everest in May.