Tipperary man aims to be first Irish person to climb Everest without oxygen

Adventurer James McManus set to make history as he prepares for final push to summit

An elite adventurer is on course to make history on Tuesday by becoming the first Irish national ever to climb Mount Everest without oxygen.

James McManus, from Roscrea, Co Tipperary, admitted the colossal challenge of scaling the world's highest peak without supplementary oxygen has proved even harder than he had anticipated.

But his gruelling preparations – which include climbing two separate 6,000m Himalayan mountains without oxygen in recent weeks – appear to have paid off, as he prepared himself for the final push to the top of Everest.

However, the 39-year-old, who has spent more than 50 days in Nepal acclimatising to the conditions, insisted he's taking nothing for granted ahead of "summit day".

He said: “This expedition has been a lot harder than I thought. I’ve found out that climbing without oxygen is far more challenging than anything I’ve done before.

“Without oxygen, you move twice as slowly as you would, and the lack of oxygen can affect your decision-making. You are also far colder on the mountain without oxygen than you would be, so there’s a lot of different complications happening at the same time.”

However, McManus – who runs Dublin-based adventure travel company Earth’s Edge – said he feels confident he will succeed in his history-making mission to the summit of the 8,850m peak by Tuesday.

He continued: “I’ve done everything I possibly can to get to this point, including three rotations of Everest, whereby I’ve been gradually edging closer to the summit – the last climb being up to 7,850m. I’ve also recently climbed two separate 6,000m mountains without oxygen in preparation for this.

‘Well prepared’

"So I feel well prepared, and am determined to make that final ascent and become the first person from Ireland to make it to the top of Everest without oxygen."

To date just 216 climbers have reached the top of Everest without the use of supplementary oxygen.

Before the feat was first achieved in May 1978 by leading mountaineers Reinhold Messner and Peter Habeler, most experts believed the human body wouldn't be able to cope with the low oxygen levels [about 30 per cent of what they are at sea level] near to the top of the towering peak.

During the expedition, McManus has also been aiming to raise publicity for the Sherpa mountain guides and other low-paid workers in the region who he feels are exploited.

He added: “Over a million people work in tourism in Nepal and around 54,000 of them are employed as guides, porters and cooks during the three-month climbing season each spring.

“Many of them are not being treated fairly, as there’s no employment law or minimum pay. The industry needs to be regulated, so these people are treated and paid properly.”