Lightning kills climber Ian McKeever on Mt Kilimanjaro

Freak accident claims the life of 42-year-old Irish adventurer as he ascends Africa's highest peak

LAST UPDATED AT 09:37 ON Thu 3 Jan 2013

IAN McKEEVER, one of Ireland's most experienced mountaineers and adventurers, has been killed by a lightning strike on Mount Kilimanjaro.

The 42-year-old was leading a group of 23 Irish climbers up Africa's highest mountain yesterday when they were engulfed by a lightning storm. His fiancée, Anna, was part of the group, many of whom needed medical attention after the strike, according to The Times.

McKeever, from Lough Dan in Wicklow, was one of the world's most experienced mountaineers, having previously broken the world record for scaling the highest mountain in each of the seven continents in 155 days, the Irish Examiner says. He had also held speed records for reaching the highest peaks in Britain and Ireland.

But Kilimanjaro was special. McKeever regularly mentored climbers, including many Irish schoolchildren, to scale the 5,895m-high summit through his Kilimanjaro Achievers organisation. In 2008, he helped his 10-year-old godson Sean McSharry become the youngest person in Europe to reach the peak.

McKeever began his latest ascent of Kilimanjaro the day before New Year's Eve. He and his group were trying to move above the Lava Tower – a 4,000 metre landmark - when the fatal storm struck.

A report the climber wrote the previous day notes that the climb had been affected by "torrential rain", but his team remained in "good spirits". His final posting reads: "We pray for dryer weather tomorrow - the big day. It's the Lava Tower."

McKeever's family confirmed his death on his Facebook page late last night, writing: "It is with deep regret, that we, Ian's family, fiancée Anna and friends, advise of his sudden death on Kilimanjaro today doing what he loved best."

Paying tribute to his friend and colleague last night. the Irish explorer Pat Falvey told independent.ie that McKeever "followed his dreams with conviction and inspired others." · 

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