It’s almost 100 years since the explorer and adventurer, Westmeath man Charles Howard Bury of Belvedere House fame, led an expedition to Nepal with the equally famous George Mallory to attempt to climb Mount Everest.
Now, nearly a century on, another Westmeath man is breaking new ground in the mountains as well.
Fergal Hingerty overcame a major back injury, which threatened to leave him in a wheelchair, and he is working towards a goal of climbing of every peak in every county in Ireland, as defined by mountainviews.ie
Only a few years ago, Fergal lay flat on the ground unable to move at his home in Mullingar, after a chronic sciatica condition imposed itself on him with a vengeance.
He maintains that, but for major corrective surgery carried out at Cappagh National Orthopaedic Hospital, Dublin, he would have been in a wheelchair for life.
After a long and difficult recovery, Fergal took up hillwalking, which quickly graduated into a hobby he is very passionate about.
He has a number of friends in the Athlone area, and Ballykeeran pub The Dog and Duck was one of the sponsors of his landmark achievement in climbing Europe’s highest mountain, Mount Elbrus, last September.
After climbing Mount Olympus as a warm up for Elbrus, he went on to scale the 5,642 metre peak in Russia after seven days.
Fergal pictured after climbing Mount Elbrus.
Fergal has already climbed the highest points in several European countries and is well on the way towards his goal of scaling every peak in every county in Ireland – a challenge he hopes to complete either next year or in 2021.
He recently finished the last few hills in Ulster, to add to all the hills he has already climbed in Leinster, and it's believed that he is the first person ever to climb every mountain and hill in both provinces.
Other climbing challenges in the works for Fergal include scaling the Korona Polska Gory in Poland, the Scottish County Tops and the remaining few hills he has not yet climbed in Wales, along with some other countries’ highest points.
Discussing his motivation, he said: “Well, I was lucky and if I can achieve this with some motivation, zeal, drive, resilience and determination than anyone else can.
“Everyone’s Everest is different. People who saw me barely able to stand and walking restricted to 100 metres at a time can’t believe how far I have come.
“It’s simple really - do whatever your goal is. Just go for it and never give up. If I can do it, so can you. Believe!” he concluded.