Limerick man, Ger McDonnell (37) has posthumously been given an award for bravery, the Targa d’Argento Pinzolo Gold Medal, considered the top award by international climbers, having attempted to rescue a group of Koreans climbing K2 two years ago.
He lost his life attempting to save theirs.
McDonnell was on his descent from K2, the second highest mountain in the world, when he was alerted to three Koreans dangling from their harnesses at the side of the mountain. He turned back to try to save them.
His family will now travel to Italy to accept the award on his behalf. He was one of 11 climbers who died on the expedition in August 2008.
His body was never found but a memorial Mass, held in his old elementary school, in Kilcornan, was attended by hundreds.
“Two years on, there is still a false hope maybe he survived and went into some village…But it’s actually up to mother nature to make that decision and there is nothing that can be done only to await the decision of the man above,” said McDonnell’s brother J.J.
However, he said that if they found his brother’s body it would provide his mother with some closure.
Graham Bowley, a New York Times journalist has recorded the story of this great tragedy in a book called “No Way Down: Life and Death on K2."
The leader of the team that McDonnell was climbing with, Wilco Van Rooijen, previously wrote a book on the tragedy. He said McDonnell was a hero who fought for the lives of three strangers.
A Swedish film crew has already made a documentary on the events which led up to the tragedy and a number of other books being planned.
An Irish documentary about McDonnell and the rescue, in association with the McDonnell family, is also in the planning stages.