An Irish climber who fell to his death on Mount Everest sent his pregnant wife a final text saying, “I’ve done it … I’m coming home.”
Up to 1000 people gathered at the funeral of Seamus Lawless. Mourners celebrated the life of the father-of-one who left an “imprint on everyone”.
Mr Lawless, 39, a professor of artificial intelligence at Trinity College Dublin, died just hours after summiting Mt Everest 12 days ago, as the recovery operation for another Irishman, Kevin Hynes, continues.
The dad sent a final text to his pregnant wife Pamela from Everest’s summit, saying he’d done it, reached the summit and was coming home, parish priest Father Michael O’Kelly said.
Just hours after summiting the world’s highest mountain above sea level, Mr Lawless fell up to 500m during his descent from an altitude of 8300m in an area known as “the balcony”.
It was his ambition to climb Everest before he turned 40 this July.
His wife Pam and their four-year-old daughter Emma were accompanied to the celebration service by Mr Lawless’s parents Betty and Jimmy, brother Ciarán, a large extended family and wide circle of friends.
He was one of many lives lost on Everest recently, with 11 climbers killed in just nine days, due in part to overcrowding near the summit.
GUARD OF HONOUR
The Lawless family received a guard of honour from Barretstown members — the charity Mr Lawless had climbed Everest in aid of.
Close childhood friend Rob Ward told mourners, “During the past week, I had the chance to go through a book of previous memories his wife Pam has. It has stories of their hikes, playing and stories, they did together as a family with Emma.
“Shay adored them and he told Emma, ‘Don’t go growing up on me. Keep staying the way you are until I come back’.
“It is fitting now that Shay’s final resting place is on top of the world. Rest in peace my friend.”
Symbols of the much-loved father were brought to the altar by his nieces, nephews and daughter Emma. The little girl carried a book filled with treasures and memories of their happy lives together, while other symbols included a Celtic cross, books he adored and Ireland, Bray and Everton jerseys marking his love of soccer.
His nephew Jack brought a special photograph of Mr Lawless summiting Mount Everest at sunrise.
Prayers were offered by the Bray man’s friends for Seven Summits Treks, the expedition company that Mr Lawless climbed with, lead guide Noel Hanna and the skilled Sherpas who insisted on attempting a search and recovery mission for his remains.
Other prayers were offered for all of those who have lost their lives on Everest, the generosity of the public in helping to raise funds for the recovery operation and Barretstown.
Thanks were also given to help offered by the Government, fellow climber Jenny Copeland, Trinity colleagues, the Irish Everest team and other organisations.
“He didn’t take the normal route in life to achieve his summits or goals through his work from Irish Life, then a night-time computer course, on to Trinity College as a lecturer and then a professor,” Father Michael O’Kelly said.
“The first mountain he climbed was Mount McKinley in Alaska, and many more were to follow.
“The last text Pam received from Shay was from Everest’s summit saying, he’d ‘done it, reached the summit and was coming home’. His words have taken on a new meaning and a new summit.”
MOUNT EVEREST — THE GODDESS MOUNTAIN THAT CONTINUES TO CLAIM LIVES
Mount Everest is named after Sir George Everest, a Welsh official of the British Raj who surveyed the Himalayas.
In 1953, Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay made the first ascent of Everest — known to Tibetans as Chomolungma or Goddess Mother of Mountains.
Since then more than 4000 people have reached the summit, according to the Himalayan Database. Jordan Romero, from the US became the youngest person to climb Everest aged 13 and 10 months in 2010, while in 2013, an 80-year-old Japanese man Yuichiro Miura became the oldest.
Over 300 people have died trying to climb the famous mountain since the first attempt to scale it in 1922. The deaths that have received attention over the years were those of George Mallory and Andrew “Sandy” Irvine. They disappeared in 1924 after setting off for the summit with only primitive gear. There has been some speculation they were the first to climb the mountain. Mallory’s body was discovered in 1999.
Many of the corpses are buried underneath the snow, but melting glaciers are exposing bodies once entombed in ice on the world’s highest graveyard.
This article originally appeared on The Sun and was reproduced with permission