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Dr Clare O’Leary has successfully completed her Seven Summits Challenge, to climb the highest points on seven continents around the world, making her one of only 15 women worldwide to have completed the challenge via Mt. Kosciuszko.

The Team Summated Mt. Vinson at a height of 4897m last night the 15th December at 4pm (8pm Irish time) consisting of Dr Clare O’Leary, John Dowd and Team leader Pat Falvey who has now completed the challenge twice, making him one of a handful worldwide to have done so. It is Kerryman John Dowd’s second successful continental high point.

The Team flew out to Patriot Hills on the Antarctic Continent on the 5th of December. They then waited out weather before departing for Mt. Vinson Base Camp by a twin otter light aircraft. They then proceeded up the mountain taking in some of the most spectacular landscapes in the world while experiencing severe cold, sometimes down to -40c, and 120 km/hr winds.

After surviving a vicious storm on 11th December which trashed their campsite at Camp1 Lowe Alpine, they fell back to base camp Spórt Corrán Tuathail and decided to give it one more try. They were more determined second time round and were lucky to get a spell of good weather making it ideal for a summit push.

Message from team this afternoon the 16th December
“Good weather gave us a great opportunity to move on Tuesday from Camp 2 Emirate Computers to High Camp Nokia on Wednesday..,
Yesterday at around 4pm we finally crossed the summit ridge to the highest point on the Antarctic continent. It was a very emotional and ecstatic time as we stood there arms around each other..”

Message from Clare
“I am delighted to have finished it here on Mt. Vinson. I can’t describe how elated I feel knowing I’m one of 15 in the world to do this… Tears flowed in the freezing conditions, as we approached the summit, overwhelming me to fall to my knees and then celebrate the success with my team. Antarctica has long been an ambition of mine and I will be coming back next year for the Beyond Endurance Expedition.”

Dr Clare O’Leary became the first Irish female to summit Mt. Everest in May last year and went on to Mt. McKinley in Alaska, Elbrus in Russia and Kosciuszko in Australia in 2005. Before Everest she had already bagged Kilimanjaro in Africa and Aconcagua in South America.

She hopes next year to go to the South Pole with a small team as part of the Beyond Endurance Expedition, one of the biggest expeditions to leave Ireland to date.

Message from Pat
“It was amazing second time round, especially to have led another successful expedition to one of the most remote areas in the world where Irish Unsung Heroes are part of history. I’m delighted for Clare and John and would like to thank all our sponsors and support team around the world. We will be back here again next year to fulfil more dreams as part of the Beyond Endurance Expedition …”
Pat completed his first time round in 1997.

Message from John Dowd
“It was a great feeling... being a Kerryman and a follower of the Great Tom Crean, this trip wil been somethin g I will be very proud of in years to come…”Returning home
The Team are now returning to base camp, to catch their flight back to Chile and will be home to Ireland on the 23rd of December in time to spend Christmas with family and friends.


December 12th
Team spend night out in storm
Pat Clare and John were caught in a vicious storm late on Saturday night. They were ready to make a push to Camp 3 on Sunday morning when they were awoken by howling gusts of 80mph causing their tent serious strain.. Pat “The tent was all over the place, I went out to assess the condition when I realised the snow blocks that we built around the perimeter were being thrown across the campsite… Clare and John were prepping some gear for emergency in the tent which was now bending and starting to move quite violently… At one point when trying to secure extra guys I was literally blown off my feet and thrown down on the edge of the tent, adding further weakness to it. We sat it out for a further hour when the tent completely collapsed, forcing us to use it as a bivi. We zipped up our bag and waited it out till daylight… it’s the worst i've seen in years. We are all ok and still up for it”.

The team left their wrecked Camp1 and went for Base Camp to get another tent. They stayed there to recuperate and then set off to give it one last go yesterday morning the 11th. They were at Advance base camp when they called last night, “heading for Camp 2-3 today all going well”. They are getting a little concerned about making it back for their rendezvous on the 19th for their exit flight so have to move much faster up the mountain hoping conditions are favorable this time.

Weather: Improving since storm force winds on Saturday/Sunday


December 10th
Message from Pat
“ Woke this morning to 3 inches of snow at Camp 1, weather deteriorating, visibility down to 50metres. All in good form but cold. A bit disappointed not being able to proceed at the moment.”


December 9th
Message from Pat
“After leaving Camp 2 yesterday we were on route to Camp3 when the wind picked up considerably pushing us back to Camp 1. We are holding here and will decide in the morning whether to go for Camp 3 or a least do another gear drop at 2. Clare and John are moving good and all are in good spirits…. We hope to make a summit push in 3-4 days all going well”
Weather: Mixed sunshine and cloud -15c moderate wind with gusts.


December 8th
The team arrived at Vinson base camp late afternoon yesterday, they quickly moved in to their first campsite on the mountain.
They moved off early on Thursday morning in what the team described as perfect conditions. They gained height toward camp 1, looking back to a spectacular Antarctic landscape. The weather gave the team a big boost as they proceeded skipping Camp 1 and on to Camp 2. They spent their second night on the mountain in great spirit after witnessing this stunning landscape from height for the first time.
Weather: Sunshine -10c little or no wind.

Photo left: Plane outside Vinson base-camp


December 7th
Message from Pat this morning
“ Still at Patriot Hills, average temperature -15, wind-chill down to -40. Not sure when we will make our twin otter flight to Vinson, heavy snow at vinson base camp preventing landing”
Talking to Pat yesterday evening he was confident the weather was changing “The forecast is showing an opportunity to move later today all going well”.


December 6th
Having arrived safely at Patriot Hills yesterday, the team were to leave for Mt Vinson base camp today after re-organising their gear, the weather took a turn with high winds driving temperatures down below -30 wind-chill so they are waiting it out for it to improve. All are in good form and are hoping their wait won’t be for much longer.

Photo right: Plane Landing on ice


December 5th
Text message from Pat

We're on the way to the Antarctic having got permission to fly. The next contact will be from the coldest continent on our planet. All the team are in good form and we are hoping that we will complete our objective before Christmas.


December 3rd/4th

Although Punta Arenas iss a small city, it is certainly a busy one and difficulties with accommodation are the norm. We were unable to get accommodation for five consecutive nights in the one hotel and so had to move down the road this morning with all our gear in hand. Between our lack of Spanish and the hustle and bustle of this place, we were very concerned that John’s luggage would be misdirected. Phone calls to the airport were in vain; it was impossible to even get anyone to reply. As a result, we decided to go back out to the airport to see if we would have any more luck. Although it was reassuring that they could trace the bags, they failed to deliver it last night as promised. It’s a real heart sink. To make matters worse, today being Sunday, most places- including the LAN Chile office - are closed. Alex, from the Russian team, has kindly offered John a down suit if he’s stuck. If we’re not ready to leave when our flight is ready, its tough luck and $20,450 dollars down the swanny for John’s flight to the Antarctic..

Yesterday we completed our packing and weigh in for the Illuyshin. We should be just about within the restrictions (with John’s gear hopefully included).


Pat Falvey, veteran expedition leader, Everest climber, author and motivational speaker.

To book Pat Falvey on his 'AGAINST THE SKY' LECTURE TOUR. e-mail us at  

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