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Co Down climber is first from Northern Ireland to conquer K2

Noel Hanna is only the second Irishman to conquer K2. Picture by Hugh Russell

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A Co Down man has become the first person from Northern Ireland to conquer the world's second highest mountain.

Noel Hanna is only the second climber from the island of Ireland ever to reach the peak of K2.

He completed the 28,000-foot climb in northern Pakistan on Saturday, with Letterkenny man Jason Black matching his achievement just hours later.

Ger McDonnell from Co Limerick was the first Irishman to reach the summit of the dangerous mountain in 2008, but died on the climb back down.

Mr Hanna, from Dromara, has also climbed Everest with his wife Lynne but said K2 was a much tougher challenge.

Last year he and three Sherpas reached the top of the previously unconquered Burke Khang in the Himalayas.

He and his wife were the first married couple to summit Everest both from its southern approach via Nepal and a northern route via Tibet.

"I believe the day you're born there's a nick in the calendar when you're going to be taken, so you may as well live life to the full while you're here," he told the BBC.

"As my father once said, life's not a rehearsal."

Mr Black, an endurance athlete who climbed Everest in 2013, was part of a separate expedition and said he was "one hell of a proud Irishman, one hell of a proud Donegal man".

Irish Seven Summits, a project aiming to climb the highest peaks on all seven continents, tweeted: "It is rather incredible that two climbers from Ireland have reached the summit of K2 in the past 24 hours. Surely one of the greatest days in Irish mountaineering. Well done Jason Black & Noel Hanna."

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