Northern Ireland

Co Donegal woman becomes first blind person to conquer Ireland's seven summits

Jennifer Doherty from Buncrana completed the challenge alongside Jason Black. Picture from Jason Black/ Facebook
Jennifer Doherty from Buncrana completed the challenge alongside Jason Black. Picture from Jason Black/ Facebook Jennifer Doherty from Buncrana completed the challenge alongside Jason Black. Picture from Jason Black/ Facebook

A Co Donegal woman has become the first blind person to conquer Ireland's seven biggest mountain ranges.

Jennifer Doherty from Buncrana completed the last part of the 'Ireland 7 Summits Challenge' last weekend when she conquered the Seven Sisters in Donegal's Derryveagh mountains.

It comes after Ms Doherty, who has been blind since birth, successfully climbed the other six mountain ranges over the past number of months, including the Mourne Mountains in Co Down and MacGillycuddy's Reeks in Co Kerry.

Walking with her guide Jason Black, a Letterkenny mountaineer, she described how the last climb was the toughest challenge of all seven, which included 12 hours of hiking over 25 km.

"You are getting all the information from your feet and what your guide is describing", she told the Donegal Daily.

"You are always walking at someone else's speed. It's more pressure in some ways and you have to concentrate a lot more.

"If you are walking by yourself you can take a breather, but you have to push on with your guide.

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"Mentally, at the end of the day, you are exhausted.

"There is a nice balance between that.

"The fact that you are out in nature you feel relaxed and the fresh air makes you switch off."

Ms Doherty, who last year reached Everest Base Camp, also spoke about how her guide had been so supportive throughout the challenge.

"When I first asked Jason if I could do one of the summits, he told me I'd do them all or nothing," she said.

"It all happened out of nowhere.

"It's amazing to have someone totally trusting that you can do stuff you don't know you can do yourself.

"For me, it's amazing that I'm doing this thing I enjoy that I don't know if I would like or would do." 

Writing on his Facebook page, Mr Black praised Ms Doherty's "never give in attitude".

"Jennifer Doherty was the first blind person in history to complete the National 7 Summit challenge and has been such a positive beacon of hope for those physically challenged to find solutions to life’s obstacles," he said.

"Her never give in attitude combined with that cheeky and deadly assassin focus makes her a possible ambassador for inclusiveness for all in the mountains."