We are deeply saddened to hear of the death of Irish mountaineering legend Noel Hanna. Noel was one of Ireland’s most accomplished mountaineers who has humbly been scaling some of the world’s highest peaks for over 20 years. 

Noel passed peacefully in his sleep on the morning of 17 April 2023 after summiting Annapurna (8,091m) having become the first Irishman to ever climb the mountain.

Noel Hanna Burke Khang

Capturing the depth and breadth of Noel’s impact on the mountaineering community in Ireland is not an easy task. We were struck by Noel’s mentality, humility and no-big-deal attitude when we interviewed him following his successful K2 expedition. That expedition put his name in the history books as the first Irishman to climb this notoriously challenging mountain. His impact on Irish mountaineering doesn’t stop there. His achievements include; climbing Mount Everest a staggering 10 times, climbing numerous other 8000m peaks in the Himalayas (including Manaslu without supplemental oxygen), climbing the tallest mountain on all seven continents, and he was also part of the team to complete the first ascent ever of Burke Khan (6942m).

Noel Hanna Climbs K2

Beyond his own personal achievements

Noel has helped many mountaineers achieve their dreams of summiting some of the most incredible mountains in the world. He offered his knowledge and skills to aspiring mountaineers so they might reach the same heights as him. This approach to his climbing is what made Noel so special. In spite of being one of the best at what he did, Noel was humble and kind.

Noel was a stereotypical old-school mountaineer. He climbed mountains for the love of it and wanted others to experience the same feelings. When we chatted to him following his first Irish ascent of K2 he told us, “I didn’t care if I was the 20th Irish person to summit; it was just for myself.”

His loss is a blow to the Irish outdoor community as a whole. His legacy will continue to inspire the next generation of Irish mountaineers.


By Matthew McConnell

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