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Last Updated: Saturday, 31 May, 2003, 17:07 GMT 18:07 UK
NI Everest team reach summit
Mount Everest
Two remaining team members have reached the summit
Tributes have been pouring in for a two-man Northern Ireland climbing team which reached the summit of Mount Everest.

Terence "Banjo" Bannon from Newry in County Down and his teammate New Zealander Jamie McGuinness reached the top of the world's highest peak in the early hours of Saturday morning.

It took the pair nine hours to climb the final 500 metres using oxygen supplies and head torches to guide them on the treacherous ascent.

It is the first time a team from Northern Ireland has reached the summit and follows the success of an Irish team earlier in the month.

Speaking by satellite phone from the peak, Jamie said they were overjoyed.

"It is two or three hours after sunrise and we are feeling great."

I knew deep down that we would succeed
Richard Dougan
Expedition leader

A team spokesman said: "At the summit they enjoyed the quietness of a calm day with clear visibility stretching far into Nepal and Tibet."

The two men are understood to have suffered minor frostbite on their hands.

They later made a safe descent to advance base camp, with the help of good weather conditions.

Terence Bannon
Terence Bannon has scaled Mount Everest
The pair over-nighted on Thursday night at a camp just 1,000 metres below the summit and made further progress on Friday.

There had been some concern that Terence had a stomach bug, but he recovered.

They climbed 500 metres to Camp 3 on Friday in preparation for the final push.

Speaking on Radio Ulster, Terence's mother, Rose, said she was extremely proud of her son, adding: "I'm just over the moon."

Expedition leader Richard Dougan and his colleague David Sharpe were last week forced to abandon their attempt at scaling the mountain because of frostbite, just 250 metres from the summit.

They returned to the Nepalese capital Kathmandu, after being told they needed urgent medical attention for frostbite on their hands and feet.

Oxygen climber
Climber Jamie McGuinness testing oxygen equipment

Richard said: "I am so emotional at the moment. I'm so proud of these guys.

"I knew deep down that we would succeed - there's been a huge team effort by us all. I cant wait until they return to Kathmandu - there sure is going to be a huge party!"

Northern Ireland Secretary Paul Murphy sent a message of congratulations to the team.

"They have displayed remarkable drive and determination in conquering their goal and should be warmly congratulated," he said.

Supporters are putting up flags in Terence's home town of Newry, where celebrations are set to last all weekend.

Jamie has received many message of congratulations from friends all over the world, particularly his native New Zealand.

The pair were heartened to receive a message of goodwill from Dawson Stelfox, also from Northern Ireland, who reached the summit of Everest 10 years ago.

Ulster Unionist Newry representative Danny Kennedy said Terence's success had brought immense pride to the city.

Also paying tribute to Richard Dougan, he said: "Both of these men have displayed remarkable strength of character and resolve to ensure the Northern Ireland expedition was a success."




WATCH AND LISTEN
BBC NI's Chris Buckler reports
"Terence will probably celebrate with a pint of orange and a big bar of chocolate"



SEE ALSO:
Frostbite hits Everest bid
23 May 03  |  Northern Ireland
Setback for NI Everest bid
09 May 03  |  Northern Ireland
NI climbers aim for summit
23 Apr 03  |  Northern Ireland


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