A Limerick man is now presumed to have died on the descent from the world's second highest mountain, K2.

The family of 37-year-old Ger McDonnell from Limerick said they are ‘extremely proud of his many heroic and brave achievements’.

They described the last few days as a rollercoaster of emotions.

Mr McDonnell is among a group of up to ten climbers still missing after their expedition was hit by falling ice near the summit.
Rescuers fear at least nine are dead.

President Mary McAleese has expressed her sympathy to Mr McDonnell’s family.

In a statement she said following Mr McDonnell's achievement at becoming the first Irish person to scale K2, ‘it is truly heartbreaking that they must now contemplate the loss of a beloved son and brother.'

The President met Mr McDonnell earlier this year following his
participation in the Beyond Endurance Irish expedition to the South Pole.

Rescue efforts on the ground high up the mountain have now been abandoned, although helicopter sweeps of the area are continuing.

Mr McDonnell, from Kilcornan in Limerick, was descending K2 when the group he was travelling with was cut off 8,000m from the base of the Himalayan mountain, which is on the border between China and Pakistan.

Last Friday, he became the first Irish climber to reach the summit following an eight-week expedition.

Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism Martin Cullen also expressed his sympathy.

Mr Cullen said the joy experienced by the McDonnell family at Ger’s extraordinary accomplishment is now sadly mixed with one of great concern.

He said Mr McDonnell's 'drive, courage, bravery and ambition are an inspiration to us all’.