Head for heights: Jerry Cronin has been climbing abroad since 2004, but Cho Oyu is his biggest challenge to date. Cho Oyu (inset) is only 600m smaller than Mt Everest.

Head for heights: Jerry Cronin has been climbing abroad since 2004, but Cho Oyu is his biggest challenge to date. Cho Oyu (inset) is only 600m smaller than Mt Everest.

Tramore mountain climber Jerry Cronin is heading to the Tibetan Himalayas in an attempt to summit Cho Oyu, the world’s sixth-highest peak, and raise funds for the ISPCC.

This Saturday he and fellow Tramore man Barry Griffin, who is also a member of the team, will fly to London and from there to Doha; after a few days in Katmandu they’ll take a land cruiser right across the plateau to Tibet, stopping for acclimatisation walks on smaller mountains along the way, and other preparations before moving on up to base camp on September 9/10.

The expedition on the Nepalese-Chinese border will take six to seven weeks to complete. Three experienced UK-based climbers, including the leader, are also part of the group which will be accompanied on the trek by two sherpas and a cook.

Having developed a passion for swimming and surfing from an early age, Jerry’s love of climbing started from “mucking around” on the cliffs in Tramore when he was younger. From there he broadened his horizons, gradually taking on tougher assignments for a couple of months each year during his twenties.

A member of Rathgormack Climbing Club, he has climbed extensively in southeast Asia since 2004. He has also scaled the heights in Spain, France and around Ireland. In 2005, ’06 and ’08 he went rock climbing in southwest Thailand, doing likewise in Siurana, Spain three years ago, while in May of last year he made a successful summit of Island Peak mountain in Nepal (6193m).

At 8201m, Cho Oyu, then, is his biggest challenge by some distance. Barry’s too. Tori James, the first Welsh woman to climb Everest, recently recalled how she trained for it by tackling Cho Oyu, where “the altitude was the biggest test for me. My head hurt so much I was crying. Out of the team I was actually the only one who got to the summit of Cho Oyu. When you get to the top, you look to the other side of Everest. So many people said I couldn’t do it.”

Indeed, Cho Oyu – which was first scaled in 1954 – is just 600 metres smaller than Everest, which stands 20km to the west, and has less than half the number of ascents.

It is the only c.8000m peak with such a large and flat summit plateau, lending itself to unrivalled views. By all accounts it’s a spectacular sight, with Everest and Makalu in the distance.

strong>See The Munster Express newspaper for full story or subscribe to our PDF version.