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Friday 3 February 2023 Dublin: 10°C
Derek Mahon's summit picture
# Mental health campaign
A Dublin man has reached South America's highest peak, after being forced to turn back last year
Mahon is doing the climb to raise awareness for the mental health charity Grow

DUBLIN FATHER DEREK Mahon reached South America’s highest peak this week, after severe altitude sickness stopped him making it to the top this time last year. 

This year, he said it’s “great to be back”, and after a 12 hour “tough climb”, Mahon reached the summit of Aconcagua late this week.

Mahon, from Naul, Co. Dublin, revisited the climb as part of a plan to summit the world’s seven highest peaks, in support of Grow, the mental health charity.

Aconcagua is the highest summit in the Southern hemisphere, and outside of the Himalayas.

derek mahon team pic Derek Mahon Derek Mahon

Back to base camp

Last month, Mahon said his “non-summit” of the mountain last year made him “much more focused and determined to try again”.

He remembers the “wind chill, the spin drift, day breaking, taking shelter and trying to keep warm”, on that morning in January 2018 at 6,500m, he said.

My fingers and toes were tingling. I immediately knew my core temperature was plummeting. The thumping headache and sickly feeling followed quickly.”

Despite being “smothered in disappointment”, Mahon said it was the best decision for him at the time.

In the lead up to this year’s departure, it was all about fitness, and staying injury free, he said.

“After last year’s disappointment I restructured my training particularly for this climb.”

Derek Mahon mountain pic Derek Mahon Derek Mahon

An average day

An average day consisted of breakfast, rechecking all the equipment for the climb that day, and setting off at a “very slow pace”, Mahon told TheJournal.ie.

An average day’s climb will be six to nine hours, gaining close to 1,000 meters, no more.”

He became aware of Grow back in 2013, before a journey to Mount Everest, and its approach to mental health reminded him of “acclimatising before reaching the summit”, he said.

“There is always bumps and life swerve balls which cannot be planned for, but we all adjust and continue on our way.”

Mahon and his group left the summit on Friday morning, and “then it’s off in December to Antarctica”, he said.

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