‘Never Give Up on Your Dreams’ – Derek Rescales South American Summit in aid of GROW

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Summiteer Derek Mahon pictured during his last attempt at reaching the peak of Aconcagua in 2018

Exactly a year since he last attempted to climb South America’s highest peak, a Dublin dad is determined to scale Aconcagua and continue with his Seven Summits’ goal – the seven highest peaks on the world’s seven continents.

A new year and a mountaineering goal is being revisited by 57-year-old Derek Mahon from The Naul in Co. Dublin. Last January, Derek attempted to climb Aconcagua, the highest mountain in the Southern hemisphere and the world’s highest summit outside of the Himalayas.

On that occasion, the onset of altitude sickness forced him to turn back and return to base camp.

An even more determined Derek is embarking for South America on January 16th to re-climb Aconcagua. For Derek, the message of not ‘never giving up on your dreams’ is central to his bid to complete the Seven Summits’ challenge in support of the community-based mental health charity, GROW.

GROW promotes positive mental health and recovery, and holds over 100 free peer-support meetings across Ireland each week, along with community education, workplace, carer and young adult programmes.   

“My non-summit of Aconcagua last January has made me so much more focused and determined to return and try again.

“The memories of that morning sitting at 6,500 metres are all still so vivid – the bitter cold, the wind chill, the spin drift, day breaking, taking shelter and trying to keep warm. My fingers and toes were tingling. I immediately knew my core temperature was plummeting. The thumping headache and sickly feeling followed quickly.

Derek holding the GROW t-shirt

“I was very conscious of my situation and the onset of high altitude sickness. I decided to retreat and descended to lower camp and returned to base camp later that day smothered in disappointment but content I had made the right decision for me,” he says.

“Right now, it’s now all about staying injury free and stabilising my fitness levels. God willing, and with Mother Nature’s help and the Mountain God’s with me, I am determined, focused and very hopeful of getting to the summit this January,” he adds.

Derek, who works as a Financial Advisor at Tara Financial Partners, is a sports enthusiast. In 2011, he had never climbed a ‘’big’’ mountain and having summited Mount Elbrus in 2012 and Mont Blanc in 2013, he successfully scaled Mount Everest in 2014. His 2014 climb tragically coincided with the worst accident in the history of Everest mountaineering when at least 13 Sherpas were killed following an avalanche on the south side of the world’s highest peak.

He summited Mount Kilimanjaro in 2017 and is committed to complete the Seven Summit Challenge. He has high hopes of another summit of Aconcagua. In doing so, Derek will have completed four of the Seven Summits. Vinson in Antarctica will be his next climb, followed by Denali in Alaska and The Carstyn Pyramid in Papua New Guinea.

Aconcagua in the Andes is the second highest of the Seven Summits peaks, towering at 6,962m or 22,841 feet. It claims an average of three deaths annually. The oldest man to reach the summit was Scott Lewis in 2007 at the age of 87. The oldest woman was 65-year-old American Carol Masheter in 2012. Hazards of the climb include severe winds, extremities of cold and severe, often debilitating, altitude sickness. In the region of 3,500 climbers tackle Aconcagua each year, with only 60 percent succeeding.

Speaking about climbing in support of GROW and positive mental health, Derek highlights how GROW implements a 12-step programme, helping people to journey to mental health recovery.

“GROW is all about breaking isolation, fostering social connection, shared experience and weekly support meetings based on practical steps and recovery. Mental health, wellbeing and ongoing support are vital to us all. I am very proud to be promoting GROW and GROW’s message of positive mental health and recovery,” he says.

Chief Executive of GROW, Michele Kerrigan, says:

“We commend Derek and wish him every success and safe passage in his latest climbing venture. We also thank Derek for highlighting the importance of positive mental wellbeing and journeying, step-by-step, to recovery.”

To support Derek in his venture and raise funds for GROW, visit the Everydayhero website and search for Derek Mahon, Adventurer – (https://give.everydayhero.com/ie/derek-mahon-adventurer).