MEET the country’s oldest mountaineer.
John Lyne (85) was this week preparing for his next challenge at his home in Castletownbere, Co Cork after he conquered the country’s highest peak – for the 205 th time.
The retired doctor again scaled all 3,414 feet of Carrauntoohil in recent weeks and said he is eagerly looking forward to taking on the next summit.
He is no stranger to the Kerry peak and has continued to scale it – no matter what the elements. Speaking of his most recent expedition, Mr Lyne said the mud was getting heavier on the slopes of Carrauntoohil.
“I fell a few times on the ‘Devil’s Ladder’. It was a bit slippery there and I got a bit of help. Coming down, it was deep mud. I never saw it as deep. There must be a lot of people using that path. It was tough going and a bit slow for all of us,” Mr Lyne said.
The elderly man was in the company of Eilis Duggan, Seamus Harrington and Kay Mullins – all from Bere Island, Co Cork – and Noel Dineen from Ardfert, Co Kerry. Their leisurely ascent and descent took a total of nine hours.
The keen mountaineer said he began to take his hobby seriously when he turned 50 and said he has no intention of resting his limbs anytime soon.
“It is just something I liked and became more involved in. I’ve always been very keen on it and like it very much. It is getting tougher and I’m becoming a bit slower on them, but I’ll give it up when I die. I’ll have to look to climb elsewhere then,” Mr Lyne joked.
The nearest peak from Mr Lyne’s home to practise on is Hungry Hill in the heart of the Beara peninsula and he has climbed the 2,248 feet over 1,300 times. During the summer months, he is a familiar sight to mountaineers and hill walkers on the Beara peak.
Two years ago, he attempted to conquer the highest mountain in Africa.
“I had a go at Kilimanjaro when I was 83. I had to turn back at about 14,000 feet because of altitude sickness. I didn’t make it – that time. We’ll see in the future.”
“I retired as a doctor 15 years ago and have since climbed the main peaks in England and Wales.”
Outdoors Ireland - who organise mountaineering expeditions - confirmed that Mr Lyne is the oldest man in the country to have scaled Carrauntoohil.
Ruth Kingerlee of Outdoors Ireland said they had previously known of a 70-year-old who successfully climbed it. “At 85, he would certainly be the oldest man we would know about,” Ms Kingerlee said.