JHB couple set Mount Everest record

Cape Town - Adventurers Lynne and Noel Hanna, from Johannesburg, made history over the weekend when they became the first husband and wife team in the world to climb Mount Everest from both sides.

But while their latest adventure saw them enter the record books, the couple had a more poignant reason for wanting to stand on top of the world's tallest mountain again - to sprinkle the ashes of their beloved dog, Babu, who was like a child to them.

Lynne, 54, CEO of Clarins South Africa and Noel, 49, a renowned adventurer and endurance athlete, both seasoned mountain climbers, first attempted the north side of the mountain in 2005, but were forced to abandon it when Noel experienced retinal haemorrhaging in his eyes at 7 000 metres.

On their return home to Northern Ireland they got Babu, a German Shepherd pup, to keep Noel company as he recovered. Babu means 'child' or 'son' in Tibetan and the couple say their dog became as close to them as a child over the years. Babu ran and trained in the mountains with Lynne and Noel throughout his 10 1/2 years, but sadly passed away in December of last year.

The couple stood on the summit of Everest for the first time in 2009 after climbing the south side from Nepal and successfully summited from the north side in Tibet, on Saturday, May 21 at 07:00 Tibetan time.

Lynne and Noel moved to South Africa from Northern Ireland four years ago when Lynne was appointed CEO for Paris-based cosmetics giants Clarins, covering South Africa and the Sub Saharan continent. Previously she had been well known as the Northern Ireland manager for Clarins. She met Noel, a bodyguard and adventurer in 2000, through their joint love of endurance sports. A match made in heaven, the intrepid duo thrive on extreme challenges and together have tackled some of the world's toughest races.

Among a long list of endurance events are The Marathon Des Sables, Deathvalley 135, Discovery Eco-challenges and Himalayan 100 miler to name just a few. They have also scaled summits all over the world and Noel has reached the top of Everest eight times now.

Noel's vast experience and passion has seen him become a world recognised consultant, advising endurance event organisers on course design and expedition logistics and he has led expeditions to all the seven continents. (www.noelhanna.com)

What they have achieved so far makes climbing Everest - the challenge of a lifetime to most of us - look like a walk in the park for Lynne and Noel.

Lynne and Noel were undaunted by the challenge despite the risks and dangers, with avalanches and earthquakes posing the greatest threats. Noel was at base camp when the huge earthquake hit Nepal in 2005, killing over 8 000 people and injuring 21 000. Rock falls and avalanches were just some of the difficulties the couple faced as they attempted their latest challenge but Mother Nature was on their side this time and the summit was relatively incident-free, despite gale force winds. 

Click HERE for a video clip of the couple at 7 700m.

Noel says: "At the summit it is just so nice if the weather is good. People think when you reach the top the hard work is done, but more people get killed going down than going up. The big challenge is keeping yourself fit and healthy and not getting any chest or cold infections and eating healthily..”

"A lot of it is out of our control, like the weather, rockfalls and earthquakes, they are things that we can't do anything about. You just have to try to give yourself as much time as possible and know your body and what you are capable of."

And Lynne adds: "When you get to the summit you are shattered, but it is unbelievable to be standing on the highest place on earth.”

Due to the risks involved with climbing Everest, and the lack of communications in the area, the couple took a SPOT Gen3 tracking and messaging device with them on the trip. With the device, friends, family and fans could track them 24/7 and “watch” them summit live! The device also allows for customised messages to be sent out, as well as an SOS signal in life threatening situations. (africa.findmespot.com)

The couple will return to South Africa shortly, having created some incredibly special memories on the world’s highest mountain, and bidding their fur-child Babu farewell.

Extracts courtesy of: Belfast Telegraph

Lynne and Noel Hanna (Supplied)

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