DROMARA mountaineer Noel Hanna has set a new world record after completing the final leg of his charity fundraising 'Seven Summits to Sea Level' challenge.
Noel's recent conquest of Antarctica's Mount Vinson marked the seventh and final stage in a years-long challenge that since 2005 has also seen him complete summit to sea-level expeditions on Denali, Elbrus, Everest, Aconcagua, Kilimanjaro, and Carstenz Pyramid.
Along with his wife Lynne, the Dromara man has been raising a mountain of cash into the bargain, in aid of the Ulster Cancer Foundation. To date the couple has raised £130,000 for the charity.
Noel set off for Mount Vinson, Antarctica on December 10. Pulling a sled laden with his equipment, clothing, food and shelter - a hefty 80 kilos in all - he reached the 4,897m summit a day ahead of Christmas Eve, before setting off on skis to cover 300km of extreme terrain and so reach sea level at Hercules inlet. Noel's wife Lynne, with whom he scaled Everest last year after an earlier abortive attempt to conquer the peak as a couple, said she was delighted when she had news that Noel had safely reached sea level on January 3.
"It had been an anxious couple of weeks," he said, "as I knew that he would be facing freezing winds, -30 degree temperatures and extreme isolation during the challenge.
"I'm thrilled Noel has completed his world-record attempt more than a week ahead of schedule and I'm very proud of his achievements."
With thanks extended to all those who supported Noel in his record attempt - including Elevation, Peak 6, Hamilton Shipping, Penton Publications and Pharma Nord, Denmark - so too congratulations have been coming in for Noel, who spent many months preparing for the physical challenges of Mount Vinson.
Among them, of course, were those of the UCF, whose Head of Appeals and Marketing, Joyce Savage, said, "We send our hearty congratulations to Noel on his world record achievement.
"He is a top-class mountaineer who has shown tremendous determination and deserves all credit for his success.
"He has worked tirelessly to use his challenges to raise funds for the Ulster Cancer Foundation to improve the outlook of people affected by cancer."
Cash raised by Noel and Lynne will help fund a major new support programme for cancer patients and their families in Northern Ireland.