The operation to recover an Irish father-of-one who fell from the world's highest mountain may not go ahead due to safety concerns, a leading mountaineer believes.
Pat Falvey, who has twice scaled Mount Everest, said it remains unclear how Seamus Lawless (39), from Bray, Co Wicklow, fell some 500m as he was descending from the 8,848m summit.
The assistant professor in artificial intelligence at Trinity College's School of Computer Science and Statistics had successfully reached the summit last Thursday along with several others in his group of eight, led by well-known Co Down adventurer Noel Hanna - just hours before he went missing.
Mr Falvey, who runs Pat Falvey Adventures from his base in Kerry, said that "a lot of questions currently remain" about what happened.
The Cork native was the first person in the world to complete the Seven Summits twice by climbing Mount Everest from its north and south sides.
The search has now been confirmed as a recovery operation by the Seven Summits Treks company and by Mr Falvey.
"If any type of search, rescue and recovery operation is planned, it will not go ahead if it is too dangerous to do so," Mr Falvey said. "Paying to put lives at risk, such as the Sherpas, should not happen if weather conditions are not conducive to do so. The fundraising campaign launched to help to locate Mr Lawless is to be commended. Unfortunately, no insurance company would sponsor you in the event of having a fatal injury."
"It is an unwritten rule in mountaineering, and especially in dangerous areas, that remains are often left there as a sign of respect to the person, the Sherpas and the mountain," he said.
"So much is stacked against you. It could be weeks before any type of a recovery operation could take place.
"Throughout the past week, high winds of 55kph and frigid temperatures of -27C, with a wind chill making it feel more like -43C, have been persistent."
Meanwhile, Tanaiste and Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney told RTE's This Week that he had spoken to Mr Lawless's wife Pamela and was committed to providing as much help as his department can.
The fundraising campaign has raised over €220k so far.