Sean Egan was born in County Clare on the West Coast of Ireland in 1942,not to far from where I lived,where after six years of monastic life he returned to University College Dublin to complete a BA in Literature.After studying psychology in Paris he ended up in Oregon where he completed a Ph.D in Sports Psychology.
While there he became friends with “Pre”,running legend Steve Prefontaine,who at one time in his career held ALL U.S. records between 2000 and 10,000 meters.”Pre” was killed in a car crash right before the `76 Montreal Olympics.
Sean was a passionate health enthusiast with a penchant for attempting the impossible.On a cold spring day a well meaning motorist abrutly stopped his car to come to the aid of someone apparently “drowning” in the Mississippi River near Almonte.The “victim” was Sean just doing a training run in the river wearing nothing but a wetsuit.
He was also a man with a conscience,a holdover from the hippy values of his younger years,(yea,we had a few hippies in Ireland,myself included,although personally I never inhaled).
One of his other passions was BIG mountains and mountaineering,and in 1998 he took a group of his students to Nepal where they climbed to base camp level at around 17,500 feet.He returned in the spring of 2000 to work on a few research projects.
At the time of his death he was leading an expedition on Everest,his third trip to the mountain and his first summit attempt.
Sean had been suffering from a respiratory infection since arriving at Base Camp,and had decided to head down the mountain to a lower altitude for some thicker air to aid in his recovery.
He was in Dughla on his way to Pheriche when he appearantly suffered a cardiac arrest and died just before noon on Friday April 29th,2005.
On Monday May 30th at around 10 am,Canadian climber Gabriel Filippi summited Everest.
Gabriel was one of the independent climbers who followed Willie Benegas and Mountain Madness Sherpas on the way up.He and Sean became friends in 2000 when Sean was studying the behaviour of Alpinists.
Gabriel was adopted by Seans Kanatak expedition,spending most of his time with the team.Talking in base camp with Sean, the only member of his team due to attempt to summit Everest,they decided to go for it together.At the age of 63,Sean was sharing the same passion for mountains as Gabriel and had chosen to pursue his biggest dream.
Gabriel was acclimatizing in Camp 2 when he heard the news of Seans death.He was understandably devastated and returned to BC(base camp) to reflect,but still feeling strong physically he believed that Sean wouldn`t want him to abandon the expedition.
Gabriel proceded with his acclimatization trips and waited for the weather window that never seems to appear while waiting to summit Everest.
Finally it came and he went for it.
His will and patience paid off and he reached the summit,climbing along with Seans ashes in a blessed Kata, a scarf blessed by a monk and worn by the climbers.”The memory of his friend Sean was always with him” reported Gabriels team back at BC.
On the summit Gabriel placed the Kata on which he had written simply ‘1942-2005’ in memory of his friend Sean Egan.He had put Seans ashes in a small pocket of the Kata.