A sports award has been named in the honour of Gerard McDonnell in Limerick. This was his home county. The award is given to volunteers, participants and administrators of sports in the county. This award will be called the “Contribution to Sport Award 2009”.
Gerard McDonnell became the first Irishmen to set foot on the summit on K2. Unfortunately, he died of the descent. He had to spend the night bivouacking at over 28000 feet with 2 others who had made the summit. They could not descend that day because of the dangerous conditions on the Bottleneck. An ice serac had fallen the previous day sweeping some climbers and the supporting rope from this section. It was too late in the day to descend without a rope to support them down the steep traverse and Bottleneck.
Then when he descended the next day, he came across 3 Koreans who were entangled in rope on the steep traverse of K2. He tried to help them, but the efforts in the end came to be fruitless as all ended up dying. There is some evidence that he freed the Koreans from their entanglement. Possibly, McDonnell died from an avalanche at around the Bottleneck.