Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Gap of Dunloe and Purple mountain Dec 23rd

Leaving Kate Kearneys

All frozen and An Tarbh looking great



As we were in the middle of an historic freeze with a thaw due on the 26th I headed for Kerry for a chance to experience some winter climbing. I had intended doing the Coumloughra horseshoe in the Reeks but mindful of reports of deep unconsolidated powder I opted instead for a more leisurely walk through the Gap of Dunloe and an accent of Purple mountain. I arrived at the car park at 9.35 and incredibly I was the only person there. The morning was sunny with little breeze and I set off from the car in a bracing -10 frosty wonderland. There was surprisingly little snow underfoot(barely 3inchs) so the walk along the deserted road was easy. On any given day the scenery here is wonderful, today it was sublime. Everywhere was a winter wonderland of frozen lakes and snowy rocky mountains.

View back from the head of the gap

Sparkling highway

Considerable ice on an Tarbh


Temperature inversion in the Black Valley

Glas lough with Purple beyond




Towards Molls Gap
The walk through the Gap was over all too quickly and I turned left and made my way up the side of Purple through the powdery snow towards Glas lough. Progress was easy and the occasional deepish drift of snow was easily avoided. I soon arrived at the lough and the views back into the black valley and the Reeks was superb. The lake was of course well frozen and there were even some possibilities for some ice climbing on the far side. Past the lake the route turns sharply to the right and climbs steeply to the shoulder before the the relentless slog to the summit. I allowed myself the occasional stop for breath and photo opportunities and the top soon arrived. At the summit there was a stiff wind into the face. This ensured that I didn't tarry and headed quickly for Tomies. The two kilometer ridge was a joy and despite the bitter cold I was enjoying myself immensely. The views to the north showed the beautiful Dingle peninsula. To the east lay Mangerton, Crohane and the Paps and Lough Leane a steely blue before a smokey Killarney. To the left the view down into the frozen Gap always drew the eye. Again when I arrived at Tomies the biting wind forced me onwards to Tomies Rock and I chose to descend the north spur and thus back to Kates. So ended fourteen kilometers of winter walking where the only thing I saw on the whole outing was a grumbling Grouse.
The view east
The Reeks