Saturday, March 30, 2013

Ice on Carrauntoohil and the Hot Aches

Today I went to Killarney and met up with Kevin and we headed to Carrauntoohil. We hoped to get in some ice climbing as the weather over the previous week had been cold and dry. I had hoped that there would have been some snow on the mountains as this would have given us further options but it was clear on the way back that no snow had fallen on the hills.With that door now closed to us, there being good ice was now our only chance of a good climb. Mountaineers, especially in winter are a hard bunch to please and I felt kinda silly bemoaning the fact that the day was sunny so it might get too warm and there had been no snow so we wouldn't get any mixed routes in. As I said, hard to please. Anyway I also knew that a day with Kevin would be a good one regardless. We set off after me getting my usual coffee and headed for Cronins Yard where there is secure parking and great facilities and started out from there. Kevin was feeling in top form and it showed as despite carrying the rope he set off like an express train and I was literally having to break into a jog to keep up. Fair to say that we made rapid progress.

Feeling better after the aches
As we gained height we were delighted to see that there was indeed lots of spots of ice to be seen but the quantity was sparse and none of the lines looked really complete. I was reasonably confident/hopeful that "The Lick" would be climbable but I was to be disappointed when we arrived at the second level of Coumeenoughter and could see that the bottom two pitched were almost non existent and high up things still looked thin. We had no choice but to turn away and after a little disappointed discussion we headed for Curved Gully. There was enough ice here and the bottom thirty meters had some decidedly tricky sections. I had brought the wrong gloves with me and at the bottom of the climb I couldn't fit them on and had to rely on my thin liner ones. Predictably in short order my fingers were frozen and I lost all feeling and started to feel a little queasy. Then I started to feel the beginning of the dreaded "Hot Aches" and that queasy feeling got worse. I had to go and sit down and when I eventually got the liner gloves off I put my hands into my arm pits and waited for things to run their course. It had been a while since I got a dose like this and it was dreadful .At times I wasn't sure whether I would faint or get sick or possibly both at once and I just sat and waited. All the while Kevin was like a mother hen who fussed about me and tried to keep my mind occupied until the worst passed. He sorted out my gloves for me and when I had sufficiently recovered to try and get the gloves on they were toasty warm from him blowing into them. A small bite to eat and a drink and eventually I was able to continue.

Some nice ice about half way up.

Not exactly "technical" but at least the axes and crampons were out.

Up near the summit

My minder.
Slowly at first I was soon back into the groove and there was some nice little sections as we got higher. The ice was at times bullet hard and the front points weren't exactly digging in deep but it was all fairly straightforward. Eventually we were above the ice and we had a nice ribbon of neve to the summit. Here we rested a while and enjoyed the wonderful views in all directions. I had expected the wind to be strong on top but we were curiously sheltered as we enjoyed a sip of coffee. It was still chilly and we didn't linger too long and we set off down in the direction of the Devils Ladder. Now the wind found us and it was a vicious one that cut right through into the sinus'. Thankfully we weren't exposed to it too long and by the time we turned for the Heavenly Gates we were out of the worst. By the time we were back down I must confess to being a bit tired as the effects of an eight mile run on Bweeng Mountain the evening before and Kevins blistering pace of earlier took its toll. Still it was a good tired and we were both in good spirits despite not really getting the type of route we had hoped done. Its always good to be with someone who simply loves getting out and about and makes the most of the day regardless of what conditions bring. We both realize that we are fortunate indeed to be able to visit these wonderful places.
Caher from the summit of Carrauntoohil