Sunday, August 4, 2013

HOWLING RIDGE- OLD STYLE

Yesterday I went back to Kerry to climb Howling Ridge again. I met up with Frank and we met a Scotsman called Jim Crosthwaite who I had promised on UK climbing that during his maiden visit to these shores I would take him up the ridge if he was down this way. He jumped at the opportunity and we met up with him in Killarney and headed off to the start of the route.
Jim and Frank

Having fun


I must say I felt sorry for him as he couldn't have experienced worse weather during his trip so far. He had driven all the way down the west coast and really hadn't seen what this beautiful area has to offer but at least today was more promising as there were some clear skies about as well as ominous looking rain clouds. We got ourselves sorted and set off into the "Hags Glen". We chatted away amiably and we were all enjoying ourselves. It was nice to be able to show someone who had never been here before the delights of this lovely range of mountains. All the tops were to be seen and after the copious rain the air had a lovely clarity that allowed Jim to see everything in its best light. It was nice to hear the banter between himself and Frank in their slightly different Scottish accents. Up and around we went and eventually we arrived at the "Heavenly Gates" and the start of the route. We were lucky so far with the weather and while there was often the threat of rain it never materialized and I was hopeful that we might complete the route in dry conditions. Not being familiar with Jim's abilities I opted to bring our harness' and rope and hardware so it would be a technical outing.
Quite the drop

Heading up

Going well



Typical climbing

I led up the first easy pitch and once I was able to use a spike of rock for a friction belay I called the others up. It was soon evident that Jim was an able climber and wouldn't require much nursing or minding on the way up so thereafter I opted to forgo pitching the route in the conventional sense and instead I climbed unprotected and at appropriate and opportune places I I called on the others using body belays or friction belays for their security. In this way we were able to maintain a good rate of progress and with the ever threat of rain this was I think the best policy. The route isn't particularly difficult and I think lends itself to this method of climbing. It was however very gratifying to see the big smile on Jim's face and I think its fair to say he was really enjoying himself. I hope it was some consolation for the terrible weather that had marred his trip to date. Time flew by and eventually we reached the point where the ridge peters out and we slogged the remaining 150 mtrs to the very busy summit. A nice bite to eat was enjoyed and we left the mob behind and returned to our cars via Brother O' Shea's Gully. The track down here is now horribly eroded and loose but that is no surprise as by now the whole of the mountain's access routes are in the same condition. We chatted away for the entire return to the car and when we got there we said a very hurried goodbye as I was quite late for my train home. It was a pity to have to leave so quickly but it had been a pleasure to meet Jim and of course any day out with Frank is a good one. I think our outing provided Jim with some good memories to take home with him and I am sure we will stay in touch.