Monday, September 22, 2014

Compare And Contrast. HOWLING RIDGE. What A Difference A Week Makes.

Last Monday I was crossing the South Ridge of the Lagginhorn, today I was scrambling up Howling Ridge on Carrauntoohil. One starts at around 680 mtrs and rises in a series of nice rock steps for about 200 meters and took me 40 minutes to climb. The other gets interesting at around 3900 meters, continues for over a kilometer and took me hours to cross and finished at 4010 meters.
Heading in towards Carrauntoohil

Looking up at the start of Howling Ridge

Don't fall

Nice rock steps 

An interested observer


A foggy morning gave way to a gorgeous afternoon and it was great to get out on the mountains again just a week after returning from the Alps. I wanted to do something a bit exciting and since the weather was so good I opted for Howling Ridge VDiff on Carrauntoohil. I normally solo this route and only take a rope when I am bringing someone up it but that isn't to say that I am a great (or even good) rockclimber, its more to do with the fact that I don't think that the route merits a VDiff grade and in my opinion is a Moderate climb at best. That isn't to say either that the consequences of a fall are less serious so I maintained a good level of concentration throughout. I left the car at 10.15 and started the route at 11.40 and as I said, 40 minutes later I was on the slog to the summit. After a nice relaxing bite to eat on the warm and almost windless top I opted to cross the Benkeeragh Ridge (a lovely Grade1 scramble) and then descend back to my car. The only similarity with the previous week is that the descent takes approximately the same time. Different today certainly was but I really enjoyed myself. I felt at home in familiar surroundings and I found myself looking about and picturing the scene in winter raiment when these modest mountains become a beast of an altogether different character. Winter is coming :o).

Good to be home

Looking back along the Benkeeragh Ridge

Its not the Alps but its great all the same.
As an aside I would like to mention the boots I was using today- La Sportiva Trango Alps. They are a lightweight boot that are aimed at summer alpine mountaineering. Having owned them now for almost a year and a half (actually a second pair as the first pair leaked) I must say that I'm not really a fan and I suspect this will be my last pair. They are supposed to be a B2 rated boot but I would put them into the bendy B1 camp. The rear three quarters of the last is indeed solid but they bend easily and quite a lot at a point near the end of the lacing which I find to give a less than secure feeling when climbing rock and when edging on smaller placements. I have owned B1 boots before that didn't bend as much in this area. Personally I wouldn't dream of taking them to the Alps. I think I will stick to my trusty La Sportiva Nepals for that environment. Those are in my opinion--faultless.