Tuesday, December 30, 2014

A Blast Of Winter And Pain.

Wow the weather forecast was great. -6 degrees of frost overnight and the promise of a calm sunny day. The thought of a big outing on The Reeks in such wonderful conditions was hugely appealing so myself Terence, Anthony and Kevin made an early start and hooked up in Killarney and set off for Cronin's Yard at the foot of the mountains. To say it was a disappointment the find that there was no frost and a strong wind blew high clouds over the range would be understating it a little but we were pleased to see some white stuff above 850 meters and this held the promise of a proper winter outing where perhaps our axes and crampons might be necessary. We resolved to climb up to Cruach Mhor and cross the excellent ridge to Cnoc na Peiste and then go around to Carrauntoohil. We set off up across the boggy ground and soon we were on the long punishing slog up to the lake. Eventually this was reached and now we only had 300 meters of less awful slog left to reach the grotto on the summit of Cruach Mhor. This too passed and we gratefully sheltered by the grotto. Wow the wind was strong and regretfully we immediately realized that sticking to the excellent scrambly ridge was out of the question. Terence wasn't feeling the best and decided to head back down to the car and the rest of us set off into the bitter wind. Great care was needed initially as the wind threatened to blow us off the crest but things improved when we dropped to the leeward side of the ridge and traversed lower down below the difficulties. We were also delighted to see Terence had changed his mind and was following us and soon out little troop was complete.
The East reeks

Carrauntoohil

The Three Amigos...Anthony Kevin and Terence

A rather chilly looking "Crib"

The rocks on the crest above us were mostly black and even if the wind wasn't strong they wouldn't have offered a proper winters outing. Anyway we climbed steeply to the summit of An Garbh (The Big Gun) where we marvelled and luxuriated in the stunning views from this airy spot. On the climb up I had developed some lactic acid pain in both my  calves but I wasn't unduly worried as I reckoned that this would soon pass. I set off down to the col under Cnoc na Peiste and suddenly I was struck by a constant and increasing pain in my legs. Oh dear it was excruciating. I hoped that by keeping going it would pass but by the time I was at the col I had to come to a full stop and rest for a while. A five minute break helped and I felt well enough to continue. The pain was still there but soon I was able to get into a rhythm of sorts and progress became easier. I had to forgo the delights of the narrow ridge above and I stuck to the path and fairly soon I was at the wild and wintry summit. Now we were in the cloud that sometimes briefly cleared and these brief atmospheric views made our spirits soar. Not that we need that as we were loving the whole experience that brought wild Scottish winter outings to mind. I was pleased as well that I had moved better and I was hopeful that the worst was now behind me and I would be able to enjoy the rest of the day. We set off towards Maolan Bui (The Bone) and oh dear the pain returned almost immediately when I set off. I pushed hard through it in an attempt to walk it off but by the time we reached the summit it was no better. I resolved to go as far as Cnoc Na Cuillan and then see how I was. The guys were quite concerned for me and I was conscious that I was slowing them down and putting their chances of getting a big day out in jeopardy. The decision as to what to do was soon made for me as shortly after leaving the summit I had to once again come to a full stop. It was folly to go on so despite their protestations that they would accompany me down I returned to the summit and descended the bone.
An Gargh The Big Gun

The steep bit to the top of An Garbh

Traversing under the crest

The summit of An Garbh



The ridge to Cnoc na Peiste

Up in the mist

Looking epic on the summit


 It was painful and painfully slow but by taking good care I made steady progress. Soon I was below the snow and out of the worst of the wind and once I was down as far as the first rocky step I was able to descend to my right down steep grassy ground to the floor of the coum between The Bone and the northwest ridge of Cnoc na Peiste. I was moving like a decrepit old man but at least I was moving. I had feared that I would have to come to a stop or be unable to continue but thankfully that hadn't happened. Anyway once I was down this far I knew that I would be all right and I continued on the easier ground back towards the car. The ground passed slowly and somewhat painfully but finally after 2 hours fifteen minutes I reached the car, where I relaxed until the guys came back. Terence had forgone the delights of the slog from the Devils Ladder to Carrauntoohil so he arrived before the totally "hardcore" Anthony and Kevin who
 had climbed Carrauntoohil as well. I was just glad to be down but I was disappointed not to have been able to enjoy the round. I must find out the reason for this pain and hopefully it was just a freak occurrence brought on by bad diet and habits that I have been guilty of over the festive season. Twas great to be out with the lads again and hopefully we will have many more "pain free" days out in the future. Happy new year.
Back under the mist on the way down.

The car is a long way off in the yonder woods.

Down in the coum

Beautiful mossy stream