Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Hags Glen Horseshoe...What A difference A couple Of Days Make

Gone is the blue sky. A return of winter. I went up the slope from centre to top right.
After the wall to wall sunshine of Sunday I headed back to the Reeks on Tuesday for a big hill day out and was transported back into winter. My objective was the Hags Glen horseshoe. This gives a total of 16 kilometres in distance and 1700 meters of ascent so it is a worthy outing. The fact that most of this is spent above 3000ft makes it unique in Ireland. The temperature was reading as low as four degrees during the squalls on the way back and the dusting of white on the hills meant that I was in no doubt that today would be very different to Sunday. I waited out a hail shower that hit just as I parked up and I set off from the car at 10.30.
The East Reeks looking wintery.
I decided to do the round in an anti clockwise direction today as that meant that I would have the wind to my back as I went across the East Reeks. It meant however that I would be into the wind from Knockbrinnea all the way to Carrauntoohil. I decided to climb up to the summit of Knockbrinnea via the slopes by the Hags Tooth and this means a steep unrelenting slog of 550 meters and I was pretty glad when it was over. As I neared the top I experienced the full force of the wind which gusted to sixty miles an hour at times which made progress difficult. I was sheltered on the slopes up to Benkeeragh but boy was I assaulted by the full force of wind and hail when I topped out. Thankfully it was short lived and I was able to progress down to the connecting ridge and head to Carrauntoohil. Again I was blasted by savage gusts as I crossed above O'Sheas Gully but thankfully as I climbed to the top of Carrauntoohil the wind was quartering towards my back. I had the top to myself but I didn't stop long and I set off down to the Devils Ladder.
Approaching Knockbrinnea looking towards Benkeeragh and Carrauntoohil

Benkeeragh Ridge looking moody
I now had the wind to my back and it was most welcome as it helped me up the following climbs. I kept going until I reached the top of Cnoc na Chuillinn where I found a nice sheltered spot for lunch. I was really enjoying myself and the taste of winter and moody views added to the experience. After my bite to eat I continued on my way. After reaching Cnoc na Peiste I was faced by the knife edge ridge that stretched all the way to Cruach Mhor. Thankfully I didn't have to stick to the crest and in the wind it was more prudent to use the paths that cross lower down. A fall at a narrow section which saw me land heavily with my head looking down at a lot of air below me was a sobering moment but I reached Cruach Mhor without  further incident. All that had to be negotiated now was the long but straight forward descent to my car which passed easily enough. I was pleased with the time of 6.5 hours considering the problems with the wind and snow and hopefully it will stand to me for upcoming adventures.
The view from lunch

Climbing over for the day. The view back from Cruach Mhor