Monday, November 21, 2016

Coomloughra Horseshoe. Winter arrives on The Reeks

I set off in the predawn back to Kerry again for what would hopefully be a snowy winter walk on one of the best rounds in the country the Coomloughra Horseshoe.

Quite the sight.
A nice dusting of snow down to about 600mtrs and clear skies promised an early taste of winter so I was really looking forward to getting out in it. Driving towards the start of the route was special also as the views across towards the Sleive Mish mountains glowing pink in the first rays of morning sun was really lovely but I didn't have time to be stopping and taking a photo as I was on a mission.
 Leaving straight from work meant I was nice and early in the almost deserted carpark and it was 08.20 as I set off up the rather unappealing hydro road. This stretch is never a pleasure but the expanding and glorious views were a delight in the crisp morning air. Soon enough I arrived at the huge and spectacular coum that is encompassed by the three highest mountains in the country and what a lovely sight it was this morning with snow covered the steep slopes. Now all I had to do was choose which way I would do the round. I chose to climb Caher first as I prefer to cross the Beenkeragh ridge from Carrauntoohil as this gives nicer scrambling.

Looking across to the mountains of the Dingle peninsula

Towards Coumasaharn

Looking East

The East Reeks. Wonderful clarity with the Galtees and Knockmealdowns very clearly seen

The long slope up to the east top of Caher is fairly gentle but get a little steeper towards the top but this is more than compensated for by the delicious views across the void towards Skregmore and Beenkeragh. Finally I reached the top and on a day such as this the feeling of delight is hard to beat as I stopped and looked around at the beauty that lay in all directions. The ridge that links Caher to Carrauntoohil is pleasantly narrow in places and I enjoyed the airy feel as I stuck to the crest all the way. There was just two others on the summit when I got there and it was a real pleasure to sit and enjoy an early lunch in the sunny almost windless day. I looked down towards the Beenkeragh ridge and found I was really looking forward to the challenge it would offer. I didn't think that crampons or axe would be necessary as the snow was soft powder and there wasn't any ice to be found (I did have them in the bag though, better safe than sorry) and so that proved to be the case. The steep descent to the top of O'Sheas gully was easy in the soft snow and once I reached the ridge I stuck to the crest once again. It is always more challenging when the rocks (and holds) are covered with snow but with a little patience I found everything I needed for safe progress. Once past the initial difficulties (which is the best bit) I stuck to the path and reached the summit of Beenkeragh. A short rest here and I went carefully down the snow covered boulders towards Skregmore and eventually reached the hydro road again. So around 13 kilometers and 1200mtrs of climbing done and I was back to the car in just over five hours. In the car my face was burning from the heater but also I suspect glowing with satisfaction after a smashing winters day. Here's hoping that there will be many more throughout the season. 




The playground of a couple of weeks ago..Mullaghanattin

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