After a stellar period of dry frosty weather, I guess it would have been remiss not to visit Carrauntoohil and have a look and see if ice had formed. On Thursday morning I arranged to meet with Connie Looney and we headed back to have a look at Curve Gully. The temperature was reading -6 as I drove back to meet him and promised to remain close to freezing through the day. We brought our axes and crampons and set off into the Hags Glen on a beautiful, calm, cold weather morning.
It was great to be out with Connie again and the chat flowed as we walked. I was surprised that there wasn't more people about as I thought the great weather might have tempted more people to get out. Still I guess ice wasn't quite as big a draw as snow. There had been a very slight dusting of the white stuff on the mountains that made the scene look even better as we entered the glen. Before long we crossed the stream and began the stiff pull up into the spectacular levels of Coumeenoughter. Once we reached the first level we were joined by another climber called Dave who was also heading for Curve. The waterfall between level 1 and 2 was completely frozen and would have offered good, if a little sketchy climbing. We weren't really tempted and continued up. Before we reached the bottom of the gully we passed the excellent ice climb called The Lick. It looked to be in good condition but, as today it consisted entirely of water ice, it would have been quite a tough outing and definitely have required gear.
|What I think is the crux. Sporty with 1 axe.
|Above the crux..easier ground
Right from the start Curve was fat with ice and offered great climbing. I took one axe off the bag, and after putting on the crampons we set off up. After the initial step over a rock the narrow steep section just beyond is I think the hardest section of the climb. The ice was a little sparse but good enough and it soon passed. Easy going follows up through more open ground until, a little below where the gully deepens and cuts straight up towards the summit. Here some nice sections up through some slabby rock keep things interesting. From there all the way to the top, some great little sections of bulging fat toffy ice was a joy to climb. Things are never very steep but water ice deserves respect and a little care is required. I would say that the route offers a very very nice grade 2 climb in icy conditions. When banked out with snow it gives a grade 1 climb. It is a long climb and by the time we reached the summit we had been on ice for 300 metres. It was a joy to reach the top and enter a calm sunny wonderland. We enjoyed a bite to eat and descended the Heavenly Gates and back to the car.
|Dave cruising it..Entering the upper section
It had been a fabulous outing in wonderful company. Thank you Connie.