Thursday, April 13, 2017

The Hags Glen Horseshoe Including Alohart and Howling Ridge Plus Rockclimbing at Knockadoon

Last weekend was a good weekend. The weather was good and I was determined to make the most of it.
Always a great sight

Saturday April 8th;

I went back to The Reeks on Saturday morning and decided to do the Hags Glen Horseshoe. This gives a fine outing of perhaps 15kilometers in length and 1600mtrs of ascent. I was feeling quite strong this morning for the first time in a while (I had had a virus a few weeks previously) and it was such a pleasure to be out and about. I decided to include the lovely area of Alohart in my day and this adds about an extra kilometer to the outing but offers a more pleasurable way to the airy top of Cruach Mhor and avoids the slog of the "normal" route. The skies to the west were mostly blue and some cloud clung to the eastern tops as I walked in but I was hopeful that things would clear up as the day wore on. The walk across the boggy ground towards Alohart goes on a fair while but once you enter the glen the climb up the wide gully to the saddle between Cnoc na Bhraca and Cruach Mhor soon passes and once there you turn to climb the pleasant ridge towards the 932mtr summit. The strength of the wind when I  reached the ridge came as something of a surprise and it was quite buffeting at times. I feared that I would have to forsake the delightful scramble between the top and Cnoc na Peiste but thankfully it was just about okay and the only concession was avoiding standing on the knife edge sections on the second half of the ridge.
Cloud spilling over the East Reeks

The ridge towards Cruach Mhor

Finally the cloud is clearing

What a view across the Hags Glen

As an aside I noticed that I was unable to see the wing of the WW2 plane that crashed in the lake below and I wonder if it had finally rusted away. From Cnoc na Peiste I really enjoyed the easy walk to Cnoc an Cuillain and I felt strong and my knee didn't affect my stride in any way. I was in great spirits and I decided to climb to the summit of Carrauntoohil via Howling Ridge which again adds around an extra 100mtrs to the days ascent but it also offers a whole other dimension to the outing as the ridge offers a very entertaining VDiff climb some 200mtrs in length and this required some concentration but was hugely enjoyable. I enjoyed a brief rest on the busy summit before heading for Benkeeragh 1009mtrs and again enjoyed the scramble across the ridge before wearily climbing to the summit. Next comes Knockbrinnea 847mtrs and the long descent back to Lisliebane and my car. It had taken me 7 hours 15 minutes and I was very very happy with my day.

A good spot for lunch

Lots of people on the "tourist route" on Carrauntoohil

Looking up Howling Ridge

Don't fall

Looking down from the end of the ridge

Carrauntoohil is a fine mountain

Sunday April 9th;

Lately it seems that Kevin and I have had no luck with the weather whenever we try and arrange days out so it was great to finally have a weather forecast that allowed us to spend some time rock-climbing at Knockadoon Head in East Cork. This is Kevin's home patch and I had never been there before so I was really looking forward to it. It is always a pleasure to spend time with Kevin and straight away the banter flowed as we set off from near the lookout tower towards the cliffs. I haven't been climbing much in recent years and I had no illusions about my abilities these days but I trusted that Kevin would find some stuff for me to try. We started at a nice slab that gave us three routes of about 12mtrs in length and two are graded at VS. We top-roped them and they provided very nice crimpy climbing with good holds just where they were needed. It was wonderful to be climbing near the sea and no wind and pleasant temperatures made it even more pleasurable. We both led the climb at the left edge of the slab which was very easy but all the more enjoyable for that for me.

What do I do with this again??

Lovely climbing on the first slab

A wonderful place to be

Spider Féar Spider Féar

 Next we upped sticks and headed to a steeper crag a few minutes away with the excellently named climb Crack a Doon in the offing. This climb is perhaps 15mtrs and climbs a steep corner with a delicate crux in the middle. Enough holds are to be found and it was certainly slightly tougher than the other climbs so it was a big surprise to google it afterwards and see it graded as Severe. All I will say is someone was obviously climbing in superb form when thy set this route to grade it so easy and to my unpracticed eye it would warrant a solid VS. We climbed the route a couple of times and then went out onto the face and climbed another tougher route which had a super smooth and blank crux which Kevin managed okay but I had to have my ass hauled up past it. We finished off by climbing the broken rock to the left of Crack o Doon which was fairly straightforward. Back to Kevin's house where I was treated to fine coffee and great cakes and off home I went. It had been a delight and hopefully it won't be too long before we get out again. Thanks Kevin.
Abbing down the Crack o Doon

Difficult climbing on this face

Final route

Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Clydagh Valley Horseshoe..Before the snow melts.

We had a short cold snap Monday and Tuesday and there was a good dump of snow on the hills so with a decent forecast I decided to head to The Galtees today and I opted for one of my favourite circuits on the range The Clydagh Valley Horseshoe. This gives a nice outing that is around 14 kilometers long and had over 1000mtrs of ascent so it gives a reasonable workout as well.
I could see the Galtees from home yesterday and they were well covered to low levels but there was a fair old thaw underway and the cloud base was down at around the 600 mtr level as well. Oh well I was here now so I set off for my first peak..Cush and I was basically snow free most of the way to the summit. In the cloud on top the lying snow still made for a nice wintry atmosphere and it was certainly chilly enough in the stiff wind. I dropped down to the col under Galtybeg and then trudged up the seemingly never-ending slopes to the summit. Now at over 2600ft it was quite wintry and I then dropped to the col above Lough Muskry and plodded up to the main top of the day Galtymor and now at over 3000ft it was definitely still winter so I crossed the summit plateau and then dropped easily on deep banked snow to the level ground above Lough Curra. Once on the wast side of the lake I again used a deep snow bank to descent all the way to the lake shore and then returned easily to the forestry and the car. Four hours out in bracing wind and snow was just what the doctor ordered and I was pleased to get out in what might be the last snows of the season. Note to self.if you go to the trouble of bringing the camera then it would be a good idea to put a memory card into it as well..DOH⛄
Gaining height on Galtybeg looking back at Cush

Lough Curra to Cush

Saturday, March 11, 2017

The Paps

It has been a good while since I last set foot on The Paps and as I drove back to Kerry this morning I looked across at them and on a whim tuned and decided to climb them. I was feeling a bit tired (head-cold?) and wasn't really in the mood for The Reeks and was of a mind to go somewhere different so it was an easy decision to make. The morning was mild and plenty of clear sky was to be seen and only some wispy cloud clung to the mountains so I was hopeful of getting some views. I drove in the little twisty lane towards Shrone Lake and carefully parked my car and set off. The view across the little lake to the very rough ground on the eastern flank of the east pap was lovely and I was immediately glad to be somewhere less familiar. I crossed the stream feeding the end of the lake and set off up through the trackless deep heathery ground I must confess to suffering a bit but perseverance paid off and eventually I found a trail that wound its way up the steep-ish slope. The cloud was clinging stubbornly to the slopes and soon enough the views disappeared. I reached the top with its huge cairn and after a brief rest I dropped to the col between the tops and climbed to the summit of the west top. I was hoping to be able to enjoy the lovely view that is to be found from here towards The Reeks but alas the cloud persisted and I was left with no option but to retrace my steps to the col. As luck would have it it cleared up quite nicely by the time I was back there and it was also quite warm in the sunshine. I contoured around the slopes of the east top and dropped easily along the boggy spur. Eventually I reached deep heather again and after struggling through this I reached easier ground and returned to my car. A little less than three hours but a delightful little outing. I used to cycle back here and "run" the mountains and then cycle home but I wouldn't fancy trying to run through some of the heather I waded through today. Nice to have been back there though.