Sunday, February 5, 2017

The Bone to Carrauntoohil. Snow returns to The Reeks

I took my new La Sportiva Trango Cube boots for their first outing today and it worked out very well. It wasn't really a surprise that they were good as they are exactly the same as my last pair. Still I needed to try them out as my next outing is a biggie..a week hiking in the Sierra Nevada Mountains in southern Spain 🌝.
Nice morning for it

Some nice little scrambly sections

I was tired when I got up, tired on the drive back to Kerry and tired when I left the car but I hoped that I would perk up as I got into the meat of the walk. It didn't really improve as I started climbing but I pushed on.Soon I was above the snow line and after a while the weather closed in around me and I found myself in a fury of horizontal snow. I loved it. There are a few scrambly sections on the way up that help to break the monotony of the climb and eventually I reached the small summit. It felt like proper winter here and spindrift and snow were being blown over the crest of the ridge. I turned and headed towards Cnoc an Cuillain and"enjoyed" the atmospheric conditions en route and guarded my eyes against the snow. I was too lazy to stop and put on my goggles and I soon regretted it when I was hit in the eye by some spindrift...ouchy👀. I reached the top of Cuillain and enjoyed a nice sheltered bite to eat in the mist before continuing on to Carrauntoohil. The interminable slog to the summit is never easy but it passed and it was actually quite pleasant on the top as the sun was trying to break through and glimpses of views came and went. I decided to head down via O'Sheas Gully and the weather improved as I went down. The top of the gully was a bit icy but thereafter things went smoothly. I was truly weary by the time I got back to the car but it was still great to get another taste of winter. Now all we need is a proper cold spell and some ice to form. It'll probably happen while I'm away. 
A window to the world

The Beenkeragh ridge

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Coumeengeragh to Carrauntoohil

Yesterday I went once again with Frank for a climb on the Kerry Mountains. An early start saw us meet in Killarney at 07.40 and after a brief chat we settled on a visit to Coumeengeragh gully on the northwestern flanks of Beenkeragh. The weather promised to be pretty good so we were looking forward to having a good day. It was quite a surprise to see, once sufficient daylight arrived, that there had been some snowfall down to around the 600mtr mark. I was already regretting bringing my cheap Karrimor boots that are as waterproof as a cheese grater and I was resigned to the fact that chilly feet would be guaranteed in the snow. A swift drive around to Lisliebane followed and after a short wait for a passing shower to depart we set off on the long rising traverse across the boggy ground. At around the 500mtr contour you finally crest the shoulder of Knockbrinnea and enter the deep recess and the gully rises at its end. The scenery is quite spectacular with steep rocky ground on either side but especially on the left where black cliffs guard another steeper short gully which was complete with waterfalls. At the base of this gully there was something orange to be seen and I went across to investigate and to ensure that it wasn't some unfortunate climber after coming to grief. It was with some relief that I saw that it was a storm shelter that had probably blown away in the wind. I gathered it up and brought it with me as I didn't want anyone else to think that there had been an accident and it would have been an eyesore anyway.

Nice day for it

Looking keen

Finally in view

The tricky step at the start

Exiting the gully
The fun starts straight away when you enter the gully when you are faced with a wet slimy step with a big old stone jutting out at the top which forces you to climb the left side. It is only perhaps eight feet but it is tricky and I was glad when it was behind me. This is the crux of the route and we sailed up the remaining 200 or so meters of Grade 1 scrambly ground. It was quite lovely at times when the snow started to fall in silent windless slow motion all around and it made for a nice atmospheric scene at times. Windless it certainly wasn't when we crested onto the ridge below Beenkeragh and it certainly felt like proper winter conditions as we were pelted with horizontal snow and a little hail. It eased as we gained height and soon enough we reached the deserted summit. We didn't delay and dropped down and crossed the ridge towards Carrauntoohil and it wasn't until we were almost at the top before we saw anybody else out. A nice spot of lunch on a windswept summit and we descended back to the Hags Glen via the Heavenly Gates. The weather improved as we got lower and at times it felt positively balmy in the sun down below. It had been a nice outing and gave an unexpected glimmer of winter conditions. Alas back to the rain and wind again this week.

Posing at the Heavenly Gates
Looking into the Hags Glen

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Alohart and Cruach Mhór

Being a glutton for punishment I set off first thing this morning back to Killarney where I hooked up with Frank for another outing. After a brief discussion we settled on a visit to The Reeks and after chatting with Kevin yesterday about Alohart I suggested that this would make for a nice outing and Frank, never having been there, readily agreed.
Most of the snow gone😢

Still...reasons to be cheerful

Alohart comes into view

Possible rock routes to explore??

The thaw of yesterday was still in full swing and the snow levels were substantially depleted but the landscape still had nice wintry look about it. We set off from Lisliebane and after crossing the bridge over the Black Stream we set off up and across the bog that sweeps down from the slopes of Cruach Mhór. The weather was a bit of a mixture of cloud mist and drizzle but thankfully we avoided the worst of it and we actually didn't need to put on our hard shells until we reached the col between Cnoc an Brácha and Cruach Mhór and it was so mild we only used a base-layer until then. The slog across the bog is fairly tedious but suddenly you reach a crest and the beautiful area of Alohart is revealed with its pair of lochlans and the broad gully that rises to the col between wild and rugged rocky bluffs. Frank was in good form today and we made short work of the near 300mtr pull to the col. Misty glimpses of the Black valley came into view now but the stiffish breeze and hint of a chill meant we didn't tarry and set off to climb the remaining 300mtrs to the summit. By staying on the south side we stayed out of the wind and after the tumble of yesterday I was extra cautious on the snow covered rocky sections but we arrived at the top without incident. Now all that remained was the drop back down to the lake and once there we made short work of the return to the car. It had been a very nice stress free day and as usual the company was great. Thanks Frank.
In cruise control

Cnoc na Péiste ridge

Trying to get all arty farty with the new camera😁