As the weather looked promising and being off for the weekend I contacted my good friend Frank Kluzniac and suggested we give Primroses ridge on Carrauntoohil a go. This is generally accepted as being the hardest route up the mountain and is graded as VS. I did it a couple of years ago with Tim Long and that day he led the route. I was anxious to do it again and this time to lead it myself. So Frank and I met in Killarney and headed for Lisliebane on Saturday. There was some cloud on the tops but it wasn't really threathening rain when we left the carpark at 11.10. There was a large number of people heading for the mountain, most in Tshirts and runners. The unpreparedness of people (many with small children) never ceases to amaze me. Anyway off we set and after a leisurely walk were at the base of the climb at 13.10. Here we donned our climbing gear and suitably suited and booted we began.
It wasn't exactly the most auspicious start. I almost immediately came to an awkward step with only sparse grass and heather to pull up on. I really didn't fancy it and was contemplating coming back down. I moved to my right and saw a line up clean rock where I was able to place some protection. Having found this we were off. We made steady progress on mixed ground and fairly soon came to the crux of the route. This is a vertical face of good rock, about 20meters high with an overhanging roof which requires a delicate move to exit over. It is well protected but is still a daunting spot. The drops from the ridge are serious so the exposure is considerable. Still there was no point in looking at it too long and I started up in a determined fashion. It looks worse than it is and I was soon at the roof. Here I placed a double bit of protection and clenching the buttocks I went for it. It is a sensational situation, leaning back on fairly small holds one is very conscious of the air beneath. A swift reconnescence of the holds available and a couple of moves and I was over. There is a lovely sling belay to be had here and I quickly secured myself. I leant out and took a couple of pictures with trembling hands and enjoyed my spectacular surroundings. Frank being a really solid climber made short work of any difficulties and quickly joined me at the belay.
We didn't delay too long and continued up surmounting any difficulties easily. There is an awful lot of loose rock in places on the route and at times it is really hard to find something solid to pull on . We arrived at the junction with Howling Ridge and continued from there moving together. We passed another party who was pitching the end of Howling. We completed the slog to the summit and enjoyed a very welcome bite to eat, well satisfied with our efforts. Decent was via O'Sheas gully. An outing with Frank is always good fun and we were soon saying our goodbyes at Killarney. I think a future trip to Wales or Glencoe is called for.