Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Ice climbing in Kerry

A fantastic view towards the eastern Reeks

Keith and Niall

Having to sit indoors at work and look out at the wintry weather extend it's grip over Ireland I was determined not to miss the opportunity to climb the Lick on Carrauntoohil on Saturday. I arranged to climb with a Dubliner called Niall Currid and a local guy called Keith Wharton. A thaw arrived on Thursday and was still ongoing when we left the car at 9am. Most of the little snow that we got in the southwest had disappeared and a low cloud base increased the the sense that we were too late for the route to still be in condition. As we progressed  towards the first level we rose above the the cloud and emerged into brilliant sunshine. There was evidence of plenty of ice still clinging to the north face. When we arrived at the second level there was some frozen snow about and the turf was well frozen so we continued with more hope. We rounded the rock buttress and got our first view of the route.   

The Lick rises steeply towards the summit.

Belay on second last pitch
We suited and booted and I led up the first pitch. The ice was a little thin and as is normal on this route, protection was scarce. One sling and an ice screw was all I had before a good spike belay presented itself after about 45mtrs. The two boys followed on and thereafter leads alternated  between Niall and myself. Long run outs were the order of the day and only seven pitches were required to complete the route. Due to having the extra man on the rope and trying to root out decent belays we were quite slow and we didn't summit until after sunset. Still the stunning sunset over the temperature inversion and the surrounding snow covered mountains gave the scene an alpine feel. The exit from the route onto the summit ridge was particularly beautiful. We enjoyed a relaxed bite to eat in the gathering dark and a night descent back to the car. All in all a memorable day out.
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