Saturday, 28 January 2012

Beautiful Kerry

Looking towards Brandon


The view west
I went back to Kerry today to climb the Coomloughra Horseshoe. There had been a bit of snowfall and I was anxious to get that winter climbing feeling before all the white stuff melted away. The day promised to be fairly good with a fair bit of clear sky to be seen between the showers. I parked at the concrete road and set off up the boring track. The expanding vistas to the west as I rose constantly drew the eye and with the intermittent sunshine and dark skies everywhere looked very dramatic. Nowhere moreso than when I arrived at the first lake and got the full view of of the dramatic Coum. Caher particularly looked magnificent in its winter raiment. I climbed the slopesto Caher first and planned to complete the horseshoe via the Beenkerach ridge. However at the summit I discovered that I had left my goggles at home. as I was being blasted by spindrift I found it was almost impossible to continue so I retreated back the way I came. Silly tit me. Ah well perhaps the wintery conditions will continue for a bit yet and I may get another chance.
Caher East Face
Wintery Carrauntoohil

Monday, 23 January 2012

January 2012

January 2012,

Brian McSweeney et Moi

On the Galtee Ridge
I haven't posted anything so far in 2012 so this is an account of what has been happening so far. I started off the new year with a hike on the Galtees with Brian McSweeny and Brian o'Donnell. Brian Mac I have known for a long time through his work at Mahers Outdoor Shop. This was my first time meeting the other Brian and I thoroughly enjoyed his company. Even though I have known Brian Mac for years this was my first time out on the hills with him. His enthusiasm is infectious and the time flew as we chatted and planned and compared notes on past exploits in various locations. We were generally lucky with the weather as we climbed up from the southern side of the range on the Attychran Horseshoe. There was a high cloud base but a strong bitingly cold wind ensured that that we were well wrapped up and kept moving.

Startled Hare
A definite improvement
Gentle Galty mountains
One delightful event was when we came upon a sleeping hare that was unaware of our approach until we got within about ten meters. Another curiosity was how much white was to be seen on its coat. Irish hares are not supposed to change their coats in winter but nobody told this fellow. The amount of white on him would ensure that he would be difficult to spot in the occassional snowy conditions that can be found. From GaltyMore we went along the ridge to Lyracappul and after a bite to eat we returned to our cars in Kings Yard via Carrigeen Mountain. On our descent our luck with the weather ran out and we were blasted by horizontal hailstones for about twenty minutes. I was sorry I hadn't put on my waterproof trousers and I was well soaked by the freezing water when I got back to the car. We said our goodbyes and promised to have other days out together in the future. I look forward to our next adventure.

Sunday January 8th;

Yet again I was off to the Galtees today and I was delighted to have the gregarious Kevin Ring for company. Any day out with Kevin is a good day and this one proved no exception. Having had only one outing with him since our all too brief trip to the Alps last summer it was great to get out and have a natter. We opted for the most westerly mountain in the range Temple Hill. This was the location for my first ever hill walk. A fair few years ago now, a very overweight me was cajoled and encouraged up the hill by Pascal Sweeney. The weather that day was cloudy and wet but I was hooked and I owe Pascal a huge debt for that introduction to the great outdoors. Anyway back to the present and our adventure began even before we left the car, as thanks to my extraordinary navigation skills we went up the wrong approach road and so started off from a different location at Scrowmore rather than Pigeonrock Glen.

The south ridge of Temple Hill is a long gentle slope and as the weather was good there was little pause in the conversation. Soon we were at the summit and we headed for Lyracappul. The steep 220mtr pull to the summit ensured that I had a good appetite for lunch. As we ate we were joined by a large group from some club or other. We left the crowded top and descended down into the atmospheric glen under Knockaterrif Mor and followed the Blackrock river out until we joined the Pigeonrock Glen. Here thanks to my great navigating we had a stiff hundred meter pull over the shoulder of Temple Hill and then back to the car. It was a short outing but a very enjoyable one. We firmed up on our commitment to head to Scotland together and headed home.

Kenmare; January 10th to 13th;

Due to one thing and another and since I had some time off from work, my wife Margaret and I booked a house from the Bay Hotel Kenmare for a few days and headed down on Tuesday afternoon. One bonus of this trip was that we were able to take Ruby. Kenmare is a lovely little town nestled on the shores of the Kenmare river that divides the Everagh and the Beara peninsulas. Busy and brimming with tourists in the high season at this time of year it is quieter but still has loads to offer. So after checking in and getting ourselves settled I went for a very nice 9 kilometer run along by the river. Since the start of the new year I had begun a new dieting and exercise regime in an effort to try and shed some of the excess pounds and regain a good level of fitness. I knew I would lapse on this break so I was determined to try and stay a little ahead of the game. Ruby is such an odd little dog and found her new surroundings very strange. She was on constant alert over the few days. After we arrived she followed me up the stairs, but as we live in a bungalow she is not familiar with them and she refused to come back down. However she soon mastered the trick and thereafter the whole house was hers to explore.

Approaching Adrigole
On Wednesday morning I got up at seven and got myself ready for a good cycle. I planned to cycle to Glengarriff and from there to Adrigole, from there to Lauragh and then back to Kenmare. This involved about 90 kilometers and over 3000ft of climbing. As I hadn't been doing much on the bike (almost zero) this was a fairly ambitious outing. Unfortunately the weather wasn't great with an occasional drizzle and cloud down to about 300mtrs. I don't know what I was thinking when I looked out the door at 07.40 and was surprised to see it was still dark. I waited for another 15minutes and left in the predawn drizzle and headed for Glengarriff. The one saving grace was that there was very little wind and so despite the gloom I was soon enjoying myself. The first major hill over the county bounds into Cork passed off ok and I was enjoying the long downhill section into Glengarriff. From here I turned into what breeze there was and headed for Adrigole. I hadn't reckoned for the substantial hill on this road and struggled a fair bit on the steep rise to the highest point in this section 400ft higher than I started. Still from here the ride to Adrigole is fine and I was soon approaching the bay.The one disappointment was the low cloud that mostly masked the stunning views. Hungry Hill rises up behind the village of Adrigole and is in my opinion one of the most savage and beautiful hills in Ireland. It is a mountain I still have much to explore and there are many good top grade scrambles that I must do.
Winding road to the Healy Pass

View from the Healy Pass
Anyway today I was on a different mission and it was with increasingly weary legs I turned towards the Healy Pass. This is the closest thing we have to an Alpine style road in Ireland and it twists and turns its way towards the coll. It offers another 300mtrs of climbing and though the gradient is fairly gentle it goes on and on, so I was greatly relieved to finally reach the pass. Here I stopped for some chocolate and enjoyed the views down across Glanmore Lake. Another long descent takes you into the tiny hamlet of Lauragh and this heralds the final ascent of the route. I knew it was coming and what to expect but my lack of fitness and practice on the bike was now telling and I was bolloxed by the time I reached the top. I still had about 18 kilometers to go back to the house and I have seldom ached as much in any endeavour before. When I arrived back at the house my legs buckled under me when I dismounted from the bike. Still a long hot soak in the bath went some way to restoring me to normal and lets just say I enjoyed every morsel of the gigantic portion of apple tart and cream I had that afternoon in Sneem village. The rest of the break was spent relaxing and doing all the usual touristy things. Kenmare is a lovely spot and I would hope to go back again in the not too distant future. One thing I am resolved to do is return and enjoy that cycle in hopefully better weather.

Sunday January 22nd;
A happy Frank

Approaching the Horses Glen
At long last Frank Kluzniac and myself managed to have a day out on the hills. We opted for Mangerton near Killarney. As this was Franks first time out since July last year we decided to take things nice and steady. We set off up the boggy track and opted to go in the Horses Glen and climb Mangerton North and from there across to Mangerton itself and back down the tourist track. There was a large crowd getting ready to climb this ever popular mountain. A large contingent from the Tralee group and I was delighted to meet Conny Looney who suffered a very nasty fall down a gully when on a Killarney group outing two years ago. He is now fully recovered and back to his usual self on the hills. The weather was also playing ball and although there was a cold breeze there was little promise of rain and the cloud was above the summits. A very convivial outing followed and a highlight of the day was when we were treated to a great view of a pair of soaring eagles from the summit of Mangerton North. Despite Franks lack of hill time he performed very well and I hope he got the encouragement he needed to go out more often. All going well we will venture out again in a couple of weeks.