Monday, November 5, 2012

The first taste of Winter

I went back to the Reeks today hoping to get some winter climbing done. It had been cold over the past number of days and there had been a fair dumping of snow over the week. Yesterday there had been a bit of a thaw and a lot of rain so it was more in hope than expectation that I travelled. I parked at Lisliebane on a gorgeous sunny morning with blue skies and no wind. The temperature was about eight degrees so freezing level would have been well above the summits. It had however froze during the night and I was sure that there wouldn't have been too much of a thaw on Carrauntoohil's north face. There wasn't much snow remaining so I left one axe in the car and set off. As I walked under the "Hags Tooth" I could hear the high ululating crying of some wild goats. It was easy to imagine how in centuries past folk were believers in the "Banshee".

I met a couple of guys who were pondering whether it was worth continuing on as they were hoping to do some proper winter climbing. It was fairly clear that none of the ice routes etc were going to be in so they headed for the Gap of Dunloe to do some rock climbing. I decided to head for the old stalwart Curve Gully.

Feeling good to be out in the snow

There was no evidence of snow until I reached the upper level of Coumeenaughter. I climbed the rocky ground to the base of the upper section of Curve and entered the gully. There was a nice line snow left and it had benefited from a few freeze thaws and was nice and firm. I didn't need crampons as I was able to kick nice steps but the axe was definitely useful. Further up there was some rime ice and there was a definite wintry atmosphere. I really enjoyed the climb and it felt great to be on nice snow. Last week there was a hint of Winter in the air and today I got my first taste of what will hopefully be a good winter of climbing both here and abroad. Curve is a quite straightforward Grade I climb that leads directly to the summit. I topped out in splendid isolation and enjoyed a nice lunch in the sunshine and drank in the wonderful views. I continued across to Benkeeragh and once again enjoyed the nice scramble. From the summit down carefully over the snowy rocks and for a change I descended alongside the Hags Tooth. It was a lovely day out and I didn't see a soul other than the two at the start of the day. Roll on the Winter.

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