Monday, January 21, 2013

A Snowy Hike In Kerry


Carrauntoohil looking inviting
Saturday I went for a hike with Frank on The Reeks. It was quite chilly overnight and I wasn't surprised to see that snow was lying on the mountains above 600 mtrs. It is always a pleasure to go out with Frank and after the exertions of a half marathon training run the day before a hike was just the thing to keep the muscles in working order. We had our now customary coffees in Killarney before setting off for Lisliebane and the start of our route. Today we opted to climb up "The Bone" and descend "The Heavenly Gates". The Bone or Maolan Bui is the fourth highest top in the country at 970 meters. It offers a straightforward ascent or descent route on the Eastern Reeks Ridge. There was little or no wind as we left the car and despite the low temperature it was really pleasant conditions for a hike. The tops were free of cloud and looked wonderful in their white icing.

A change on the way

I hadn't seen Frank since before Christmas so we had a bit of catching up to do and the ground passed easily. Soon enough we were across the impressive bridge that spans The Gaddagh river and we headed up the gentle boggy slope that leads to the base of the ridge. We arrived at the broad ridge and soon after we hit the snowline. Unfortunately at about the same time some cloud engulfed us and we spent the rest of the climb in the clag with occasional snow flurries adding to the atmospheric conditions. We rested out of the wintry breeze on the summit and enjoyed our lunch. It was lovely to be out in the snow and while there was nothing in the way of ice to be found and there was really only a few inches of powdery snow on the ground, everything looked great and what was quite familiar ground now had a more exotic feel to it. Suitably well fed and rested we resumed our trek and crossed over Cnoc na Cuillan and on to the Devils Ladder. Thankfully by now a clearance had arrived and our progress was punctuated by frequent stops to try and capture the wonderful scenery all around us.

Towards the Brida Valley

View Northwest

We opted to descent via The Heavenly Gates. This is our favorite way off the mountain and it traverses the eastern face of Carrauntoohil and shows off to best effect the exciting ridges that soar towards the summit. It is a little disappointing to see how eroded the lower sections of the route have become. When are we going to get it right in this country and build proper, sustainable trails that protect the wider mountainside and allow safer egress to the mountains. By now extensive damage has been done to this beautiful range and unless action is taken soon the pressure of the ever increasing numbers that frequent the area its beauty and wild feel will be spoiled for good. Anyway on a happier note we enjoyed the remainder of the walk back to the car and we were treated to wonderful scenery as the setting sun set afire to the snow. All in all a great day out was had and we are looking forward to our next outing soon.

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