Sunday, February 17, 2013

First Hill Race Of 2013

Making my way  through the back markers

Its not exactly a picture of free running.
I went to the Galtee Mountains today for what was supposed to be a hill run to the top of Temple Hill. I was late arriving and had only just registered before the off. I was last to start as I had to try and pin on my number. I managed to get a few pins in and didn't lose too mush ground. Unfortunately the wind was really strong and the route was confined to the forestry section, thus cutting out all the open mountain section and taking about 250 meters off the climbing total. Still it was good fun and I finished in the middle of the pack in just over 44 minutes. It was a long way to go for such a short run but that's the way it goes. Anyway onward to the next outing.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Hags Tooth Ridge

Today I headed back to Kerry to have a day out with Kevin. It had been a while since we had an outing and this time we opted for a hike on the Reeks instead of our usual epic run. That was more to give my still recovering ribs a chance to heal fully. We were undecided as to what exactly we would do but eventually opted for the Hags Tooth Ridge on Benkeeragh and to head over to Carrauntoohil and take it from there. Disappointingly the weather was once again iffy and it was raining at the back of the Hags Glen when we left the car ( a brand spanking new Ford Kuga..posh) but we were in high spirits nonetheless. There is never a problem with the flow of conversation when we are out and today was no different. Topics ranged from our reasons for doing what we do ( mountaineering wise) to music and "Twitching" of a type :o).

Anyway the fun starts straight away once you cross the stream under the tooth.We immediately left the normal route and opted to tackle as many of the various rock-steps that  lead to the base of the tooth proper. Despite the drizzle and occasional bout of heavier stuff we set about the various black slippery steps with relish. Kevin as usual was fearless and went up some really tricky bits, even pulling over the occasional overhanging rock. I on the other hand opted for easier sections but even some of these were pushing my limits. The route itself is graded as Scramble Grade II but the climbing we did was at times difficult and we were of the opinion that at times we were climbing harder than Howling Ridge. Anyway we eventually arrived at the small top and then continued up the now more fragmented ridge towards the summit. This does offer the odd interesting  interlude before we finally arrived at the summit of the second highest point in the country. The wind was now quite strong and decidedly chilly but we still enjoyed a welcome bite to eat.

The chill was considerable so we didn't tarry and set off across the ridge towards Carrauntoohil. We made short work of the 400ft to the summit and then set off without delay towards the Devils Ladder. As we neared this we decided that we would head down the Heavenly Gates as time was a little pressing if we were to have time to enjoy a coffee in Killarney. The continuing damage caused by passing of the thousands of climbers that now frequent this area is all too evident and this in only one of several ways up/down the mountain. We both feel that at some stage a decision will have to be made to protect this fragile environment and build well constructed paths that might halt the ever widening spread of destruction. Anyway we arrived back at the car a bit wet, a bit tired but well happy to have had another grand day out. I feel fortunate indeed to have friends who, hail rain or shine, always make our outings a real treat. The poor weather ensured that the camera stayed in the rucksack so no pictures today. Here,s to the next time.

Monday, February 4, 2013


Once again I headed back to Killarney and met Frank. Today the plan was to drive right to the furthest reaches of the Black Valley and climb Broughnabinnea. While this isn't the most exciting mountain in the area, its location is in one of the remotest places that you can find in Kerry. We had originally planned to do this one last week but appalling weather that morning made us rethink our plans so we postponed until today. While better the weather still wasn't good with a stiff breeze blowing occasional drizzle and the cloud level sticking stubbornly low. Ah well its not all about the views and I knew the company would be good so I was still looking forward to the day. After our by now customary coffees we headed into the wild heart of the Everagh Peninsula. Driving through the Gap of Dunloe is always spectacular and today was no exception and this time of year we didn't have to put up with the "jarveys" who in the tourist months are a nuisance. Anyway we eventually arrived at the trail-head under the steep east side of the mountain. Its a wonderful place to be and we were really looking forward to the off.
A moody broody black valley

The view down just before we entered the mist

There are some strange creatures about..she said

A gentle start follows an old track that leads up to an old abandoned farmhouse. This winds its way through a little woodland but soon it comes to an end and we broke off and entered the open mountainside. Now the hard work commences and the slope is steep and unremitting. I opted to stay out of the gully that rises through the center of the face and zig zagged up the steep broken ground on the right. This was because I had injured myself at the gym the previous week. As is my wont I was pushing my limits on a machine and loaded on too much weight. As I strained to complete a set of reps I felt a sharp and searing pop in my ribs which brought my efforts to an immediate end. I laid off the gym for a couple of days and things quickly improved so I returned and did two strenuous workouts on consecutive nights which made the injury worse and ensured that a painful few days ensued. I have learned my lesson and so I was being careful not to strain myself this time. Anyway we made steady progress and soon enough topped out over the steep face and entered the plateau before the final drag to the summit plateau. Now we were more exposed to the full effects of the bitingly cold wind so when we arrived at the rather featureless summit we didn't linger and headed down immediately to find a bit of shelter and a good spot for lunch.
What a right pair

We dropped right down to nearly the valley floor and here we found a sheltered spot just under the cloud base where we enjoyed a nice bite to eat. We finished off our descent on surprisingly dry ground to the rough and wild valley floor. Here we turned once again to the east and the direction of our car. We passed first the beautiful waterfall that thunders down above Lough Reagh and then further to the left passed the "Ogham Stone" at the end of the descent and followed the sodden trail that leads back to the road. About four hours in total and another helping of good company. We retired to Killarney for yet more coffee and we are both looking forward to our next outing.
Waterfall above Lough Reagh

Ogham is an ancient form of writing in Ireland

Culture and history all about

Another end to another great day