I went once again with the redoubtable Francis Jan for a climb on the wonderful Kerry mountains. We had had a good bit of snow recently but a mild wet day yesterday put paid to most of it but we were hopeful that perhaps the gullies would still be full and offer some sport. We intended to do the very nice Grade1 Curve Gully on Carrauntoohil but as we drove up to the carpark at Lisliebane the outlying gully between Skregmore and Benkeeragh called Cummenageragh looked nice and as Frank had never been there before we opted for that. It starts at about 600 meters and finishes at the shallow col below Skregmore at just over 800 meters so it is quite low and given the fact that there hadn't been much in the way of a frost I wasn't too hopeful that it would be in good condition. I feared a wallow from the bottom to the top.
|Entering the coum. The gully is obvious at the back.|
|Gaining a bit of height|
|Francis looking as dour as ever :o)|
|In the meat of it.|
From the carpark you initially head towards the lower slopes of Knockbrinnia before doing a gradual rising traverse to the right before eventually entering the coum after about three kilometres. The coum is a lovely spot and the gully is plainly visible at its rear. Once we reached the base I was pleased to find that the snow wasn't actually too bad and that as a double bonus someone had been in the day before and there were some nice steps to follow. We set off up and as we gained a bit of height things only got better and indeed the snow at times was really quite hard and needed several kicks to make a decent step. We of course had our ice axes out but at no stage did we need crampons (which was just as well as I forgot mine) and we made rapid progress up the gully. We exited it on a direct line which was for a few moves pleasingly steep and we emerged on to the almost snow free the ridge to be greeted by stunning views and a chill breeze. We turned and climbed the nearly 200 meters to the summit of Benkeeragh where we could see across to a surprisingly snowy Carrauntoohil with the striking line of Curve Gully looking particularly inviting. We easily crossed the Benkeeragh ridge which was mostly snow free and climbed to the top of Carrauntoohil where we enjoyed a nice lunch. The descent towards the Devils ladder was a joy with large patches of neve which was just just about taking a firmly placed heel so we actually jogged down most of it. We then finished our descent via the Heavenly Gates.
|Looking towards the top.|
|Across to Caher|
|On the Benkeeragh Ridge|
|Curve Gully looking great|
|Hmmm, I wonder if we dropped down would we have time to climb it??|
|More summit views|
As We got down neat the end of the first step we met a young man who was hauling up a large unwieldly load. As he rested we asked him what it was and he informed up that he was gifting a stove to the mountain and putting it in the emergency shelter. What a generous and lovely gesture by him. His name is Michal Bednár from Youghal. I hope Karma treats him very well. It had been a lovely day out and it was great to get out on firm snow. Mild again for a few days but more cold weather forecast for next week. Here's hoping for more winter experiences to come. Thanks Frank