Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Trying For A Pre Christmas Mountain Run On Tomies

Looking across Lough Leane towards Crohane
I finished my week of nights this morning and as there is yet another storm coming in this afternoon I decided to head back to the Kerry mountains first thing to see if I could get a quick blast of mountain air in before Christmas. The skies were mostly clear and there was nothing more that a stiff breeze down in the valleys so I opted to head for Tomies Wood and I hoped to go up Tomies and from there on to Shehy and around towards the end of Tomies Wood and so back to the car. I set off from the car and shuffled in the track to the wood. I was delighted to see plenty of Deer on the trail and the views over Lough Leane once I gained some height was lovely. I was struggling with fatigue this morning but it still was great to out and about. I was under no pressure and I walked when I felt like it and I certainly had no choice but to walk when I left the forest trail at it highest point and I broke out onto the open mountain. It was steep and out here the wind was becoming more problematic and it was a bit of a struggle to climb into it. The long slog all the way to the summit of Tomies was a chore but I reached the top in just under 70 minutes. As I neared the top the wind really increased in speed and I had to drop to my hands and knees at times to prevent myself being whipped aside. The chance to a nice long high level run was gone so I decided to give up the fight with the wind and I turned for Tomies Rock and I descended the long spur that heads for the road near Kate Kearneys. Once on the road I ran easily back to my car. Just about 7.5 miles and around 2200 feet of climbing in just over two hours and I was well pleased with my morning. Hopefully I will get the chance to return and complete the original route in the near future.
Yhr view across towards The Reeks.

Sunday, 20 December 2015

A Quick Blast Up Cnoc an Cuillinn

Working nights is always a bit of a drag but it does enable me to sometimes make the most of the day and today I took the opportunity to travel back to the Reeks once again with Denis O'Brien for a hike. Denis is in training for a winter trip to the Scottish Highlands in the first week of February so it is necessary to take every chance he can get to get some hill-time in. The weather was its usual unsettled self but at least the rain came in swift sharp heavy bursts that left reasonable clear spells between and when we could see the mountains some of the tops were clear so there was a chance we might even be able to enjoy an occasional view. We left the car in Cronins Yard again and I decided that the north spur of Cnoc an Cuillinn 958 mtrs would make a worthy outing. Off we set at a good pace and once we reached the outlet of Lough Callee we contoured up and around the shoulder of the bone and entered the coum. A couple of squalls had come and gone but we could see the spur rising steeply above us so off we set. It is steep but it is straightforward and we rapidly gained height and soon we were on the pleasing ridge that offers a little scrambling to the summit. We reached the top on a very respectable 1 hour 45 minutes and as the wind was fairly fierce we set off towards Carrauntoohil. More bad weather rolled in and after a short debate we decided to shorten our day and we set off down a very wet Devils Ladder and the long track back to the car. The temperatures were a few degrees colder today (but still much too warm for snow) so it was nice to get into dry clothes at the car a little over four hours after we set out. A good lung-filler before Christmas.
Plenty of water in the river and even a little sunlight to welcome us. Our route rising in the centre up into the cloud.

West from the summit.

Monday, 14 December 2015

The Andy Kirkpatrick Show and A Climb On The Reeks

After the delights of a sunny day on Friday the weather were back to its dismal wet norm on Saturday. There was however one thing to brighten the day...I was heading back to Killarney to see the "Cold Mountain" talk given by the famous "hard core" mountaineer Andy Kirkpatrick. He is a guy that seems to specialize in extreme cold big wall climbing and this talk was about his trip to Antarctica last year. He is a funny self deprecating guy whose talks tend to vary from the account of his latest adventure to the stories that make him who he is. This one was no exception and covered both the expedition and his personal "issues" and problems. Sometimes his brutal honesty was a bit uncomfortable to listen to but he didn't let it spoil the overall comedic content of the show. Personally I wish he would give a deeper nuts and bolts insight into the difficulties and complexities of climbing these big walls in full winter gear but it was still a very enjoyable evening. It was a little disappointing  to see such a small attendance but perhaps the awful weather had played a part in that. I did however win a Thermarest mattress in the raffle..Happy days

Andy Kirkpatrick on the summit of Ulvertanna in the Antarctic.

 That took care of Saturday and as I stayed in a Killarney B&B overnight I was able to meet Denis O'Brien on Sunday morning in town and we headed to The Reeks for a bit of a burnout. Denis is a very fit climber and I knew there would be a good workout to be had today. Unfortunately I awoke to the joys of a stuffed up head and basically aches and pains all over which put a bit of a damper on my enthusiasm but I reckoned that once I was out in the open air I would feel better and so it proved to be the case. There was a good improvement in the weather in the sense that it was merely overcast but not raining as we set off from Cronins Yard. Anything like a ridge or gully was out of the question so we opted to climb Brother O'Sheas and head from Carrauntoohil over to "The Bone". That would give around fifteen kilometers and 1300 meters of climbing so it would be a worthy outing. I was pleased to find that I was feeling much better once I got going and we set a good pace all the way to the top of the mountain. The wind was a good fifty miles an hour here and the high traverse all the way to the bone promised to be invigorating. We didn't tarry and made rapid progress the whole way. No views were to be had but the company was good and it was great to hear Denis' enthusiasm and plans for his trip to climb Ama Dablam next year. We made it back to the car in five hours flat and it was now I found myself very weary. An early night ensued.
Denis O'Brien

Looking back out over the first level

A Sunny Interlude On The Comeraghs...Counshingaun

Lets face it weather of late has been shite. Storm after storm bringing nothing but wind and rain to add to the depression of the short days and long long nights so it was super to be able to join Kevin Ring for a sunny day on the hills in a place I hadn't been before, Coumshingaunon in the Comeragh mountains. Kevin has been super busy of late with a new job and three young babies to mind so our opportunities to hook up have been scarce and when we have it has been for a quick run or somesuch so it was great to have the luxury of a day to ourselves. As per usual the craic was great and after a coffee en-route we were good to go by 10.30. Coumshingaun is widely considered to be the finest coum in the country and it is indeed an impressive sight with its perfectly shaped bowl surrounding a large lake some 300+mtrs under the rim. The route itself is quite short but today was about having a catch up so we set off at a leisurely pace from Kilclooney and rose gently up to the spur on the southern side of the coum. Higher up there are many good scrambling bits on offer on outcrops of conglomerate rock which Kevin took full advantage of. We reached the top and Kevin pointed out the many options for winter fun that are to be had on the gullies that cleave the headwall. 

The impressive coum coming into view

I think we should go thataway

Some nice scrambling options on the way up

Do you really have to??

Up on the plateau

A very exfoliating wind brrr

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We descended the northern spur and dropped down to the lake side and we followed the stream back out. There are lots of amazing spots here to camp which we hope to make good use of in the future. Back to the car and more coffee and back to the train station where we went our separate ways. As always it had been a great day out and I was hoarse from talking. Roll on the next outing.

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Galtymore from Kings Yard with James

After the battering from storm Desmond on Saturday it was a relief to venture out to the mountains on Sunday morning and especially nice to welcome back James to the great outdoors. He has been plagued by injury over the past couple of years and a recent family bereavement only added to his woes but finally things seem to be returning to normal for him and he was anxious do get back in the proverbial saddle and get back into an exercising regime. Mindful of his lack of recent outings I opted for a short hike on the Galtees as a nice way to get the ball rolling. We met early doors and headed to Kings Yard and we were on the move before 08.30 and heading for Galtymore. It was dry and after the battering of the recent gales we were pleased to have just a chilly breeze to deal with today. Despite his lack fitness James made great progress and we reached the summit well before 10.30. As you would expect the wind on top was much stronger and really quite cold so after briefly enjoying the views we headed directly down the south side of the mountain to the lovely confluence of the three streams (rivers today) and returned easily to our car. The three and a half hours hadn't knocked a bother out of James and I will have to pick a more challenging outing for the next one, which hopefully won't be too far in the future.