Today I went with Denis and his sometime climbing companion Bridie for another climb on Carrauntoohil. It had been cold-ish over the past few days and there was some snow lying on The Reeks. I wasn't over hopeful of good conditions but we decided to to bring back crampons and axe and see what the day brought. I thought that "The Grey Area" would be a good option and so it proved. This area is the wide steep area of mixed ground that sits between Curved Gully and The Lick. It offers a great variety of climbing where you can pick and choose the type of ascent you want to make with most of it going at around the Grade 2 or 3 mark (if you pick the spiciest bits). It can offer excellent mixed climbing with a mixture of frozen turf and icy rocks and the enjoyment only ends when you arrive at the cross. The forecast was for rain to arrive around midday so I wasn't expecting great things (bad weather usually arrives earlier than expected hereabouts) so it was a delight to be well into our descent before the rain arrived.
|They wouldn't wait for me...|
|The north spur of Cuillin|
|Ready for the good stuff|
|Lots of options|
|I think they were enjoying it.|
|Conditions getting better|
For the final seventy or eighty meters we climbed lovely iced up rocky ground and a nice little ridge until we suddenly found ourselves almost level with the summit cross. There wasn't a puff of breeze and we were almost entirely cloud free. It was proving to be a pet day and we walked to the cross and enjoyed a well deserved rest and bite to eat and reveled in the glow that comes when you finish a lovely climb. In the still air it felt quite mild and there is no doubt that the temperature was above freezing. We contemplated going across the Benkeeragh ridge but when we reached the top of O'Sheas gully the rocks on the ridge were completely snow and ice free so we turned and headed down from here. The rain stayed away until we reached the first level but it wasn't too heavy. We arrived back in Cronins Yard and enjoyed excellent refreshments and were very happy bunnies. If only we could get some proper frosty nights then the Grey Area would offer truly excellent sport. I look forward to returning there soon.
|Actually a bit steeper than it looks|
|Lovely mixed ground|
|And there's more|
|I'm not sure Bridie knew the danger :o)|