Sunday, January 29, 2017

Coumeengeragh to Carrauntoohil

Yesterday I went once again with Frank for a climb on the Kerry Mountains. An early start saw us meet in Killarney at 07.40 and after a brief chat we settled on a visit to Coumeengeragh gully on the northwestern flanks of Beenkeragh. The weather promised to be pretty good so we were looking forward to having a good day. It was quite a surprise to see, once sufficient daylight arrived, that there had been some snowfall down to around the 600mtr mark. I was already regretting bringing my cheap Karrimor boots that are as waterproof as a cheese grater and I was resigned to the fact that chilly feet would be guaranteed in the snow. A swift drive around to Lisliebane followed and after a short wait for a passing shower to depart we set off on the long rising traverse across the boggy ground. At around the 500mtr contour you finally crest the shoulder of Knockbrinnea and enter the deep recess and the gully rises at its end. The scenery is quite spectacular with steep rocky ground on either side but especially on the left where black cliffs guard another steeper short gully which was complete with waterfalls. At the base of this gully there was something orange to be seen and I went across to investigate and to ensure that it wasn't some unfortunate climber after coming to grief. It was with some relief that I saw that it was a storm shelter that had probably blown away in the wind. I gathered it up and brought it with me as I didn't want anyone else to think that there had been an accident and it would have been an eyesore anyway.

Nice day for it

Looking keen

Finally in view

The tricky step at the start

Exiting the gully
The fun starts straight away when you enter the gully when you are faced with a wet slimy step with a big old stone jutting out at the top which forces you to climb the left side. It is only perhaps eight feet but it is tricky and I was glad when it was behind me. This is the crux of the route and we sailed up the remaining 200 or so meters of Grade 1 scrambly ground. It was quite lovely at times when the snow started to fall in silent windless slow motion all around and it made for a nice atmospheric scene at times. Windless it certainly wasn't when we crested onto the ridge below Beenkeragh and it certainly felt like proper winter conditions as we were pelted with horizontal snow and a little hail. It eased as we gained height and soon enough we reached the deserted summit. We didn't delay and dropped down and crossed the ridge towards Carrauntoohil and it wasn't until we were almost at the top before we saw anybody else out. A nice spot of lunch on a windswept summit and we descended back to the Hags Glen via the Heavenly Gates. The weather improved as we got lower and at times it felt positively balmy in the sun down below. It had been a nice outing and gave an unexpected glimmer of winter conditions. Alas back to the rain and wind again this week.

Posing at the Heavenly Gates
Looking into the Hags Glen

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