Sunday, January 15, 2017

The Hag Tooth Ridge...A Different Proposition Under Slushy Snow

Saturday Jan 14th;
We have had a quick cold snap during the week and quite a bit of snow fell down to low levels. The mountains were white and while there hadn't been a lot of frost I was hopeful that if there had been a frost up high myself and Kevin might have gotten a decent route in (ie. Howling Ridge). Alas a thaw had set in overnight and it was obvious when we exited the car in Cronins Yard that the snow was being stripped back rapidly and any chance of a winter route was gone. Such are the joys of trying to get some winter climbing done in the southwest of Ireland. We left all the gear bar one axe and crampons (we are nothing if not optimists 😁) and we set off into the Hags Glen.
Plenty snow but a thaw was well underway

Still lovely to look at though.

You'll never guess😉

It is always a bit of a shock to the system when you start out with Kevin and I had to almost trot at times to keep up but things soon smoothed out. We decided that the Hags Tooth Ridge would make a fun outing and so it proved. Both of us had done the route recently but it was a very different proposition today with the rock running with water and slushy snow covering the steps and grassy places. We climbed carefully up to the overhanging section, picking a winding way up through the steep sections. The going was at times delicate and some care was required for safe progress. We arrived at the narrow section near the crest, where a small hole in the rock allowed us to creep through to the other side where we were able to use good holds to join the crest and climb the remaining steps to the top of the tooth. A little down-climb and we continued up the remaining steps towards the summit of Benkeeragh.
Concentration required

Obligatory bum shot

Squeezed through...phew

Oh what we wouldn't give for some frosty weather now.

 Shortly after the tooth I managed to take a nasty tumble backwards after stumbling on snow covers stones but other than a sore wrist and some bruising I was okay. We continued up the ridge, enjoying some nice scrambly sections until we came to a difficult step which neither of us fancied in these conditions so we opted to drop down to the right and traverse below it. We didn't go down quite far enough and we ended up making a rising traverse of some interesting ground that again required care to get past. After this we finished the drag to the top of and descended down the far side where a welcome bite of lunch was had. Here at over 900 mtrs it was windy and cold but the temperature was still above freezing and the snow, while plentiful, was soft and sugary. We traversed the ridge as far as O'Sheas Gully which was banked out but this made for swift easy progress all the way down to the lake. Lots of people were going up and I didn't envy them the job of wading up through the deep snow. We continued down and back to the car and I was back in Killarney in good time to catch the 15.45 train home. Again we had had a smashing day and we made the most of it despite the less than ideal conditions.Thanks Kevin😊
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