Saturday, December 16, 2017

The Bone to Carrauntoohil..Fickle Winter

It has been cold here recently but frustratingly it hasn't quite managed to get cold enough for decent winter conditions to arrive on our mountains. Rain has stripped The Reeks of nearly all of their snow cover and while the east and north of the country have experienced temperatures down to -8, cloud cover and fleeting frosts have been the norm down here. I had been hopeful that this weekend might provide a reason to break out the ice axe and crampons as some snow had fallen on high and frost was forecast but alas it was not to be. A slight frost had formed when I left home this morning but it was raining and 7degrees at Lisliebane when I parked my car so once again the hardware was left behind. I had hoped to perhaps climb Curve Gully and maybe break out left onto the "Grey Area" but a walk would have to do instead.
All looking a bit bare

Starting to look and feel a bit more wintry as I got higher on The Bone

Easy walking towards Cnoc an Cuillan

I wasn't overly despondent as it is always a pleasure to get out on the hills and I also hoped that it would be just the medicine I needed to try and dislodge a chest infection from the system. I opted to climb The Bone and head from there to Carrauntoohil and descend via the Heavenly Gates. It would therefore offer a decent outing but not be overly taxing and should I struggle because of the infection I could easily cut things short. I tried to set a good pace and I was pleased to find I didn't feel too bad. That nasty burning you get in the chest when the breathing becomes deep wasn't too prevalent so, once I set a sensible pace I was fine. Even though the temperatures were above freezing it was still chilly in the breeze once I reached the sparse snow cover. Some of the turf was frozen which made it all the more disappointing that the promised frost hadn't transpired as I fancy the Grey Area might have offered good sport. Once on the ridge the walking was very easy all the way to Cnoc an Cuillan  except for the nasty shower of rain on the way. The track down towards Cnoc na Toinne was full of snow so that was also super easy. Unfortunately the cloud now cover Cnoc na Toinne but a brief clearing gave a nice view to Broughnabinnea. Next up was the slog to Carrauntoohil, which I took nice and handy and eventually I was able to sit and enjoy a bite to eat on top. On the way down it was great to run into Terence Hoare who was leading a group down after bringing them up Curve Gully. I made good progress after that and reached the car surprisingly fresh at 14.10 after a five hour outing.
Sometimes a little magic happens

 Please Santa bring some winter conditions...pretty please ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿ™
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