Monday, August 30, 2010

Primroses Ridge Carrauntoohil

Getting ready


As the weather looked promising and being off for the weekend I contacted my good friend Frank Kluzniac and suggested we give Primroses ridge on Carrauntoohil a go. This is generally accepted as being the hardest route up the mountain and is graded as VS. I did it a couple of years ago with Tim Long and that day he led the route. I was anxious to do it again and this time to lead it myself. So Frank and I met in Killarney and headed for Lisliebane on Saturday. There was some cloud on the tops but it wasn't really threathening rain when we left the carpark at 11.10. There was a large number of people heading for the mountain, most in Tshirts and runners. The unpreparedness of people (many with small children) never ceases to amaze me. Anyway off we set and after a leisurely walk were at the base of the climb at 13.10. Here we donned our climbing gear and suitably suited and booted we began.

             It wasn't exactly the most auspicious start. I almost immediately came to an awkward step with only sparse grass and heather to pull up on. I really didn't fancy it and was contemplating coming back down. I moved to my right and saw a line up clean rock where I was able to place some protection. Having found this we were off. We made steady progress on mixed ground and fairly soon came to the crux of the route. This is a vertical face of good rock, about 20meters high with an overhanging roof which requires a delicate move to exit over. It is well protected but is still a daunting spot. The drops from the ridge are serious so the exposure is considerable. Still there was no point in looking at it too long and I started up in a determined fashion. It looks worse than it is and I was soon at the roof. Here I placed a double bit of protection and clenching the buttocks I went for it. It is a sensational situation, leaning back on fairly small holds one is very conscious of the air beneath. A swift reconnescence of the holds available and a couple of moves and I was over. There is a lovely sling belay  to be had here and I quickly secured myself. I leant out and took a couple of pictures with trembling hands and enjoyed my spectacular surroundings. Frank being a really solid climber made short work of any difficulties and quickly joined me at the belay.

View down

We didn't delay too long and continued up surmounting any difficulties easily. There is an awful lot of loose rock in places on the route and at times it is really hard to find something solid to pull on . We arrived at the junction with Howling Ridge and continued from there moving together. We passed another party who was pitching the end of Howling. We completed the slog to the summit and enjoyed a very welcome bite to eat, well satisfied with our efforts. Decent was via O'Sheas gully. An outing with Frank is always good fun and we were soon saying our goodbyes at Killarney. I think a future trip to Wales or Glencoe is called for.
Side view of ridge
Starting up the crux
View from hanging belay

Friday, August 13, 2010

hags glen horseshoe

Yesterday I went too the Reeks and decided to do the Hags Glen horseshoe. This is a substantial outing which involves about 1600mtrs of climbing and covers a distance about 15 kilometers. The weather starting out was not great with low cloud and occasional drizzle. The brisk breeze meant that the day had a distinct autumnal feel. I parked at Lislebane and used the new bridge to cross the Gaddagh river. The combination of a few beers the previous evening and the inclement weather didn't make the long slog up to Cruach Mhor any more pleasant than usual, so it was head down time and I just pushed on. Upon reaching the summit, the dearth of any views and the conditions meant I headed straight along the ridge. I forsook the rock arret and stuck to the path all the way to Cnoc na Peasta. By now the day was improving and views down to the glen displayed themselves.
The walk along the eastern ridge proved very pleasant and I quickly reached Cnoc na Cuillan. The wind was for some reason quite strong here so I forsook my usual lunch spot and continued on easily over Cnoc na Toinne and down to the Devils Ladder. Normally by now my legs feel quite tired but today I felt strong and the awful slog to Carrauntoohil's summit passed easily and I made great time to the top. There was a fairly sizable group on top but I found a quite spot and enjoyed my lunch. The arrival of a large group of noisy French students hastened my departure and I went quickly down to the top of O'Sheas gully. On over the Beenkearach ridge in blissful solitude and I was soon at the top. The descent over Knockbrinnea was good and the day was now good and the views to the Dingle peninsula lovely. There was a good crop of Blueberries to be had and I made frequent stops to taste some and even collected some for home. I arrived back at the car at four fifteen on the dot so the full round was done in five hours. This is a very good time and I was well pleased with my fitness and the day.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Ceann Cibeal and the Three Sisters

Well back home again after a few days in the dingle area with Margaret. The Ballyferriter area is a lovely mix of mountain scenery and wild coastline. I did a walk that I have been meaning to do for a good few years. That is a coastal walk along the Three Sisters. I left our hotel in Ballyferriter and ran the five kilometers to the rough boggy ground behind the golf course and headed up left to Syble point. There is an eighteenth century watchtower on the summit. A series of these were built to guard against a possible invasion of Ireland by Napoleon. The view from atop this 210mtr cliff is wonderful and extensive. To the southwest lies Eagle mountain, south the Blaskets protude from the ocean. to the east there is nothing but sea all the way to America and to the north the way ahead to the Three Sisters and beyond Mount Brandon. The day was sunny and pleasently warm.
After a lengthy stop I sauntered along a reasonable path which runs the length of Syble head. From point 156mtrs the ground improved and I was able to break into a run down to the col and most of the way up to Binn Hanri at 134mtrs. Mostly running interspersed with some walking and the final top Binn Diarmada soon arrived. The view from here accross Smerwick harbour towards Ballydavid head and to Brandon beyond causes one to linger and savour the day. Again after a lengthy stay I turned and ran down the slope towards Smerwick and then along to Dun an Oir[ the site of a massacre of 300 Spanish soldiers by English forces in 1580]. At roads end a kilometer along Smerwick beach to rejoin another road and back to Ballyferriter. A return run of 7 kilometers. Total distance about 16 kilometers and three hours that I will remember for a long time.