Sunday, January 30, 2011

Lough Duff Horseshoe

I went to Kerry again on Thursday to do the Lough Duff horseshoe. This is a lovely circuit into some of the most remote ground in the country. It take you right into the heart of the Everagh peninsula and you will usually have only the local herd of wild goats for company. The 24k drive from Killarney is an event in itself as you travel through the Gap of Dunloe and drive down and into the furthest recess' of the Black Valley. Parking is in a little layby just after a bridge under the steep eastern flanks of Braughnabinnea. Almost from the off you start to climb up through a small holly wood and then enter an easy gully that allows one to gain height rapidly. When you get to the top of the gully after four hundred meters of effort there follows a nasty slog to the summit plateau of the mountain. There was a stiff fridgid easterly breeze so I didn't linger and instead headed down the heathery slope to the col under the gradual ridge that leads to Knockduff.


Knockduff was the scene of a tragety in January 2002 when two experienced hillwalkers were killed when they fell from near the summit into a gully while trying to retreat from bad weather. Every year since Killarney Mountaineering Club holds a commemorative walk to honour their memory. This year, due to impassible roads we couldn't get there so they were in my thoughts as I progressed along the ridge to the summit. Though the day was a little gloomy under a thin layer of cloud Knockduff is a wonderful place to stop and gaze about as you enjoy lunch. This is what I did and when done I continued easily along the broad ridge and turned east to head in the direction of the valley once more. I hadn't progressed very far when I spotted an eagle rise above the crest of the ridge. I stood stock still in the hope that the bird might come in my direction. I was overjoyed when this magnificent creature gradually glided towards me and eventually hovered no more than fifty meters above me. I watched enraptured as I could see it turn its head one way and the other as it searched for food a thousand foot below in the valley. I stood for a minute maybe more and just enjoyed until it moved away effortlessly to the other side of the valley. I continued happily along the ridge, gradually losing height until I came to a broad saddle. This marks the normal spot for descent but I continued on up the next hill and descended steeply down to the road, picking a route through rocky outcrops and steep wet slabs to the road. Another memorable day.

Friday, January 21, 2011

A winters night camp on Mangerton.

On Wednsday afternoon I on impulse decided to head to Mangerton in Kerry and since I was meeting Frank Kluzniac the following day I decided that an overnight camp was in order. There was a full moon and frosty air as I set off from home at seven in the evening. I was on the trail by eight . It was a beautiful still night and everything was aglow in milky moonlight. I didn't need a torch and as my bag wasn't too heavy I made good progress upward

s, stopping occasionally to try to capture the otherworldly beauty that was all around. As I rounded the bulk of Mangerton North there appeared a stiff breeze. As I progressed higher this strengthened to strong wind. I continued on up to near the summit plateau trying to find a spot out of the wind where I could pitch my tent. I spotted a level area which was somewhat sheltered and proceeded to try and erect the tent. The wind was still catching it an eventually I admited defeat and returned to the Devils Punchbowl where I found a more sheltered spot.

The tent went up quickly and after preparing myself a hot drink and taking a few more photos I settled down for the night. A long cold noisy night followed. Though I was snug enough the wind was still causing the tent to flap about. I read for a bit but then settled and tried to get some sleep. Despite all I was pleasently surprised that I slept for several hours until 5.30. A call of nature gave me the oppertunity to once again enjoy the views and I quickly retreated into my nest. Sleep returned and I woke again at 8.30. A quick decamp and return to the car gave little time to savour the stunning anpenglow of the first rays of sun hitting the Reeks. A breakfast of porridge and soup and bread and I just arrived in Killarney to meet Frank at the appointed time.

Frank and I headed to the Reeks for a climb of Carrauntoohil via Curve Gully. The biting wind was again in evidence as we left the the car. All snow has dissappeared from the mountains but they are still a joy to behold. Time passed quickly in Franks company and we made good progress up and into the gully. A little ice was in evidence afrer the recent frosts but it will be some time before any ice climbing is seen on Carrauntoohil. Curve is normally full of loose stone and can be awkward to scramble up. Today it was nicely frozen and easy to ascend. There is considerable evidence of rockfall and slippage to be seen after the severe cold period of the early winter. A couple of small nevé patches high up was all that remained of the snows. We had a nice lunch on top and we passed the Devils Ladder and descended the Zig Zags back to the Hags Glen. We parted with the promise to head out again soon.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Crohane 13/01/2011

Beenaunmore and the Capach Glen

Towards Crohane
Crohane, Crohane, so nice I climbed it twice. The plan for today was to head to the Capach Glen and climb Crohane and Beenaunmore. This is a nice short outing in some of the wildest scenery in Kerry. Though not much more than 2000ft high Crohane is still one of my favourite mountains. The day was mild with only a light breeze but the cloud was clinging to the hilltops and sometimes clagging the valleys when I started out. My one problem was I neglected to bring a map with me but I was confident that I would be able to find my way as I had been in this area many times before. The climb to the summit passed as normal. when I got there I was surprised to  find two small white dishes whose use I do not know. I had a quick bite and made my way in the direction of the spur  heading to Beenaunmore. This spur curves to the north before dropping steeply to the abse of Beenaunmore. This is all a moot point as I missed the spur and found myself wandering towards Kilgarvan until I finally emerged from the cloud at about 1000ft and saw where I was, or was not. nothing for it but to turn around and head back up the hill. A tiring slog ensued and I arrived again at Crohane's summit. As time was against me I had to return from here to the car. Remember Rule no1, never go on to the mountains without a map and compass and know how to use them. I won't forget next time.

New summit dishs?

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Reeks January 9th

Regal Carrauntoohil

Beautiful ridge on Eastern Reeks

After driving 40miles on treacherous roads to walk with Killarney Mountaineering club I was disappointed to discover that the planned day out had changed due to the icy roads and they were settling for a quick up and down Purple mountain. Having overindulged in just about every way over Christmas I felt I needed a more substantial outing so I headed to the Reeks instead. The day was sunny and almost windless. Snow was lying to about 300mtrs and the prospect of a walk along the Reeks ridge was very appealing so I decided to head up Cnoc na Peiste and head across to Carrauntoohil. I put on the full winter gear and headed off from the car at about 11am. Once I started climbing I soon had to lose a layer but it felt good to be out and about again. There was not any great depth to the snow and the ground beneath was frozen so progress was reasonably rapid. The interminable slog up to the lake in Coum na Peista eventually passed and I reached more interesting ground at the ridge up to Cnoc na Peista.There was no real ice on the rocks and the snow was soft so there was no need to don crampons. All too soon the rocky section was over and I reached the summit.

Mixed ground on Cnoc na Peiste ridge
A little wispy cloud was clinging to the top but this only added to the atmospheric feel of the place. There was some evidence of cornicing and a little drifting but these were easily avoided and I progressed rapidly along the ridge. On a day such as this there are few finer places to be. The cloud lifted and the views in all directions were lovely. The biting breeze and the alpine scenery ensured that interest was constant. I also had the whole place to myself.  Eventually hunger made itself known and I had a quick lunch on the summit of Cnoc na Toinne. This is a lovely eerie slap bang in the middle of the Reeks ridge. Being A little lower than the rest the view back to Cnoc na Peiste, Maolan Bui and Cnoc na Cuillan and accross the Hags Glen towards Carrauntoohil and Beenkearach is magnificent and impressive.

View back from Cnoc na Toinne

View across to Beenkearach
 Rested and with hunger sated I headed down to the top of the Devils Ladder and started up the soul destroying 1000ft slog to the summit of Ireland. Just keeping the head down and keeping putting one foot in front of the other the top is eventually reached. The views are great but the presence of noisy others ensure I don't linger too long and I make my way down and head for Beenkearach. The ridge connecting the two mountains provides a lovely little scramble and is quite narrow and exposed in the early sections. These difficulties are easily bypassed along an exposed track on the eastern side. This, in the snowy conditions still kept me fully alert until all difficulties are past and I gambolled along the airy crest and wearily up to the summit of Ireland's second highest peak, at 1009mtrs a mere hundred feet lower than Carrauntoohil. The weather was changing so I headed down in the direction of Knockbrinnea straight away. The initial 400ft of descent was a pain as it was over boulders covered in snow. Progress was cautious to say the least yet I still managed to have a couple of semi controlled tumbles. Thereafter I made good time and eventually arrived back at Lisliebane and the car. All and all a good winters day out.

Carrauntoohil and the ridge.