Sunday, 13 March 2016

Carrauntoohil -- For the First Time in 2016

For our latest excursion we decided to go up the 'Big One' and we had the great luck to pick a near perfect March day. Eight of us struck off at 9.30 am from the Lisbiebane Car Park. One great advantage starting from here is compared to starting from Cronins Yard is that you get a chance to loosen out the legs as there is a short steep early climb coming up from Cronins Yard where this way is mostly level.
On we continued in the main trail until we cut straight across at the mouth of Lough Gouragh. Our chose route was to go up the Heavenly Gates Route as the other probable route on this side of the river was the O'Sheas Gully  and our leader Denis O'Mahony reckoned there was snow up that side of the ridge and also it was quite windy at this point of our journey.

The Heavenly Gates Route is probably our favourite route up as it's a bit easier than the others and certainly at this time of the year more sheltered. The last leg from O'Sheas Gully to the top might be hard for some and it's more exposed. On we went with a bit of scrambling along the way as there is on all the routes.

Today we had two members who were on their first ascent to the Summit. Bernie Collins & Pearse O'Dwyer were the two who were on their first Carrantoohill excursion, the most amazing thing is that Pearse is not only a Kerryman but also a Killarney native and he had to get a few Cork renegades to show him the way, but he was in good company with Denis looking after us.

We are not the quickest group that you will ever meet but we get there and as preceded along up the ridge the day was clearing as we went along with the usual bantering & giving out other people sticks but sure you will have that. 
There is one thing coming this way by the time you get to the plateau you think you are nearly there and then some. To your right the last leg to the top appears and this one can really rip your insides out. Finally the cross appears and one thing sure on this day I was really hungry and by good fortune there was a seat available at the dinner table. One downside of this day was the fact it was quite cold at the top. Grub eaten & the group photo taken plus 2 singular photos for our first timers to cherish. No matter how many times you do it, it is always a thrill & achievement to get to the top especially for the first time. 

Downwards we go.
When we got to the plateau, the weather at this point was really nice and the views were spectacular. The decision for our descent was to go down The Devils Ladder. The first part of this is quite steep and for me it is down on the backside time to slide down a bit at the time. Going down the Ladder means two things, yes it is quicker but it also means a lot of scrambling from rock to rock. At this stage of our journey the day was really bright and we got some lovely photos. No matter how often you come here this place can always stun you with beauty.
One thing bad about the Carrantoohill trail is that when you get down off the mountain you still have nearly an hour back to the car but thankfully we all got back safe & sound which is the most important thing. Like the last day up Galtymore when we had Ger Morrissey, today we had Denis to guide us safely. From us all to both we really do appreciate what both of you do for us. Thanks!

Finally the most important part of the day. The aftermath synopsis, the pit stop to refuel and not to be forgotten slagging match where stories of the day are told & excuses are made and kept for.

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