After spending some time trekking in Peru & Ecuador, I developed an interest in what my home land had to offer. Look no further than Carrauntoohill, standing at a 1,038m above sea level and located in the south west of Ireland, Co. Kerry. This mountain has a number of different routes, each with different length and difficulty. Overall, this mountain is not technically challenging but warrants reasonable fitness and of course someone that is comfortable with heights. Warning had been given by previous climbers to be careful of weather, which can onset quickly and reduce visability to very little. Down to Killarney a group of us went where we lay our heads in the central, Railway hostel. Been a long time since I have been in this town and was impressed, tidy and colourful, certainly inviting for tourists. Never seen as much quirky real irish bars holding the town streets together.
At 7am, we started ascent, walking from the hydro track carpark and ascending slowly up the concrete road leading to the mountain base. Despite being the month of May, the ground at the base was quite wet and boggy, which brings me to the point of wearing decent waterproof boots, I didnt...and had wet feet, but didnt care a whole lot. The ascent up from here is moderate and gives an awesome view back down to the two lakes and surrounding Kerry coastline. The sun poked through until we got to the first mini summit at Caher. After this as we headed towards the Carrauntoohill peak the cloud and mist completely enshrouded us, rendering our visibility to no less than 10m ahead. The breeze blew considerably more too, and it got cold, leaving fingertips and ears rather chilly. It wasnt long before we reached the make shift cross at the peak of Carrauntoohill (which had been recently vandalised). Visability was nil here and it was cold, so we didnt hang around too long. Just enough to have a ham sambo.
The descent was where the real memories will stay. Not fully sure which way the path would take us, we ended up making our own custom made path down the mountain, a flank which pointed from the summit to the south edge of Lake Eagher. We tried to find the Beenkeeragh Ridge, but could not locate a clear track, which was disappointing since it was one of the most challenging parts of the trek. However, it was adventurously matched with our newly found descent, where a sharp slope, coupled with layers of sliding gravel and jagged outcrop made it a tedious exercise, if not, a rather dangerous ascent for non-guided, inexperienced climbers. It took us a good two hours to make this descent, step by step, aching knees and concentration. We returned back alongside both lakes, the ground quite wet in places and looking at the actual track we were supposed to take elevated high on our right towards the Skregmore side. Overall we got a good bout of exercise in and there wasn't a peep out of anybody once we got back.
To sum it up, the views here are amazing, even if we didnt see any at the actual summit point. Weather can change dramatically, know the route up and down, if its very windy/rainy forecast dont go. Good boots is a plus and some warm clothes for the top is a must. Guess its a good idea to have the rescue teams number too if the unthinkable happens! Have a pint of a Guinness in some of the nearby towns after.
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