Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Alps, i mean, erm, The Reeks....

New years day 2010 will be remembered well. My year began as I fully intend it to go on. The weather reports had shown a lot of snow had fallen in the days running up to the new year but today was to be dry, bright, cloudless and windless but exceptionally cold, wavering between -5 and -7 all day. Perfect conditions for a winter walk.

The Coomloughra Horseshoe was the days objective. To say I was excited on the drive down would be an understatement, and as the brilliant white Reeks came into view on the drive into Killarney i was practically wetting myself. I had seen the Reeks in similar conditions before; on the cover of my 1:25k Ordnance Survey map...

I had been here before, July 2008 to be exact and had done the entire horseshoe. I still regard it as one of the best walks ive done in Ireland. Today though the mountains looked radically different, drenched in snow and ice,  frozen lakes and a clear sky, something I didnt have the last time.

We made it as far as 700m on Caher when I decided that this was our limit without the aid of crampons and an axe. A couple who were slightly below us continued a while longer. For me though the slope was too dangerous, the ice was rock hard and our walking boots just didnt cut it in these conditions.

Not summiting on a mountain top isnt a common practice of mine when out walking, but surprisingly I wasnt too despondent. It was enough for me just to be there surrounded by these majestic mountains and at that moment in time, they were indeed mountains although I said to myself that next time, there will be a pair of spikes in the rucksack.

We opted to saunter back down to the lake that was semi frozen and have a mooch about. We stopped for a short while to see two kids on the summit of Skregmore, one proceeded to snowboard down while the other inched down on his bottom, a sight rarely seen in this country i'm sure.

Some lunch was had on Skregmore and we watched the sun go down over the Iveragh peninsula, a cloud inversion that had been brewing all day had begun to really take shape in the valleys below as we began to descend back along the Hydro track. So despite no summit views, an awesome day was had and as Arnie would say, I'll be back.


  1. They look wonderful. Good call not to go on without the right kit. They will be there another day.

  2. You are absolutely right, they'll be there long after me!! Thanks for the comment, im finding it difficult getting an audience so far

  3. Not summiting is absolutely not a problem when conditions are this good. The view more than make up for it...

  4. Terrific pictures, looks like a grand backpacking area. No problem in turning back, the landscape is still wonderful: a few years back in deep virgin snow ,we only managed to get halfway up Aran Benllyn in Wales, but it was still a great and memorable tent pitch with a superb view from there.
    I'm wondering if your lack of followers is simply because it's Ireland. Having an intense interest in mapping, last year I Googled around on the web for users of the OSI digital mapping and found almost nothing, there didn't seem to be a significant walking scene at all over there.

  5. Thanks Geoff, the Ireland factor does have a part to play although that was part of the reason for starting the blog in the first place. I want to bring to the attention of others just what a great walking destination this country is, its less than an hours flight from mainland Britain and with current flights on sale for half nothing, it makes for a viable weekend walking option in my view just as Wales, Scotland and England are for me. And yea the view more than made up for not topping out but as i said, i wont be making the same mistake again!!

  6. Your photos show that it was gorgeous indeed. Lovely to hear about your adventure.

  7. Thanks Tammie, my photography is something i need to improve on this year. Some investigation of better equipment required i think...


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