On the day after Christmas Day, I climbed Carrauntoohil, the highest mountain in Ireland.
Carrauntoohil is located in Co. Kerry, not so far from the towns of Killarney and Killorglin. It is part of the Magilicuddy Reeks, the loftiest of the mountain ranges in Southwest Ireland.
To reach Carrauntoohil, you must first negotiate your way through the Hag’s Glen, a massive U-shaped valley strewn with ancient moraine. The most usual route to the top is via the Devil’s Ladder, a steep and now quite dangerous route.
We didn’t go that way. Instead we ascended via the far more impressive Shay’s Gully route. On the way up, you can see ahead of you the clear remnant of an ancient glacier now long disappeared.
It was a long slog, but we reached the mountain peak in good time. It was like a train station at the top! St. Stephen’s Day – what we in Ireland call the day after Christmas Day – is an incredibly popular day for mountain climbing. Literally hundreds of people take the journey, and there have been more than one casualty on this day, on this mountain, in the past.
It was absolutely freezing at the top, so we didn’t stay for too long. We descended via Heaven’s Gate: a steep yet manageable and highly picturesque natural stairway to the bottom of the valley.
I took this picture of a sheep on the way down. And you think you’ve got troubles..
A big thanks to Barry who lead us up and back down again. He was a great help to us particularly where we needed to negotiate steep rock walls on our way down.