Winter mountaineering in Ireland, in search of ice
Winter mountaineering Ireland. I never get bored of climbing Carrauntoohil, towering dramatically above you as you approach it, the effort is always repaid with the reward of summiting.
However, the thoughts of some classic winter mountaineering in Ireland and the hope that I might climb Carrauntoohill in perfect winter conditions excites me even more. Like every Irish winter climber, I’ve had plenty of failed attempts at finding perfect winter ice to sink an axe into, but it’s never a deterrent and each winter I find I’m drawn back once more.
It would certainly be easier to travel to Scotland or the Alps, for near guaranteed conditions, but to me, that’s not the point. Ascending such a stunning natural feature, on home soil, putting together all the skills I’ve gained as a climber, is an allure better than any abroad.
With this in mind it was no issue to rise at 4.30 on a Saturday morning in January, scrape the ice from my windscreen and drive for three hours to give it another shot.
As soon as we arrived at Lisleibane, it was apparent that we might again be let down, the temperature was pleasant even at such an early hour and there was an obvious thaw on.
As we walked above the snow line, the snow was slushy and wet and by the time we arrived at the base of The Lick and seen the cascading flow of water pouring along its route, the irony that the only ice id be likely to see that day was what id cleared from my windscreen wasn’t wasted on me. With little point in turning back, we decided a snow plod up Curved gully would be good fun, if nothing else.
And it was. It’s hard to be disappointed when surrounded with such surreal natural beauty and in the company of friends and others met along the way. Not far from the top of Curved Gully we decided to traverse onto some of the mixed ground on our left, if for nothing else than to practice some rope work and skills. Topping out shortly after, we decided not to delay long at the summit and made our way back down Curved gully and back to the car.
Arriving back home 13 hours later, it would be easy to consider the day a fruitless one. But to think of any day spent with friends and doing what you love most as unsuccessful is truly a shame, and it’s for this reason I’ll be back in Kerry again, hopefully soon and for years to come yet.
Heres a short video of an Irish winter mountaineering day, hope you enjoy: