Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Winter Climbing Kerry

What a great start to the year! Winter routes that have not been seen in over twenty years appear on the walls and ridges of the Irish mountains. Mountaineers flock to the hills in their droves. One has to take advantage of the brief spell by enduring icy roads and winter gales.

While not a person for waiting around I too make the pilgrimage to the Kerry hills. Our plan for this winter was simple, heavy bag full of food and gear, spacious tent, good company and a classic Kerry winter climb! And thats how it happened.

The tent is pitched and Alex is preparing steak for dinner. The smell fills the tent andI feel my mouth starting to water!After dinner we relax and discuss what we will do in the morning. The location of the tent is magnificent. Perched on the Eagles nest over looking the Hags Glen while under the looming shadow of Carrauntoohils north east face. The morning is cold and fresh with a slight breeze. The crunching sound of snow under foot brings a smile to ones face.

Our intended route is Cag Cos Dearg. Its a scottish grade IV with great situations and is the only ridge route that finishes at the summit. We climb slow but steady, the snow crystals seem to dance on the ledges as the wind blows. Edging nearer to the summit we come across the crux of the climb. Its short, steep and delicate. Placement of protection is tricky with snow and ice filling the cracks. Topping out I feel a sense of excitment as well as relief. Alex takes the lead as we approach the summit, our only company along the route is the raven whos seems to soar effortlessly above the crag. The route done we relax on the summit. At that moment we didnt relize that this cold snap was set to last for the next two weeks and would see Alex and myself experiencing the best winter climbing we have done in Ireland to date! Sheer bliss!

All Photos: Alexander Berestka