Ireland: A land that defies the wet and cold climate with its abundant flora and friendly people. The ascent of the Carrauntoohil.
Those who are not afraid of rain showers and want to get a taste of the fresh coastal wind, should explore Ireland with hiking boots and a tent. We, three students from Frankfurt and Innsbruck, have started this summer. Before traveling to Ireland, we are already aware that we can expect a lot of precipitation and much cooler temperatures. And Ireland is exactly what you expect or should I call it "fears". The first Irishman I saw in Galway wore a T-shirt with the slogan "It's only a shower", which was to turn out to be the motivating motto of the trip. Because the weather you have to face simply with humor and optimism, because then opens up despite a cold rain, the beauty of the country.
We drive into the mountains, into the Killarney National Park in the southwest of the island. Here in the Macgillycuddy's Reeks we want to climb the highest mountain in Ireland and look forward to the varied, green landscape. Although the summit with its 1040m seems to be very low compared to the Alps, here are at least 1000 meters in altitude and a steep "Devil's Ladder" to master. We start only 150m above sea level. NN at Cronin's Yard, where you'll also find a tiny campsite with nice huts (croninsyard.com/facilities-pods/). , The tour is well signposted, which is rare in Ireland. Mostly you have to rely on compass, map and your own sense of direction. Many paths, especially in the north of the island are committed little, are indeed in the hiking guide, but are not visually recognizable because they are overgrown or you are in a cloud of fog.
The tour begins on a leisurely path that meanders through the greenery of the Hag's Glen Highlands up to the Lough Callee and Lough Gouragh Lakes. If you have a clear view you can already see the imposing summit of the Carrauntoohil. In the beginning we still have warming sunshine, but the peaks are trapped in the fog. Slowly you get closer to the dreaded, steep gully, the "Devil's Ladder". The cloud of fog is also getting closer and we get wet from the inside and outside with the steepness of the channel.
But the lush green and the view back to the lakes make you forget the modest weather quickly. We focus on the sometimes high levels of the devil ladder. In the weather, the gully becomes a small stream, which can be climbed well on the stones. In the lower area you climb on large stones, as on steps in zigzag up. Everyone has to find their way through the rubble itself. I am sure that no hiker chooses the same way up here and that the path through movements looks different every year. In the upper part of the gutter, the subsoil now turns into a steep gravel dump and the moisture makes for a muddy and slippery ascent. Hiking sticks are sometimes beneficial, except in places where you need both hands to climb.
Arrived at the end of the devil ladder, I duck quickly and go back a few meters. Because up here, the big gusts of wind seem to nearly knock me over. Behind a mound, I'm waiting for my friends. Together we venture into the storm, we have no choice. Fortunately, the last ascent is from a wide, not too steep path that climbs leisurely 300 meters to the summit at 1040m. The path is well marked by big cairns.
At the summit, we even find a small, semi-circular stone wall where we can unpack our vespers. Without this windbreak we can not keep it up here, we are soaked and the wind takes away any warmth. We quickly eat some more chocolate and then go on the way back. We almost sprint down the mountain, as the cold is simply too uncomfortable in the long run. Back in the devil ladder, we are back in the wind and we can finish the steep descent comfortably.
Now it's time to get out of the wet clothes and off to a cozy café. With a black tea with milk and wonderful pastries, you can just end such a day off best. The fresh scones with butter and home-made jam you definitely should not miss!