Visitors to this web site are reminded that hill walking, climbing and rambling are activities that can be dangerous and may result in personal injury or death. Participants should be aware of and accept these risks and be responsible for their own actions and involvement.
The one boot led by Helen and Matt started from the recently developed marked trail which begins in Kiltealy village, from where the group emerged onto open mountain and joined the main path up Blackstairs mountain about 3/4 way up; the summit proved to be shrouded in mist – unlike the rest of the walk which enjoyed very clear and dry conditions.
Ger’s 2 booter was a 20k + ramble over the Mount Leinster range at a pace that did not permit the taking of any photos!!
A number of new members have joined in recent weeks and all proved their fitness on Sunday’s walks !
Lovely Kyle loop from Tinahely led by Pauline who had a following of20 very appreciative walkers for an excellently paced walk of 17 k with a bit of work to get up the intermittent hills totaling650m. An added bonus was the sunny weather. The group sitting on the trailer were not looking for a lift back – it merely provided some seating during the lunchbreak!
Very pleasant weather at lower levels made for most enjoyable Hillwalking on Mt Leinster for the 2 and three boot walks
Liz’s three boot went from Rahanna bridge to Mt. leinster, beech trees, Clorogue beg, Clorogue more, Knockroe , and back to start point.
John’s 2 booter followed a route which sought out some of the rich archaeological features on Mt Leinster from a caiseal to a cillín to a dolmen finishing up with the Rock Art beside the Mountain River
Both club walks were in the Comeraghs on Sunday , led by Turlough and Noel. The larger group were on the 2 boot walk and enjoyed a fine clear day , if somewhat cool on top. The high point of the plateau and Crotty’s Lake was included in Turlough’s six and a half hour walk which was most enjoyable in the relatively pleasant conditions compared to some walks earlier in the year
Noel’s route took the group on the Coumshingaun horseshoe
Mick and Liam led a 2 boot and 1 boot walk in the Comeraghs Sunday last. 6 brave souls headed up the Comeraghs Sunday led by Mick Wall, taking in Coumfay, Coumtay and Mahon Falls, enjoying snowy vistas over the range. Details of Liam’s walk awaited. Photos are from the 2 boot walk
January 20 : Kiltealy natives, Ann and Mary, led their first club walk on what is essentially their home turf. Unfazed by the large turnout of 19 walkers and allied with unparalleled local knowledge they “conquered” Knockroe as part of their 1 boot walk.
Being a small range, it was not surprising they bumped into the 2 boot walk (a similarly large group) led by Ger, one of the club’s most experienced leaders!
The Club offers its sympathy to the families of the hillwalkers who lost their lives on Sunday
Navigation skills were required on both walks in the Comeraghs last Sunday due to very limited visibility above 400m; that would have not been a problem to the 3 boot walk in the hands of Colette who with her hardy crew braved very strong and gusty winds allied to very low cloud managed a traverse of the Comeragh plateau with a descent down to the Boolas for lunch and back up again to return via the southern flank of Coumshingaun.
At the Boolas the 3 booters met , not by design, the 2 boot walkers who had just finished lunch ! The two boot walk gave an opportunity for some graduates and students of Colette’s navigation course to try out their skills !
The last walk of 2018 had a big turnout, it was a “small” 4 hour 15km ramble around and up Brandon hill, we never knew that could be done but our glorious leader Mick Wall proved us wrong ??
It was warm, we met some horses, had 2 lunch breaks and many laughs.
Much thanks to Siobhan McDonald for the wonderful photos.
Happy New Year to all our members and friends and here’s to plenty of hill time in 2019 ??
About 8am on December 26th, 2017, Alan Wallace set off to climb Carrauntoohil, accompanied by this brother-in-law, Ger and 18-year-old son, David. A long-standing tradition exists of climbing to the roof of Ireland on St Stephen’s Day, but this morning Wallace found the mountain hushed and eerily deserted. Deep snow blanketed MacGillycuddy’s Reeks, and the weather forecast was predicting further deterioration; this had deterred the usual horde of holiday-time walkers.
His group was well prepared. A long-serving member of Kerry Mountain Rescue Team (KMRT), he is an experienced mountaineer with an intimate knowledge of the terrain. Summiting around noon, the trio encountered rapidly worsening weather. An icy gale whipped across the snowfields, while a white-out had descended on the mountain. Disorientating and dangerous, this is a condition where it becomes impossible to distinguish earth from sky.
Soon enveloped by a full-on blizzard and with no visible landmarks, they were forced to navigate by compass. Wallace recalls: “These were some of the most challenging conditions I have encountered on the [MacGillycuddy’s] Reeks. The snow was waist-deep, visibility was virtually zero, a storm was raging and the cold was intense.”
Well-equipped and experienced, the group descended a gully known as the Devil’s Ladder. Safely off the mountain, they were making their way towards the carpark and the promise of food and an evening with family, when out of the gloom loomed the KMRT rescue vehicles. Clearly, someone was in trouble.
The news: a climber was lost on Carrauntoohil. Wallace immediately grasped the gravity of this: in the prevailing weather it would be almost impossible to survive a night on open mountainside. It was imperative the climber be located quickly. Famished and cold after a long day, Wallace, nevertheless, joined his fellow volunteers in the rescue effort.
Having identified his location as somewhere on the southeast of the mountain, the climber was advised to stay put and await rescue. Several teams then headed out into the storm and began a laborious sweep search.
Eventually, the casualty was located in deep snow near Carrauntoohil summit. Now enveloped by darkness, the team had to painstakingly assist him down for immediate transfer to hospital.
In the meantime, two other climbers reported they had also become lost while descending Carrauntoohil. A team was dispatched to their location, which was on steep ground approximately 400m above the Devil’s Ladder. Now followed the physically demanding task of helping the climbers – who were showing the early symptoms of hypothermia – to descend the snow-choked and slippery Devil’s Ladder.
One of the pair soon began losing sensation in his feet, so it became more urgent to get down for rewarming. Ploughing through the deep snowdrifts proved extremely demanding, however. A fresh team, including Wallace, was dispatched to help the tiring rescuers. “It was tough going, but eventually, we managed to get the exhausted and dangerously cold climbers down for transfer to hospital,” said Wallace.
As the team were about to stand down, a third emergency call was received. A high-altitude camper reported his tent had been destroyed by the storm. The exact location of the causality was unclear, with communication difficult on a poor phone connection; then the signal died.
Working on scant information, the most likely position appeared to be the Black Valley side of the Reeks. As much of the nation celebrated St Stephen’s night with family and friends, the team transferred to this isolated area and commenced a sweep search by torchlight that continued into the early hours of December 27th, but to no avail.
According to Wallace “searching for a casualty on a dark, stormy night without location coordinates is like looking for a needle in a haystack”. That night Wallace reached his home in Killarney at 2.30am. His sleep would be short, however; the search resumed at 8am.
With its renowned fickleness, the Kerry weather now bestowed a crystal-clear morning. A rescue helicopter could be safely deployed, and soon the camper was located. Winched from a ridge – known as The Bone – he was transferred to hospital, while the team members recovered his belongings, before returning to their families in late afternoon.
Next day, there was another callout which came just before midnight. A group of three climbers reported that one of them had fallen 10m and broken a leg on Carrauntoohil’s Howling Ridge. Evacuating a casualty in ice and snow conditions from the ridge – which is graded very difficult – would involve a highly technical operation.
After discussion, it was decided to postpone the evacuation until morning. An advance party of two was dispatched in the interim with food, warm drinks, spare clothing and first aid to stabilise the casualty and prepare for rescue at first light.
This party consisted of KMRT volunteers, Piaras Kelly and Aidan Forde. According to Kelly: “It was a horrendous night when we set out; the rain was bucketing down. This meant it was snowing heavily at altitude. Luckily, it began to clear as we climbed and eventually, we could pick out the three headtorches.
“Reaching the group about 3am, we found they had already moved off the ridge. Assessing the injury, we concluded the leg was not broken, so it was possible to assist the group to Carrauntoohil’s summit. We then decided to short-rope them down by the Devil’s Ladder,” explained Kelly.
Just when all seemed under control, the mountain played its final card: the rescuers were enveloped by a severe thunder storm. Kelly recalls: “Lightning flashes lit the mountains like daylight and thunder rolled. Carrying steel ice-axes we were petrified, but there was nothing that could be done. We just continued bringing the casualties down.”
The storm passed, but in a final cruel twist, Kelly badly sprained his ankle in a hole concealed by snow. “I was in agony, nearly as bad as the casualty. Another couple of volunteers had to be called, but eventually we managed to reach safety and dispatch the casualty to hospital as dawn broke. Then when I took off the boot, my ankle was like a balloon. It took months to heal, but the success of the rescue made the pain worthwhile,” concluded Kelly.
Christmas 2017 was a tough and physically demanding time for KMRT, but nobody complained. The important fact was that eight people had been rescued with nobody seriously injured. This is what counts as a happy Christmas for Kerry Mountain Rescue Team.
Kerry Mountain Rescue Team’s winter safety advice
With short winter days, cold weather and dark skies, it’s now most important to plan ahead to ensure your safety on the mountains.
Make certain you start early, are aware of what time it gets dark and allow for weather changes. Plan your day taking into consideration the weather forecast. Leave your route plan with a responsible person. Keep an eye on the weather and be prepared to turn back or take a shorter route, if conditions deteriorate.
Despite the weather , 28 club members turned up for the annual mince pie and mulled wine walk in the Blackstairs last Sunday. Expertly led by Ger the group took the traditional route up to the summit of Blackstairs Mountain at 735 metres and within sight of Caher Roe’s Den turned east and dropped lower to contour around the mountain.