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Ascent of Carrauntoohil on 2015-03-28

Climber: Jason Vogler

Date:Saturday, March 28, 2015
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Carrauntoohil
    Location:Ireland
    Elevation:1039 m / 3409 ft

Ascent Trip Report

I have been on rainier hikes, I have been on windier hikes, I have been on colder hikes, I have been on worse terrain, I have been on worse trails, I have been on longer hikes, but for god sakes the combination of all these things on this hike made it damn near unbearable on the mountain. There were 2 times I about called it quits on this bad boy, when I looked out of the car at 40 mph winds and rain, and at the bottom of Devil's ladder.

I had left Dublin at just before 4 AM heading around the M50. I made it to the M7 and headed out towards Limerick. It was windy and rainy and I was hoping for just marginal conditions since my window of opportunity was then and now. It took just over 3 1/2 hours to drive the total route as I got on the N22 off of the M7 from Limerick down to killarny and then made my way over to the gap of Dunlou until I caught the signs to take me to cronins yard. There were a few cars in the park but the place was more or less deserted. It was raining and windy as hell. I took a deep breath and geared up for the worst the trail would offer up or so I thought.

It was spitting at me as I left and the wind was gusty but bearable. I headed up the trail happy that I had created my opportunity but I was worried about the conditions on the top as the mountains were completely covered in clouds. The trail crossed a small river twice and on top of several streams but the first cross was a well managed bridge. From that moment on the trail deteriorated quickly. It was more of a stream bed and the water was usually a solid inch high. I tip toed around for the first mile or so but eventually it was obvious this was the norm and I would never finish if I kept trying for the perfect dry step. To make matters worse the winds were picking up and raining on me which made the little rain drops like little needles on exposed skin. I kept my head down most of the time and my running hat did its job keeping the rain out of my eyes. Once I crossed the river again which this time was stones that were getting hammered by the high water levels coming from all the rain. They were slick and it is a good thing I was sure footed.

However I could not believe that the waterfall entering the river was the trail and I followed the stream to my right instead of going towards the left and though it was not a major issue it was a mistake and cost me a great deal of time. I followed the stream all the way to the lake and was mesmerized by the beautiful waterfalls dumping down from the mountain above.

I could see a few cairns up higher south of the lake and made my way that way seeing that I should not have followed the stream. At this point I had to go to the bathroom and could finally see where the Devils' ladder was ahead of me. I wandered off the trail to a rock and did my business...I know I know but I left no trash but there was no stopping what had to come out!

Relieved of one of life's little burdens I made my way to the base of the Devil's ladder which for lack of a better description was an active waterfall. All the rocks were loose and every step sent mud flows downstream. 1/3 of the way up I was dumfounded that a better trail had not been made, and by the top of the ladder that I had taken my full daily allowance of stupid pills. Fortunately I ran into 2 people at the top of the ladder which inspired me on as looking down at the ladder and thinking about going back down was not a pleasant experience.

Now at the top of the ridge the winds picked back up and I was being blasted by the winds coming off the Atlantic. I was also in the clouds and had almost no view of the landscape other than about a 50 yards of up the trail. I worked my way up the relatively steep trail from cairn to cairn. I had no perception of how far I had to go or any visual ques other than the cairns and usually I could just make out the next cairn and no further. I did see to hikers who were moving down the mountain about 25 yards west of me but they might as well been ghosts. It was not until I got to the very top that and could see the cross that I knew I had arrived. I felt the rush of accomplishment but could not enjoy the spectacle of gods creation in the white out conditions at the top. I stayed just long enough to take a few pictures and hope the water would not ruin my camera.

The way back down was slightly easier in seeing the trail. I made my way quickly back to the Devils ladder. As I began my decent down the ladder I noticed that I was not alone. there were at least 75 people now working their way up the ladder. all I could think of was holy crap what tour company does a trek like this on a day like today. I can only imagine the amount of earth that shifted further down that trail as the stream was a solid brown color from all the people working their way up the stream. It was horrible going and I was just hoping that nobody would drop a rock on my head.

The only good thing was that the clouds had cleared somewhat giving me the best views I had had all day. Yet the summit never cleared. I quickly made my way down the muddy mess of a trail and was happy to make my way quickly down the stream bed I had passed earlier that day. my boots were completely soaked through as I waded more than walked the trail back down. The wind was now at my back for the most part and the rain had stopped from the top of the devils ladder until I got back to the beginning of the trail head. However you could see another wave of storm clouds rolling in.

It took 6 hours to do the hike and it is hard to classify the hike considering the weather conditions. I am sure on a fair weather day it would have been a wonderful stroll with only Devils ladder to contend with.

In any case I was able to top my Third Country High Point and the stunning beauty was worth the suffering I did. I can honestly say after the hike I slept like a baby for the first time in a long time.
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:976 m / 3200 ft
    Distance:13.2 km / 8.2 mi
    Route:Devil's ladder route
    Trailhead:Cornins yard  63 m / 209 ft
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Bushwhack, Stream Ford, Snow on Ground, Scramble, Exposed Scramble
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles
    Weather:Raining, Cold, Extremely Windy, Low Clouds
Horrible conditions with a few glimpses of clear weather
Ascent Statistics
    Time Up:3 Hours 



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