Climbing Carauntoohil

“You’re climbing Carauntoohil today? Can I take down one of your names in case you don’t return?” That’s what the man at the front desk of our hostel asked us the morning we were leaving for the climb of the tallest mountain in Ireland.  At one of our meetings when Stephen told us about students previously climbing the tallest mountain in Ireland, it stuck in my head along with a few of my friends.  We decided we were going to do this and planned a weekend trip to Killarney.  

Upon arriving in Killarney on Friday, we visited the National Park and saw the gardens along with Ross Castle.  The Castle held many different families throughout medieval times including the Brownes and the McCarthy.  The castle had been restored in the 1970’s but the main staircase was still intact and only had minor repairs, and most of the castle had its formations still intact and was restored to its original look.  We stayed in Neptune’s hostel and it was a cozy place with free wifi and a free breakfast as well, right in the center of the downtown area of Killarney.  The town itself was quaint, there were a lot of small pubs and restaurants and you could tell this was a tourist destination. 

View of the Devil’s Ladder from the bottom.
Photo: Alexa DeVivo

The morning of our adventure came, the man at the front desk warned us about the mountain and told us to be careful, also taking down Holly’s name in case we had not returned later.  After a cab ride to the bottom of the mountain, we saw our destination, with the rising sun looming over it and began.  It took us an hour of walking to get to the bottom of the mountain, and then came the Devil’s ladder.  The Devil’s ladder is a vertical, loose rock face that is a shorter way to get up the mountain.  It was more of a climb than a hike, we kept a safe distance from each other in case there were falling rocks and many of them were loose, you had to be very cautious of where you stepped or held onto.  Once at the top of the ladder, we sat for lunch and looked up to the summit, our destination.  The zigzagged path to the summit was made of loose stones as well and rather steep but we reached the top pretty quickly.  

View from the Summit.
Photo: Alexa DeDivo

Once at the top we took some time to look over the landscape of Ireland, knowing we were at the highest point of the country.  It was an invigorating feeling for all of us and we felt proud as we looked upon the beautiful green lands specked with blue lakes and the clouds below us.  The descent was harder than the ascent without a doubt, a nice couple that were rather experienced led us down the mountain.  We went down a narrow path along the side of the mountain, then had to climb down a rock face at the Heavenly Gates where we had a lovely view of a waterfall but looking down was scary.  One trip and you could easily fall off the mountain with only jagged rocks to break your fall, easily dying.  It was the most amazing adventure of my life and those I was with and I am grateful to be studying in such a breathtaking country.

-Alexa DeVivo
Communications Major, 

Champlain College Dublin, Fall 2012

Champlain College, Class of 2014

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