Climbing Ireland’s highest mountain!

We decided that it’d be good to escape the hustle and bustle of the city in order to relieve the stresses of our every day lives. Spontaneously we decided that it would be a good idea to hike the highest mountain in Ireland, Carrauntoohil.

Two days later we enjoyed a quiet and pleasant journey on the highly efficient train system, Iarnród Éireann. Our adventure took us to the city of Killarney in the South-West of the country. From there we took a taxi to Cronin’s Yard and began our trek.

We had an hour long walk through a tranquil and splendid valley spotted with many sheep as well as two clear blue bodies of water.

As our trail took us closer to the foot of the mountain, we began to notice a dark streak nestled into the luscious green grass on the mountain.

At the foot of the mountain we finally realized why this trail was named the, ‘Devil’s Ladder’. It was steep. Very steep. It was littered with boulders, over which some had water flowing down where it had not frozen.

We discussed whether to continue due to the icy conditions of the trail but we decided that we had traveled quite far to get there to simply just turn away.

Plus, Stephen said we would never make it to the top.

We began our ascent, albeit apprehensively. We quickly found that as long as we avoided the ice and flowing water it was a rather easy climb. After about fifteen or twenty minutes we reached the top of the ladder to a beautiful view of the valley that we had crossed.

Visibility was very poor at the top of the ladder. Neither of us could see more than forty feet in front of us. If it were not for the piles of rocks that had been formed as way points we could have gotten very lost. It was another thirty minutes through rapidly deteriorating conditions to the summit. It became colder and drastically windier.

Eventually we began to see frost and snow as we neared the summit. Here, was a large metal cross as well as a small stone structure of some form. We each got our picture taken with the cross, and then began our descent.

As we found our way down the Devil’s Ladder we both began to highly regret not checking the weather; it had began to rain. Unfortunately, at our elevation the rain was frozen. The climb down the ladder was drastically harder as not only was everything wet, but we were forced to see where we would land if we were to slip.

After we both safely got down the ladder, we still had another hour long walk through the rain and mud to get back to Cronin’s Yard. By the end of the walk, we were both wet, tired, miserable, and done with mountain climbing for quite some time. However, despite the conditions it was a great hike and we would recommend this adventure to any willing hiker as we did thoroughly enjoy hiking Carrauntoohil.

Photo: Daniel Doonan

Andrew Shaubach and Daniel Doonan – Champlain College class of 2013

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