Carrauntoohil (/ˌkærənˈtuːl/, Irish: Corrán Tuathail, meaning "Tuathal's sickle") is the highest mountain on the island of Ireland at 1,038.6 metres. Located in County Kerry, Carrauntoohil is the central peak of the MacGillycuddy's Reeks, Ireland's highest mountain range.
The straightforward route is via the Devil's Ladder which starts at Cronin's Yard in the north-east, moves into the Hag's Glen, continues along between Lough Gouragh and Lough Calee, until the Devil's Ladder, a worn path from the glen to the col between Carrauntoohil and Cnoc na Toinne 845 m (2,772 ft) is visible. The full route back to Cronin's Yard is 12 km and takes 4–5 hours. Other popular, but more serious, routes to Carrauntoohil from the Hag's Glen are via the Hag's Tooth Ridge up to Beenkeragh, and then across the Beenkeragh Ridge to Carrauntoohil; or via the Eagle's Nest route to Lough Cummeenoughter, Ireland's highest lake, and up to the summit via Brother O'Shea's Gully or Curved Gully.
2019-06-02 Woke up exactly 1 minute before my alarm went off, 03:49. I had to leave Dublin at 04:00 am so I could make it to Kerry District in the morning at 09:30. It is a 4 hour drive and I wanted to have some margin for coffe and breakfast.
To reach the top of Carrauntohil you can either start from Cronins Yard or Lisleibane. I was going to Cronins Yard, since the Kerry Climbing guided group, which I had signed up for, were going to start from there.
I arrived over an hour early and had time to repack my backpack. Everytime I visit a new mountain I learn what to add and what to leave from my packing. It is kind of learning by doing. This time I had brought a smaller backpack than in Ukraine, a 25 liter, which suited just perfect for a day tour.
Piaras the guide from Kerry Climbing introduced himself and the arrangement of the day. He also checked everyones clothing and shoes. They actually experience people coming to climb Carrauntohil in Crocs and think it will work fine. It might work fine on a sunny day but when the weather changes on the mountain it can be really cold, windy and poor visibility. You don't want to wear Crocs, shorts and a t-shirt when the temperature goes close to freezing point.
Like Slieve Donard the trails are clear and easy to follow. But since the mountain have some difficult parts and I wanted to go on the more challenging route Brother O'Sheas Gully I chosed to go with Kerry Climbing, which I am very happy I did. The guides at Kerry Climbing have a very well local knowledge and years of experience of the mountains in the district. During the climbing Piaras shared histories about the mountains and Ireland which I appreciated a lot. I can truly recommend Kerry Climbing.
These pictures below I have borrowed from Kerry Mountain Rescue Team website they show the route for Brother O'Sheas Gully which we took on the ascent. And the Devils Ladder that we took on the descent.
We had short breaks and stoped when it was needed to take a energy bar or snack and also for taking photos of the most beatuiful views. We passed Irelands highest lake Lough Cummeenoughter. And after the lake we came to a little bit more challenging parts where some scrambling is needed. At this point it had started to rain and further on the ascent it got more windy and rainy.
When we reached the summit it was very poor visibility. Even if it was poor sight I took my top selfie and after taking photos the whole group went in to the wind shelter for a short break before we had to start our descent. The weather rapidly changed to very strong winds. For me this was the strongest winds I ever experienced on a mountain. The guide paired us together two and two and told us to go together with locking elbows to make ourselfs as heavy as possible since the winds were really strong.
For a few seconds I thought I will blow away. As I mentioned, I had never experienced such strong winds in my life before and this is just around 1000 m. Apparently this is normal for Carrauntohil. At this moment I was very grateful that I was together with the group. After around 20 minutes descent in the strong winds we reached the Devils Ladder and there it was a little calmer since it was a "protected" part. Many people who were on their way up was recommended by Piaras to turn around, and so they did since it was to dangerous to continue.
I guess Carrauntohil usually is a very easy mountain when it is good weather conditions. This was though a reminder that you always must be prepared when going out in the mountains. Always bring the equipment and clothes that might come to use. This day I was grateful I had brought my gloves just in last minutes. Even if it was a kind of liner gloves it was good to have them in the beginning when it started to get cold. After a while they were all weat and the stones we were scrambling up on were all slippery I wished that I had some more water resistant gloves for this kind of weather conditions. Note to self, next time bring better gloves.
When we came down from Devils Ladder the weather had turned a little bit better. Piaras had all the time during the descent where it was steep told us to keep focus where we were putting our feets. The week before he had a climber that made some missteps and fell 10 meters. Luckely he just broke the clavicle.
Besides the weather we had a very nice day together. Around 8 climbers with different backgrounds and experience and a guide with a knowledge like a survival book. It was a very joyful day and climbing Carrauntohil is a very good mountain for people who want something more exciting than just hiking on a easy trail.
When we returned to Cronins Yard we took a paus together in the Tea House and had some tea, coffe or hot choclate. One more mountain to put a check mark on and an experience richer.
Drove to the close town Killarney to spend the night at a hostel before departure the next day. I even had time for some sightseeing and shopping in Killarney in the evening.
2019-06-03 Started my drive from Killarney to Dublin 8 am. And at lunch time I was in central Dublin. I visited The Old Library in Trinity College. What a magical place. It is definitly worth a visit if you are in Dublin. Before going to the airport I drove to visit Hills of Tara. But after been on the top of Carrauntohil this was nothing special more than just a green area.
Summit number 13.