Reaching new heights

Well, when I say “reaching new heights,” I really mean making it to the highest point in Ireland. Anyway, let me take you back about one year ago (April 2016). Around this time last year, I gearing up and getting excited for my time abroad and so was Tailor. I was working on homework in the UC at Pacific University and Tailor comes rushing over to me, super excited. “Katy! The tallest peak in Ireland is just over 3,000 feet! We’re going to climb it!” Of course, the two of us then researched it for a while rather than working on our homework. After talking about climbing Carrauntoohil for about one year, we got set foot on the peak and summit it! This was one of our main goals for things to accomplish while abroad, so we were stoked to have this opportunity.

April 2, 2017

8am

Eoghan, Tess, Cameron, Tailor, and I take off from school to make the 2hr drive to the Lisleibane trailhead.

10:15am

There was a mysterious glowing orb in the sky that is not typically seen in Ireland, so we put on sunscreen so we didn’t get burnt. Tess was kind enough to provide this wonderful weather. The five of us then began hiking along the rocky trail and bog lands to the base of the Howling Ridge climb. We hiked along the Heavenly Gates Trail (on the way back, the gates we have to go through were making music because of the air blowing through them; it was super cool!), admiring the clear view of the summit of Carrauntoohil! It was a rare day; we could see the cross on the peak on the approach in. I was also hiking in a t-shirt and zip-off pants, wish I was wearing shorts.

12pm

The five of us reached the base of the climb, jazzed to get on the rock. We grab the climbing gear out of our packs: harness, helmet, hexes/nuts, ropes, etc. Me, not thinking (also not realizing it was lunchtime), eats half an orange and calls it good. Eoghan and Tess hop of the rock first, scrambling up the first pitch, and then Cameron, Tailor, and I follow. The sun beating down on us; it felt so nice to be climbing in “warm” weather; it was windy, so it was a little chilly.

As I belayed Cameron up the second pitch, and Tailor managed the rope, making sure there were no knots, a climbing team of four arrived on the belay ledge with us. They decided instead of waiting, to start climbing while we were still on the pitch. The climb leader started up a different route than Cameron, but that meant all of them had to walk behind me as I was lead belaying, pinning me to the wall. This made it less safe to lead belay. Before I could say anything to them about how they needed to wait, they were already climbing up the rock.

Climbing etiquette: when another party is already on the route, wait your turn and stay out of their way. This climbing party we encountered could have at least asked if they could hop on the rock rather than pushing their way through. 

I was quite frustrated. Tailor and I then climbed up the pitch. As I belayed Cameron up the third pitch, I could see Eoghan and Tess higher up. Tess was leading and made it to an exposed ledge when the other climbing party of 4 caught up and basically climbed over her. All I could think was that it looked like a mess of ropes and that those climbers were being so rude and unsafe. Now, all 5 of us were frustrated with those other climbers. Luckily, nothing happened because of them and we didn’t have to deal with them the rest of the climb, but still! They should not have done what they did because they were creating unsafe situations for all of us.

The wind blew us into a cloud, impairing our view for the rest of the climb and making it quite cold, misty, and windy. We continued climbing and I was beginning to get cold and hangry… I ate a protein bar to help reduce my hanger. Much of the climbing was scrambly, but there was one section that was basically a bridge, but super exposed, so I crawled across it.

6:30pm

Cameron, Tailor, and I met up with Eoghan and Tess at the top of the roped pitches. Tailor gave me some gummy bears to suppress my hanger; such a great friend to have 🙂 We then continued the climb up to the peak, walking up the scree field to the summit.

7pm

WE SUMMITED!

Tailor and I had accomplished our goal, making it to the summit of the tallest peak in Ireland: Carrauntoohil! The five of us took a few selfies before beginning the decent back to the car. We hiked off the other side of the peak, zig-zagging our way down the peak. For parts of the decent, there was strong enough wind that I could practically lean into and stay standing. Making it almost down to the ridge, the clouds parted slightly, showing the sun glistening on part of the hillside; we all got super excited, lifting our moods a little, as all of us were cold, tired, and hungry. The next part of the adventure was descending Devil’s Ladder, as that was the quickest way down. It was quite steep and made for a slow down climb, but we made it. The views into the valley were gorgeous.

Making it down Devils Ladder, that only left the long, straight, flat walk back to the car. We talked, laughed, and joked around, trying to keep us all distracted from the fact that we were ready to be back to the car. I feel I did a fairly good job controlling my hanger, but it’s difficult to do.

9pm

The car! It was the last one in the parking lot. We took our feet out of our boots, allowing our feet to breathe, threw our packs in the boot (aka trunk), and hopped in the car for the 2hr drive back to school. I made sure to grab food from my pack to eat while we drove.

11pm

15hrs after leaving University of Limerick, we arrived back at school. I slept very well and am now a little sore from the 11hrs of almost non-stop physical activity/movement.

Looking back at the day, it was so much fun, but definitely falls under the category of “Type 2” fun at times!

Bonus pictures!

Here are a few bonus pictures from my adventures in Limerick this past weekend with friends.

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