Nice sunset view as we pass over London, England, on our way to Albania.
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Shkodra, Albania.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Hiking the Peaks of the Balkans, June 13-24!

Tuesday, June 13, 2023

Tough hike to the highest point in Ireland!

We got up at 6:30am and drove the narrow single lane road up to the parking area for the hike up Carrauntoohil... the highest mountain in Ireland.

We had our breakfast at the parking area, then packed our backpacks and set off at about 8:20am. We had read that the 12 km (7.5 mile) hike would take between six to eight hours.

The forecast was for cloudy skies with sunny breaks and very little wind. Actually, a perfect day... provided we got a view from the top!

The first 3.5 kms or so is on a gradual uphill path like this.

Me, heading higher.


We can't see the top of the mountain.

Eventually, we passed Lough Callee.

You can see our trail leading to the very steep Devil's Ladder.

Ruth, following behind.

Looking back at where we came from.
This is taken where the steep part begins.

Lough Gouragh.

The Devil's Ladder.

A photo never gives enough perspective, but it's pretty intimidating looking up at the Devil's Ladder. Especially when you can't see the top because of the low cloud cover! 

The steep section at Devil's Ladder gains almost 300 meters (1,000') in altitude over a distance of about 600 meters (less than half a mile). In hiking terms, you can't get much steeper without needing climbing gear.

Ruth, coming up the start of the ladder.

I took a short video for you...



About half way up the ladder.

Still a lot to go!

Scenery along the way.


Another video...


At the top of the ladder, the weather changed dramatically. The wind picked up, and we were in the fog. Had to stop and put heavier clothing on.


But just because we finished the steepest part of the hike doesn't mean that the climbing is over! In fact it's still uphill every step of the way.

Looking up, we were thrilled to see some blue sky!

And we finally rose up through the fog!

Sheep way up here!

Selfie!
You can see how steep the climb still is.

Ruth is not far behind.


You don't see any other people in the photos, but we had been passed by a couple of men from Austria, and we could see a couple more coming up behind us. Once we arrived at the top, there were a few other people already up there because there are three other routes that you can take.

Made it to the top!

We had left the parking lot at 8:20am and made it to the top at exactly 11:00am. So two hours and forty minutes. We were pretty pleased with that. But it was definitely a good workout. My calves were actually getting sore.

We spent an hour or so at the top, enjoying the views, taking some photos, having some lunch, and talking to some of the other climbers.

The view looking over the other side was actually quite clear.

But the way we had come up was quite cloudy.


Me, at the top of Ireland!


Not a bad spot to sit and have lunch.

We started heading down at 12:10pm.


By the time we got back to the top of Devil's Ladder, the skies had cleared nicely. When we had arrived at that point on the way up, it was totally shrouded in fog so we hadn't seen the beautiful view looking in the opposite direction.

Wow... beautiful!

Ruth, enjoying the view.

But now it was time to head back down the ladder section. Climbing up something that steep is often easier than climbing down, despite the fact that you're not as out of breath. We just had to take our time. We also stopped to speak to a few people along the way who were now headed up. In fact, there were a lot more people headed up than when we did it in the morning.


I took another short video of the trip back down...


We met a nice guy originally from Slovakia who offered to take our picture!

Looking back at what we just came down.

Gorgeous area.

Made it back to Max at 2:35pm.... so total time start to finish was six hours and fifteen minutes, and that included an hour at the top. Not bad for a couple of 61 year olds!

But don't let that make you think that's it's not that tough. We saw quite a few people younger than us who were struggling. Not everyone makes it to the top. It's definitely a challenging hike.

I think the next day or two will be for relaxing! Woke up a little stiff and sore this morning!

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2 comments:

  1. Congratulations on summitting! That definitely looks challenging, and Ruth's technique in the video of the descent down the "ladder" looks just like how I would take it, slow and careful. If a rock slips out underfoot, it can be scary and painful! Glad you both made it up -- and down -- with no mishaps. Beautiful views indeed!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Emily! It was definitely a hard hike, especially doing the Devil's Ladder but as long as we took our time it wasn't too bad. Yep, I definitely made sure my footing was in a good spot, it made the going slower but at least I was sure I wasn't going to slip and I was glad to have my work/climbing gloves on because I used my hands a lot to help me scramble over the rocks, Kevin on the other hand is like a mountain goat and seems to be really surefooted. The views at the top were fantastic, we are so glad that we made the effort to hike the mountain and that we had a good day for the weather up there as well.

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