With Kilimanjaro in their sights, two families arrived down to Kerry once again for more training on the 12th April as they prepare to travel on our June departure date. Following a briefing at the Mountain Lodge, we left for the Hags Glen joined by Wesley and Tom to climb Carrauntoohil. The day was bright and cool, with wintry clouds looming over the peaks around us from 7-800m upwards. We chatted about the upcoming trip to climb Kilimanjaro for the Quirke and Ronayne families, a mountain I had the pleasure to guide back in January. Training and getting gear sorted out were going well for them. With a sense of understanding about how to train achieved from our Meet Day, they are now focused on strengthening up the team and finalising gear selection.
Our walk in the valley was quiet because we started around midday. We got a taste of winter with a downpour of rain, not far off sleet as we left the main track at the ford and headed toward O'Sheas. Our gradual pull up the path with the 2 scrambles up steep ground proving adventurous for some of the group. After lunch the pace was slow and when we started to climb the bottom of O'Shea's Gully, we were reminded once more of winter with an intense shower of hard hail stone pounding our faces for ten minutes and then stopped.
Exhilarated, we put on an extra layer before heading toward the summit. There were a few others on top in cloudy grey cold conditions although dry. After a few photos and congratulations we left to descend toward the Devils Ladder. Half way down the cloud lifted and gave us brief views out to the sea in Kenmare bay. The decent was wet and took some care weaving a way through the loose gravel and rocks before we walked out the valley back to the cars.
Later the lads from Cork departed for home and the two families made for town to eat before getting up again at 2.30am for a night climb.
Starting from the top of the Gap at 3.30am, the head torches were bouncing around in a line as we started Purple Mountain. We adjusted our clothing with conditions being good and dry for now. We had 2 small breaks for water and snacks before we caught glimpses of the moon's reflections on the upper lakes of Killarney. As we crested the col nearing the summit, the light was approaching but only just. We wrapped up a little more and slowly got to the summit for 6.00am.
The descent was easy at the start as you feel good following the summit but then tiredness that feels like you're on autopilot mode. That's when accidents and stumbles happen but luckily everyone was concentrating and we got back to the cars around 8.00am.
This fitness assessment course is ideal for setting a mark on physical and mental training required for trekking holidays and climbing Kilimanjaro. We recommend all groups to undergo this process and find out about gear selection along the way. Contact us to discuss options and dates for upcoming meet days and courses. The success rate is much better when you prepare well.
I wish the Quirke and Ronayne families the best, keep up the preparations.
Guide report: Niall Foley