Mar 26th & 27th Saturday morning brought some of our June and September Kilimanjaro trekkers to the Mountain Lodge for a Fitness Assessment weekend in preparation for their adventure ahead.
The weekend kicked off with a briefing on the trek - a presentation, a gear demo & briefing and a tips/Q&A session. After lunch, the team hit the Reeks for a four hour non-stop tough ascent that was to simulate a typical days trek on Mount Kilimanjaro. On return the team broke for the evening- some departed for home, some went for dinner - all to return to the Lodge for midnight.
At midnight, we loaded up gear into cars and set off for the Gap of Dunloe. Ascending Purple Mountain, this Night Hike was to show what the Summit Night attempt on Mount Kilimanjaro would be like, following an earlier day's trekking to final camp. As we climbed pass the lake, an explaination of simularities that we were meeting such as loose scree terrain, false summits, walking with limited visions was topped of by the freezing winds we met as we summitted Purple. A chill factor of -6 to -8 really put gear to the test. Ian, our lead guide provided us with an introduction to Night Navagation as we continued along our path surrounded by quickly dropping cloud. After 6 hours, we commenced desent just before the 'Chimneys' bringing us down 100 meters from our parked car.
Reviews include 'a great weekend' 'very impressed with very professional service' 'having done weekend, I am really excited and looking forward to trekking with yea' 'great weekend by a great company'
Our next Meet Day/ Fitness Assessment for trekkers will be held in June with Fitness Assessments available all year round. Contact us for further info or to Book your place now!
Trip: 10 Week Walking Camp (Introduction to the Hills of Ireland)
Route: Kerry Mountains - Cork Mountains
Date: Summer - Autumn - contact us
Duration: 10 Weeks (9 half days & 1 full day)
Grade: Easy building to Moderate
Price: €200 per person
Get fit and enjoy an introduction to the wilds of Kerry and Cork. This 10 week fitness and appreciation course with the Pat Falvey School of Mountaineering is not only aimed at improving your fitness. This course will also provide you with an introduction to navigation, safety and an appreciation of the wild and wonderful outdoors.
Beginners - Intermediate
Summer & Autumn dates available. Contact us
Price: €200 per person - Minimum number - 8 - Maximum number 20
Price includes: Guides
Price does not include: Transport, Food, Gear
Location to be decided with your team
9 x half day guided walks in various terrains
1 x full day expedition
Gear supplied: Maps, Compass, First Aid Kit
Equipment: Walking stick, day sack/backpack, headtorch/headlamp, basic first aid kit, water bottle
Clothing: Good walking boots and socks, trekking pants, lightweight waterproof over-trousers/rain-pants, t-shirts, fleece jacket or warm jumper, lightweight windproof/waterproof jacket, hat, lightweight thermal or fleece gloves.
Other: Personal items (e.g. towel, sunscreen, wipes, toilet tissues, antibacterial handwash), small rubbish bag to carry out what you carry in - LEAVE NO TRACE, matches or a lighter e.g. to burn toilet paper, trail snacks and zip-up bags for camera.
On return, Martin sent in some great shots of the boys and himself on Mount Kilimanjaro
This evening they will return to Moshi for their last overnight before leaving for the airport in the morning.. All reports are of a 'healthy & happy' group and we, no doubt not a fraction as much as mom, Joan, await their safe return and further reports of their adventures in Tanzania.
6th January 2011 - Lake Manyara National Park
After a eventful New Year on Kilimanjaro, Martin, James, Alexander & Marcus are enjoying an overnight at Serena Luxury Lodge taking in 2 days Safari in the spectacular Lake Manyara National Park within the Great Rift Valley with its infamous tree climbing lion!
The National Park offers an amazing experience - At the Southern end of the park are hot Sulphur Springs known as Majimoto. Further along the forest the area opens up into woodlands, grassland, swamps and beyond, the soda lake itself. Nestling at the base of the Great Rift Valley escarpment, the park is recognized for its incredible beauty. Wildlife at Lake Manyara is not restricted to birdlife only. Many game animals such as buffalo, elephants, giraffes, impala ,hippos and a great variety of smaller animals also inhabit the park.
Lake Manyara is renown for its tree-climbing lions which spend most of the day spread out along the branches of acacia trees six to seven metres above the ground. The park contains the most pachyderms per km sq. in Tanzania. As you enter the gate, you pass into the lush forest, home to troops of baboons and blue monkeys. Buffalo and hippo lurch in the adjacent Hippo Pool. The vegetation eventually merges into flat topped acacia woodland where, in the heat of the day entire prides of lion can be seen stretched on the branches of these trees - a habit prevalent to Manyara lions.
Along with these amazing tree-climbing lions there are the usual browsers and grazers as well as the curios-looking banded mongoose. Two thirds of the park is dominated by the slightly alkaline lake which is home to a huge variety of waterbirds.
4th January 2011 - 13.00hrs Irish time
Family climb Kilimanjaro
Just got a call from Martin, "We all got into the final campsite on accent yesterday at 4pm. With excitement and everything about the summit push last evening, the lads only got a 2-3 hrs sleep before leaving at 11pm for the long summit push. James was sick a few times but had no other AMS symptoms. We got toGillman's Point (5681m) at 7am this morning with all ok apart from Alexander having zero juice left in the tank. The guides helped in the decision for Alexander, who knew he couldn't go any further as he had not enough energy to get him to the summit and back toGillman's Point."
"With a guide holding with Alexander at gilmans, James, Marcus, myself and the remaining guides headed for the summit. After an hour and a half or so we could see the summit sign in the distance, which encouraged us. We got to Uhuru summit (5,895m) at 9.15am, James and Marcus were very excited and got the photos etc. done before heading back down. The guides were brilliant and when we got back here to gilmans, Alexander was asleep which was good he must have been knackered earlier this morning. I sent James and Marcus down ahead and I will wait for Alexander for a while longer before we also head down. Amazing feeling to get there with my sons, they all did extremely well"
Well done lads and hope you all enjoy the fun on the way down. Best of luck on the rest of the trip from all at the expedition office down in Kerry.
If climbing Kilimanjaro is a dream or challenge of yours please view our Africa travel section or contact us for advice on our 2011 and 2012 treks.
Latest Report - 2nd January 2011
The Haydens and their guides acclimatised to 4300m today and are now back to 3720m for the night. Martin reports that the boys are doing well, apart from some adjustments to the food etc., Martin said: "James has some music with him, Marcus is reading and Alexander is getting plenty of stories from dad, they are all sleeping well and eating ok considering, the weather is absolutely amazing providing stunning scenery views, hopefully it will last for the next couple of days"
We expect a push for the summit on the 5th or 6th january, lets see how they get on today, Stay tuned.
Trek Start Report - 31st December 2010
While we celebrate New years here in Ireland, Martin Hayden and his threetrustysons James, Marcus & Alexander are now on Mt. Kilimanjaro,located in Tanzania,and have started their trek. They flew out on the 29th of December to fulfill an ambition to climb the highest mountain in Africa. The climb will take them through five different ecological zones as they ascend toward the5,895m summit over the next eight days. Happy New Year lads - Over the next few days we will endeavour to report as much as possible. They are just finishing day one and these are photos of the start.
Training began back in November when we put them through their paces on Purple mountain beside the Gap of Dunloe in Kerry. The cold weather had just started 2 days before the lads came down, roads were bad in Meath where the lads are from and tentatively made the journey to the montain lodge in Kerry. On arrival we met Con Moriarty, who advised them on the gear they had and also the gear needed for their training and climb in december. Temperatures were low on the evening of the 27th with severe cold conditions forecast as low as -10C. Later in the evening wewere joined by camerman Mark Watson who was down to get a feel for mountain filming, he will be editing footage under our direction for the haydens on their return.Following a quick briefing on the plans for the dark start early in the amby guide Tony Nation, we all headed to bed for some rest.
Night climb of Purple Mountain - 28th Nov 2010
We got a little breakfast into us and headed off at 4am. The drive up the gap was surreal and slippy with icy conditions. We adjusted our gear and headed off into the night, which was brigthened at times by the moon. As we got our pace and temperatures regulated we were approaching the glas lake, which was very surreal in total darkness and head torches. We had a break and some banter with lads who were doing just fine. after the gully from the lake we started onto the steep scree section which was tough work as the wind was a lot stronger. Martin got James, Marcus and Alexander to stay close in a line as conditions were now more severe.
At 7.30am we reached the shoulder and made our final push across the summit section to the main cairn in near total whiteout. We had already decided to spend only 3 minutes there as there was no visibility for sunrise although we could see that light was approaching. On our decent toward the central peak heading toward tomies temperatures were very low and wind was strong, with frost forming on our eyebrows, hair and clothing. I would say it was minus 15C windchill approx. At our next stop our water was now slushy and hard to drink, bring out the hot drink Tony!! The lads were elated at this stage and we found some snow to bum slid followd by some great icicles!!
On decent we headed into the Gap behind the cottages, once we decended below the cloud we got our first glimpses of scenery toward the sea over snow peppered stricin mountain. We stopped to admire the views and our final stop before the road. The boys were holding strong and dad Martin coaxed the final leg down. When we got to the road it was time to do much needed filming as the visibility was good now for the first time all morning.
We got back to the lodge after 10.00am for a fuller than Irish breakfast with no leftovers.The lads had a great time apart from being wrecked tired and after speaking to Martin a couple of days later theyhad a great time in Kerry and hadn't stopped talking about it. We wish them the best of luck!!
Martin and his boys were featured on RTE's Colm Hayes show on the 23 December, below you will find a link to download the attached podcast.
Report by Niall Foley
Travel Coordinator & Camerman
Trip: Tomies, Purple and Shehy
Route: Tomies Wood- Gortadirra(479m)
Date: Guides available all year round - contact us
Duration: 4- 6 hours
Grade: Trek - Easy /Moderate
Price: €75 per person
Overlooking Lough Leane to the north east, these 3 peaks are separated from the Mcgillycuddy Reeks by the Gap of Dunloe. Purple Mountain derives its name from the colour of the sandstone rock, which emits a purple hue under favourable light conditions. This is a moderate circular walk taking in Tomies, Purple and Shehy that offers wonderous views of the Gap and the Reeks as well as those of Lough Leane and Killarney.
A straightforward enjoyable walk in towards Tomies Wood but veering for the hills to summit your first peak of the day - Gortadirr (479m). From here, we make a push up to Tomies where the slopes become steeper. From the cairn at Tomies summit (735m) you get your first dramatic view of Purple Mountain and the Gap of Dunloe below.
Breathless scenery as we make the nice easy grade ridge walk passing minor summit points at 695m and 757m before the summit of Purple. Descending, the col or valley of Coomclochan below, the views are dramatic out over lough Leane and Killarney beyond. Contouring down off Shehy, we return to the forestry and the welcome track of Tomies Wood. This last section is a gentle walk through beautiful forestry with deer glimpsed through the trees and a lovely waterfall at O'Sullivans Cascade. This gentle walk leads you back to the gate where you started.
Trek: Easy/ Moderate
Suitable for beginner. Enjoyable day that allows a great introduction to hillwalking
Below is a recommended basic hillwalking gear list. If you have some or most of the items - great! If you do not, please contact us as it is no problem arranging some options from the guide on the day. You will find the more you hillwalk, it is likely that you'll spend more on gear. There are very good reasons why people purchase expensive gear and that is to keep them dry, warm and comforatble even in the most extreme conditions. This is very important during colder conditions. You do not have to buy all of the gear listed below unless you are going to do more in near future. If possible try to borrow some of it and we can give you some advice on the day before you buy your own. Also most ski-wear is suitable, although the heavier items, more so in winter.
Good walking/mountaineering boots. Waterproof for wet and/or cold
Socks (Thorlo, Thermolite or similar)
Thermal top base (dryflo, capilene or sports top) and mid layers (In winter several layers may be needed)
Good fleece or softshell
Trekking pants in summer, Thermal fleece pants in winter (Softshell pants are quite common also)
Wind and water proofs (Gore-Tex or similar): Jacket and Trousers
Head gear: thermal hat and/or sunhat. (Buff, neck gaiter, optional) or balaclava in winter
Adjustable ski poles, Leki or similar: these take a lot of pressure off the body and makes walking less tiring. I usually use two Leki spring loaded as it takes 36 ton of pressure off your knees per day as well as allowing you to have a crutch to lean on when your tired *Optional
Gloves: 1 pair of thermal and 1 pair over gloves or mitts (optional), no harm in bringing spare sets. I always bring a pair of fleece and buffalo mitts for high on the mountain as it can get very cold and by having your fingers together it keeps them warm
1/ 2 Lt Water bottle or platypus in its own plastic bag
Lunch consisting of sandwich/snack and sweets, seeds, oatbars or fruit (keep in plastic bag)
Small Rucksack big enough to carry your spares and Lunch. (Line this with strong black bag)
Spare Top mid layer, socks and gloves
Camera with good battery and memory capacity
1 x Flask with hot drink *Optional
Map OSI 78 and Compass (silva type 4) *Optional
The most popular option for many of our clients.
We regularly organise day long excursions, weekend & mid-week breaks and outings for individuals, coporate groups, sports teams, families and friends. The benefits are endless and we can organise all the logistics for you, from transport to accommodation, team building, military bootcamps, walking, trekking, abseiling....the activities are endless. We are your one stop adventure company who pride ourselves on providing the best of adventures in some of the most beautiful locations in the world.
Please contact our office to further discuss the benefits of a private course or guided walk/expedition you would like to challenge your team, group, family or friends!
“Life is like a mountain, and we all have mountains to climb, we all have an Everest”.
Pat Falvey, world-renowned adventurer and Expedition Leader
The Hope Foundation launched its Celebrity Expedition HOPE Everest to an excited audience this evening at Basecamp Adventure and Travel Store, Dublin. Donal McIntyre, Rob Ross, Philip Gray, George Mc Mahon, Teena Gates and Jenny Kavanagh were announced as the brave personalities who will take part in this a two-part challenge to raise funds for The Hope Foundation. The team will leave on September 30th and will spend twenty two days taking on this mammoth challenge.
The challenge is in two phases: the team will first climb to Everest Base Camp and then some will go on to climb to Island Peak, which is at 20,305 feet. This will be a really tough challenge, requiring ice picks and ice crampons in their boots and the team will be tied together with ropes to reach the ice field!
The expedition will be led by experienced mountaineer Pat Falvey, who has climbed the seven highest mountains on the Seven Continents twice, including Mt Everest from Nepal and Tibet. Pat is also experienced in leadership and motivation and is sure to build great team spirit among the participants.
Hon Director of The Hope Foundation, Maureen Forrest said: “Every child on the streets of Calcutta is facing an Everest each day; their lives are about survival. HOPE is working to change that with over 60 projects that enable children to go to school, to be cared for, to stay healthy and to break the cycle of poverty. I thank the team from the bottom of my heart for taking time out to be part of this great expedition to change children’s lives”. see video of Kids in Calcutta.
People around the country will also have a chance to get involved in this expedition as HOPE has three unique ideas to let the supporters become part of the team. The first is the Every Step Counts campaign, which will see gyms and health clubs ‘step’ with the team. Total Fitness are the first gym to come on board and support this campaign. The Sign the Flag campaign urges schools, businesses, groups and communities to sign a specially designed flag which will be brought by the team and put on Everest. The third is the Mobile Mountain campaign where you can drop your old phone into Basecamp Adventure Store and hopefully they can make a ‘mountain’ out of the amount they have received.
To get involved or learn more check out www.hopechallenge2010.com
The launch night was kindly sponsored by Basecamp store and Jaipur Restaurant.
Some pictures of celebrity's training in Ireland.
Everyone today had a fantastic day out on the mountain even through is rained all day and everyone was soaked to the skin. We took advantage of the bad weather and decided to make our way up through cascading gullies that were in full flow. We zig zagged our way over rocky outcrops, climbing up a nice chimney called the step of Carrauntoohil which brought us from the Lower coom to the middle coom on the Mountain before entering the classic Curve Gully. This is mainly use as a winter route in snow and ice grade 1/2. Before breaking out above Irelands highest lake in Coimin Uachtar into Brother O Shea's Gullys before breaking onto the Beenkeragh Ridge and onto the Summit. Today was wet, windy and exciting for all of the team out today.
see some of our pictures by click here.
For a feel for the events of the day click on our audio interview below.
Contact us today at www.patfalvey.com for all your climbing needs.
The ForEver Young Club:
Derrick Kroll celebrating his 77th Birthday by climbing Irelands Highest Mountain in stormy conditions, Relaxing with his wife Mary, they are also celebrating 54 years of bliss together.
Enjoying a few pints, music and song in Kate Kearney's Cottage after an exciting day for both.
Guide Gerry Walsh
Listen to the wisdom from Derrick on Audio Boo click .
Tony Nation, Trekking Guide & Trainer
Tony's love for adventure has taken him to many regions of our planet, he enjoys leading groups in Africa, Russia, Nepal and South America. Like many of our adventure guides and trainers his passion is that of communication and instilling the culture of the places we visit to those that join in our adventures and courses. He is also one of our leading Irish guides with special knowledge in the Cork and Kerry hills and mountains.
He is a father of four; Sean, Damien, Sara and Timothy. From a very early age, to instill adventure to his children, he became involved, with his wife Mary, as a leading light in Scouting Ireland. He has volunteererd for over twenty years to promote the adventurous spirit in children.
He is a County Commissioner for Cork south and heavily involved in training new leaders and delivering Mountain Skills Training to all leaders and scouts. Tony is a good story teller, has a passion for the outdoors, enjoys good food and after a hard day on the hills a few pints in a good atmosphere. Tony is also a manager/trainer in our Health, Safety and team-building Corporate division
Let us introduce you to Tony in a short video
Trip: Dingle Peninsula Walk & De-stress Week
Altitude: 520m/ 1695ft
Route: See Itinerary for Daily Routes
Date: All Year Round
Duration: 7-8 hours with 4-5 hours of daily walking
Grade: Walking - Moderate
Price: Contact us for details
Join Pat Falvey on a Walking De-Stress Break which will give you an adventurous trip into the land of blue-gold hills and sandy beaches, of glorious waterfalls, hidden bays, wondrous rock formations, caves, arches, busy harbors and wayside pubs. A land dappled with heather, primroses, bluebells, foxgloves, fuchsia, and smiling faces to welcome you. This peninsula that inspired films like "Ryan's Daughter" and "Far and Away" has much to offer people in search of something different.
You can choose a 2 day, 6 day or 8 day itinerary that best suits you and your needs from our itinerary.
Spend time in a place rich in tradition, literature and culture, where native Gaelic prospers alongside modern languages, where the perfect harmony created by nature restores the spirit. Where you can relax and savor the scenery, the flora and fauna, the art, the crafts, the culture, the archaeology, the wine and food, or just meet the people – the choice is yours!
Bain blaise as dhraíocht leithinis Chorca Dhuibhne, áit a bhfuil áilleacht chreagach, sléibhte maorga, tránna geala gainmheach, easanna aoibhinn, bánna ceilte, cuanta gnóthach agus tithe tábhairne beoga. Tá abhar iontach anseo ar leithinis Chorca Dhuibhne (áit a bhí mar ionspioráid ar scannáin cáiliúla ar nós "Ryan's Daughter" agus "Far & Away", dóibh siúd ag lorg eagsúlacht saoire den scoth.
Ní áilleacht tíre amháin atá i gceist anseo ach éagsúlacht beatha agus saibhreas oidhreachta, cultúrtha agus teanga – teanga a labhartar go forleathan i measc an phobail mar gnáththeanga laethúil. Tá cáil idirnáisiúnta bainte amach ag leithinis Chorca Dhuibhne de bharr a cultúr, a saibhreas ceardaíochta agus ealaíne agus de bharr feabhas agus blastacht a cuid bia agus fíona. Tig leat aoibhneas a bhaint as áilleacht saibhir an dúthaigh agus an dúlra, áit é seo threamhrach an t-suaimhnis. Is leatsa an rogha!
• Ferries to islands
• Transportation to/from walks
• B&B in top quality Irish homes and hotels (3* & 4* standard)
• Dinners in some of Irelands best restaurants, including such famous restaurants as The Half Door & Doyle’s.
Minimum of 6 people per trip.
We meet in Killarney on the evening before Day 1 (Thursday)
Day 1 Friday:
Trip: Connor Pass/Dingle (Habitat: Mountain /Heath)
Route: Dingle town- Old Butter Road to top of Connor Pass. From here, there are some of the most spectacular views of Dingle harbor, spread out below to the west and down to the dunes and beaches of The Maharees to the North. From here we climb up along the Connor Pass Ridge, descending back to Dingle.
Day 2 Saturday:
Trip: Mount Eagle (Habitat/Coastal Mountain)
Route: Dingle- Ventry- Mount Eagle- Slea Head- Coumeenole Beach- Ventry. The western most extremity of Ireland is at the tip of the Dingle Peninsula in the ancient parishes of Corca Dhuibhne. For todays walk we will make our way west of Dingle, out to the village of Ventry/Dun Chaoin. We will follow the rough track up to the top of Mount Eagle and from here we will follow the ridge and drop down to Slea Head. We will then walk by road to Coumeenole beach which was used in the movie Ryan’s Daughter. We will then walk back to Dun Chaoin where we will be picked up and brought back to Dingle.
Day 3: Sunday:
Trip: Blasket Islands (Habitat - Island)
Route: Blasket Islands. An island walk has a unique charm- that feeling of being far removed from the outside world and the toil of your daily existence. Today we will travel out to Dun Chaoin where we will embark on a 20 minute boat ride that will take us to the larger of the Blasket Islands: the Great Blasket. This is a delightful circular walk around the steep cliff rimmed and heather clad hills of this most westerly of mountainous islands. When we finish our walk you can relax and enjoy one of Ireland’s scenic beaches.
Day 4: Monday:
Trip: Ballydavid Head Coastal Walks (Habitat - Coastal Cliffs)
Route: Feohanagh- Coastline Cliffs- Beenmore- Feohanagh. The rocks of Kerry are as old as life itself, and where better to start to discover it than at the beginning - where the volcanic rocks formed more than 400 million years ago and now form the path solidly beneath your feet as you walk along the tip of the Dingle peninsula. On this walk we will begin in the small village of Feohanagh, 7 miles from Dingle and under the shadow of Mt Brandon. (Ireland's 2nd largest peak) This is a moderate circular walk that follows an ill-defined path along the coastline cliffs. We will climb up to the top of the headland, and along to one of the old watchtowers used during the war. The views from along the cliffs are quiet spectacular. We will finish at the peak of Beenmore and make our way back to Feohanagh.
Day 5: Tuesday:
Trip: Dingle to Slea Head (Habitat - Coastal)
Route: The Kerry Way - Dingle - Ventry Beach - Slea Head. This is a varied walk of hill, beach, and track following the Kerry way. We begin just outside Dingle town, following track and road to the top of Ventry Beach. Across to Slea Head, skirting the side of Mount Eagle. We finish at Slea Head.
Day 6: Wednesday:
Trip: Anascaul (Habitat - Mountain Peaks)
Route: Anascaul - Lake and Mountain Track. This walk begins in the village of Anascaul, the birth place of the renowned Artic Explorer, Tom Crean. We will proceed up to Anascaul lake, lying north of the
village. This is a moderate climb up a fine old green road. We will complete this circular walk around the mountain top and back down to the lake.
Day 7: Thursday:
Departure for home. Additional Options: Cloghan/Brandon, Com A Lochaigh, a great example of glaciating and The Maharees, a area of great coastal dunes walks.
Due to the nature of Irish weather our walking holidays will have a number of options that we can alter depending on the condition.
If we are going to an island we will be able to alter our walking days to pick the best time to take advantage of sea conditions. We will also be able to alter high level walks to coastal walks depending on conditions on the hills.
Walking boots, warm layering system, Wind/rain proof jacket and pants, warm hat and gloves, small day bag to carry rain gear. If you are going on a hike for more than 4 hours, we recommend that you carry a packed lunch and plenty of water. We can organise this for you for an additional fee.
First Aid Kit: We suggest bringing a small personal first aid kit.
Moving Mountains - Carrauntoohil 3414 feet- With Teena Gates 98 fm Also listen to podcast Moving Mountains
Pushing over the top of the ridge I gasped in surprise "you kept this a secret" as the grey slatted rocks that I'd been climbing up like stairs fell away to a ridge that slipped over the edge of the world - with green and grey and golden waves rolling off into the clouds below to crash on rocks as old as the world itself.
Arriving at the Mountain Lodge of adventurer Pat Falvey, I wear my enthusiasm for the climb ahead like a badge, or a sheet of armour; as quaking in my climbing boots I wonder whether I can really make it to the top of Carrauntoohil, 3,500 feet and Ireland's highest mountain. I dread the thought of slowing down the group going out. Was walking in the Wicklow hills enough preparation, or will I be hopelessly outpaced, and mortified in front of strangers? Listening carefully to the briefing, I spot the change of tone as the larger than life Pat switches gear from wise-cracks and fun, to sober comment, host turned leader, as he talks about the need to keep up when push comes to shove. There are only so many hours of daylight to climb a mountain. Another snatched, silent conversation with myself and what now seems like the lunacy of being here; I breathe deeply, commit myself, and we're off.
Walking past the memorials in the carpark at the foot of Carrauntoohil, I'm reminded that we're approaching a sleeping giant sweeping calmly up in front, glowing green and purple, serene in the sun but ready with a fickle flick to change the odds in a heartbeat. Crossing the first of a number of bridges on the way up, our guides explain about flash floods that came off the mountain snatching the life from one young woman within sight of the very carpark we'd just left. It's sobering, but we push ahead and despite being nervous, my spirits soar as my muscles warm and I break into a light sweat, learning more about the other climbers in the group, and feeling relief as I discover I'm not the only one here for the first time. There is huge reassurance in that, company for the challenge ahead. Approaching the first of 3 lakes, we stop to catch our breath, and catch up on more from the guides about the history and folklore of the hills around us.
Shortly afterwards we came to a halt at what, to me, seemed to be an impenetrable sheet of rock. "3 points of contact - up" announced Pat, and he was up and climbing - no ropes, no carabinos, no clips, no dress-rehearsal... no way. "Are you mad?" I scream silently, as I toy with the thought of running as fast as my walking boots will take me in the opposite direction. Breathing deeply, another silent conversation with myself as I call on my personal mantra for tough times, 'one foot in front of another & breathe'. I focus, find the foothold Pat points to and looking up, the rocks above begin to take on new images of hand-holds and potential grips. Swinging up to my 'three-points of contact' I look again and see and find, and reach and stretch and find my feet. Confidence growing I move again, switching weight, muscles engaging, responding, reacting. My breath deepens and I find a rhythm; I'm 'scrambling' and a smile bursts across my face as I realise I'm loving it.
A couple of hours later, after climbing over rocks, picking through moss and heather, and the trudge of putting 'one foot in front of another' on tired legs, the seasons change again and bright sunshine gives way to biting icy rain and a piercing wind. As the elements kick off, I rip out fleece and coat, and hat and gloves. How quickly a warm body can turn to deathly chill on a mountain, a chilling nudge from the idle giant. Measured breathing and a steady pace allows for conversation with my colleagues, it's nice; they're good people and we exchange tips about breathing and walking and I learn small, subtle things, that make sense on a mountain.
The mist closes in as we close on the summit. The light is creamy, silver and unusual. With the dark rocks below my feet and hands, and the rain dripping from my nose and hair and stinging my eyes, I feel like I'm walking in a plastic bubble, that I can reach up and punch through to the daylight outside. Conscious again of the flow of my breath, of keeping a rhythm, of putting one foot in front of another. Then a cross looms out of the mist and the wind whips my face, as I recognise the scene from photos poured over in recent days. We've made it, I've made it.
Standing at the top, hugging, laughing sharing smiles and joy with other climbers coming over the edge, I'm humbled and proud, conflicted; torn between the contradiction of the power of the mountain beneath me, and the power of the body that brought me to stand on top of the highest peak in Ireland. Without warning the mist clears, I'm bathed in sunlight and a sudden movement pulls my eye down off the peak to the rocks below. Clouds are flying past at speed below me, and I wonder in amazement as I watch, feeling slightly dizzy, as if someone put the world on 'fast forward'.
The descent is tough, weight thrown down on my haunches, but knees and ankles bear up, and nothing can wipe the smile from my face. Buzzing, hooked, knowing it's the start of new adventures and challenges. Carrauntoohil has not seen the last of me, and I have not seen the last of it. In the weeks ahead working in the gym, grappling with the final few minutes on the treadmill, or groaning over floor exercises and stretches, this Kerry mountain will be flashing through my mind, a reward and a promise and a lure to pull the extra mile from the rowing machine. That peak, that feeling of reaching the summit has left Kerry and travels back to Dublin with me on my journey. Today, I have moved mountains.