Tuesday, 02 August 2011 00:33
Published in Travel & Training blog

Rise In Rescues On The Reeks.

More and more people are taking to the hills and are ignoring the fundamental basic requirements that are necessary for safe journeys on Ireland's highest mountains, i.e. proper gear, navigational skills for leaders and bad route finding decisions.

Over the coming months we at the Pat Falvey School of Mountaineering will be giving free advice on our monthly newsletters on proper procedures on how to look after yourself and your team mates on the mountains.

Every year we see unnecessary accidents on mountains and we hope these educational pieces starting next month will help you to make your trekking, climbing and walking on the hills here at home in Ireland and abroad, much safer.

A very famous mountaineer coined a quote:

"Climb if you will, but remember that courage and strength are naught without prudence, and that momentary negligence may destroy the happiness of a lifetime. Do nothing in haste, look well to each step, and from the beginning think what may be the end". ~ Edward Whymper, first ascensionist of the Matterhorn, 1865.

Be prepared, plan your journeys and be logical with your chooses.

Kerry Mountain Rescue reported 4 rescues for July. While we at The Pat Falvey School of Mountaineering and Kerry Guides have had three contacts from different groups on the mountains for assistance en route, after finding walkers and climbers had been misplaced on the mountain and they required navigational help to get off the Reeks.

Lots of people are not taking the dangers of the Reeks into consideration and are ill-prepared for what is potentially a dangerous activity, on very tricky steep mountains.

Mountaineering is a dangerous sport/pastime. People must ultimately take responsibility for their own safety and due diligence is required from walkers, trekkers, leaders and guides.

No experience is no excuse to put yourself in danger.

People who have no experience should ensure that leaders they are going with have adequate experience before climbing into dangerous situations.

Also they should take responsibility for proper clothing, to have adequate boots and to ensure they have enough food and water for a hard days climb or walk on the hills..

Most accidents are caused due to lack of proper planning and the mistakes are simple.

If people are not experienced they should go with a leader/guide when they are outside their comfort zone. They should not go in groups unless the ratio of guide to inexperienced people on the team should only be 1:6 and over six leaders are required in the event of an accident.

Here at The Pat Falvey School of Mountaineering we provide Leaders - Guides- and courses in Kerry and throughout the world to assist those requiring our services. 

Contact us here at www.patfalvey.com for all your climbing needs.








Monday, 28 June 2010 16:45

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.

Tuesday, 27 June 2006 00:00
Published in Beyond Endurance 2006
The final day

We woke to very bright weather and had breakfast on the boil, by the way it dosen't get dark fully. We inspected the snow shelter that Enda and Domhnall had stayed in. A good share had stayed out also to experience the night time vibe. As we were on group one, we were filmimg as we went through a section we had the previous day and on with our crampons. Across a fairly steep mixed snow/rocky section on to a col which led onwards and up to fantastic peak about a kilometre away. We headed up the steep part and on to the summit section were we all had another Irish joyous celebration. Myself and Steve were filming as we went and on the way back got some classic footage of the team squashing the snow shelter before heading out of the glacier and back to Oslo the following day.

We would like to take this oppurtunity to thank all involved in the Norway trip. Our friends and excellent trainers Rolf, Bjorn, Dave, Ivor, Sigur, also Katie, Donal, Geraldine and anyone else who was at helps hand.

~ Niall Foley
Monday, 26 June 2006 00:00
Published in Beyond Endurance 2006
3 day back Pack Day 2

We woke to beautiful weather again, and headed for the hills gradually gaining height, our first stop included a mexican wave as we all adjusted our layers and gear. We pushed on up the valley passing blue lakes frozen since last Autumn and found our rhytym. The team was broken up in to sub groups of 4-6 members before we left Krossbu again simulating the needs for Sth Georgia. We skirted off and up some steep ground on to a crest where we had lunch and discussed where we were the day before in the deep snow, we could see it about 4km away.

Jerry Aherne had his Harmonica and kept us in tune as an overall team.. Thanks Jerry. After crossing a 30 degree snow slope we entered a glacier again and roped up. This one leading up to a steep section and over a pass. We came over the top to a stunning panorama as we were at the top of the glacier, here we marked out a safe campsite on the ice and set up our tents. As there were a few hours left in the day, we left to tackle a few small summits surrounding the campsite which were very impressive. Thanks Eithne for putting on the boil while were away!!
Sunday, 25 June 2006 00:00
Published in Beyond Endurance 2006
3 day back Pack

After a late-ish night for some, an early start with all gear required for the 2 nights in the elements. Packing gear is an art in its self, but given practise can reward you with an evenly balanced comfortable ride when walking over long distance. After approaching the glacier on snow shoes we roped up and continued in to an abyss of dense fog. This ideal environment for training was received with a reminder that the shit can hit the fan very quickly and requires expert knowledge to survive and arrive at our next campsite. We exited the fog as we approached the Bear pass where we had a break. Down a steep section of deep snow was a challenge to most of us. With every step down about 2 feet meaning 3-4 kg of snow to lift back up!! We got down and on to more favourable ground, but it seemed the pressure had alredy hit hom e for some. The campsite near to the unoccupied Liervassbu hut was a mix of evening sun and humour as we snuggled into our -25c bags after a ...some braving to stay outside!!
Saturday, 24 June 2006 00:00
Published in Beyond Endurance 2006

With the weather on our side we headed for a climb in preparation for our 3 day back pack. We all shuffled out with crampons, snow shoeing, axe, some layers, camera, food, water and loads of sunscreen. The landscape here in Jontunheimen is absolutely stunning, especially when you start to gain height from 1500m to 2000m. We started on foot, then on to show shoes and finally leaving our shoes for crampons to attempt a summit of our first Norwegian 2000m..Brilliant

Niall Foley

Friday, 23 June 2006 00:00
Published in Beyond Endurance 2006

After a busy May, June hit us with a reminder, June 3rd 29 Beyond Endurance expedition team members decend on Dublin airport. Depart 06.30am Oslo.

All the team where in great form, some arriving with family members. We arrived in Oslo later that day and met with Bjorn on the bus. Driving north a few stops later, travelling through changing landscapes, we arrived in Krosbu Lodge near to Jotunheimen National Park and Glacier, our base for the next week.

The next day after a briefing, we covered snow shoes, ice axe arrest and crampons which we practised a mile away in to the snowy hills.

Niall Foley