We should have listened to the advice in TLCs catchy tune from 1995 – Don’t go chasing waterfalls…
Yesterday, we met Nathan from Outdoors Ireland (Awesome guy) at a car park (used by climbers on Carrantuohill) at 10am in the middle of snow storm. YAHOO. after gearing up heavy, we walked for 3kms through snow covered heather & bracken while the snow blew softly and the majestic McGillycuddy Reeks loomed above us.
On reaching the foot of Beenkeragh (Irelands second highest mountain at 1008m), we put crampons on our boots, grabbed an ice axe and followed Nathan into a narrow gully that reached straight up.
A wall of broken rock and frozen water.
But it was fun.
Until that was, we reached a 12 ft. vertical section. Nathan picked his way up expertly and anchored our rope up high. I took off my gloves so they wouldn’t get wet and useless.
Following Nathans path, I grabbed hold of rock and ice and fought to haul myself up the face. Frozen water from the mountain top rushed over the edge and snow flurries beat heavily against my face.
It was as if the mountain was fighting back.
Halfway up, with my left crampon barely caught in a ledge, my right foot desperately searching for purchase, the ice axe slipping slowly from its hold and my left hand so frozen that I couldn’t move my fingers – I thought of giving up – “I can’t do this”.
Just as I was lost in my despair, a shout from Sherpa stirred me on.
“Up High on the right”.
It wasn’t so much the instruction as the reminder that we were a team. If I gave it up, so would he.
I threw my hand up, caught a jagged edge and hauled myself up enough to get a crampon hold at waist high and launched myself over the top edge, I was over the ledge.
Sherpa tried a more ambitious move and lost his footing and fell off the face. Thankfully, Nathan (did I mention he is an awesome guy?) had us all roped up and after dangling in mid air for a few seconds, he went again and hopped up it like a true Tralee mountainy goat.
45 minutes later, we emerged from the top of the gully onto an area the size of a snow covered football pitch. we had made it.
qv+KxG7KSD+HNY8Y%jo40w (Click to play).
It was a challenging and eventful day in very difficult conditions. We were pushed beyond our comfort zones in the most gentle of ways. Even while I questioned my abilities hanging off the waterfall, I knew that Nathan was in full control of the risks and our safety was never compromised. A huge achievement.
Did I say that we loved it.
It was incredible. The lessons we learned on the day will be invaluable to us on our journey. We would both wholeheartedly recommend Nathan and Outdoors Ireland. Did I mention that he’s an awesome guy…http://www.outdoorsireland.com.