Finally, I get to writing the second instalment from the Saturday during our Kerry Training Weekend. The event on offer was, of course, none other than Carrauntoohil who was bathed in gorgeous sunshine allowing a rare view of the entire mountain and all of the majestic scenery in Bridia Valley including my favourite profile: Sharp and crag-ridden Broaghnabinnia (745m).
Let me write this entry as a review of the route: The new start is an immeasurable improvement on the old with the verdant surroundings and the inviting grass and rock of the Kerry Way setting you off on your race or recce. Zig-zags are always welcome as they make for some great atmospheric jousting as you settle into pace and position en-route to open mountain.
Navigation is simplified massively by the presence of the fence although there are times when straying from it seems to provide small advantages both on the uphill and the downhill. During the descent, one needs to take care not to be caught in little “blind alleys” if taking this high route. Even so, quick corrections can still leave you better off than someone hugging the narrower and rockier fence path.
The loss of the boggy streak of land to Caher at Lough Iochtair will not be mourned by many, and certainly not be me. Our 28-man strong contingent were split into a snake consisting of many little splinter-groups from the outset with IMRA president Dermot Murphy leading the charge. The extraordinarily clear conditions made hitting the flat stony plateau of Curraghmore (822m) exceedingly easy and from here hitting the Caher ridge was a formality.
The ridge itself was harder than I remembered on the way out and easier on the way back, possibly because Peter O’Farrell, Rob Cross, Amidou and myself had entered into a playful game of “chase the leader” which would almost lead us off a wrong tangent back towards the heart of Bridia Valley. We recovered but it shows that even the clearest conditions cannot protect you from switching off your head.
Most of us had spend a fair bit of time enjoying the summit and collecting a few rocks to be moulded into trophies by my club-mate Richie Healy for the 25th Anniversary.
Once you leave the Caher ridge behind, the descent is surprisingly forgiving both in steepness and technicality and the Carrauntoohil mounts and easier obstacle for those with a forte on the ascent than Croagh Patrick and Galtymore. If ever, I regretted the decision not to have the race on my list of objectives for 2011, it was after this fantastic run. The only downside is the long bumpy drive into Bridia Valley, but sure it was worth it.