Project Mountain Goat ended in December and I feel that I have now had two months of rest, and time away from planning adventures and chasing dreams! I had set myself the date of the 1st of March 2015 as an official “start” day of Around the Isle in 80 Days. Obviously I don’t mean the actually kayaking part but the planning and training that is required for such a big trip. This gives me 5 full months of training (and planning) on top of my current fitness and skill level! Of course, I have secretly been researching, and planning a little since the New Year. However the 1st of March is now nearly here, and to be quite honest I am a little nervous to see if I can actually get this project off the ground, after all, the start is often the hardest part, and this thing is huge!
This week started off with a lot of reading, researching and emailing and today has been an exciting day for A.I.E.D (Around the Isle in 80 Days) as Author, Sea Kayaker and in my opinion Adventurer, David Walsh, has been in touch saying he will proved me with a copy of his book Oileáin to help me in my planning and execution of the project! The book “Oileáin” deals with landings on islands, camping spots, availability of drinking water, tidal streams, history or natural history where known or researched, birds and wildlife as available, and general information. It is intended to be similar in purpose to a nautical Pilot or Sailing Directions, but dedicated to sea kayaks and other very small craft, with a lot of extras. This book, will be my bible for 2015!
Oileáin by David Walsh
You can buy the book online on his website here: http://www.oileain.org/. For more info and some great photos check out his other website here: http://www.davidwalshlegal.ie/kayaking.html. I am excited to put this amazing looking book to good use and I will post more about sections of the book as the planning goes along. Of course I want to say a huge thank you to David Walsh for giving me this book in aid of the project!
Again a huge thank you to Norman and the Irish Cruising Club for these books! They will be put to good use! In terms of other updates my bother Philip is putting together a fitness and nutrition plan for me! He won’t be stopping there as he will be coaching me in the training and also teaching me all the right stretches that I will need to know for after a 12 hour kayaking day! Man, it’s starting to feel a lot like work around here! I will be covering this “torture” in more details in the weeks to come, but of course I am delighted and thankful to have him helping me out on this! Cheers Bro! Thanks for reading guys! Wish me luck and more updates soon!
On Friday night the 20th of February I attended the annual talks and award night hosted by Mountain Views.ie and in conjunction with The Walkers Association of Ireland. The location was the Landsdowne Hotel in Dublin which provided a lovely function space with easy and close access to the bar, which of course is highly important at such events! 😉 This would be my fist time at a Mountain Views event as I had only discovered them back in January 2014. I was not sure what to expect but naturally I was slightly nervous! Why? Well, not only was I being presented with some certificates but I would be finishing off the night with a 15 minute presentation about Project Mountain Goat. This would be my first time ever to give a public presentation, not too mention the first time publicly talking about PMG.
The “map” of the evening! Some great talks and great people!
Being with other hill walking enthusiasts, my peers, made giving the presentation both easier and harder. As sure as I was about how my fellow peers would understand the joys of hill walking, the experience of dealing with Irish weather, tough terrain and big mountain days, I was unsure how they would see my project of climbing so many summits in such a short time frame. Talking to a group of strangers about the things I found hard, mistakes that I made along the way, and, untimely being very honest about the ups and the downs of a project of this scale, was certainly a little intimidating. Would they see it as soulless summit bagging or the physical and mental endurance challenge that it was for me? Would they see it as chest beating/bragging or me sharing the adventure of my own madness? I would have to wait until the end of the night to find out!
After handing in my presentation we found some seats near the front and before long the night was off to a start! Mark Brennan, secretary of Mountain Views opened the night with a run down of the schedule and it’s guest speakers. He clearly has no problem speaking in front of people and is quite the entertainer! First up was Peter Walker who gave a talk on what makes Irish hills and mountains unique! He certainly got the crowd warmed up and the English man told us all about our Irish hills and mountains! I did learn that, in comparison to England, Wales and Scotland we do love crosses on our summits here. However it was his jokes and humor that had us all giggling to ourselves throughout his talk! Next up was Tom Kelly who writes for the Irish Times, in particular, travel gadgets were his area of expertise! Now Tom didn’t want to bore us with facts of this new gadget or that new gadget so instead, he gave us a lesson in the gear the guys used in the early 1922 and 1924 Everest expeditions. Surprisingly, their gear was pretty damn awesome for it’s time…it however didn’t look as cool as our modern kit! Tom gave us a few good laughs at the end of his presentation by showing us some “new” gear that we should all have with us in the hills…like a suitcase sized portable shower…man I should have had one last year 😉
Adrian McGlynns Photo of the Year! View from the summit of Errigal in Donegal looking towards the Poison Glen. Well done Adrian! Check out his blog for more great photos!
Next up and before the thirst set in Simon Stewart, founder and genius behind Mountain Views.ie gave a short reflection on the year of 2014 for Mountain Views. The website/community only seems to grow stronger and stronger! After this I got a beer to steady the few nerves I still had, but at this stage, I was looking forward to presenting Project Mountain Goat! So after a short intermission the main guest speaker Helen Fairbairn came on to talk about why Ireland is so good for hill walking! She hit many great points, one of which was; We have no real wildlife that can kill you here…I do agree with this, but at the same time I had a chuckled to myself as I have had a few close calls from being chased by cattle in 2014. However, the Mountain Lions and Bears herself and her husband faced in South and North America respectively, certainly made my cattle fleeing days seem like a walk in the park! Helen has written 12 guidebooks, has written for the likes of Lonely Planet and The Collins Press. As she talked about being paid to research and hike trails around the world I found myself not only very impressed but slightly jealous too! You can visit Helen’s own website here!
The awards were next! There were awards for completing list such as; Local 100 Summits, Irish County Highpoints, 100 Highest Irish Summits, The Arderins and The Vandeleur-Lynams. There were also awards for “An Outstanding Contribution” and “Photo of the Year”. The two most popular lists appeared to be the Local 100 Summits and the Irish County Highpoints. Photo of the year was given to Adrian McGlynn, which was a beautiful photo taken from the summit of Errigal in County Donegal (as seen above). Adrian takes some amazing photos and I can tell you it is worth taking a look at his blog here!
From the awards there was a handful of people picking up certificates for completing one list or another. However there were two “Young Guns” there on Friday night that I want to mention! First up was youngster Cian Quinn, 13 years of age, completed the Irish County Highpoints with his father (Colin Quinn) when he was still 12 years old! He climbed all 27 hills and mountains in the 32 counties (some summits are shared on the border) all around Ireland to become the youngest person ever to complete the list (as far as records currently show). I want to wish Cian a huge well done on his great achievement and I hope he will continue in the sport of Hill Walking and who knows maybe one day he will discover rock climbing and mountaineering too!
The Young Guns! Left to Right: Cian Quinn (13), youngest completer of the Irish County Highpoints, Robert Lee (21), the youngest completer of the Vandeleur-Lynams/600m Mountain List. Myself and then Simon Stewart, the mastermind behind Mountain Views.
Next up! Another record! Robert Lee! After doing his mountain skills course in 2012 at the age of 18 Rob set out to be the youngest person ever to climb all the mountains over 600m in Ireland (The Vandeleur-Lynam/600m list – 278 summits)! He finished this great challenge in 2014 and by all accounts and records currently is the youngster person ever to do this! It was a pleasure to meet him and again well done on completion of his great challenge. Also, to put things in perspective, I first discovered the 600m mountain list around the same age as Rob was when he started his challenge. At that age I didn’t have the drive or the skill to take them all on as he did! So of course I am impressed! I wish him all the best in any future challenges he may set for himself! I also want to wish all other list completers and award winners from the night a very big well done! We know why we do it! 🙂
At this stage in the evening I knew my time was up. I was called up to be awarded with some certificates for list completed during Project Mountain Goat in 2014. As PMG was all about the Arderins and Vandeleur-Lynams and as I manged to climb them all, I was of course awarded with these certs.
My Certificate from completing the Arderins list. (405 Summits)
My Certificate from completing the Vandeleur-Lynams list. (269 Summits)
However, in the process and along the way of Project Mountain Goat, with some extra effort I had also completed; The 100 Highest Irish Summits list and the Irish County Highpoints list. The older style lists, 500m list (Now the Arderins) and 600m list (now the Vandeleur-Lynams) were also climbed. They had a few extra summits in those lists before they were updated etc.
My Certificate from completing the 100 Highest Irish Summits list.
My Certificate from completing the Irish County Highpoints Summit list. (27 Summits)
At this point and even though it was not the case, I felt like I was showing off being handed 4 different certificates. However then I was awarded “An Outstanding Contribution” award from all my GPS tracks from Project Mountain Goat.
My certificate for “An Outstanding Contribution” award. For all my GPS tracks uploaded.
At this point I could feel my cheeks burning red as I was then handed a special framed “Arderins and Vandeleur-Lynams in One Year” award. This was the first time anyone has completed them in one year! Was it ever going to end though?!?! I was starting to feel embarrassed!
This one, framed and awarded for completing the Arderins and Vandeleur-Lynams in One Year!
It didn’t stop there however as Simon Stewart, on behalf on The Collins Press presented me with two beautiful books: “Seek The Frozen Lands by Frank Nugent” and “In Search of Peaks, Passes & Glaciers by Frank Nugent”. Needless to say I was very speechless! I would like to take the time again to thank Simon Stewart and Mountain Views for the certificates, the framed award, which is a first for me and of course for putting on a great night! Never before have I had a framed certificate..so that’s pretty cool! Also, The Collins Press, thank you so much for the books! I know you are just trying to plant some seeds of crazy adventures that I can write about! 😉 I look forward to reading the books too.
Books presented on behalf of The Collins Press!
So after all the thank yous, handshakes, I had to give a presentation about PMG and it took a minute or two to shake of the speechlessness! At first I felt like I was looking at the ground too much. Then I felt like I could not stop thinking about my timing and if I would fit everything in in the 15 minutes given. The nerves disappeared fast and it was more exciting to talk about Project Mountain Goat to my peers than intimidating. Before I knew it, and just like climbing that last mountain, Mullaghcarn in the Sperrins, it was all over and it all seemed like a big blur! No one booed! Delighted! I was simply delighted to see people absorbed in the madness that was PMG! The event was over and the session at the bar began!
Now that I was “Certifiably” mad, we all shared some stories, pints and a great laugh was had until closing time! The people I have meet because of Project Mountain Goat, because of Mountain Views, have simply been so supportive, so encouraging and just damn right good people! I look forward to sharing with them more adventures, tails of hardship, joy and folly, in the near future!
2014 is behind me! What an amazing year it really was! Project Mountain Goat is completed but still there are so many things to finish off in regards to PMG, mostly blogs left to write! With that said, 2015 is now here and I feel it is time to announce this years project! I feel this will motivate and help me get through the hours and hours of planning and training ahead of me! The idea for this years project is to circumnavigate around Ireland by sea kayak, exploring the coastline itself, it’s loughs, fjords, and Islands off the Irish coast on an 80 day continuous trip (thus the name of the project – Around the Isle in 80 Days). I am pretty certain people will know where the name of the project was inspired from. If not, a little hint: there was a book and movie made about a trip around the world, that took 80 days…probably ringing some bells now?!?! Instead of the world, I will be keeping it a little more local!
The Killary Fjord. I am looking forward to kayaking all the up the Fjord! It will be interesting to see how strong the tide may actually be here!
Around the Isle in 80 Days will be extremely different than last years project. Not only I am taking myself out of my comfort zone, which is dry land, I will be taking to the high seas! There will be a whole new skill-set to train and use, along with new dangers and challenges to navigate! The structure of this project will also be entirely different than PMG. Project Mountain Goat was a “plan and hike as I go” sort of project. This allowed me to keep at the project in drips and drabs. This enabled me to work and thus fund the project too. It also allowed me vital rest and time off from the project. The downside to the way I did/planned PMG was that I was never completely sure about how much more time or money I needed to complete it. One of the biggest mistakes I made in calculating the cost was forgetting to factor in, not only the cost for 3 months of hill walking all around Ireland, but, the loss of income from not working those 3 months! A big mistake that nearly ended the project several times! Due to the fact that PMG was done bit by bit it certainly was a “Project” with uncertainties!
“A.I.E.D” (Around the Isle in Eighty(80) Days) is a “plan it all first, and then go do it” sort of project! This changes a lot of things for me this time around. For example last year I was able to do the following. Go away when: A: the weather was looking good! B: when I had the energy and time to do so. C: when I could afford to do it! This time around I will not only have to go away for 80 days straight, but I will need the endurance, both mental and physical, to go away for such a long trip! Things like the weather will be a serious issues that could throw a spanner in the works at any time! In terms of taking time away from work, not only does it make it a serious commitment, but it also brings to attention the costs of such a huge project! On the flip side, I have time to hone my skills for this project. I will have time to do some personal rock climbing, time to work, and time with friends and family. Knowing I will be away for a set amount of days at a set time of the year will be easier in it’s own ways too!
The coastline of Dingle! The view is of Inishtooskert Island and I wonder will I simply land and explore it’s highest point or will I overnight camp on it’s shore too!
With all this said I love these new obstacles to get over. This is all apart of the adventure, the mistakes I made last year will help me this year! Lessons learned and all that sort of thing! I have no doubt I will make new mistakes to learn from this year! Luckily I am a long way away from “D-Day”! Dates are not yet set, but, I do have a rough idea of when I start!
To give a little more definition to “A.I.E.D” I will say this: A straight circumnavigation around Ireland is considered to be 1600kms. The coastline of Ireland is over 5600kms long, says the OSI website! I want to combine a circumnavigation of Ireland with exploration of Ireland’s Islands and coastline. I will not follow the entire coastline but mix it up a little. It will be hard to say how many kilometres I will actually kayak due to currents, tides and drifting, but for now I will say that I estimate 2500kms. Then there will be the time spent on the many small Island around coast! There are still too many things to plan right now and with time I will have a greater scope of the Project!
The Donegal coastline like much of Ireland’s west coast looks amazing in good weather. However what challenges wait in store for me in not such good weather?!?
I have read a few different blogs about kayaking around Ireland. Not only does it sound like an amazing adventure but I will admit, it sounds hard too! From what records are saying approximately 50 people have circumnavigated around Ireland in a kayak (I think it must be more than 50)! More people have been in space! It appears not to be everyone’s “cup of tea”. However, I am drawn to these endurance ideas! With that in mind, physical training will start now too, along with a lot of research! Something to keep me occupied on rainy days 😉 For now that’s all I can say! Wish me luck with “Around the Isle in 80 Days” or “A.I.E.D” for short! I have a lot to do, and a lot to learn, but, it is possible! Check back for updates in the coming weeks! It’s going to be one hell of an adventure! Cheers for reading guys!
Now that PMG is over I thought I would share the final walking statistics from the project. All the data was collected from using my Garmin etrex 20 GPS and uploaded to MountainViews.ie. All 101 routes/walks are downloadable to anyone who wants to use them. You can also view them on MountainViews, just look out for all the “PMG routes”. Data from a GPS, like distance and height gain walked are subject to inaccuracy. The GPS tracks aren’t entirely precise as a result of track simplification, inaccuracy in taking GPS measurements from a moving device, gaps between readings etc. In other words, the stats can be slightly off the exact amount of meters in height climbed and the amount of kilometers walked. Of course this can mean that the distance and height gain can be more or less than reported in the data. For arguments sake, the data is correct. I would also like to take the chance to say if you are using any of my routes via GPS, please be careful, some of these recorded routes will take you through some tough and wild terrain. There can be scrambling involved, crawling through baby forest, bushwhacking through ferns, heather and gorse, not to mention general steep ground! I would also say, “have fun”! 😉 Here are the stats!
MV User Stats – SimoBurn, yes that’s me! The numbers in bold are the completed lists!
Project Mountain Goat Statistics:
Project Started on: 10th January 2014
Project Finished on: 27th December 2014
Number of Walks: 101 Walks
Number of Days Walking: 86 Days
Total Walking Time: 581 Hours and 29 Minutes
Total Distance Walked: 2383.80 Kilometers
Total Ascent Meters: 126563 Meters
Total Descent Meters: 125865 Meters
Total PMG Summits: 455 (PMG summits are Arderins (A) & Vandeleur-Lynams (VL))
Throughout the 101 walks many minor summits were climbed along the way too. Edit* At the time of writing there were 454 Arderins and Vandeleur-Lynams, as of April 2015 there has been 1 VL added which I had climbed last year while on a PMG walk, meaning the count was automatically updated for me 🙂
Total Non-PMG Summits: 194 (Non-PMG Summits are minor summits and hills)
Edit* At the time of writing I had climb 193 non PMG summits. However a summit that I did climb while on a PMG walk has now be officially added to the Mountain Views database, so again meaning the count was automatically updated for me 🙂
Adding up all these summits gave me a total of 649 summits climbed during the project!
Total Summits: 649
Throughout the year on days off or after work I did a number of smaller walks that had nothing to do with Project Mountain Goat. The aim of PMG was to climb all 455 summits of the Arderins and Vandeleur-Lynams in one year. However, I found that in-between trips away I wanted to keep the legs “fit for walking”, so I climbed some additional minor summits too. These summits were mostly found in the list “My Local 100” summits on MountainViews. The list is not yet completed by myself, but I may tick some of this list off in the coming year. I also worked my way through another list of summits on MountainViews.ie called the “Irish County Highpoints“. As many, but not all, summits from this list would be climbed as part of PMG, I managed to climb the few extra that I would need to complete the list by the 30th of December 2014. The stats for all these extra summits/walks are as follows:
Statistics from the extra walks:
Time Period for the extra Walks: 10th January 2014 – 30th December 2014
Number of Walks: 17 Walks
Number of Days Walking: 12 Days
Total Walking Time: 25 Hours and 56 Minutes
Total Distance Walked: 124.50 Kilometers
Total Ascent Meters: 3767 Meters
Total Descent Meters: 3776 Meters
Total Non-PMG Summits: 21 (Non-PMG Summits are minor summits and hills)
These 21 extra summits were climbed as there own walks and did not include any PMG summits along the way.
MountainViews Website – Route Planning with real OSI mapping!
In the interests of adding it all up and seeing what the stats are like from PMG and the extra walks, this is what it would look like:
Project Mountain Goat and The Extra Walks – Combined Statistics!
Time Period for all Walks: 10th January 2014 – 30th December 2014
Total Non-PMG Summits: 215 (Non-PMG Summits are minor summits and hills from PMG and from the “extra walks” which include the County Highpoint summits.)
Total Summits: 670!!!
In terms of “lists”, the like that MountainViews promotes, there are a view different ones. You can read about them here. I myself completed the Arderins, Vandeleur-Lynams, Irish County Highpoints and The Highest 100 throughout 2014. More than I had hoped/set out to have climbed and completed. Needless to say these lists would normally be spread out over a longer time period than one year, and, I would honestly think it more enjoyable to do it so. However, for those looking to speed their way through them in an “endurance style challenge”, it is just that, then good luck, be safe, and enjoy it! It will certainly be an adventure! I would recommend spending some time not just in front of maps but also in front of your computer screen looking at www.mountainviews.ie. There is so much useful information up there on each and every summit in each list! Also check out their Facebook Fanpage here and their Twitter Page here.
Cheers for reading guys. Next up will be a post of; “The Credits for Project Mountain Goat”. There are many people to thank and I want to take the time in doing so. Watch this space!
Standing on the final summit of PMG! Mullaghcarn at 542m. Photo by: Adrian McGylnn
Walk 101 – The Final PMG Walk – Project Completed!
So today the 09/01/2015 is the final day (as such) of Project Mountain Goat. It marks the 365 days that I set to complete the project in. Lucky enough I finished the project on the 27/12/2014, ahead of time! That evening I put up a small Facebook post saying how happy I was that it was completed. I also said I would put up a “fuller post” the next day! Well, that didn’t happen. Too many things were happening over the following days. Two weeks later I am finally sitting here writing this. It has been a strange two weeks. Personally I have found this time a little difficult. Going from “all go” on PMG to what feels like a “full stop”, has been hard! Even though I may be planning this year’s project already, it is not the same as being out actively climbing a hill or a mountain etc. Progress can feel terribly slow. Somewhere in the mix I have been catching up with work too. I have always know that “sitting around” is hard for me. However when you go back to “normal” life after climbing mountains nearly every day (November/December) the adjustment, for me at least, was hard. The single minded (for want of a better word) “attack” on the mountains and the project itself was all consuming during those last few weeks. It was this that made me succeed! Well, that and the luck I had with the weather! Every day was about the project and moving forward with it! All my energy was used to push towards completing the project on time. So going from that, to it being completed and done is a big change in pace. As delighted as I am in the completion of PMG, the pace change, has been difficult! I can’t be any more honest than that. This is also one of the reasons it has been two weeks since I said I would do that post.
Following the mast road to the summit!
It also puts things in perspective for me. I know getting up at 3am to drive across the country and then do a hill walk for 8 to 10 hours, is in fact, something I am actually good at, something I find easy (as such) and enjoy. However, I do find certain things hard, like for example; Sitting down to plan the next adventure, writing blogs, sorting the photos and dealing with the “media”, something new that I never even thought about. When I set out to do PMG it was all for me, and as flattering as it can be to have people ring you up to ask you about it, or ask if I am interesting in having a piece written about it for a newspaper, it’s all very strange to me, all very new. I certainly am proud of myself for even trying to complete PMG whatever about actually completing it, and I guess now it is safe to say the dust has settled and I can see how big the project actually was. Then I start to think, “What was I even thinking taking this on in one year!” With all that said and done it has been an amazing year. It had ups and downs, excuse the pun, but I have learned a lot about myself and this beautiful country of ours, and, the amazing people that inhabit it!
The snow and ice made it more atmospheric!
The wintery scene of walk 101 of PMG!
On the 27th of December 2014 at around 11.10am we (family and friends) reached the parking spot on the B48 as planned. I was not sure what to expect on the morning. I had no idea who or how many of us there might actually be. Or, what level of experience or equipment people would have! Needless to say I was shocked to see so many people there. I thought if 10 people showed up that would be awesome. In the end there was 17 of us. Some Mountain Views.ie users, rallied by David Owens, where there too! Support from my peers was very humbling and I felt honored that they would join me on this final walk and summit! After a brief greeting and matching of names to faces we were just about ready to start. The snow started to fall! The 17 of us set off up Mullaghcarn in the Sperrin Mountains in Northern Ireland. The final Project Mountain Goat summit. There would be no difficulty in reaching the summit due to the route selection. We would take the road that goes all the way to the summit masts! From there it was a short muddy, or in this case, snow track to the Trig Pillar at the highest point. This was done by design. As I knew my family and friends would be joining, some of which would not have hill walking boots meant that a mountain road would be a great aid to us as a group. We would then descend the same way as by ascent.
The summit masts looming in the clouds / skies above!
Not many of my PMG walks have been accompanied by people, let alone 16 other people. That’s a lot of people, and it was great sharing this big moment with them all. Most of the gang there were following and supporting PMG throughout, some from the very start! What would it be like to reach the last summit? I wasn’t sure if it would be a moment of anti-climax or a moment of happiness! We followed the road to the masts. On the way to the summit I spent most of the time with Mark, Martin, Sharon and Adrian. Martin and Sharon were shooting a film about the ascent. This meant that nearly everyone else was at the Trig Pillar just before myself. As I reached the summit and the rest of the gang, we were blessed with some views and some blue skies. The wind was strong, cold and sharp! Snow was driven around in small flurries that added excitement to the moment of the day! I walked to the Trig Pillar, touched it, grinned a lot, and that was it! Summit 454! I did it, I had actually done it! Man I was happy! A big part of me never knew if I could finish within the year. Between weather, finances, work and other personal commitments I was never 100% sure if it would all come together. So as I stood on top of the Trig Pillar at the summit of Mullaghcarn at 542m I was happy, delighted, relieved and of course a little sad the adventure was at an end. It certainly wasn’t an anti-climax though.
The gang on the summit of Mullaghcarn at 542 meters!
At the summit everything was happening so fast. A summit selfie was taken for tradition, group photos and more photos, and somewhere a bottle of bubbly was handed to me, which was opened and then another bottle appeared from someone. It was all a blur (not from alcohol I might add) 😛 Before I knew it the sharp freezing wind was blowing, the blue skies were gone, and people were heading down off the mountain. I stayed for a moment on my own at the summit. The final summit! I thought to myself, fair play for not giving up, as there were so many times when I nearly chucked it all in, said, “to hell with it”, or, “what did it even matter”. Of course it did matter, it mattered a lot! The adventure was over and I was happy to be safely done with it! To have succeeded! However, I would lie if I said there was not an element of sadness. The year and its summits seemed to flash through my mind! It was hard to believe it was just a year, and it was actually over. Sad and happy, all mixed up into one big ball of emotion! However as I stood on the summit and just before turning to descend, I grinned to myself. I already knew what I would try set out to do in 2015. One adventure was over, but another was about to begin!
Summit Love…a moment shared after 454 summits and a lot of trips away!
The Mountain Views.ie gang! Photo by: Adrian McGlynn
On the ascent I spent quite some time with Martin and Sharon who were making a film about the ascent which will be finished in February some time. Martin Critchley (mcrtchly) and Sharon Schwartz (kernowclimber) it was a pleasure to have you along and thank you so much for taking time to come out and make a small film about it. I look forward to the finished result. You can see their YouTube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/user/mcrtchly. Mark Brennan, also known as (wicklore) on Mountain Views was there to cover the audio side of the film and of course the walk itself! Cheers guys for hauling all the gear up a mountain and for taking the time to do it! I also would like to thank David Owens aka (Onzy) for not only being at the end of my phone calls and emails throughout the year but for getting the MV guys together and for all the encouragement too! David is also taking on the Arderins and Vandeleur-Lynans, and hopes to be finished by the start of 2016! I will see you on that final summit Onzy! I wish you the best of luck with your remaining summits! I would like to point out that this is not a PMG credits or thank you post. There are a lot of people to be thanked from throughout the year and that will be covered in its own post soon! However, I do want to thank friends and family who came along on the final walk. This was great for me and made it even more meaningful! Thanks guys! Brendan, Brigid, Wendy, Philip, Megan, Dorian and last be certainly not least my wonderful girlfriend Tara! You guys are great, thanks for sharing the moment and for all the support throughout the year!
Summit “Group” Photo. Photo by: Philip Byrne – GoPro
My brother Philip was also there with is GoPro camera. Philip has been getting into film editing over the last year or so and he has made a great little film about the walk. You can see it here on his YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t_nDb5c46Y4 or watch below!
Shortly after the final summit day the Irish Daily Mail did a small story on it. As seen below.
Article in the Irish Daily Mail
CRC FM Castlebar radio did a small interview about PMG, which you can listen to below:
Other newspapers have been in touch and there will be a few pieces about PMG coming in the next few weeks. Again as exciting as this is, I still find it strange but I guess I will have to get over that!!!
In regards to the Project Mountain Goat blog, now that I have more time on my hands I will continue from where I left off…way back at the end of April. There are many walks and stories to cover! I hope to do a weekly post on PMG to finish the blog. So for all fans of PMG, or more to the point, fans of my terrible writing, there will be a weekly dose of it to look forward too :p
Thanks for reading…oh and I nearly forgot…I will be covering this year’s project soon! 😉
Last month was a very busy month running climbing sessions, the weather was great (mostly) and it was hard to find the time to do much of anything else. One thing I did do though was start on the construction to many of our prop based team games. I like to think of myself as a handyman when if comes to DIY and anything to do with my hands really! However, “woodwork” was never a very strong point of mine so I started with prop building and wondered how well it would all turn out! A lot of the team games we do are non-prop based and merely need people for the game but for some team games you really need to have some sort of a prop. The first set of games I wanted to build were, Gutter Ball, Steeping Stones, Tangrams, Sticks & Fingers, Toxic Waste and Team Skis. All the props were finished over the month and I am not going to describe each team game to you (you will have to come out and try them for yourselves 😉 ) but the photos here are of the “Team Skis” game. Needless to say I was very happy with the finished prop/result. They have already been tried and tested by a few groups and have gone down a treat. I am currently looking at some more puzzle team based games that I will add to the list of prop based games over the winter! Of course we have a nice long list of other team games that involve people only…not to say they are any less challenging! 😉 Keep an eye on the website for more info on “Team Games” coming soon! Get in touch if you are interested in having a “Team Games Challenge Event” (we can come to a place near you) or if you would like to mix your rock climbing and abseiling with some team games. One final word, building the props was actually great fun albeit time consuming and I look forward to putting together more puzzles / games over the coming months.
So this morning as I sat in my chair doing the e-mails and sipping tea the blue skies outside the window called to me. The prospect of sitting at the computer when the weather was so lovely outside made it so hard to sit here and reply to the e-mails. I decided a quick stretch of the muscles was indeed needed! So Philip and I headed up to Dalkey to have a look at the Arrow Head route. The route itself is very straight forward as I found out a few weeks ago. One evening after work I said I would go and “have a look at it”. I wanted to give it a climb and it didn’t look like there would be much gear on it for a lead, so I figure it would be OK as a solo climb due to the easy grade of difficulty. I had my shoes and chalk bag with me and said “I’m just having a look”. Of course looking was followed shortly after by touching and I was up the route and smiling in no time. This morning with the memory of this we headed to the quarry for a quick go. Philip wanted to have a look too for another time. In the end I went up the route twice and got a few photos. The route is unique with no real difficulties except the ones in your head when there is no rope. Last year I thought about climbing this route solo and it actually scared me a lot. After doing it I guess it still scares me and even though “I don’t actually solo climb” I have found myself having ticked off a handful of solo climbs since last summer. Maybe it’s a fatal attraction or something of the sort, but once you get over the fear of “no rope” it all feels easy. Now in no way am I condoning solo climbing and I know the little voice in my head telling me that “there’s little to no gear on the route, so it’s a solo climb really” is no justification or excuse. Even if I feel like the assessment of risk is logical in my head, I know deep down falling would hurt at best, and yet it sure did put a smile on my face 🙂 Now back to work and e-mails and all that other stuff 😉 Until next time!
So every now and then I like to mess with photos on my computer! Today while I am waiting for my sessions to start I tried my hand at an animated gif file of rock climbing. The rock climbing took place at the Rocky Valley in Co. Wicklow where we also run climbing sessions and courses! In particular we run seconding courses here where you would get to follow a leader up the rock and remove their placed protection and top out at the top of the crag! It’s the real deal, what we all as climbers do! If this interests you get in touch and book a course! We also run these courses in Dalkey Quarry, Co. Dublin along with evening climbing classes, see more info here: http://www.adventureburn.com/rock-climbing/courses/climbing-classes/ Anyways I think I best stick to the rock climbing as I think I might be better at that than animated photos! Take a look and enjoy 😛 Happy climbing guys see you on the rocks!
Where does the time go?!?! For the best part it has been two months since I have blogged, or at least two months since the last walk I blogged about! On the 31.03.2014 I struggles through my first “big” Mourne Mountains walk, received some blisters, and ended up exhausted by the end of that trip/month. “PMG Walk 19 – Up N’ Down: Mournes 1, Goat 0” was my last blog, but so much has happened since then! 😉 I have ticked the Dingle peninsula PMG summits off in one trip! I have conquered the Comeragh Mountains and Slievenamon Mountain, again, in one trip. I have slogged over the Slieve Bloom Mountains in boredom. The Blackstairs Mountains and Brandon Hill were also trudged over in one and half days of walking! Mostly big walks, long days and many many summits! In between all that, I have been working hard running many climbing sessions, indoors and outdoors. In between the work I planned the routes and summits which I would climb. And somewhere along the way, I turned 30!
It was not long after my defeat in the Mourne mountains (yes I considered it a small defeat not being able to do the second big planned route in the Morunes that would have finished the Mourne mountains chapter in PMG all in one trip) that I found myself packing the car for yet another trip to the hills. This time I was looking at Brandon Hill and the Blackstairs Mountains. My plan was to achieve all this in a day and half of walking! Compared to my last walk in the Mournes this was going to be easy!
08.04.2014 – Tuesday! Working as a climbing instructor inherently means working weekends and evening. In short, my weekends are normally mid-week or non-existent! On Tuesday afternoon I drove south towards New Ross and a half day of walking. The object of my desires was Brandon Hill at 515m! The sun was shining and easy walking lay ahead. The biggest difficulties were the heather and gorse that I found along the way, followed by some downed trees in the forest section that provided the usual duck and weave fun of finding your way through the storm casualties.
On the summit of Brandon Hill there was this hideous cross of metal that was a real eyesore! It was not all bad though. On the summit there was also a concrete platform with markings of surrounding mountains, rivers etc and in which direction they were. On a sunny clear day (not unlike the day I had) one can see far and wide to the Comeragh and Galty Mountains. The nicest part of the day however was the old (1700 A.D) Clodiagh Church that was at the side of the road where I parked. The setting was beautiful and quite tranquil! Thus, ending a lovely day in the hills. I drove to the start of my next walk which would be a full traverse of the Blackstairs Mountains. I cooked dinner, and put my feet up and went to read my book….which I then realised I had totally forgotten at home. Instead to kill the time I looked at the map and summit list for the next day. Once it was dark I fell asleep in the car only to be woken by the Garda making sure everything was ok! After I explained I was a hill walker and that I was getting up at the crack of dawn to walk nearly 40kms from one side of the mountains to the other they apologised for waking me and wished me all the best for the walk!
Brandon Hill 515m – (Summit #102/454 – Mtn Class: Arderin)
Wednesday 09.04.2014 – Day 2.
I awoke in the car feeling as fresh as one can after a nights sleep in a car! Breakfast was had while getting myself sorted for the walk: Shoes, gaiters, pack the lunch and put the GPS on. So 20 minutes later I was off up the forest track which petered out for a while and eventually I ended back on the track that took me to the summit of Bran Scultair and the 2000 Millennium Altar and yet again another cross! Man do they love their crosses down that way! From this point is was easy walking along the natural ridge to Carrigroe, Carrigalachan and finally Blackstairs Mountain. The weather was sunny but slowly the cloud was rearing its ugly head! The summits were still cloud free and somehow even though the walk was pleasant I was bored! Maybe it was too easy, too much of the same thing…walking! Per happens I was just tried or not so motivated but I certainly felt bored in the Blackstairs Mountains…
Once the summit of Blackstairs Mountain was reached I descend to the valley between Blackstairs and Knockroe mountain. The descent route I used was probably the normal way to the summit of Blackstairs. Anyway I had to follow the small county roads for a short time until I found myself on the climb to Knockroe and its summit Cairn. From here one can walk directly to Mount Leinster and then one could take the Mount Leninster East Top by walking to it and then back again. However I opted for a different route. Instead I headed towards the summit or spot point known as Black Rock Mountain at 602m. This would then give me the lovely ridge to Mount Leinster East Top, then Mount Leinster itself with no need of a double back.
After ticking these summits I head to Slievebawn my final summit of the day. For a short time I took the road that leads from the summit masts of Mount Leinster and them headed off on a more direct route towards Sievebawn avoiding the road and making it more enjoyable than staying on the road itself….but man was I bored! I really don’t know why the walk bored me. I felt like I was not really there enjoying it. Even as pleasant as it was I was distracted or simply not focused on the walk itself, the mountains, the views, or the fun I should have been having. Instead I felt like this was a job. Another summit, another walk, another tick on the list! Was this how the rest of Project Mountain Goat was going to feel? I reassured myself that of course it would not feel like this….like a job…like a mere tick on a list. As I would later find out I would first have to suffer through the Slieve Bloom Mountains before reassurance would be felt or found!! And so, after hitching back to the car the chapter of the Blackstairs Mountains & Co. came to an end. Another area out of a very long list of areas was completed. I drove home happy, but happy to be going home rather than the success of the trip. I ponder why I was feeling “off”. Was I already loosing focus on PMG, losing interest…nah, no way! As I put distance betweeen me and the mountains I came to the conclusion that after the enormity of the Mournes, the excitement of the Mournes, that maybe, simply, I was tired and needed a small break from the hills! A break from route planning, summit searching, hill walking and even the blogging. After all, this was suppose to be fun! Hard, but in a fun way! And so a small break from PMG would be had until the end of the month! I would recharge the batteries and relax a little!
Coming up Next: Slieve Bloom Mountains and their heathery flat summits! #mindnumbing
My trilogy the day before which at the time I didn’t realise would end up being 43kms of walking in one day had left me feeling more tired than I thought I would be. I had only planned on doing two walks that day but with the way the weather went and the day light hours I manage three walks. Obviously somewhat tired starting day two of my trip I was secretly dreading this big walk in the Mournes. Walk 19 of PMG on Monday the 31st of March was my first real walk in the Mourne Mountains…EVER! (We can’t count Slieve Croob really) I knew it would be nearly 35kms of walking and with a lot of height gain and height loss so it was going to be a BIG day! The alarm went off at 6am but I crawled / fell out of the car at 7.30am and was walking just before 8am. In my mind I was already behind schedule. When going into the hills I like the idea of early starts and what they mean. For example, longer daylight hours and hopefully an earlier finish time before the weather may come down. However in reality, I hate actually getting out of bed for them!!!
And so PMG walk 19 began. I started with a short road section that would bring me on to the track that brings you up Shanlieve at 626m. The weather started hazy but nice. However it came down for about two hours before it got good again! Just a few meters away from the summit of Shanlieve I came into first contact with the Mourne wall. I didn’t realise it would be so big and as the weather was rather bad at that time I was able to use the wall as a wind breaker by walking on one side of the wall. My route followed the wall for a big part of the day and on one hand the wall may ruin the mountain experience but on the other hand it adds a unique experience to walking in the Mourne mountains.
After reaching the summits of Eagle Mountain at 638m and Slievemoughanmore at 560m I was on the climb of Pigeon Rock Mountain and the weather really started to clear up! Yay! The haze remained but at least I was no longer in the clouds and I could now enjoy some of the fruits of my labour…i.e. the views! Pigeon Rock Mountain has a south and north summit of the same height of 534m. I decided to go to both of them encase one did turn out to be higher than the other. So after being on the south summit of the same height I went to the north summit, again of the same height, and I really felt that the south summit was higher!! But hey, maybe it just looks like that! My route continued along and took in the twin peaks of Cock Mountain at 504m where you get an amazing view of Hen Mountain! From Cock Mountain I went down to the B27 via Slievenamiskan at 444m. I crossed the river Bann via an old footbridge (I took the old one and I saw a newer one further down river). I scrambled over the wall that brings you up on to the B27 mountain road. I can only imagine if a car had passed at that moment and had suddenly seen this head pop up over the wall it would be rather amusing! I then tackled the steep ground that takes you up to “Spelga at 472m”, as marked on the map. This brought me around to Butter Mountain at 500m which made me think of food and so a snack was had! From here I looked across to Ott Mountain which was recently re-measured and found guilty of being an Arderin at 527m!
I crossed the valley and the road in it and slogged up Ott Mountain. I was getting tried…and I was only about half way! From the summit of Ott Mountain I headed to Slieve Loughshannagh at 619m and along the way I found my old friend, the Mourne Wall! Again we parted ways at the summit and I headed for Doan at 593m. From here I felt the route became more fun as the summits mostly had summit “Tors” i.e. Rocky summits where easy scrambling would have to be done. The summits Tors also have many rock climbing routes which look fantastic!!! While standing on the summit of Doan I could see the cloud covered Slieve Binnan, my last big summit of the day, and it was far far away! At this point I thought to myself that I may give the Slieve Binnian summits a pass as I was so tired and started to feel a strange feeling like blisters on my feet….nooooo!
After Doan I think I was half asleep and suddenly found myself standing on the summit of Ben Crom at 526m with great views of the now clear summit of Slieve Binnian, and the Ben Crom Reservoir below…steeply below! I needed to get down to the dam section of the reservoir so I could cross over towards the track that goes up Slieve Binnian. In my tiredness I found it hard to find my way down the steep ground and cliffs. I first went south and I knew a slip here would not end well so I had to back track a few times and check the map to find a line of weakness off the summit. Finally heading more SSW I found a safe and easy scramble down and over some steep ground and boulders! It was great fun but I had lost some time in my lapse of concentration. If I had checked the map first and headed straight for the SSW side of the mountain to get between the cliffs I would have spared myself the scrambling around looking at possible ways down the cliffs. As I stood at the bottom of these cliffs I was certain I had made the right choice or at least the safe one in my tired state!
Now I was safely on the dam of Ben Crom Reservoir and I toyed with the idea of ending the walk here. After looking at the time I still had about 4 hours of light and some trail mix and plenty of water. “Ah fuck it lets go for it” I said. I took the track and before I knew it I was approaching Slieve Binnian North Tor at 670m. From the track it looked like I might actually not get to the top. It looked like full on rock climbing but I knew there was supposed to be an easy scramble to the top. I looked around, and found it. With great views I looked out over the last few summits ahead of me and knew I had the energy for it! The Tors on Slieve Binnian were impressive and the rock formations equally so! I scrambled back down the Tor and went along Slieve Binnian ticking the North Top at 678m, Slieve Binnian at 746m and Slieve Binnian East Top at 630m. On the east top I was so tired I forgot to take a photo. I was distracted while sending out a text message to Tara that said; “Still alive and nearly finished”.
It was an epic route and nearly finished. I went to the summit of Wee Binnian at 460m on the way to the road. I had read it was a very nice summit, and the summit Tor was yet again well worth the visit! I finally reached the road and I could already feel the dread of not getting a lift back to my car build up inside. I packed up my walking poles and stuck out my thumb to the first car which came by. This was all within three minutes of me reaching the road. He stopped! 🙂 Not only did he give me a lift but he went out of his way by a few kilometres and dropped me back to my car! Hope for humanity after all! However as the title of the blog may suggest, the Mournes scored 1 and I scored 0. Why? Well I was wrecked tired and sporting my first two blisters of Project Mountain Goat. There was no thinking needed here. I knew I could not do a similar route the following day. And so for me it was homeward bound for some TLC!
How did I feel about not being able to do walk number two in the Mournes? I was very disappointed that I had been that tired and to have received two badges of honour (blisters) but I was sure it was my biggest PMG walk yet. Even bigger than the Galty Madness I had done the month before. Sadly as I sat at the PC that night until 1am checking the routes, summits and photos, I saw it was not only slight shorter but with slightly less height gain and height loss meters than the Galty route. So I felt a little beaten by this and chalked this round up to the Mournes. I knew the walking and the routes I had planned in the Mourne Mountains were hard, but, I guess they were harder than I thought they would be! There was simply so much up N’ down (in Co. Down) for every summit that this tired me out greatly! I since have re-planned the last Mourne route I had planned for a one day to a two day route. This will make life easier. However a big part of me still wants to do it in just one day for the awesomeness of it all! Let’s see!
Project Mountain Goat Walk 20 and 21 were next to come. They would be Brandon Hill and the Blackstairs Mountains. Blog post coming soon! Cheers for reading guys!
PMG Walk 16, 17 & 18 – Keepin’ it Cooley – A Trilogy Day!
PMG Walk 16 – Sunday the 30th of March! After having work cancelled late Saturday evening I decided that the time for a serious effort towards my monthly target of 38 summits had come! I now had an unplanned Sunday off, followed by Monday the 31st of March and Tuesday the 1st of April. With only 1 summit done out of 38, I decided I would head north to the Cooley and Mourne Mountains. My plan was simple: walk the legs off myself and bag 32 summits over 3 days!
As the clock also went forward on Saturday night I lost an hours sleep but still managed to get out of bed at 3am and head north! 3 hours later I was walking in the Cooley Mountains with the head torch on and mostly likely a very tired face…
Seven years earlier I had arrived in Carlingford to do my work based training in Carlingford Adventure Centre. I was then training to be a rock climbing, kayaking and canoeing instructor and I was logging hours for over two months in Carlingford. During that time a group of us would-be instructors went up Slieve Foye after work. Seven years later I was returning to the Carlingford area and my planned walking route would take me yet again up Slieve Foye, the highest mountain in Co. Louth. The walk took me back seven years and I found myself thinking back to my life and who I was back then.
The walk itself was rather easy and the weather was a mix of constant hazy drizzle with the odd heavy showers and passing clouds. Weather that seemed to suit the mood of thinking back… The last mountain on the walk was Slieve Foye at 589m. After reaching the summit I headed down towards Carlingford. Once close enough I could see Carlingford appear out of the haze before I headed back my planned route along the forest. “Seven years” I said to myself. “I last saw this place seven years ago, where does the time go?!?!”
After my walk I reached my car by hitching, which actually went pleasantly well! I ate a sandwiched and drove to walk number two of the day! Slieve Gullion, the highest mountain in Co. Armagh stands at 573m. This summit was the target of PMG walk 17. The mountain stands alone and has at its summit a passage tomb which is fully intact and well worth the hike! I completed this small loop walk before again eating some grub and driving to walk number three of the day.
Walk 18 of PMG. After about an hour of driving I had finally found my way to the start of the final walk of the day. Slieve Croob at 534m was north of the main Mourne Mountains and here again I walked a nice easy loop ticking three summits. The day had finally come to an end. All that was left was to drive south to the starting point of my next “big” walk in the Mourne Mountains! The drive took me through the Mourne Mountains and I got a glimpse of what was to come the next morning! After dinner and checking the map and summit list and I hit the hay and went to sleep in the car, needless to say wrecked from a long day of walking!
PMG Walk 15 – Croghan Kinsella falls to the Mighty Goat & with it, Wicklow!
Well it has been very busy around here at the moment and Project Mountain Goat is suffering because of this. However on the 19th of March I finally got to tick off the last official PMG walk in Wicklow! The walk itself was nothing overly special but now I have completed all PMG walks in the Dublin/Wicklow Mountains, the Knockmealdown Mountains and the Galty Mountains. 3 Regions done…a “few” more to go 🙂
Croghan Kinsella was my target of the walk. Standing at 606m it was PMG summit number 83 and I got splendid weather for it too! I looked at doing just a loop walk but decided to tag some of the hills nearby too. Thus making the walk itself longer but more enjoyable in my opinion. It was probably one of the easiest PMG walks for a while now. The one thing different about this route was I was lucky enough to have my dad to pick me up at the end of my walk and drop me back to my car! 🙂 Delighted to say the least that I did not have to hitch a lift on the small country roads!
The outlook in hitting my target summits this month is looking slim due to work and weather but the energy is there and with maybe two windows of opportunity I may actually get close enough to my targeted 38 summits… currently I have just 1 :/ Another thing to affect this is that I have done many of the “summit rich” routes near home and now the remaining routes in the South East have only a handful of PMG summits. On the other side I have planned 2 routes in the Mourne Mountains that will give me 27 summits in 2 days with over 60kms of walking. These PMG walks will mostly likely happen in month 4 of Project Mountain Goat. So for now that’s the update! I pray for good weather timely placed with my days off..surely that’s not too much to ask for?!?! 😉 Until next time! Cheers for reading!
The summits in order were:
Annagh Hill – 454m – Non PMG Summit
Croghan Kinsella 606m – (Summit #83/454 – Mtn Class: Arderin & Vandeleur-Lynam)
Slievefoore 414m – Non PMG Summit
Moneyteigh North 427m – Non PMG Summit
So month two of Project Mountain Goat came to an end last Sunday the 9th of March. A few things stood out in month two. First; I spent 1 minute more walking than in month one and covered nearly the same distance and height meters than in month one also. Second; I did all this in nearly half the amount of days than in month one. It only took 5 days instead of 9 days, however my body felt it and I have hopefully learned a few lessons and shall try keep the routes a tad more realistic! I’m looking forward to month three already and I’m currently planning routes and time for work and play! I’m itching to get back out there! Thanks for following and the support! Here is to a fun and safe PMG month three!
The “Stats” – Month 2!
10/02/2014 – 09/03/2014
Current PMG Summit Count: 82
Total monthy number of walks: 5
Total monthly PMG summits: 45
Total monthly non PMG summits: 6 (Not a Vandeleur-Lynam or Arderin)
Total monthly summits: 51 (PMG and non PMG summits)
Total monthly distance walked: 170.20kms
Total monthly time walking: 45hrs 53mins
Total monthly Ascent in Meters: 8790m
Total monthly Descent in Meters: 8613m
The “Stats” – Month 1!
10/01/2014 – 09/02/2014
Current PMG Summit Count: 37
Total monthy number of walks: 9
Total monthy PMG summits: 37
Total monthy non PMG summits: 4 (Not a Vandeleur-Lynam or Arderin)
Total monthy summits: 41 (PMG and non PMG summits)
Total monthy distance walked: 189.60kms
Total monthy time walking: 45hrs 52mins
Total monthy Ascent in Meters: 8680m
Total monthy Descent in Meters: 8395m
So after nearly a two week break from walking due to work, weather, and laziness the end of month two of Project Mountain Goat was fast approaching! I was 20 summits short of the average I needed to maintain each month. With one week left to the end of month two and with only a few days of work near the end of the week I set my sights on Monday the 3rd, Tuesday the 4th and Wednesday the 5th of March for walking. The only question was where I should go walking! As I sat down to a breakfast of Galty rashers on Sunday morning I started to form a plan of attack on the Galty Mountains! There were many summits there and with a little bit of route planning I got the Galty summits that I needed to summit down to two days! I would be short my 20 summits by just 3 summits and so I looked south of the Galty Mountains to the Knockmealdowns! With maps and lists I drew up a day of walking that would give me 10 summits! So the plan was set! 3 days of walking, 27 PMG summits and 95kms! It would be my first multi-day trip away on Project Mountain Goat, and it was all very exciting! The weather forecast was looking good for Monday and Tuesday and not so good on Wednesday! So the plan was this. Day one: The "Big" Galty Route. Day 2: The Knockmealdowns Route. Day 3: The Small Galty Route. The knockmealdowns walk was sandwiched between two days of walking in the Galty Mountains…Operation: Rasher Sambo, was a go!
But it WAS already Sunday! I had just hours to prepare! I left my girlfriend Tara’s house with plans, routes and summits all formulated in my head! I drove home stopping off on the way to supply myself with food and water for the three days of walking. Once home I packed all the gear in the car, which would be my mobile operation centre, where I would sleep, cook dinners, and use of course get myself from point A to point B. Once the gear was all sorted I studied the maps, the routes and summits. At 12am I was in bed but as usual I was awake with excitement thinking about the walks to come! At 00:30am I looked at my phone…at 1am I looked at my phone and somewhere there after sleep found me! 3:15am I was awake with the alarm and after a bite of breakfast I was on the road to Cahir in County Tipperary! The adventure was all go! The stars above me on the motorway gave me great hope of the good weather that was forecasted! 6:15am, car parked and ready to start the walk! However the stars were gone and instead of the lovely clear skies I had dense cloud and mist! Typical Irish weather forecasting!!!
I won't go in to great details about the walk itself. It basically went from one end of the Galty Mountains to the other end. (See Map) It is a natural ridge line, however I would drop down off the ridge to summit a few extra mountains along the way and then join back up with the ridge! The weather was disappointingly bad for the first 6 hours! Being yet again stuck in the cloud and freezing winds was a big downer! I found myself seriously questioning my motifs for doing all this when I could have been back home in bed! However the second half of the day proved far better and cloud cleared off and I got some amazing views! Now the Wicklow Mountains had prepared me for the long flattish cross country hills with not a lot of ascent and descent…The Galty Mountains and maybe also more to the point my route through the Galty Mountains would take me up and down some very steep ground. The height gain throughout the day would be a lot more than I was used to and left me with two very sore knees by the end of the walk! After finishing the walk I then tried to hitch back to my car, which just didn't go very well at all!!! It took over three and a half hours and I had to walk a lot of it (approx 15kms of more walking :/)…and that was on top of the 40kms I had just done in the mountains. I got back to the car after walk one of three and I really considering just driving home! I was such a mess, trying to cook dinner, get changed, and sort the car for sleeping that it took me over 1.5hrs to get it all done, when it should have taken me only 45mins. I was truly and utterly spent…
I dove into Cahir after a dreadful night’s sleep in the back of the car! I needed petrol and to charge the battery for the camera. The wind was so cold the previous day it killed the battery after just one day! I had also slept an extra hour than planned. In short, the day was off to a late and slow start. So while I got petrol and kindly had someone in the petrol station charge by camera battery for 15mins, I swallowed some food and tried to man up a little! My body still felt terribly stiff after day/night one! "Oh shit, how am I going to pull off day two in this state", I thought to myself! My right knee was still sore!
To the Vee! I went to the Vee in the Knockmealdown Mountains as planned after a breakfast of negative thoughts! I got on my way with the walk and the weather seemed ok. About two hours later I was on my first summit, in great weather with high spirits! My body was by then awake and feeling good and I gained my confidence back! Sometimes things seemed harder than they are and once you are "used" to them you perform better than you did before. Day 2 was great. I did the route as planned, ticked off 10 more summits and simply had a great fun day out in the mountains with splendid weather which seemed to recharge me and my spirit!
Sadly after finishing the walk the hitching part proved harder than I thought it would be. I walked 35kms in the mountains and then ended up walking 6kms more into Ballyporeen….I had "hitched" (walked) the 6kms but never got a lift. Dejected and tired I walked into a village I had never even heard of but will never forget! (Ballyporeen as it turns out is best known for being the ancestral home of United States President Ronald Reagan.) It was dark and I had my head torch on and as I walked towards the centre of the village a man who I would have guessed as being in his 50's said, "ah you’re getting some fitness in I see"…I laugh and say; "yes one could say that but all I want is to hitch a lift". He ask me where to and I explain, back to the Vee. He then tells me to; "Come in for a cup of tea and some biscuits and ill drop you back there later". I try my best at being polite and say, "I’ll just hitch on now as its late and besides the road here is busy so I should get a lift easy enough". He laughs and simply won't take no for an answer. He drags me into what turns out to be his pub or in his own word, "tis mine and the bank mangers" and orders me tea and biscuits from Julie the barmaid. He points to the radiator and says, "that’s on, get warm there and I’ll be back shortly and drop you to your car!"
I drink my tea and savour the biscuits and start chatting to Julie the barmaid who tells me the guy’s name is Billy. Billy comes back later and the three of us have another round of tea and biscuits and trade war stories and tall tales. Billy seemed to know some exceptional tall tales and tells me stories that could only make you laugh with delight. And as I sat there in the pub I thought about the evening before or even an hour earlier how hard it was to hitch and the hate I had for hitching, planning never to do it again. If I had I would have never met that Irish Gent Billy Hale of Bally Hi Pub in Ballyporeen. He certainly has a charm and spark about him and I thank both him and Julie for taking such great care of me that evening!!! Afterwards, Billy did as promised and dropped me the 11kms back to my car where he told me to come down in the morning for a "boiled egg and tea and toast"! I said I may come depending on what the story was with walking. I reassured him I would indeed be ok sleeping in the car and bid him good night! With a big smile on my face I cooked dinner and reflected on how some people are so giving!
Day three started far better than day 2. I had slept better than the night before bar the fact the Garda came by to check on me at around midnight. I guess it is nice to know people are being watchful out there. The final day of walking took me back to the Galty Mountains for two more Project Mountain Goat summits. It was a short loop walk where I stayed away from the main summits of the Galty Mountains. The weather was very "Irish" and there was not much excitement in the walk. As I stood on my final summit Seefin (it is not a PMG summit) I looked back up into the Galty Mountains, the cloud had lifted somewhat and I said a farewell to the hills! I had managed to summit all of the summits I had set out for and had ticked off the Galty and Knockmealdown Mountain Ranges from my list in just three days of walking. I did however decided that I best tone down my walks as 40kms in the mountains is a lot and the Galty and Knockmealdowns certain will not be the hardest summits to climb! So I said to myself to aim at a max of 30 to 32kms a walk, max!!!! That should keep the body fresh and hopefully let me complete this project without injury or burning out…knowing me though I will be allured to long hard routes through the mountains…hmmm lets see!
I also wanted to say again a big thank you again to the very generous Billy Hale of Ballyporeen and that I can recommend is pub Bally Hi in Ballyporeen! Cheers for reading guys! Until next time!
PMG Walk 11 – A Day in the Hills; From Dawn to Dusk!
Ah yes, good old walk 11 of Project Mountain Goat happened on Tuesday the 18th of February! The route had been planned for some time now and I held out for possible better weather! Why, you ask? The answer: because it would be "around" 40kms of walking and it would be my longest PMG walk so far! Here is the story…
Beep Beep Beep Beep… 4.30am! The alarm woke me up….or could you even call it "waking me up"…it felt like I hadn't slept, it took me ages to fall asleep as I was wondering how the walk would go, how the weather would be, how my friend Xandru would manage on this walk. Oh yes, Xandru! Xandru, a friend from Germany that I met travelling back in 2008, decided to come over to Ireland for a short trip and while here join in on a PMG walk. They say "timing is everything" and for Xandru his timing would be just right for a "long" walk 😉
5am; in the car driving down the drive way! 6am; shoes, gaiters, GPS, and head torches all on! We took a last look at the map and off we went! The route would take us up 11 summits, 10 of which I had not done for PMG. One summit, Lugnaquilla, I had done a few walks back. The walk would start just off the N81 near Church Mountain 544m and would take a big horseshoe loop and finish off Keadeen Mountain 653m on the back roads near "Davidstown" close to the N81. We would then hitch the 12kms to get back to the car.
We started in the dark which is always fun. The clouds were slowly clearing off and we made good time up Church Mountain on the forest tracks. The walk up Corriebracks and Lobawn were blessed with great views and some blue skies. Sadly we could see there were clouds on the way and as we walked our route to Table Mountain and Camenabologue we were stuck in the clouds…oh an all too familiar place for me! However as we stood on the summit of Camenabologie SE Top the clouds just opened up above us and blue skies started to appear! Sadly this didn't last very long and while on the summit of Benleagh we would see the way forward for a while, the cloud totally engulfed us as we started the ascent to Lugnaquilla. With little visibility, strong and cold gusts and what little snow was left we made it to the summit! As I stood on the summit waiting for Xandru I thought to myself that only two days earlier these summits were fully covered in snow! The weather I have faced this last one and a half months has been so random…climate change; and some say it's bogus!
3pm on the summit of Lugnaquilla! It was late! The route for Xandru was long and harder than he thought! Xandru being an avid walker and climber in the Alps had never walked in Ireland. Had never seen "bog" or "peat hags" or the real absents of "tracks and trails". The terrain here in Ireland can be hard, and, can be very unforgiving when combined with difficult weather, not to be underestimated! It proved though going for him; navigating through, around, up and over the peat hags, around huge bogs, through thick heather, and over ground flooded with snowmelt. To top it all off, an old knee problem started to act up for him! So as I stood in the freezing wind on Lugnaquilla watching him appear through the cloud, like a true mountain man slogging his way up the mountain; I had respect for him, he really gave it loads! Time however waits for no one!
With 3 summits to go the plan would have to be altered a little. We descended Lugnaquilla into better weather! As we ticked Slievemaan and Ballineddan Mountain the sun and blue skies gave us a warm welcome to a nearing end of the day. Once off Ballineddan Mountain the new plan was for Xandru to walk around the mountain to save his knee while I would go over the mountain. So we parted ways for a few hours and as I reached the summit of Keadeen Mountain is was getting dark. The views however were amazing, a must see! I descended fast and followed roads/lanes to the rendezvous point! Of course it would not be an adventure without something going wrong! Xandru was not there! I said to myself; "am I wrong or is he?" A few text messages later all was sorted. It turned out Xandru tried the ancient art of hitch hiking and was taken to the wrong crossroads which a local was 100% sure was the right crossroads 😉 He hitch down the road to the new rendezvous point and all was well. With happy faces and warm greetings we proceeded to hitch back to the car. As usual the locals were lovely and helpful and we were back at the car in no time at all!
I would also like to say a big well done to Xandru for completing the biggest PMG walk so far. For sticking it out and being good company! Cheers for coming along dude! Here are a few words from him on PMG Walk 11:
"I'm happy to have given the chance to take part in his so called "Project Mountain Goat", which is to climb 454 mountains (yes: 454!!!) in Ireland (north & south). I can say, the landscape was beautiful, the smell of the forest reminded me sometimes on my beloved Alps, the weather was colourful with clouds covering us within seconds and sun shining through the next minute, all combined with wind and the biggest pain in the ass so far for me, ankle deep mud or bog. Not to mention the "peat hags" really gave me a hard time since I had no idea our route will be that trackless. Anyways, I knew I will feel stronger when I will return home, and that was true indeed. Cause it didn't kill me, it just conquered… good try. Now my mind is richer, my body stronger and my motivation larger."