Carrauntoohil – Ireland’s Highest Mountain
Carrauntoohil, at 1,038 metres/3,406 ft, is Ireland’s highest mountain. Situated in County Kerry, it is part of the Macgillycuddy’s Reeks range. There is a large metal cross at the summit measuring 5 metres/16 ft.
While holidaying in Southern Ireland in June 1999, my wife and I had decided to summit Carrauntoohil during our two weeks stay. However this wasn’t as straight forward as we had planned. The weather was dreadful, with rain and low cloud most of the time. Carrauntoohil was permanently covered in cloud, so to climb it in those conditions was pointless.
We did however manage a few climbs. Caher Mountain, the third highest peak in Ireland at 1,001 metres/3,300 ft did provide views over Lough Caragh and Dingle Bay on one day. Another day we ventured onto another mountain ridge. If memory serves me right I think it was Tomies Mountain and Purple Mountain overlooking the Gap Of Dunloe. The peaks were 735 metres/2,411 ft and 832 metres/2,730 ft respectively.
During our second week we awoke to find clear skies and dry weather. After a quick breakfast we drove the 6 miles from our base in Killarney to the parking spot below the summit of Carrauntoohil. From there it was a gradual climb along by the Gaddagh River, then up between Lough Callee and Lough Gouraph at Hags Glen. A steeper climb followed and 30 metres/100 ft from the summit of Carrauntoohil the cloud came down.
What a big disappointment. Nevertheless we continued up to the summit and had lunch at the shelter. Our views were nil, with the cloud giving visibility of around 10 metres/30 ft. The highlight of the lunch was sharing a sandwich with a mouse who appeared from inside the stone work. Our idea of returning by the north east ridge of Macgillycuddy’s Reeks was soon aborted due to the high winds. Another factor was the steep drops and being unfamiliar with the area. Instead we played safe and returned by our inward route.
We had climbed Carrauntoohil but unfortunately had no views from the summit to remember the day by.