New Badge for Blog

To clear up any confusion about the status of this blog, this a member’s blog. It is determined to be an independent forum for debate about matters relating to our membership of Tralee Mountaineering Club and mountaineering in general. The logo was causing a bit of confusion, people were concerned that the use of a graphic of the logo suggested an official blog.

Point taken. I have substituted a photo of the original badge of the club from which the logo is derived, a small piece of design work that I did for club in the Year of The Mountain, way back in 2002.

The badge was designed by Mick Kellett, and the idea behind it was set out by Tom Finn in a club log book, the inspiration in a way for this blog. Here is a copy of the original log entry.



Badge 2







These images record the TMC Level 3 Walk led by Andrew Kelliher on Feb 11, 2018. The route took us from Lisleibane, up a spur to Coomeenapeasta, across the Reeks to the Devil’s Ladder, out the Heavenly Gates and back to Lisleibane, a total distance of 13.39 Km, over 5 hours and 40 minutes, with a total height gain of 1184m.

The conditions were fantastic. The forecast (BBC) was for snow, which fell in bursts as pellets/graupel, and lay as powder snow. There was some pack on the ridges and a few patches of ice. The wind was light but gusting in snow bursts that reduced visibility on an otherwise bright and sunny day.



It was a fantastic day in the mountains and the question is this:

   does it qualify as a QUALITY MOUNTAIN DAY?


   would it be classed as a Quality Hill Walking Day (QHWD)?


A QMD matters if you wish to progress in the sport. The ML or Mountain Leader award requires that you log at least 20 quality mountain days. A QHWD, on the other handis the cornerstone of the award for group leaders. More about that in a later post.



According to the Irish Mountain Training Board, a broad definition of a QMD is one which presents new experiences and challenges. Such a day would generally consist of the following:

  • The candidate is involved in the planning and instigation.
  • The walk would last at least 5 hours and take place in an unfamiliar area.
  • The majority of time should be spent above 500m, distance should be over 16km with over 600m of height gain during the day, and cover a variety of terrain.
  • The use of a variety of hill walking techniques.
  • Adverse weather conditions may be encountered.
  • Experience must be in terrain and weather comparable to that found in the Irish and UK hills.


Then there were six, approaching the top of the Heavenly Gates. Bertie is behind the camera. Connie and Billy headed for the summit.


Does Andrew’s walk qualify?

Six of us were involved in doing a recce with Andrew under very similar conditions, which qualifies as being involved in the planning and instigation of the walk. The conditions were challenging, cancelling out familiarity with the terrain, although there was still no need to navigate. The snow meant we had to carry extra  equipment, although the quality of the snow (pellet) meant that ice axes and crampons weren’t much use. That required other techniques. We were well over 500m for most of the day and our total ascent of 1184m was almost twice the minimum requirement of 600m. We covered 13.39Km, a good bit short of the 16Km recommended but we did have to use a variety of hillwalking techniques, especially going down the Heavenly Gates, which were full of powder snow.




Generally speaking – and the Irish Mountain Training Board has given a broad definition  that generally includes the above – Andrew’s walk would have to qualify as a QMD. It certainly did present new experiences and challenges. That is why TMC has always  climbed in snow, and there is no better place for a quality day in the mountains than the Reeks on a snowy day.

For more on quality mountain days have a look at this forum or this blog.


Next: Far Away Hills Are White!









Tom Finn and BoyIMG_7985

Tom Finn, founding member of the club and a young boy (unidentified) working on a section of the Dingle way. Jimmy Laide and Nuala Finn are in the background.


TMC members vote tomorrow on a motion to remove the ban on membership for people under 18 years of age. No one is quite sure when or why the club introduced that rule but the club was built on participation by young people and family members, like Nuala Finn, who was introduced to mountaineering by her father when she was seven years old and now serves as club president.

There are members of the club who climb with their children, but these young climbers are barred from being members until they reach 18 years of age. We are seeking to make a small change in the wording of the constitution that would change this situation and create opportunities for the club to develop by giving other young people a chance to participate and progress in our sport.

That change is being put to the members at a special general meeting that has been called to decide on the issue.



An honourable tradition, four generations of mountaineers on the Dingle way. From left, Jimmy Laide, an unidentified girl (suggestions please), Tomás ‘An Gréasaí’ Breathnach, Sean Kelly, Nuala Finn, Noirín Carroll, and Tom Finn (front). The Dingle way was developed by members of TMC as a way of encouraging greater participation in mountaineering in Kerry.


This whole process started a few years ago when Ian Hassell, then Chairman, pointed to the aging profile of club membership and suggested that the club needed to be more attractive to younger members.  This is a chance to make such a change.

The meeting will be preceded by an information session, in which Ruth Whelan of Mountaineering Ireland will bring people up to speed on the new child protection legislation and any implications it may have for the club as a whole. There has been a lot of talk about “law” but we have never regarded this as a legal issue. It is about fairness and the future development of the club.

There is opposition to the move, which is puzzling given that young people participate in the ‘Tuesday Night’ walks and in the very successful Park Run, and it doesn’t seem to a problem for other participants.  It doesn’t seem to be a problem for most sports club in the country for that matter. Why is mountaineering so different?


Remember, turn up and vote … early and often! It’s your club after all.


Ian Hassell making a point about changing the club constitution at the  club walk two weeks ago … though we’re not quite sure what it was. Any suggestions for a caption?







What skills should somebody have to lead a club walk?

IMG_7808 copy
=Anna Allen, Tralee Mountaineering Club with Helen Lawless and Jane Carney from Mountaineering Ireland, photo by Ciarán Walsh

Mountaineerintg Ireland:

Report from Regional Meeting, Clonmel 10.01.2018

(from Mountaineering Ireland)

This was just one of a range of questions addressed during last night’s Mountaineering Ireland regional meeting in Clonmel. More than 40 members attended with representation from 11 different clubs, including groups that had travelled from as far away as Tralee and Wexford.

The format included presentations from Training Officer Jane Carney on training schemes and supports available from Mountaineering Ireland, and Helen Lawless who spoke about Mountaineering Ireland’s work on access and conservation matters.

Other topics discussed included ideas on how to encourage younger members to join clubs, suggestions that Mountaineering Ireland engage more with schools, colleges and Gaisce, and tips on how to enjoy the hills responsibly. Some of the resources available on were demonstrated including the Digital Log to record activities in the mountains and the Club Handbook.

Clubs were encouraged to participate in the Club Training Officers’ workshop on 24-25th February (venue TBC) and Mountaineering Ireland’s Spring Gatheringwhich takes place in the Galtees from 23rd-25th March.  There was time for chat and networking too!

Mountaineering Ireland extends thanks to Greg Kenny and Peaks Mountaineering Club who arranged and promoted the meeting. Other clubs that would be interested in hosting a regional meeting should contact the Mountaineering Ireland office on 01 6251115 or

And to answer the question above a club leader doesn’t need to have a formal qualification but should have appropriate experience, be able to navigate, choose and find appropriate routes, look after themselves and others.

Related information:

National Guidelines for Walking and Climbing Leaders

Link to Mountaineering Ireland Skills videos 

Link to Mountain Environment videos

Mountaineering Ireland Club Handbook

Leadership articles from Irish Mountain Log:

When is a Leader not a Leader?

Being a Leader

The Extraordinary Photography of Billy Horan, Mountaineer.

Billy Horan TMC heading up Howling Ridge with his rucksack packed with photography gear.

There is no light like the light you get on the mountains but you have to push yourself hard to be in a good location to capture it at it’s most extreme which for me is early in the morning.  It’s all about being out there, high up on a mountain ridge before sunrise. I usually setoff climbing about 2 to 3 hours in advance with a heavy backpack complete all essential mountaineering equipment plus my camera and tripod to capture the shot. The ice and snow add an extra dimension to the photographs but these shots can be difficult to take as you have to endure the ice cold winds for short periods of time without risking hypothermia.

Nature can often surprise you, it has been many a time that I was on a summit expecting certain weather conditions but only to come away with something totally different and yet equally as beautiful. For instance the photo titled ’Frost Flowers, Cruach Mor’ was taken the day after the photo titled ’Howling Ridge’, both photos are different and equally as spectacular. I could not stop myself going one day after the other, that weekend.


FROST FLOWERS by Billy Horan
FROST FLOWERS by Billy Horan.


The day I captured the photo titled ’Frost Flowers, Cruach Mor’ was an experience to remember. I got up at 4.30am, checked the forecast and left home at 5.30am with the outside temperature at -1°C. It was 6.15am when I started climbing in dense fog with the aid of my headtorch and compass as I could only see 8 feet in front of me. I was about to give up on the chance of getting a descent photo as I neared the summit of Cruach Mor when all of a sudden I poked my head up above the fog, the top of the fog was only 10 to 15 meters below me as I stood on the summit. It was a sublime experience to be up there on my own and see all the highest peaks protrude above the cloud into a clear blue sky like islands in a sea of fog.



Photography for me is all about recording the landscape and weather as it unfolds, directly from nature – what you see and experience is what you get as the end result in a print.

Billy Horan


Welcome to Tralee Mountaineering Club Members’ Blog

Nuala Finn, TMC Club President , heading up the Aonach Each in Glencoe, Scotland (2016)


The Blog

This blog is managed by members of TMC who share a commitment to mountaineering as an inclusive and progressive sport. It is aimed at the mountaineering community in general, people who are involved in the sport of mountaineering, and people who love mountainy places. Contributions are welcomed from all mountaineers and people with an interest in any aspect of the mountains in Ireland and abroad.


The Vision Thing

This blog represents a particular viewpoint. It is about sport and is intended to encourage and facilitate greater participation by people – young, not-so-young, not-so-old, and old – in the sport of mountaineering. As such, it is driven by a strong commitment to equality of access and participation, skills development, and an abiding respect for mountain environments.

It is also intended to be  a resource for people who wish to progress in the sport of mountaineering. Many entries will deal with mountain skills and will tap into the knowledge and experience of the wider mountaineering community and Mountaineering Ireland,  the principal resource organisation for mountaineers in this country.

The blog is edited by members of the club. It is not intended to be representative of the club as a whole, but it does represent the views of a significant portion its active membership. The club is big with a diverse membership and, surprise surprise, we differ on a lot of things. It’s not the differences that we are interested in however, it’s the debate that enlivens every aspect of our sport.

So … look up and look out, there is a whole world of mountains to be climbed.

February 2018

A few words about Tralee Mountaineering Club

TMC is the second oldest in the country, founded in 1954.

The club has 237 members at present, making it the largest mountaineering club in Kerry. We have great diversity in the club. In the last year members have summited on Ama Dablam in Nepal and walked the North Kerry Way. In between there were regular walks in Kerry and climbing expeditions to Donegal and Scotland.

Noel O’Connor leading Howling Ridge on Ridges Day 2017


Our club has 3 grades of climbs, from easy to moderate and hard. This accommodates people’s fitness levels and preferences and encourage beginners to progress as mountaineers. We are also involved in rock climbing, moving to indoor wall climbing during the winter, except when there is snow! That’s when the crampons come out.


TMC Members on the 2017 mega walk


We operate system of club leaders and all leaders are members who take on the responsibility of leading climbs and expeditions.  Training is provided in navigation, rock climbing, and participation in REC first aid courses is supported.

Club Membership, despite our best efforts,  is still restricted to adults but individual members and members who are parents will work with young people who want to get involved in the sport of mountaineering, whether that is on way marked trails, mountains, or crags.

So don’t be put off by the ban. Drop us a line and get involved.


Anna Allen TMC training with members of Kerry Mountain Rescue Team,  Mike Slattery TMC and Mike Finn, Killarney ( Nov 2017).

and in real time on the mountains:


Nuala Finn and Ciarán Walsh on Tower Ridge, Ben Nevis.