Winter Mountaineering at its Best: Carrauntoohil March 4, 2018

 

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John Laide and Andrew Kelliher, Tralee Mountaineering Club, at the summit of Carrauntoohil on Sunday, March, 4 2018
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Andrew Kelliher, Tralee Mountaineering Club
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John Laide and Bertie Hickey, Tralee Mountaineering Club, heading up Shea’s Gully on Sunday, March, 4 2018
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Bertie Hickey, Tralee Mountaineering Club, getting stuck into the windslab in Shea’s Gully on Sunday March 4, 2018
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Perfect winter mountaineering conditions, windslab at 45 degrees in Shea’s Gully.
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Andrew Kelliher and Bertie Hickey, Tralee Mountaineering Club, reaching the top of Shea’s Gully on Sunday, March, 4 2018
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John Laide, Tralee Mountaineering Club
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John Laide, Ciarán Walsh, Bertie Hickey, Andrew Kelliher at the summit of Carrauntoohil on Sunday, March, 4 2018
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Heading towards the Devils Ladder
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The Devil’s Ladder
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John Laide heading down the Devil’s Ladder
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Wet Snow in the Devil’s Ladder
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Bertie Hickey on the Devils Ladder.
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Bertie Hickey
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Bertie Hickey and John Laide making the best of bad snow in the Devil’s Ladder.
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Bottom of the Devil’s Ladder

 

Dedicated to Nuala Finn, the Snow Queen, who couldn’t

make it on the day due to an illness in her family

 

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CW

 

 

 

 

What makes a QUALITY MOUNTAIN DAY (QMD)?

 

 

ANDREW MAP  ANDREW WALK STATS

 

 

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?

or

   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.

 

DEFINING A QUALITY MOUNTAIN DAY:

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.

 

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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.

 

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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!