‘Everest calling Rongbuk. Come in please, over . . . Dermot. The altimeter is reading 8,848 metres and I’m sitting on the summit of the world.”
This was the moment Dawson Stelfox radioed Dermot Somers to let him know that he had reached the summit of Mount Everest. Stelfox was the leader of the 1993 IRISH EVEREST EXPEDITION, which included Frank Nugent (deputy leader); Dermot Somers; Robbie Fenlon; Mike Barry; Richard O’Neill Dean; Mick Murphy and Tony Burke.
27 years on, Dawson Stelfox relives the experience in an interview with Sarah McInerney on RTE Radio 1. Tune in to Today with Sarah McInerney.
Forecast was for settled weather. There was a little rain at the beginning but it remained clear for the rest of the walk. Conditions underfoot were good, especially on the bog between Barnacurrane and the Devil’s Punchbowl.
A panorama taken from a spot height on the ridge south of Barnacurrane.
We assembled in the carpark above Torc Waterfall, reached by a side road to the left about 300m metres from the main entrance to Muckross House on the N71. We left the carpark and headed south, climbing through the forest on deer and mountain bike trails – watch out for bikers hurtling through the forest – until we reached the end of the forestry track.
We climbed the final section of forestry to reach Barnacurrane, a gap in a rocky outcrop that marks the boundary between the lowland and the mountain. The trail is well worn and there is a steep section just below Barnacurrane. There used to be a stepped path here but that has mostly disappeared and good footwear is essential.
Nuala Finn and Bertie Hickey heading towards Barnacurrane.
At Barnacurrane one of the group pulled out and Ciarán returned to the carpark with the member before making the return trip to Barnacurrane. His route on the day is marked in blue on the map above.
The red route shows the line taken by the rest of the group. It climbs across the bog, following the line of a wall and the dry ground alongside the stream to reach the track leading to the Devil’s Punchbowl. From, it follows the track/trail to the summit (843). From there it crosses the plateau to the aréte descending northwards to the ridge formed by the Devil’s Punch Bowl and the back wall of Glangappul.
Careful navigation is needed here in poor visibility. Sean O’Suilleabháin warned mountaineers, in his classic guidebook on climbs in the southwest, that Mangerton means the “deceiving one.”
The route continues up to the unnamed summit known as Mangerton “North,” heads East on the southern ridge of Glangappul before descending to the trail that leads into the valley. It follows this trail until it turns northwest from the lake shore, crosses the Owgarrif River –caution – and continues across bog close to the foot of the mountainside until it reaches the track for the Devil’s Punch Bowl.
It follows the Finoulagh River downstream for about 300m and heads west into Tooreencormick, the site of a battle between McCarthy of the Glens (Old Kenmare Rd) and the Normans in 1262, during which Cormac Mac Carthy died. The place name marks his burial on the site of the battle. Keith Woodard, a photographer based in Killarney, gives a really good account of events leading up to the battle.
From Tooreencormick the route continues west, into the forest and back the caprpark.
We took up residence in the Dunlewey Hostel for a week with the aim of doing some new routes in the Derryveagh Mountains (Slieve Sneachta), Errigal, and Muckish, travelling further afield if the weather improved.
There were a few other people in the hostel but we had it to ourselves more or less. It was fantastic. The facilities are first class, especially the drying room and the kitchen. We were given the run of the place by Erin and her team and we are very grateful to them.
Day 1 Errigal North West ridge, led by Gerard O’sullivan.
Park Run | Dunloe (Bairbre and Bertie)
Day 2 Poison Glen to Slieve Sneachta (Peer Led)
Day 3 Muckish (Miner’s Track)
Day 4 Derry, taking in the Grianán Aileach.
Day 5 Loch Altan to Errigal
Day 6 Arranmore Island.
Day 7 Park Run Letterkenny (Bairbre and Bertie)
Day 1 | Errigal North west Ridge: 20-10-2018
Nuala Finn, Gerard O’Sullivan, Ciarán Walsh.
Start time 10.30
Forecast was fairly good. Ireland lay at the top end of a slack depression with a very light band of rain covering the North West, very or light wind. It was lovely and clear “at ground level” but cloud over remained at around 600m for the day.
This was a car split. We dropped a car at at the start of the tourist track and retraced our steps to Dunlewey, turning right at the old hostel and following the way marked route to the foot of the beautifully named Sliabh Bealtaine. We left the car here and headed up a track for about 700m before taking a direct line across bog to the foot of the North West slope, which we ascended keeping to a sheep trail to the right of the a stream.
We continued up the next slope, skirting around some scree and reached a lovely ridge of morraine. We followed it around to the base of the spur, where we picked up some trails through the scree on the lower end of the spur. They became one and continued up through a narrow rocky arrete. The route was fairly clear but it did take some trail finding. The rock was very slippery and a detour around a step ended in a narrow scree fill gully and a nervous moment or two. Rule no 1 on a rocky ridge, don’t divert.
We reached the summit in drizzle and very poor visibility, marked the moment, and headed for the carpark. It is a lovely route but one that require some scrambling and short sections of narrow exposed ridge walking just below the summit, which could be very challenging on a windy day. Some experience on exposed, rocky ridges is necessary before tackling this route. Having done it, I don’t think that I will be doing the tourist route again.
TMC members met in the carpark at Lisleibane and headed in the Hags Glen, crossing the Gaddagh just south of the bridge and headed south to the start of the spur called the Bone. As soon as we gained height it became clear that the wind was too strong to stick to the planned along the spine of the spur.
The route was changed and we went up the side of the spur to a small coum. We contoured across to the spur on the southern side of Cumeenapeasta Lake, on ground that we would’t normally be on, so we did a bit of exploring and identified some interesting routes for future outings. We descended along the stream running from the lake to the Gaddagh and headed to Cronin’s Yard for a cup of tea. Thomas treated us to apple tart.
An interesting thing happened on the way to the Bone. A Kestrel hovered above for about 5 Minutes.
You may have noticed that TMC Members’ Blog has been offline for a couple of months. In the good old days of terrestrial television in Ireland, whenever service was interrupted, the following words were put up on screen: is donagh linn an briseadh seo. We are taking our cue from this. We regret the break but we have spent the past few months accompanying a family member on their way to the big summit in the sky.
The resumption of blogging is marked with a tribute to Una Finn (nee Sullivan), a pioneering mountaineer and a lifelong member of Tralee Mountaineering Club.
Una left us on 7 August 2007. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a hanam.
This is a long overdue log entry, the first in a serious backlog of entries. But – HEY – keeping up to date is always A problem with log entries! So, Here goes.
The TMC level 3 walk on Sunday April 22 2018 was led by Maeve Higgins. The walk took in a wide arc to the north of Anascaul Lake (Map 70 OSI Discovery Series), taking in Stradbally (798), Beenoskee (826), and Binn an Tuair (592). A total distance of 15.5K.
A sunny day was forecast; a well established to the south west kept low pressure (rain and wind) to the Northwest. It turned out to be a perfect day for mountaineering.
THE ROUTE / WALK
Maeve Higgins led and 11 other members of Tralee Mountaineering Club (TMC) took part (see photo). The walk started at the carpark at Anascaul Lake, crossed the river northwest of the lake and headed up the steep southern slope of An Ré Mhór (Reamore), before heading to a cairn at the summit (500m).
From there we trekked to spot height 346 at the centre of the large plateau above Gleann Tí an Eassaig. Then straight up for 453m to the summit of Stradbally for lunch. On to Beenoskee, where three of us decided to descend.
The remainder (red line on the map) headed for An Com Ban and on to Binn a’ Tuair. They descended to the ford on the Macanabo trail and followed the trail back to the carpark. The other three (green Line) descended the long spur to the col between Machanabo and Anascaul and headed south to a steep gully below An Com Dubh. We joined the trail about 500 metres from the carpark
Both walks walks covered roughly the same distance, 15.5 kilometres over 5hours approx. Total ascent to Beenoskee was 939m and 1,140 in total for the red route, 971 for the green route.