Friday, 16 September 2016

Meacan Déarg

Carrot Ridge, Gleann Eighneach, Binn an Choire, Connemara,
370m Diff
Sunday 17 July 2016

So I picked up Matt at 8.30 in his hotel in Athlone, later than ideal but a good compromise with him just having arrived from Chicago the day before; we met Colm at 9.30 in Galway city. With a coffee stop and finding literally the only parking spot on the Recess Kylemore road we left the car at 11.30. We hiked in via sheep trails, following the river into Gleann Eighneach, having to cross this before hiking up to the hidden base of Carrot Ridge - a tough ascent carrying packs.

Matt insisted on hiking in flip flops (one of his trade marks) and one strap spit before reaching the base with him finishing in bare feet. I got a big shock when i opened my bag and found no climbing shoes, seeing them in my head in the side pocket of my climbing gear bag in my room where I swapped bags to a 45L :-(

We started up the route at 1.30 carrying 2 packs and with me and Matt swapping leads, Colm was in the middle tied into a 60m and 50m to Matt and myself respectively. The grade was run out Diff (5.3, maybe some 5.4) and I managed to lead fine in boots.

We had the whole valley to ourselves, it was incredibly peacefully up there with a distant sound of the river Inagh and the endless sheep. We ate lunch on a wonderful ledge up at the top of pitch 6 before the rain came in. We couldn't see the road or any signs of civilisation, proper remote, I haven't experienced much if any of that in Ireland.

The climb was 370m, climbing,ie says, on lovely quartzite and after 8 pitches the last 100m was a gorgeous 100m clean rock scramble. It's so special being high on rock after a step hike into the base. On the route there was an amazing view of Seventh Heaven (HS) to the west against the skyline (see this topo), a 8 pitch route with plenty of 30m 4b run out I'm told. I'll be dreaming about it!

We topped out at 5.30 with the last hour-ish in rain, the rain, which had finally blown in from the west, was not too bad and didn't ruin things. Then we had a nasty descent down a scree slope \ moving boulders. Matt hiked down in his climbing shoes down to the flat before switching to the ripped flip flop. With a bum knee flaring up for Matt it was close to 8 by the time we were all back to the car. Epic. Great to be alive.

Named Meacan Buí, Colm's brother, who lives in the Gaeltacht, told him that means parsnip and it should have been called Meacan Déarg!
I highly recommend this amazing mountain experience at our doorstep here in Ireland.

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