This is a magnificent, very enjoyable and very demanding trek to the summit of Ireland’s highest mountain. In recent times it is becoming increasingly popular as an alternative to the Devils ladder approach. The walk begins after parking in Cronin’s Yard and the initial route is the same as for the Devils ladder ascent. After crossing the Gaddagh river proceed for 15-20 minutes before branching off to the right along a well beaten path. This winding path is rather steep and exposed in a few places making some some easy to moderate scrambling necessary and offers great views of Carrauntoohil and the Hags Tooth Ridge.
One of the highlights along the way to O Shea’s Gully is Cummeenoughter Lake. This beautiful lake reported to be the highest in Ireland is colored a magnificent vivid blue by the minerals in the ground. Soon after passing the lake you begin your ascent up the Gully with high cliffs on your right hand side and the Beenkeeragh Ridge on your left. The ascent is somewhat steep with loose scree in places but all in all is gentle in comparison to the Devils ladder. On reaching the top of the gully there are some wonderful views of the Reeks and surrounding countryside to be observed. Its a beautiful spot to stop for a break before turning left for the last part of the climb. The remainder of the climb involves a little scrambling along broken rock and takes about 20 minutes to reach the summit of Carrauntoohil. Like the ascent up the Gully it can be quite dangerous in wintry conditions.
On the 26th of September this year I climbed Carrauntoohil by this route with a friend from the Clare Outdoor Club. It was a glorious autumnal day and blue skies greeted us upon reaching the summit. Though the summit itself was crystal clear the valleys and countryside on all sides were covered by white puffy clouds. It looked magnificent and almost felt like we were on an airplane looking down. After having our lunch and taking some photos we descended by the Devils Ladder.
|Contributor Profile: John Quinn
I am a part time landscape photographer from and living in county Clare. At an early age I developed a passion for photography and for the beauty of nature and the Irish countryside. I travel a lot throughout Ireland photographing and researching the history of Ireland’s countless beautiful ruined churches, castles and monuments. I also spend a lot of time hill walking and taking landscape photos. My favorite place in Ireland is the Macgillycuddy Reeks mountain range in county Kerry. With their rugged beauty, splendid views and peacefulness I can often empathize with Norman Maclean’s great line from A River Runs Through It “When I am alone in the half light of the canyon all existence seems to fade to a being with my soul, and memories and the sounds of the Big Black Foot River”