Saturday 29th of December last….The time was around half 6 in the evening and I was browsing on the computer,bored with the same oul re-runs on the telly. The Christmas break hadn’t been too bad really…It is what it is…. The usual snacking for the sake of it and endless Wallace and Gromit repeats but I was beginning to get cabin fever!!! I needed to get out…I was beginning to climb the walls and I needed to climb something else…anything..
A post on Facebook showing a pic taken that day of The Reeks in Kerry – with snow!!! Quickly check the forecast – cold and windy for the next 12 – 14 hours with warmer south westerlies and wet weather moving in…hmmmmm
I stared at the photo for a while and surfed the net for the next 30 minutes hoping to find a forecast which would discount this but not to be! All snow and any remote signs of even a touch of Winter would be stripped by this time the following day.
Well a quick phone call to Richard and Dennis and a plan was hatched to head down that night and climb Howling Ridge by moonlight – sure even if there was no snow on it the mad cap excitement of a night ascent of it would more than make up for the effort.
A long exciting night ensued!!! Our intention was to just move together roped up but we ended up pitching the whole route due to the “mixed” conditions with the one axe each essential and two axes even required on the crux sections. Decent covering of snow on the whole route made this definitely a Winter ascent of sorts. The strong south west winds which had been forecast never really gave us trouble as we remained pretty sheltered on the North face. A few gusts gave us blast now and then alright but nothing really to worry about.
Topped out under a stunning full moon at approx 8 am after leaving the van at Lisleibane at 11:30 pm the previous night. As we walked ( or should I say staggered ) totally exhausted out the Hags Glen that morning we met lots of fresh legged walkers making their way in and probably wondering why we were bailing out so early in the day !!! The warm front had already stripped the North Face of much of the previous nights snow.
Back at the van – totally wiped – craving a mug of coffee and sausage sambo and unbelievably satisfied that our previous evenings attitude of “nothing ventured nothing gained” had us truly rewarded for the effort.