Kerry Climbing junior guide and daughter Orlaith marked a momentous achievement on the 16th of January by summiting Ireland’s highest mountain – Corrán Tuathail for her 1ooth time!
Reaching a century of Corrán Tuathail climbs within the short space of only five years is impressive enough – but the fact that she is only 14 years of age seems to have really grabbed the medias attention. She was the talk of the nation for the week after her remarkable milestone with much applause and across social & print media, radio and even an upcoming T.V appearance!
“It was amazing when I reached the top, and the snow on the day just made it. It was snowing on the way up and cleared for a bit at the top – but then on the way down it was almost blizzard-like.”
In all honesty, climbing to the summit of Ireland’s highest 100 times was never really her major focus or something she had thought much about, but from just being out guiding with her dad or enjoying her own personal days in the Reeks, well of course the inevitable came to pass.
“It was never really a goal. Just from going up on guided excursions with Dad and from doing my own thing, I realised I was inching closer and closer to it.”
She has completed her Mountain Skills training 1 & 2 syllabus and with this has been stringent in keeping and regularly updating her personal mountain log-book. With every new entry she started to notice she was creeping closer to the big 100 and so was delighted to mark this significant ascent with a memorable climb to the summit via the exciting grade II Winter route – “Curved Gully”, a route she had already completed in similar Winter conditions twice previous.
“Then I decided: ‘Lets make this a goal, I’m going to soon achieve this.”
Orlaith has always had a genuine love and appreciation of the great outdoors and has been hiking and climbing since she was about 4 years of age. She says that the outdoors and in particular mountain, hill and forest walks have always been a real passion and the mountains in Winter being a particular attraction.
“It’s very rewarding, hiking is a beautiful pastime and I’m just not really into other sports.”
“I love getting out, meeting new people, doing different and interesting routes and the views, when you do get them, can be truly breath-taking.”
But it doesn’t stop there!
Now Orlaith has her sights set on one of Scotland’s most iconic and impressive peaks – the formidable and awe-inspiring conical shaped summit of – Buachaille Etive Mór, which she hopes to climb next month with her dad, – Piaras.
“It’s roughly the same height as Corrán Tuathail and is an amazing looking peak.” she says.
“Last year, in full Winter conditions, me and dad climbed the highest in the U.K – Ben Nevis and only two days later, again in proper winter conditions we made a successful traverse of one of Scotland’s most impressive mountain ridges – the iconic Aonach Eagach ridge of Glencoe, famed as the narrowest ridge on the British mainland.”
But it doesn’t stop there, as there are countless mountains and routes in the Alps, Norway, North Wales and Scotland that also tickle her fancy but she wishes to emphasise she isn’t driven by height and and has no aims or ambitions to climb Everest someday!
“I’m not really keen on just ticking summits for the sake of it and definitely not keen on doing Everest. It just wouldn’t be for me. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a fantastic achievement and I’m not taking from those who have climbed or have their sights on it for the future but it’s far too busy now and over commercialised in my opinion, and I wouldn’t be into that.”
Orlaith’s dad, KerryClimbing lead guide Piaras has accompanied her on all her mountain ascents and Orlaith has gained a vast array of experience and competence under his ever watchful eye, supervision and instruction. She in turn has been of great assistance, accompanying and assisting him on guided tours and climbs up and down Corrán Tuathail for years.
“You got to appreciate it, it’s very special, myself and Orlaith spending so much quality time together in the mountains. It’s a unique & very special bonding experience between a father and daughter and has had nothing but positive impact & benefits for her confidence, social skills and personality, meeting new people on every guided climb, looking after them and their welfare and sharing the tales and information and knowledge she has gained in abundance after so so many days out.”
Whilst being extremely proud of the experience that she’s gained from those multitude of days out, you’ve got to appreciate that it’s not just 100 times marching up and down Corrán Tuathail via the same route. It’s climbing it in a vast array of differing weather conditions, by different routes, with different group dynamics, along with days she’s not feeling too good or struggling with some minor ailment or another. It’s also worth noting that she has climbed an abundance of other peaks too, so Corrán Tuathail is only a small part of her overall mountaineering C.V.
In short, we’re very proud of what that 100 times marks, the experience and the confidence that she’s gained along with that.”
Orlaith first climbed Corrán Tuathail when she was only 9 years of age. Speaking about her own relationship with the mountain, she says:
“It’s a beautiful place, I’ve grown up around it, I’ve been able and lucky enough to see it from my doorstep for the last ten years.”
Roz Purcell, of HikeLife fame has always been an avid supporter and fan of Orlaith’s and reached out on Instagram and said: “What a legend, the future of hiking is in safe, badass hands.” Orlaith has always been a fan of Roz’s too and in turn has looked up to her as a positive role model.
According to Piaras, Orlaith is a bit of a role model herself, even though she most definitely doesn’t see herself as such.
“Roz is so good and has always promoted Orlaith and put her forward as that (role model).”
Orlaith wants to follow in her Dad’s footsteps and is working towards becoming a qualified guide herself someday. As previously mentioned she has already taken her first steps in her long mountain apprenticeship with various navigational and mountain proficiency courses under her belt along with a vast accumulation of differing mountain days and routes.
“She’s now at the age where discos are now a distraction, along with fashion, make-up etc, so we are very conscious of letting her enjoy all that brings.”
“Of course we’d love her to go on to do bigger things but that doesn’t mean climbing bigger mountains. We just want her to do whatever she’d like to do in the mountains for the genuine love of it.”
Orlaith wishes to thank each and everyone for all their kind wishes and lovely messages of congratulations and support and thanks all of those who have shared in all those memorable climbs and hikes.
She would like to take this opportunity to say a BIG THANK YOU and appreciation to equipment brand SRAYWAY who have been an avid supporter of hers for all these years, keeping her kitted out and geared up in the many varying weather conditions encountered. Go raibh míle maith agat!