An evening family excursion with a difference. A friend of ours recently highlighted an instance of deplorable vandalism in one of the most stunning areas of beautiful Kerry at the magnificent mountain pass of Ballaghbeama Gap so it was of utmost priority to right the wrong and so we took a spin to this wonderful gem of a remote mountain pass with wire brushes, buckets and determination to return to its unspoilt beauty.
Local newspaper – The Kerryman along with national news sheets – The Independent >>> and the Irish Mirror>>> were really great to highlight this issue as KerryClimbing lead guide – Piaras hit out at the “scumbag” vandals who spray-painted rocks in one of Kerry’s truly stunning idyllic spots and our crew went quickly to work to remove the offending material and restore this impressive mountain pass to its unspoilt beauty .
Along with KerryClimbing’s Catherine and our two young children – Orlaith 10 and Tiernan who’s just 2, we all rolled up our sleeves, got stuck in and washed off the unwanted obscene message using wire brushes and some good old fashioned elbow grease and hard graft!!!
“Incidents like this are few and far between but you’ll always notice the bad egg in a batch. It’s a disgrace,” Piaras told local newspaper – The Kerryman.
This is the second case of graffiti on the Kerry mountains in recent weeks as it first appeared at the iconic Turnpike Rock on the Gap of Dunloe when someone decided it would be a good idea to spray their initials. As we live, work and play in these most magnificent of mountains and as we climb them on an almost daily basis guiding and instructing, we are blessed to call them our office, and we are immensely proud of the fact we live in such a beautiful county. We truly believe that although it is incomprehensible that a small minority disrespect these mountains, valleys and wilds in this way, we cannot let them win. It is up to everyone to take it upon themselves to clean off any offending graffiti aswell as picking up and removing ANY litter where and when we see it to avoid it from becoming a more serious problem. “The ‘F***k Kerry’ is the worst as it’s not just unsightly but also contradictory of the beautiful landscapes that surround it. I think we all need to do something whenever we see stuff like this on the mountain.”
Another recent incident of unbelievable disrespect which we recently came across way high up on the classic and hugely spectacular multi-pitch rock climb of – Howling Ridge on Carrauntoohil. Some pure ignorant gobshite and total muppet called “Rob” thought he would top off his memorable ascent of this spectacular mountaineering classic by leaving his mark and scraping his name on a rock face high up the route…you’re a scum bag and quite obviously NOT a true mountaineer and have NO PLACE in the mountains of Kerry or ANYWHERE for that matter.
Lets look after, respect and improve our great outdoors. Leave no Trace…no…why not go further than that and lets leave it even better than we found it. We can all make a difference.
Be familiar with and keep to the noble principles of Leave No Trace>>>
Here’s a few of our own tips and things to do to keep it as we found it from our own observations from climbing Ireland’s highest mountains on a pretty regular basis.
- Avoid path widening. Keep to the middle of the paths. On the way in AND out. Yeah its easier on your feet to hike on the less stony more vegetated areas but constant use will in time erode this too just like the stony area.
- Avoid accidently litter dropping. Pop the little clear plastic tops off your new water/sports bottles before you leave the car and pop the tops into the bottom of your rucsac. I pick up half a dozen of them every day, that’s about 30 I pick up EVERY week!!! This goes too for the little blue safety seal rings on the same bottles. You might think its tiny and they are…but hundreds of these are discarded every year.
- Organic material is not acceptable as litter. Orange peels, apple cores, banana skins, PISTACHIO SHELLS. Oh my God… There’s pistachio shells everywhere. Please stop. In the mountains all these take much much longer to decay due to the more moist climatic conditions and cooler temperatures. Stick them in your bag. 120.000 people visit the Reeks annually. Even a small percentage is a LOT of skins and nutshells! I’m not nuts…really….it all HAS an impact!!
- Mind those tissues in your pocket. Yes the nose never seems to stop dripping on the wild windy hills but be careful with those tissues stuffed in pockets. If it falls out then make the effort to retrieve it if safe to do so. same goes with the little corners of sweet packets and bar wrappers. Put them in your bag. When you go to pull out that tissue for the five hundredth time they will blow away. They all go somewhere you know!
- Sort out the shiny new trekking poles BEFORE you leave the car or even the night before. The rubber tips on their ends come off, leaving a metal tip which has much better grip. Now stick them away with the bottle tops! If there ever becomes a market in these I’ll be able to retire on all the bags of them I have in my shed from picking up on Carrauntoohil. Screw on tightly the little plastic disk which also came attached. It helps stop the pole from sinking into soft ground. Don’t extend and adjust the pole lengths to the point where you can read the word – STOP etc on the end. The pole will more than likely end up bending or even snapping at its week point and you might even end up breaking and possibly even losing it without noticing.
- Don’t just flick fag butt on the ground. You probably just sat and enjoyed it while resting, by taking in the scene and revelling in your spectacular surroundings. Maybe you were even so lucky as to enjoy it with a view. Each to their own but ah come on….don’t throw it on the ground. Pack your fag butt into a piece of tin foil or fag box. Knock the hot end off and take the filter away or hey…why not even just pack them in and then you won’t need as many rest stops… 😉
- If the soles disintegrate on those boots you borrowed from the neighbour – don’t just leave it there for gods sake! Take it away with you. It might just seem like a litter piece of crumbling rubber but there’s no little warden on a back to work scheme hiking in the valley in a safety vest with a litter picker doing his rounds when every ones gone home you know!!! You came to visit and witness it’s ruggedness and beauty and be challenged by its difficulties…so respect its beauty.
The MacGillycuddy’s Reeks are stunning and when you consider the volume and amount of people who visit, climb and enjoy its rugged rocky slopes they are impeccably clean and generally litter free. Yes, you will always get bad eggs, you will always have ignorance and you will always have the accidental but lets make a little difference so we can always be proud of our awe-inspiring and ever inspirational mountains, valleys and uplands.