C is for Carrauntoohil

Like most good ideas, this one started with a random comment — although almost immediately regretted by the commenter.

My son is a scout who is taking part this year in Scouting Ireland’s Mountain Pursuit Challenge: weekend mountain hikes in each of Ireland’s four provinces. This month they were due to hike in Kerry so his imaginative scout leader suggested they climb Ireland’s highest mountain, Carrauntoohil (in Irish Corrán Tuathail meaning “inverted sickle” or “Tuathail’s serated sickle”) in the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks in Co Kerry.

At 1,039 metres (3,406′) it is the same height as 414 sets of domestic stairs. My son was quick to point out that this is the height from sea level to summit and “Who ever climbs Carrauntoohil from sea level?!” He does have a point. Also, what mountain climb is a steady 37 degree angle?

Rather than being overly high-achieving we decided to do it in a week, a sort of camping trip if you will. And so the mother-son challenge began.


Looking up, we weren’t intimidated, but we didn’t dwell on how many steps we’d have to take to reach the top.

Like most Carrauntoohil hikers, we started off in Cronin’s Yard, or thereabouts.

Up through the almost picturesque Hag’s Glen …

… and onto the prettier Devil’s Ladder,


…accidentally crossing international boundaries.

Although experts warn that the weather on the mountain can be variable with wind, rain and cloud posing challenges, we found it to be very consistent even when we did a bit of evening trekking.

The views from the top were amazing: so clear you could see the Dublin Mountains.

Going down was easier, but we did feel it in our calves for the first couple of days.

And all the way back to the bottom.

Repeat 414 times.

Memories of the view from the top.

To climb the real Carrauntoohil, see the Kerry Mountain Rescue website.

If you’re interested in the stairs, the ‘Devil’s Ladder’, see this previous post.

With thanks to the real C who graciously allowed us to storm into her study space on a regular basis.

One thought on “C is for Carrauntoohil

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