Sunday, 23 April 2017

Stumpa an tSaimh (Hag's Tooth) ridge up Beenkeragh

This route is not for the faint hearted. You need a head for heights and some scrambling experience if you plan to do every bit of it. It's a grade 2 scramble, but you can make it as easy or as difficult as you want. Anyway don't take the word easy too literally as it's still a steep route, quite exposed in places. Do not attempt it in windy conditions. Luckily the weather was kind to us this time. There wasn't even a puff... Calm, incredibly quiet, warm and dry.

Hag's Tooth
The gully up Hag's Tooth
We started at Lisleibane car park as usual. and followed the track to Hag's Glen and turned right at the lake starting to climb up the path going to O'Sheas Gully and then turned right again and started climbing the gully up to the bottom of Hag's Tooth pinnacle. From now on you have the choice of following the edge of the ridge or the path which goes around on a bit easier ground. There's a few options of climbing to the top of Hag's Tooth. As it was our first time there, we found an easier one (a little gully on the right side), leaving the front face for the next time.

At the top of Hag's Tooth 

We all climbed to the top except of Denis who was minding our bags down below on the other side. Well, somebody had to ;) There's enough space for 5 maybe 6 people which was actually a surprise as this little pointy pinnacle seems to look much smaller and almost inaccessible when you look at it from the bottom of the valley. You can stand on it safely on a calm day no problem. It might make you feel dizzy, so maybe better sit down and than enjoy the views ;) Going down on the other side requires a bit of courage but it's not as high as the side you climb up. It's just a few steps and you're down.

The view from the top

Scrambling up the ridge
At this point we all needed a snack break. We still had about 350 m of steep and rocky ground to the top of Beenkeragh so it was a good idea to refuel before that. As it was said before you can avoid all the rocks on your way up or scramble them if you want to get more out of it and that's exactly what I (Anna) did myself, while the rest of the group followed the path going around. You can do most of that scrambling without a rope, but I have to say that I found one place where I couldn't trust the loose rock pieces enough to make another move and I had to go down again and find another route.

Still not high enough ;)

Enjoying the rocks
Lots of the rocks are loose even if they don't look like that at a first glance so using a rope would be probably advised for safety if you really want to follow the very exact ridge line without missing anything. I did as much as I could without a rope.

The ridge becomes more scattered closer to the top. The final ascent of Beenkeragh  is more like a walk on big rocks, you can stop using your hands now. The top was very calm with no wind, quite busy though as we met Limerick Climbing Club, who were doing Coomloughra Horsehoe, and some other walkers too.

We could really enjoy sitting at the top this time without getting too cold and that is very rare in Irish mountains...

At the top of Beenkeregh

Going down towards Knockbrinnea
After lunch we started our descent which was very rocky at first but eased and leveled for a while at the col. We used the path between Eastern and Western top of Knockbrinnea before turning left and following the path down towards Lisleibane car park.The middle section of this route down is a knee-killer, steep and long with high heathers. It levels then for the last stretch.
We had a brilliant day out. We missed the sunshine but we're blessed with no wind which is extremely important on this route. Just remember that it requires a good fitness level, some scrambling experience and head for heights.

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