Curved Gully - CorrÃ¡n TuathÃ¡il
|Date: 6th May 2011
Submitted by: Columba McLaughlin
Access to the Mountain Rescue Car Park at Laoislebane on the road to Glencar. Follow the path along the Hag’s Glen to the river crossing. Do not cross the river but head diagonally right under the Fiacail Mhór skirting above Loch Gabhrach. At a small stream find a stoney path that makes it way up through the cliffs of ‘Na Teannai’ to meet three short rock steps. After the 3rd rock step take the higher path that leads directly up and in to ‘Coimin Íochtarach’ (the 1st hanging valley).
From ‘Coimin Íochtarach’ head under the steep slopes of ‘Nead an Fhiolair’ (Eagles Nest) towards the base of the NE Cliffs of Corrán Tuatháil where you will find a steep path leading up and under the NE Cliffs. As the path rises you will notice a small scree slope falling from a narrow gully directly under the cliffs. Avoid the rocky path into ‘Coimin Lár’ (2nd hanging valley) by climbing this gully. It is a straight forward narrow gully about 50m long and easily climbed by competent walkers with some scrambling ability. You will gain the base of the NE cliffs on a narrow path high above Cominin Lár. Follow this path for about 200m until you come to a distinct narrow gully that curves to the left. There as a few short steps (waterfalls if wet) to negotiate. The gully eventually opens out and if escape is needed towards ‘Central Gully’ or O’Shea’s Gully, one can do so on the right hand side.
The main gully now narrows and the ground becomes steeper and there are a few steep rock steps to negotiate again. There is some loose rock and care is needed. However, this 2nd section again broadens out and escape is again possible on the right hand side. Straight forward uphill walking until a rock steep rock step appears. On this occasion it was smooth and wet, very slippery and there were some dangerously loose rocks at the top. Climbing it was no problem but because of the danger of rock fall and no protection, we avoided it by a path on the right hand flank. This path took us back into the gully via a short rock step down into the upper section of Curved Gully. Walkers take note that from this point there is no escape from the upper section of Curved Gully. Retreat downwards is also difficult as it is on steep terrain with lots of loose rock.
The conditions for us on this day were that any more than 2 climbers on the route could result in danger from rock fall as the upper gully is narrow and it would be difficult to avoid falling rocks. Noel and I kept close together in this upper section. The scrambling up this upper section was quite strenuous at times and required a lot of care. Each step needed careful thought and on 2 occasions large boulders were easily moved. On this occasion, the right hand side of the gully had a lot of fractured rock and was easily dislodged. However, the left hand side of the gully provided us with some positive holds. The final 20m of the gully was a steep scramble. From the summit ridge it is a short 30m walk to the summit of Corrán Tuatháil. There was a howling wind that would knock you off your feet so we opted for a descent by the notorious ‘Devil’s Ladder’.
Post note: We last climbed Curved Gully in 2002 and it was a pleasant scramble then. On this occasion there was much loose and fractured rock and much evidence of rock avalanche debris. In these conditions I would not recommend any more than 2 climbers entering and climbing the upper section. Nonetheless, it is a gully deserving of respect and will challenge the most ardent of climbers and is a spectacular way to the summit of Ireland’s highest mountain J
09 May 2011
Good going Columba. I climbed curved gully in the summer and thought it great. It was my first time on Corran Tuathail and had it all to myself on a lovely morning. I came down by Heavens gates and was at the shelter before I seen anyone. Great mountain.
23 May 2011
Youtube video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RHiCA9kDySU