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The Coomloughra Horseshoe

Date: 16th July 2011
Submitted by: Columba McLaughlin

  We (Noel and me) were in Killarney and the forecast from the night before was for wet and windy. Ah said I – heard that one before. When I awoke, I looked out the window and saw bits of blue sky. I told Noel and he went to check but he saw nothing except grey sky. (Mental note – pay attention to conflicting views they might be omens). Up we got and had breakfast and made our way to the lay-by on the Glencar Road about 6 Kms from the Climber’s Inn. There was mist on the mountain but the sky was clear(ish) and off we went.


 Initially it is a steep pull up a concrete path and then a sharp right turn to the west and slight rise towards the outlet stream from the lower small lake in Coomloughra. We decided to start from Catháir in the west and go in an anti-clockwise direction. The scrambling / climbing on the Corrán Tuatháil to Bhinn Chaorách arête is better and more natural this way. This is all familiar territory to Noel and me and for that reason we did not bother with ropes or any additional safety gear. Looking back, this decision was OK for us but for others who are unfamiliar with the entire route, the decision not to take additional gear on such a day may have resulted in tragedy.


 From the first lower lake we took a long and broad ridge on the right and begun the long arduous trudge up to Catháir’s lower peak. After this it was an exciting descent and then up to a disappointing main (true) summit of Catháir.  From this point the wind had increased and the rain had got heavier. We had to abandon filming as the water was getting in everywhere.


 When we reached the summit of Corrán Tuatháil I said to a fellow climber that it was windy – his response was that the early morning fore-cast was for gale fore winds and they had definitely arrived. Noel and I discussed options but Noel was adamant that because it was familiar territory we should complete the route. I eventually agreed. While both of us have skylined the arête between Corrán Tuatháil without difficulty on numerous occasions since 1998, we decided to take the lower path option on this occasion. While I knew of a 75m sheep path on the Comím Úachtarácht side commencing about 10m above ‘Brother O’Shea’s Gully’, I was not aware of another lower path, on the Coomloughra side, that continued after this. Please note that from Brother O’Shea’s Gully for 100metres on the Coomloughra side there is no path, only very steep terrain. Noel and I have in the past done some exploratory climbing and scrambling in that area and it is not pleasant in wind and rain.


  When we reached the end of the arête, the wind had relented a bit and both Noel and me scrambled up the steep rock to the summit of Bhinn Chaorách.  Noel decided to chance taking a photo and we then decided to traverse the western flanks of Bhinn Chaorách and Skregmore to link with a descent path. This traverse took us over a landscape similar to the Glyders in Wales. Wet and cold but unbowed, we linked up with the descent path and made our way to the valley floor. The whole trip took us just less than 6 hours. Before long we were in Kate’s having a pint and a nice dinner J


Youtube video:

29 Jul 2011
Anthony Feeney

Under 6 hours in those conditions is some going Columba. Took me and PJ 6.5, visibility was cack but at least we weren't getting blown over.

30 Jul 2011

Thanks Anthony. Noel and I were travelling light and we are very familiar with the Route and the terrain and this helped in our navigating. Had we been novices, it might have been a disaster. I gather from your report that Sunday was no better. We left at 5am and drove back to Dublin

Photo of Route