Thursday, March 10, 2016

BHC trip to Patagonia

Bishopstown Hillwalking Club go trekking in Patagonia: Vincent Murphy, Sean Cotter, Jim Ryan, Kathleen Buckley, Mossie Walsh, Sharon Burns, Jim Collins, Pearce O'Shea, Dolores Geary and Michael Byrne - 25th of January, and it's Cork to El Calafate, 1700 miles south of Buenos Aires.
First, we headed to the famous Perito Moreno glacier. What a sight. Jim Ryan had the Holly Bough, a photo was duly taken. You can't spend enough time taking in the breathtaking views, the sheer enormity and impressiveness of the glacier, and all under clear blue skies.
Then it's El Chalten for walking. Our guide Marcello leads our first walk to Laguna Torre and views of the impressive  Cerro Torre, a vertical bare granite peak, 3,127 m high. This eases us in – about 20km and 600m total climb. Out of the town, up and down hills, through woodland and open country, past raging glacial streams and we reach the moraine at the edge of the lake. And the views are superb. Wisps of cloud cover the peaks, but occasionally they peep through. Take it all in and head back. A magnificent 8 hour trek.
Next day 7 head up Loma del Diablo (the Devil's hill) for an 11km 1,400m climb, while 3 of us go kayaking at the Lago Condor eco camp, where we spend the night. The walk is challenging, with a difficult descent through a rockfall of boulders. After 8 hours the 7 arrive back tired but  enthralled.
Next it's a 23 km, 900m walk to Laguna de los Tres and back to El Chalten. Lots of ups and downs through woodlands, across streams and we arrive at the place where we have a 450m steep rocky ascent to Laguna de Los Tres and the views of Cerro Fitzroy – 3,375m, bare granite tower. The ancient Tehueche name is El Chalten,meaning smokey mountain, because it was nearly always covered in cloud. But today the sky and mountain top are clear and we see it in all its glory. We head down, stop at Lago Capri to cool down, dabble our tired feet in the water. 10 hours.
Next day Marcello suggests a short walk – there are no dissenters. Back early to chill out in El Chalten - a lovely town, serving trekkers and climbers, lots of good restaurants.
Then it's on to Chile and Torres del Paine where we will trek for 6 days, carrying our bags.
Day 1, an early start with our guide Seba – through woodland, bridges over fast streams, up we go. Then a scramble over rocks and boulders and we arrive at the lake and the breathtaking granite towers, up to 2,850m high. We are fascinated as we sit and watch, have lunch and take photos. A good walk, 14km, 900m climb. 8 hours.
Day 2 is a 14km, 450m, 6 hour walk along the shore of Lake Nordenskjold, ups and downs but nothing too difficult, and we arrive at refugio Los Cuernos (the horns). It's the one cloudy, overcast, sometimes showery day of the whole trip, not a good day to see the Cuernos.
Day 3 and it's the French Valley, no idea what's in store, but the mountains gradually reveal all until we find ourselves in a massive amphitheatre, surrounded by bare granite mountains topped with sedimentary rocks. About 9 hours, 15km, 700 m climb.
Day 4 is easier, 11km, 400m, 5 hours along Lago Skottsberg and Lago Pehoe. Views of lakes and mountains in the distance, and a relaxing evening at the refugio.
Day 5, we walk along Lago Grey, 11.5 km, 450m, 5 hours. Past Laguna de los Patos to the viewing point where we can see Lago Grey with Grey Glacier in the distance, small icebergs floating in the lake. A glacier trek in the afternoon - Zodiac boatride across the lake; 45 minute rock climb to the top of the glacier; crampons, harness and helmet, ice pick in hand and we are ready for our trek. It is magnificent – the expanse of the ice, the colours from white to pale blue to dark blue, the crevasses and water pools, the mountains all round, the sunshine, and we are in heaven. A few hours later and we head back down – what's happened? While we were walking, a chunk of ice has broken off the glacier and there is ice all across the lake. We heard nothing. The Zodiac ploughs through in its stride. A long day but so very thrilling.
Day 6, 4.5 hours back to Paine Grande, catamaran across Lake Pehoe. En route we see the Cuernos (horns) in all their glory. And it's back to El Calafate, a lovely meal in this most touristy of towns, washed down by Argentinian beer and malbec wine.
Next day Buenos Aires: Palermo where we sample the atmosphere in a local bar; Recoleta cemetry and Evita's resting place, also many with Irish connections – Admiral Brown, Fr. Fahy, Guevara Lynch family and others; Casa Rosada presidential palace, Plaza de Mayo  – where the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo sought answers about those “disappeared” during the dirty war, 1976 to 1983; lunch in the classic Gran Cafe Tortoni; watching tango dancers in San Telmo. Then it's time to cool down (32deg outside) before dinner and tango show at Esquina Carlos Gardel. What a fabulous evening.
But it's not over yet. One last drink at a nearby pub – Santissima Cerveceria (Holiest Brewery). It's Carnival, not like Rio: they're playing Brazilian Samba music and we're enticed out dancing with the locals.

It was the best holiday ever, always to be remembered and spoken about – great walking, perfect weather, magnificent scenery and the best of company.

A selection of Sean Cotter photos may be viewed  HERE

Created with flickr slideshow.

Thursday, October 8, 2015


We will be changing our Thursday night meeting venue to “The Model Farm” (formerly the Tennis Village and McCarthy’s Bar), now owned by Eileen and Pat Burton, starting on Thursday 15th October 2015’   Plenty of parking spaces at the northern (river side) end of the building.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Climbing Triglav Mountain, 2864 meters in Slovenia - BHC trip August 2015

Climbing Triglav Mountain by Michael Henchion

Our climb up Triglav Mountain, Slovenia’s highest mountain involved a 2 day trek.
We departed our Hotel,” Hotel Alpina”,Kranjska Gora, at 10 am on Monday 17th, and arrived at the start of the walk after driving to the end of a forest road in the Krma Valley. At 11:10am we set off in a slight mist. 
Beginning the trek upwards
 It was a marked trail the whole way to the top, initially through wooded areas and then onto open mountain. It took us four and half hours to get to Planika Dom, where we would over night, after climbing about 1,500m over a distance of about 10km.As we were settling in to our temporary accommodation we noticed six people descending from Triglav.  It transpired they were our fellow BHC hillwalkers SC , JJ et al who had chosen to climb Triglav  along an alternative route, beginning in the Kot  Valley. They would be overnighting in Triglav Lodge at Kredarica.
After rising at 6:15am the following morning we took some photos of the sunrise, ate breakfast, packed our bags, leaving some in the hut to be collected later, secured out harnesses and 
by 7:40 am we were on our way.
Ridge to the Summit
The route to the top was well protected with iron cables & poles particularly in the more exposed areas along the ridge.The route was demanding but technically manageable with ample foot holds in the limestone rocks; The main challenge was the extreme exposure in places !!.  

We arrived at the top 2864m, at about 9:30am and did the compulsory photo-shoot and Monro hug before beginning our descent. 

Triglav Summit 2864 meters
We all arrived back safely at Planika Dom around 11:30am. There was plenty of banter and chatter on the way up and down and all in all it was an exhilarating and enjoyable experience for everyone.
We relaxed at Planika Dom until 12:10pm and then we continued our journey down.
We initially passed through stunning valleys bordered by craggy limestone peaks  which eventually gave way to woodland tracks.We arrived at Konjsko  Sedle , 2020m at 12:37pm  and stopped for lunch at Vodnikov Dom at around 13:30pm. The weather was good up to the final hour when we were subjected at this point to multiple peels of thunder and lightening and the accompanying rain. Our guide Iztok, who had been involved in mountain rescue for many years had informed us earlier that he had personally been in volved in the recovery of 32 bodies from the mountain over the years  many of whom had been the victims of lightening strikes. So you can imagine we didn’t dally on the mountain!. All the way down    we were serenaded by songs from Tommy , Louise , Linda, and Michael. We arrive at the car-park at 5:30pm. The waiting bus was a welcome sight. At this stage we had been  walking on the mountain almost 10 hrs.

Climbing Triglav Mountain by Sean Cotter

A group of six led by BHC walk leader Sean Cotter climbed Triglav in one day without helmets, harnesses or lanyards/hooks to attach to the fixed steel ropes.

Started south of Mojstrana in the Kot Valley and climbed over 2,200 metres in 6.5 hours to the top of Triglav (2864 m), via Valentina Stanica and Triglavski Kredarica huts, in light rain and wet cloud.

Descended and stayed overnight in Triglavski Kredarica hut (2539 m).  The only people that we saw on the paths all day were two
Bulgarian people that we met on our way back down from Triglav and who requested that we bring them down from the first section that they had climbed up to (both had vertigo problems).

The next day we descended via the Cez Prag, a difficult route with
lots of Via Ferrata sections, to the Aljazev hut in the Vrata Valley (west of the Kot Valley) in 4.5 hours. Both routes are on the north side of Triglav. 

 (left-to-right: Sean Cotter, Ann Daly, Kathleen Healy, Jerry Foley, John J Cotter & Harry Dillane)

A collection of photos by John Cotter may be viewed  HERE

To view a selection of photos by Sharon and Michael  Click Here

Thursday, February 12, 2015


On Saturday last whilst ascending at the back of Coum Eag in the Comeraghs we had an incident resulting in a serious injury to Patricia O’Connor, one of our members.  Whilst ascending up a grassy slope a large rock was dislodged from on high and rolled downhill striking her on the lower leg. Thankfully everyone else managed to avoid being struck. Once everything settled down it was obvious from her pain that she had suffered a serious injury, most likely a fracture/break in the ankle.  Initially we treated her for shock,(shaking, vomiting sensation, breathing), which she recovered from in a short time thanks to excellent care from the members present.  Having assessed the injury, the weather, the surrounding terrain and the experienced members present it was determined that we should evacuate her off the mountain ourselves.  We improvised a stretcher from walking poles and a fleece, dressed her in additional layers of clothing to keep her warm and proceeded to descend the mountain stopping at regular intervals to give the bearers rest.  Once down she was driven to Cork when they established that she had suffered a fractured ankle.  We wish her a very speedy recovery.
From a personal viewpoint, a big thanks to all who assisted on the day – people remained calm, assessed the situation, decided and implemented a course of action.  Special thanks to Colin, Tommy, Declan, Ger, Tony, Michael and Louise who executed the carry-out.

There are lessons to be learned here. There are constant dangers on the mountains and we must remain vigilant at all times.  Accidents can and will occur from time to time.  We must be constantly assessing situations and be aware of any risks to ourselves and to others.

In this particular case, when ascending a gully, no matter what the risk, it is better for the group to stick close together thus lessening the risk of being struck by falling rocks.  In particular, at this time of the year rocks, loosened by snow and ice can become unstable.

Michael Carey

Leenaun Weekend 2014

Friday 24th' off to Leenaun again for the now Annual 'A' team assault on the Connemara Mountains.This years goal, Glen Cogan, Glen Corbett horseshoes, Failmore Circuit with Ben Gorm/Ben Creggan as back up. Forecast looked good leading up to the weekend and again Connemara showed it has no regard for forecasts.

Saturday, ready to climb at 09:30h. Cloud lifting to give a clear view of the Majestic Glen Cogan, things looking good,so on and up. About 300m the first of the gales hit; maps, hats ect. took off on their merry way which led to a mad scramble to recover same. Navagation easy enough at this stage but it was not to last. Wind increasing to storm force with heavy rain (should have listened to Mels weather warnings...) Makes one wonder what the 12 Bens Challange must have been like! No takers for the escape route at the half way point so on to the finish. The 7 hours extended to a 9 hour exhausting battle against the elements, but what a day!

Sundays forecast even worse so even plan B went out the window. 80k winds so low level with no dissenters. A long walk on the shore of Irelands only Fjord out to The Quay with a little bit of Ascent for good measure. The beauty of Killary Harbour is something to behold (pity about the mussel farms) Paid our usual visit to Ganeys, The Field pub, followed by a musical evening in the Hotel. A wonderful local artist Mary Keane pulled out all the stops, so good ,as John J said, even he stayed to the finish.  Good also of Rosemary to entertain TONY!!!

Only Monday to go, again the forecast looked did yeah! Rain and wind again belting down, for the second year running the Glen Corbett mission had to be abandoned after a few hours. Next Year??.
Wrapped up the weekend with dinner in Morans on the Weir.

Well done to all for the effort put in in the most adverse weather conditions.
No looking back after that.


Pictures by Dan McCarthy of the Weekend can be viewed HERE

Friday, November 1, 2013

Leenane Weekend 2013

A group of 20+ walkers travelled to Leenane in Connemara over the October Weekend to walk in The Bens and to climb Mweelrea (highest mountain in Connaught). Whilst the weather was not cooperative over the weekend this did not deter people with walks completed each day culminating with an ascent of Mweelrea on bank holiday monday in what could be described as testing conditions.

To see a full slideshow Click Here

Monday, August 12, 2013

Mountain Meitheal South East Work Day

Bishopstown hillwalking club volunteers
Saunders Lodge Track 2013

After advertising on the BHC newsletter for volunteers to help with the newly established Mountain Meitheal South East I received emails from members who were more then willing to help 'put something back'

We all met up in Model Farm road and then a 2nd meeting at the Firgrove in Mitchelstown saw us all car pool to Clydagh bridge where we met up with Mountain meitheal chairman Jimmy Barry and our leader for the day Frank Mc Mahon.  We left most cars at the car parks and loaded up tools etc and set off for the Saunders Track which runs from the main track up to Curragh Lake.

It wasn't long before Frank gave us our instructions and you were seperated out into Light workers which involved 'Brashing' (collecting heather for the underneath part of the track) stripping bark off logs, collecting stones etc or heavy work which included shovelling gravel and carrying.
Someone fill this up for me will you!
We all tried each of the jobs and frequently swapped around so as we were not under constant pressure so it was nice to see that our health was being looked after and also on board was Robert Gandon of the original Mountain Meitheal up in Wicklow to explain each job to us and the tools we would be using etc and how to use them safely.

I would like to say a massive thank you to the following members of Bishopstown hillwalkers who turned up on the day to freely give there time to what is no doubt a very deserving project.

Tom and I showing how it's done
 Mike Murphy, J.J.Cotter, Josephine Falvey, Imelda McSweeney, Tom McCarthy, Mags Cotter, Noel Murphy, Marie Foster, Trish O'Connor and Deccie O'Connor. 

Both Jimmy Barry (Chairman) and Frank were very impressed with the work put in by our members and you all did our club proud.

Hopefully we will have more work days in the future and other volunteers from the club.

As you can see from the picture of the stairs and waterbar etc we put a huge amount of work in and will get great satisfaction from this for many years to come.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Scotland 2013 ( The crocked and banjaxed tour!!)

Torridon 2013 

Lord Berkleys Seat

I have already been to the Highlands of Scotland on previous occassions both with Bishopstown hillwalkers and on my own winter mountaineering. I had never though been to the Northern highlands and the Torridian sandstone hills with all there fabulous seascapes, lochs, remoteness and mostly...scrambling.

12 members including myself booked up straight away and we organised accommodation, flights and car hire fairly quickly.

We had 5 seriously hard days walking and scrambling to look forward to and we were all in the climbing wall in the Mardyke arena honing up our skills ready for the scrambling ahead............unfortunately due to a fall on the wall I damaged the ligaments on the outside of my ankle and chipped the bone!!  

What was I to do I was supposed to be leading this week.  A huge Thanks go out to Pat Broderick and Victor Hurley as my physio allowed me to do the scrambling routes but I was not allowed to do long walks in so fortunately both Pat and Victor lead two of the walks for me. 

Day one and the weather was good...not only good but great, so was the forecast for the coming week, perfect.

Our first walk was Beinn Alligin and the Horns of Alligin:  A walk with scrambling, 13.5km 1393m ascent, 6 hours and 45 mins.

This was a very pleasant walk to start with a stream walk into an open valley, the climbing up to the horns started straight away and didn't disappoint. we soon gained our first munro Sgurr Mhor... be warned future walkers on this route that there is a large gash known as the black notch of the outcry which is a notorious drop off coming off Sgurr Mhor in bad weather.
Sgurr Mhor with the black notch of the outcry 

The next day was my rest day and as Marie, Tom and I went off sightseeing the others did Beinn Eighe. A+  walk 19.7 kms 8 hours 1036m ascent.

In Victors words: 
As with the rest of the walking in Scotland a well maintained pathway from our starting point led us through  a scenic valley,Liathach to the left and Sail Mhor on our right.Great views and an easy track led us to Loch Mhor Mhic Fhearchaic.

A track led around left side of the Loch with the towering Buttresses of Sail Mhor across.A hard scramble up a very loose scree slope and on to Ruadh Stac Mhor our first Munro of the day.A fine ridge walk and before we knew,Munro no two.Spidean Coire Nan Glach.Again the views back the way we had come were unreal.Another steep decent over rough ground ended another great day out.The only hiccup of the day was Victor refusing to carry Imelda:s GPS,too heavy!!!.

Day 3:  Liathach:  This was one of the two I couldn't wait to get my hands on!!  A+ walk 10kms 1400 m ascent 8 hrs 30

Beautiful Torridion Sandstone
Liathach is the range which overshadows the town of Torridon as you enter this area of the highlands and looks from the road coming in to be completely impossible to forge a route up through, with drops off on both sides and dry weather both the scrambling and the situation through the day were fantastic.... a hill walkers dream, views were stunning and we gained another 2 munros taking the tally so far this week up to a respectable six.

Day 4: Designated Rest day

Day 5: An Teallach and this walk was for me the jewel in the crown for the week, photos of this mountain will both terrify and impress you depending on your level of experience with scrambling............ we loved it!! A+ walk with serious scrambling.

Again the day started with dry weather and though we skirted around the bottom of An Teallach to it's west side to start our climb at no time did the mist lift from the top, keeping us in suspense over the actual level of scrambling for some time and further adding to the anticipation.  once on top we could finally see the way forward and we were not disappointed. Sandstone torrs rising up allowing all levels of difficulty...... it was a scramblers dream.
Sandstone Torrs

Day 6: and last walk of the week and while I was off again resting (in the Torridon inn) Victor and Pat took the helm again so I'll hand you over to Victor:

Another long walk in 4.6k but with some great views.Beinn Eighe to to our left Loch Maree in front and Slioch towering just to the right.A lovely warm day again,what a change from 2 years of rain. Met some of the locals on the way,much faster than us.The views on this one were  unsurpassed An Teallach,Isle of Skye Liathach etc. Only the one Munro this time. Brought our tally to 9 (Tom).A parting shot from Pat the Dirty Dozen was reduced to the Magnificent Seven was well received by all. Just as well we were on our last day,the Women With Att(sorry)Altitude starting to get out of hand.Wanting to be carried off the mountain!!!

Another successful trip to Scotland and one of my most favourite hillwalking spots in the world............ so where to next time guys..............isle of Skye or Glen Shiel and the sisters of Kintail.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Report on 38th Annual Maamturks Challenge 2013

Picture by Tim Leahy in 2007

On Saturday 13th April 28 members of the Club participated in the Annual Maamturks Challenge.  Completion times varied from 10 hours upwards but in truth this year it was all about the personal challenge from the perspective of fitness and navigation due to the atrocious weather from Maumahoge onwards.   For all the first timers(13) it really was a tough initiation after a few years of very pleasant weather – and, it can only get better.   Many clubs are amazed we have so many walkers of this standard but it does not just happen overnight. Much planning went into this challenge and we must thank the various leaders, the likes of Victor, Pat, Tom, Imelda, Julie, Michael, David, Ger, John & Dec etc who organised many walks aimed specifically at the event.  So take a well deserved bow.  All the walkers went into serious training over the past few months to achieve these levels of fitness.  As mention, we had 28 members participating and all finished.  The organisers reported 187 registerd walkers started with 134 finishing.
Bishopstown had almost 21% of the finishers – fantastic going. 

In no particular order our walkers were:
Declan O’Connor
Trish O’Connor
Deirdre O’Connell
Marie O’Brien
Imelda McSweeney
Kevin Finn
Catherine Duggan
Sharon Godfrey
Louise O’Leary
Eleanor O’Leary
Michael Henchion
Tom McCarthy
Colin Sweetman
Aiden O’Driscoll
Tommy McGreevy
John Hallissey
Mary Walsh
Pat McCarthy
David Clayton
Victor Hurley
Josephine Falvey
Michael Carey
Jerry Foley
Dermot O’Reilly
Pat O’Dwyer
Joanne Humphries
Harry Dillane
Tony Frawley

The majority of us stayed in the Leenane Hotel, an excellent base for the walk. And what service, with full breakfast available from 3.45am onwards Saturday morning.  The hotel is located immediately across the road from the finish so hot showers, baths may be had immediately – a great reward.  Excellent group meal and a few drinks Saturday night after we had all  cleaned up.

What of the Challenge itself: a tale of two halves
With a weather forecast promising some very nasty wind, rain and mist after noon we decided to strike off as early as we could with most getting going around the 5.30am mark.  The forecasters got it right with clear skies and a breeze to our backs as with head torches alight we struck off in the dark into a climb of over 500 meters to Corcog, (609m) followed by a quick decent of over 200 meters to be followed by another 240 meters up to Mullagh Glas.  By now you new it was a challenge.  And this is what the Maamturks is all about, with and steep ascents followed by as many steep decents.  Continuing on, we reached Maumean (St Patricks Well) in around 3 hours.  Ever conscious of the weather we skipped the usual stop and continued up to Binn Chaonaigh for our first real break.  From here it is a good stretch all the way to Maum Ochoige, which is approx. half way in distance and over 60% of climbing.  Onwards we climbed towards Maum Ean and we were starting to think of times at this stage but as forecast the weather had other ideas and soon we were met with gale force winds, rain and thick mist – from here on navigation became the order of the day and as luck would have it most of the Bishopstown walkers came together and it was like the usual club walk – not planned but a nice surprise.  We and a number of others trekked our way to the Col of Despondency, (at one stage I reckon there were at least 40 walkers in single file moving along pied piper style.)  Our final break before the final climb up Leenane Hill, nothing special on a regular walk but after about 9 hours it can hurt and this year it was waiting for us, as it were, with very severe south easterly gales all the way to the top.  Indeed, many walkers were bowled over on this climb.  Thankfully, from the top the wind was to our backs and the rain eased off and the descent to the finish in Leenane village was relatively easy. 

Suffice to say that after a couple of nice years the Maamtuks reputation of being one of if the toughest walk on the walking calendar has been reinstated.  Will we be back in 2014 – lets wait and see!!

Comments on the Walk: Whilst I understand that NUIG Monutaineering Club do this on a voluntary basis there are some issues which they might consider.  The walkers also put a lot of time and effort into preparing for the Challenge also.
  1. Registration – despite arriving at 5am it was after 5.30am before we got going due to a very slow moving queue.  As the majority of people pre-registered perhaps the Walk Cards could be sent out beforehand with walkers being punched in at the start.
  2. Start – Walkers would appreciate being bused to the start as happens with most of the linear National walks.  Leenane would benefit also as walkers would be more inclined to stay in the vicinity overnight providing much needed income for the local hostelries.  
I have tracked down some links from the day which you may find of interest.

There are very few photos available but a small slide show taken in the early stages are available here:

Some thoughts and comments from the day