30 December 2010

Come Back Snow

Thanks a million to Paul, from Dublin, who emailed this article from the Evening Herald down to me. I'll never forget the views we had the day these images were taken; probably my best day ever up on Carrauntoohil! Nathan

27 December 2010

Timing (For Mountain Skills)

Timing is a technique used for Mountain Skills/Mountain Navigation, especially over distances of more than 500 metres, or over steep, broken ground. It's mainly used in bad visibility or for night navigation.

Timing is measuring the distance you will be walking between two points, then calculating how long it will take to walk that distance.

You need a 1:50 000 OSI Map, Silva Type 4 Compass and Stop Watch.

Stage 1
1. Break your journey into short, manageable legs, for example, from a spot height to a saddle.

2. Measure your map leg distance, using the millimetre ruler of your compass.

3. 1 millimetre = 50 metres
If you measure 18 millimetres, between your spot height and your saddle, then the distance is 900 metres.

4. Naismith's Rule: Average Hill Walking Speed - 5km per hour
This Breaks Down As:
5km per hour
1km per 12 mins
500 metres per 6 mins
100 metres per 1 min + 12 seconds (call it just over 1 min)

5. So if your distance is 900 metres, use the above table to calculate the time it will take to walk:
900 metres = 10 mins + 48 seconds (call it 11 mins)

Stage 2
You now have your main timing figure of 11 mins, which is how long it will take to walk 900 metres; however you need to allow for any uphill climbing, which is going to slow you down.

1. Count how many uphill contours you cross and for each uphill contour you cross, add on 1 extra min. So if you cross 8 uphill contours, add 8 extra mins to your original time.
11 mins + 8 extra mins for uphill contours = 19 mins total

Stage 3
Ignore downhill contours; only allow for uphill contours.

Stage 4
You now know it will take you 19 mins to walk from your spot height to your saddle.

1. Start your stop watch once you begin walking and if you stop to check your map make sure you stop, then re-start, your stop watch each time. Don't forget this!

2. As you approach 19 mins you want to be carefully looking out for your destination point, as you should allow a couple of mins margin on either side of your calculated time.

3. You should be at your destination after 19 mins. If not ask yourself if you may have overshot it.

4. If you haven't overshot it, walk on for an extra 5 mins only and you should have arrived at your destination.

Timing is a great technique, used in conjunction with other Mountain Skills techniques, to navigate with.

It can be an excellent Cut Off Point, which tells you that you should walk no more than, for example, 19 mins, plus an extra 5 mins if necessary, to reach your destination point.

Getting Lost/Getting Found Blog
Click Here To See Our Mountain Skills Courses
Any Other Tips Or Advice? Leave A Comment

Snow Report 27th Dec

Approx Summit Temperature: 4 Degrees C Minus Wind Chill
MacGillycuddy Reeks Stripped Of Snow, Apart From Possible Some Wet Snow In Gullies

23 December 2010

Snow Report - Christmas

No Snow Reports Until 28th Dec
Conditions Likely To Hold Same As Below Photo
Fairly High Avalanche Risk In Gullies, Such As Curve & Central

22 December 2010

Snow Report 23rd Dec

Temperature @ 150m: -5 Degrees C
Approx Summit Temperature: -8 Degrees C
Snow Depth Approx One Foot, Much Deeper In Gullies
Soft Powder & Unconsolidated

21 December 2010

Carrauntoohil's Gullies

Cloud and spindrift streaming over Carrauntoohil's summit

O Shea's Gully visible as the widest gully on the right.
Central Gully starts over half way up O Shea's, on the left.
Curve Gully is the long narrow, most leftward, curving gully, which leads straight to the summit.

Snow Report 21st Dec

Temperature @ 150m: -4 Degrees C
Approx Summit Temperature: -10 Degrees C
Large Amounts Of Powder Thawed/Blown Away, Although Still Plenty Underfoot & Gullies Still Full. Some Hardening Of Snow & Wind-Slab Beginning To Form

19 December 2010

Snow Report 20th Dec

Temperature @ 150m: -3 Degrees C
Approx Summit Temperature: -5 Degrees C

Snow Report 19th Dec

Temperature @ 150m: 3 Degrees C
Approx Summit Temperature: -4 Degrees C
Freezing Level Just Below Summits
No Real Ice Forming
Question Mark Over Security Of Vast Amounts Of Powder Snow Build-Up In N & NE Gullies Such As Curve Gully

Most Snow Ever On Carrauntoohil

Yesterday, Saturday 18th December, was the most snow I've ever seen on Carrauntoohil and the MacGillycuddy Reeks. It was soft powder snow, unfrozen and unconsolidated, so it made for a long day, with pleasantly sore legs the following day!

Approaching Carrauntoohil through Hag's Glen.
O Shea's Gully visible on the right of the summit.

Ascending towards First Level, roped together for security.

First Level, with Hag's Glen in the background.

Incredibly thick and soft powder snow, at least a foot deep.

Climbing from First Level to Second Level.

Nearing Carrauntoohil's summit, having climbed O Shea's Gully.

Summit cross in sight!

17 December 2010

Snow Report 18th Dec

Temperature @ 150m: 0 Degrees C
Approx Summit Temperature: -5 Degrees C
More Snow Fall Last Night

Christmas Gift Vouchers 2010

We've delayed for as long as possible, as I'm sure people are being bombarded with voucher adverts and Christmas songs! Now however, with snow falling steadily outside my office window and a week to Christmas Eve, seems like a good time to mention our Adventure Christmas Gift Vouchers. They can be bought online and posted to you the same day - so if you're thinking of getting something a little different, or even want something adventurous yourself, get in touch or print this page off and leave it lying on your coffee table!

To Arrange A Gift Voucher Contact:
+353 (0) 86 860 45 63

Snow Report 17th Dec

Temperature @ 150: 2 Degrees C
Approx Summit Temperature: -4 Degrees C
Soft Snow Falling Thickly - Drifts Will Be Forming

16 December 2010

When Darkness Falls

Becoming caught on the hills in darkness can be a minor issue; or it can be a major problem resulting in injury or mountain rescue.
The difference between it being a minor or major issue mainly comes down to preparation, knowledge and experience.

It goes without saying to have a well equipped back pack, with all your usual spare gear and safety gear.

Really think about this spare gear though – if you’re becoming cold and damp as night falls and the temperature is dropping even more; is the one lightweight fleece at the bottom of your bag really enough to rewarm you and keep you warm?

Emergency food should not just be a couple of extra chocolate bars, but rather high energy, slow release food; like extra sandwiches, a container of pasta or nuts and fruit.

Ideally have a head torch per person, but failing that certainly have some type of torch per person. Don’t use wind-up torches; they’re useless for night navigation! Also, very importantly, carry spare torch batteries.

Once you realise that hurrying won’t help and you will be caught in dusk; don't get stressed. Stop and take ten/fifteen mins to assess your current location, decide on a safe escape route including navigation points along the way; stock up on food and drink even if you’re not hungry and thirsty as you need your energy and concentration levels kept high.

What can happen is that you find yourself rushing, splitting your group of hikers and making silly mistakes in an effort to get down off the hills as quickly as possible. Instead accept that you are going to be down later than planned and to have the confidence that you can deal with navigating in dusk and darkness.

Map Reading Skills, Compass Bearings, Timing and Pacing are essential skills for navigating safely off the hills in darkness. Doing an Outdoors Ireland Mountain Skills Course in Kerry or Wicklow is an ideal way to develop or recap/improve your knowledge.

Check out this blog post about finding yourself if you do become misplaced.

As part of Mountain Skills 2 you spend time on the hills at nighttime, practicing night navigation.

This is something you can practice yourself as well, somewhere near to a road with no cliffs nearby!

Half the battle of dealing with benightment, is having experienced it previously and knowing that you can deal with it and have the skills to get yourself out.

Any other tips or advice? Please do leave a comment...

13 December 2010

Winter Mountaineering Courses - Kerry

Best Shots Of Winter 2010

Outdoors Ireland's North East Gully

Reporting From Curve Gully

Alpine-Like Beenkeragh Ridge

Carrauntoohil's Summit, Above The Clouds
Click Here To Book!

Guess Where!?

Can You Guess What Climb The Two Specks Of Climbers Are On?
Leave A Comment Below...

Snow Report 13th Dec

Approx Summit Temperature: 4 Degrees C
All Decent Snow & Ice Gone At Moment

Snow Kite in Kerry

snowkite from kite-wayTv on Vimeo.

11 December 2010

10 December 2010

Snow Report 11th Dec

Snow Only Remaining In A Couple Gullies, Including Curve & Central
Beenkeragh Ridge Atmospheric
Temperature @ 150m: 5 Degrees C
Approx Summit Temperature: 1/0 Degree C

Mountain Skills 2

We have places available on a Mountain Skills 2 this weekend.
Running at Reeks Lodge, in Kerry and taking place in the MacGillycuddy Reeks; this two-day course will cover Map Reading Techniques, Compass Bearings & Skills, Night Navigation, Steep Ground Work, Emergency Procedures & Mountain Rescue.

Mountain Skills 2 is fully approved by Mountaineering Ireland and is part of the Mountain Skills Scheme.

Click Here For Details
To Book Contact Nathan:
+353 (0) 86 860 45 63

Snow Report - 10th Dec

Most Approach Slopes Stripped Of Snow
Approx Summit Temperature: 3 Degrees C
Ridges & N Gullies Holding Some Soft & Deep Snow

8 December 2010

Snow Report - 9th Dec

Temperature @ 150: 4 Degrees C
Approx Summit Temperature: 0 Degrees C

Curve Gully - Carrauntoohil

7am Hag's Glen start for a dawn climb of Carrauntoohil's Curve Gully.
Heather pausing half-way up the north face for a quick report!
Check out the frozen Devil's Spy Glass Lake, far below her...

Heather, earlier in the morning, negotiating the first step.

Snow Report - 8th Dec

For today's snow conditions see the two above videos, which were taken in Curve Gully on Carrauntoohil's north face.

Temperature @ 150m: 2 Degrees C
Approx Summit Temperature: -3 Degrees C
Snow Loose/Soft But Holding For Easier N & NE Gullies
Ice Weak & Thawing

7 December 2010

Snow Report - 7th Dec

Low Cloud - No Visibility
Temperature @ 150m: 1 Degree C
Approx Summit Temperature: -3 Degrees C
Slopes Snow Stripped Apart From N & NE Facing Gullies
Ice Becoming Loose - General Slow Thaw
Freezing Level Below Summits & Light Snow Falling Currently @ 4pm

6 December 2010

Freezing Conditions - 6th Dec

Temperature @ 150m: -1 C
Approx Summit Temperature: -8 C
Ice & Snow Pack Still Semi Frozen

5 December 2010

Kerry Winter Climbing Extended

After a superb week of Winter Walking & Climbing in the MacGillycuddy Reeks, conditions are allowing us to extend bookings for tomorrow, Monday 6th, plus Tuesday and Wednesday. Freezing conditions are holding good now, with decent powder snow on the summits. No experience is needed and all equipment provided.
Click Here For Details

To Book Contact:
+353 (0) 86 860 45 63

Snow Conditions - MacGillycuddy Reeks

Temperature @ 150: 1 Degree C
Approx Summit Temperature: -3 Degrees C
Some Slight Re Freezing Of Ice After Recent Thaw
Freezing Level Below Summits

4 December 2010

Today's Winter Climbing

Snow Conditions - MacGillycuddy Reeks

Temperature @ 150m: 4 Degrees C
Summit Temperature Approx: -1 Degree C
Snow Retreating, Although Holding In NE Gullies
Freezing Level @ 2pm Is Above The Peaks

3 December 2010

Snow Conditions - MacGillycuddy Reeks

Some Thawing Action Yesterday & Last Night.
Rain Falling @ 150m. Fresh Snow Fall Higher In Reeks.
Temperature @ 150m: 4 Degrees C.
Approx Summit Temperature: -2 Degrees C.

Irish Winter Climbing!

Grade 1/1+ Irish Winter Climbing In MacGillycuddy Reeks

2 December 2010

Our Winter Playground

Freezing Conditions - 2nd Dec

Hard Ice Forming in North East Facing Areas
Summit Temperatures Approx -9 C
Temperature @ 150m -4

30 November 2010

Summit Temperature -9 Degrees C.
Temperature @ 150m -3 Degrees C.
No Fresh Snow. Slight Lightning Of Conditions.

Christmas/New Year Outdoors

Carrauntoohil @ Christmas
Sun 26th Dec - Discounted Price €55 Per Person

Rock Climbing in the Gap of Dunloe
Wed 29th Dec : Half Day : €50pp

Hike Mangerton & Horses Glen
Thurs 30th Dec : €65pp

Guided Climb of Carrauntoohil & MacGillycuddy Reeks
Two Days - Three Mountains!
Fri 31st Dec & Sat 1st Jan : €65pp

For More Details Contact Nathan:
+353 (0) 86 860 45 63

MS Refresher Reschedule

We're rescheduling our Mountain Skills Refresher Day planned for Sun 5th Dec, to Sun 16th Jan, due to road travelling conditions for participants. If you would like to book onto Sun 16th Jan contact us on info@outdoorsireland.com or +353 (0) 86 860 45 63.

We've also rescheduled the Art O Neill NAV CLINIC from this Sat 4th Dec to Sat 18th Dec.

Snow Conditions - Tues 30th Nov

No Photo - Fairly Thick Cloud. Summit Temperature Approx -4 Degrees C. Snow Conditions Similar To Yesterday.

Mountain Skills 1 Blog

Learning The Basics Of How Not To Get Lost
By Ailsa Berkeley

Have you ever been on top of a mountain exhausted and have no idea which route will take you safely back down to your car, ever plan a half day hike with friends and 6 hours later you are still dragging them through bogs and brambles? Ever carry maps out with you because that’s what all good outdoors people but the only use they are for you is to keep your bottom dry when you sit down?

Well I'm a demon for thinking that a pair of hiking boots and a sense of adventure is all I need to get me through a day out in the hills, but after one too many basic errors that, have nearly turned friend and family against me forever, it dawned on me that maybe a sense of direction is also a good thing to have with me on a day out. It was time to up skill, so when the opportunity arose to take part in Outdoor Ireland's Mountain Skills Course I was all over it , like mud to a hiking boot.

Located in the depth of Kerry, at the foot of the Gap of Dunloe, near Carrantuohill, Nathan’s school is ideally situated (though admittedly a little hard to find). From here he runs a great range of activity courses from kayaking to rock climbing. The one I was participating in was Mountain Skills 1 - aimed at giving the basic map reading skills to hill walkers. In November I headed down to take part in the 2 day course.

The course was dedicated to map understanding, the art of navigating the land with map reading being the focus. The group, lead by Tadhg, headed to the hills, each of us armed with a Silva compass and a typographical map. And the training began. We divided the course into sections and each one of the group had to take turns in leading the others to the detonations. In unfamiliar terrain the only thing we would rely on was our trusted '78.

The amount of information that can be pulled out of a map is unbelievable, from reading the basic symbols to recognising re-entrants. We delved into the detail of the contour lines, we were taught to recognise our exact location from just reading the pixel thin lines on the map. Timing was a whole section to itself – having the ability to estimate how long a route will take is definitely one of the most practical pieces of information we could take from the course, enabling you to determine the latest possible start time for the day and to know when to cut the planned route short if running behind schedule, preventing the situation arising where you are wondering around aimlessly in the darkness...

Tadhg told us numerous tips and tricks along the way such as how to tell if the river has been mapped or not, how to spot if you’ve missed your destination, how tick of features can be used, what the ultimate pack should contain [try vacuum packing a fleece and a Mars bar...] and why deliberately aiming off your destination an help you get to your destination quicker....

The class room sessions complemented the practical field trips (and not just in terms of the hot cuppas and chocolate biscuits) Being informed about what gear to buy from someone who experienced in the area rather than someone who is just trying to sell you a product was invaluable - I’m just dying to go on a shopping trip now to sort out my outdoors wardrobe. Other topics tackled were what route cards are and how to use them, hazards and what to watch out for, pacing, and recognising geographic features...

Once it was all explained to me I couldn’t foresee how I’d go off track again – that was until it was me turn to lead...[somehow the group ended up ankle deep in bog, heading in the wrong direction...] A lot of information was packed into the two days, practice is definitely required. But it’s great to be able to say that after a two day course as long as I have a good Silva type 4 compass and a typographical map I’m in command of myself no matter what the location in the outdoors.

The course is perfect for runners, hikers, adventure racers who want to improve their navigation sills or for someone who just wants a laugh with a good bunch people in the outdoors.

Click Here To See Upcoming Mountain Skills Courses

28 November 2010

Winter Walking Days

Winter Walking Days in the MacGillycuddy Reeks

Experience the magic of hiking the snowy, icy peaks of the MacGillycuddy Reeks over the coming days.
No previous snow experience needed.

Daily Dates
€75 Per Person Per Day
Transfers Provided

Contact Nathan:
+353 (0) 86 860 45 63

27 November 2010

Snow Conditions - MacGillycuddy Reeks

Sprinkling of fresh light snow on MacGillycuddy Reeks. Peaks obscured by cloud, so this is the view from Reeks Lodge @ 160 metres looking across to Cronin's Yard.
Temperature on peaks approx -6 degrees C.

26 November 2010

Snow Conditions - MacGillycuddy Reeks

Light dusting. Slightly more on north side of Beenkeragh.
Temperature approx 0 degrees C. Ground not frozen.

Getting Found

Most of us get a little misplaced occasionally while hill walking. Here's a few ideas for preventing it, or dealing with it when it does happen.

Preventing It:
1. Begin your route from a definite point.
2. Each section of your route has a definite start and finish point.
3. Use 2 to 4 'Tick Off Points' for each section of your route.
4. Use 1 'Cut Off Point' for each section of your route.
5. Extend or zig-zag your route if need be, so you can always travel between definite features.
6. Don't get complacent and always double check everything. Don't rush or be distracted!
7. Be very aware of what the ground is doing around you. Is it ascending, descending or flat?

Dealing With It:
1. If you're partway through a route section and become unsure of where you are along that specific route section, continue on to your next finish point, using Tick Off Points and then a Cut Off Point to keep you on route.

2. Stop, turn around and re-trace your steps to your last know position. Do this carefully and logically, using map and navigation. Don't randomly rush back as this is how you can become properly mis-placed. When you reach your last known position, begin your navigation again.

3. Use a 'Collecting Feature'. If you have only a vague idea of your position, look for a long/wide feature on your map, running parallel to you; such as a forest, river or road. Take a Compass Bearing to this feature. Because it's a long/wide feature you have a large margin of error in terms of reaching it. Once you reach it, firstly establish it's the correct feature and secondly establish where on the feature you are, by walking along it until you reach an obvious bend, junction, etc. Also work out Distance, Time, Tick Off Points and Cut Off Point.

4. Get a grid reference from your GPS and relate it to your map to get your current position.

5. Sit down, keep warm and wait for the mist/cloud to clear, so you can see your surroundings. (Last choice!)

Tick Off Points:
Obvious features along your route that you physically walk through or past; such as a change of slope, a lake, stream or spot height.

Cut Off Point:
A physical feature that you will walk through or past if you overshoot your destination point, such as descending ground if you walk past your spot height accidentally.

OSI 1:50 000 Scale Mape: 1mm = 50 metres : 1 Blue Grid Box = 1km

Average Hill Walking Speed = 5km per hour : 1km per 12 mins.
Allow 1 Extra Min Per Uphill Contour Crossed

Click Here To See Our Two-Day Mountain Skills Courses
(Kerry & Wicklow Courses)

Click Here To See Our One-Day Mountain Map Days
(Kerry & Wicklow Courses)

Compass Bearing Video

Any other tips or suggestions?

25 November 2010

Upcoming Events

Guided Climb of Carrauntoohil
Sat 27th Nov : Sat 11th Dec

Carrauntoohil via Coomloughra Horseshoe
Sat 4th Dec

Art O Neill Navigation Clinic - Wicklow
Sat 4th Dec

Mountain Skills Refresher Day
Sun 5th Dec

Mountain Skills 2
Sat 11th & Sun 12th Dec

Carrauntoohil @ Christmas
Sun 26th Dec - Discounted Price €55 Per Person

Rock Climbing in the Gap of Dunloe
Wed 29th Dec

Hike Mangerton & Horses Glen
Thurs 30th Dec

Guided Climb of Carrauntoohil & MacGillycuddy Reeks
Fri 31st Dec & Sat 1st Jan

For More Details Contact Nathan:
+353 (0) 86 860 45 63

Snow Conditions - Thurs 25th Nov

Light dusting on the higher peaks. No freezing.
Temp approx 1 degree C.

24 November 2010

Mountain Training Learnings

Laminated OSI Map
Silva Compass Type 4
Hiking Boots
Back Pack & Liner
Warm Clothes
Waterproof Coat & Trousers
Hat & Gloves
Spare Hat & Gloves
Two Spare Fleeces
Head Torch & Spare Batteries
First Aid Kit
Bivvy Bag
Hot Drink
Picnic Lunch

Map Reading:

Colours, Symbols, Contours, Scale, Measurement

Map Setting:
Point Map Direction You're Going

Contour Features:
Flat Ground, Steep Ground, Spot Height,
Spur, Col, Re-Entrant, Change of Slope, Corrie

Navigation Techniques:

Distance Estimation:
1 Grid Box = 1km. 1mm = 50 metres

Timing Estimation:
1km per 12 mins approx. 1 min per uphill contour crossed

Any questions or suggestions, just leave a comment below...

Mountain Training: Wicklow & Kerry

Mountain Map Day

Intensive One-Day Training Course including; Map Reading, Feature Recognition, Navigation Techniques, Distance Measurement, Timing, Pacing and Self-Locating Techniques.

Wicklow Dates: 22nd Jan : 19th Feb
Kerry Dates: 29th Jan : 26th Mar

Price: €65 Per Person

At the end of this day you will be introduced to the core skills needed to map read and navigate across the mountains in reasonable weather conditions, at all times of year. You will also be introduced to techniques for self-locating if you become misplaced.

To Book Contact Nathan:
+353 (0) 86 860 45 63

Mountain Map Day will also lead into two further one-day courses; Mountain Compass Day and Mountain Emergency Day.
More details to come soon...

18 November 2010

Wicklow Here We Come

Today I'm off to the rolling terrain and wind sculpted peak hags of the Wicklow Mountains, with two of my team, Dave and Barry. Together we're running a Mountain Safety Promotion over the next few days, working with just over one hundred people at the end of it all.

I'm looking forward to great food in Lynhams Pub and we're back staying in a fabulous little bed and breakfast I found on my last trip up there, Tudor Lodge.

I'll post some photos and video over the next few days.

Some places are still available for Sunday, so get in touch on 086 860 45 63 or info@outdoorsireland.com if you'd like to book.

As we're all outdoors, don't worry if your phone call or email isn't returned immediately; I'll get back to you in the evening.

16 November 2010

Backward Summiting

Congratulations to one of my instructors, Tadhg Boyden, and a friend of his, Robin, who have become the first people to climb Carrauntoohil backwards!

15 November 2010

Winter Kayaking

Beautiful, still and calm, kayak trip yesterday on Lough Lein, with Barry. It's not just a summer sport! Click Here To Book A Trip