A ski trip ... in Ireland! After heavy snow, two of the My Ireland Team go skiing in the Irish Galtee Mountains
Storm Emma had finally died down and Ireland lay under a white blanket of icy snow. The conditions were right and it might be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. So these two members of the My Ireland Tour team headed to the Galtee Mountains to go skiing in Ireland.
Galtymore lies on the border of County Limerick and County Tipperary, it's about an hour from the centre of Cork. The highest of the Galtee Mountains at 919m, it always intrigued me whilst driving the Cork - Dublin motorway as a perfect place to ski if the snow ever came with enough depth.
We headed up on Sunday 4th March, just as the Beast from the East came to an end. We still had to put the snow chains on as we drove to the starting point for the hike up, which we took as a good sign.
The hike up was about three and a half hours. The snow makes it slow going, and we wanted to hike up the planned descent route to check it out, which is not the easiest way up. The first thing that struck me on the way up was the wind. Even on that Sunday, with the storm well gone, it was still really blowing. This has lifted all the light snow away leaving just a thin layer of icy hard packed snow. Thin yes, but nice and dense to support us we thought. Every now and again though we'd discover where the loose snow had blown to as we'd wade across small valleys up to our middles in the collected snow.
About 1/3rd of the way up we entered the fog which persisted all the way to the top. It took patience, a compass and GPS to stay on course. By the top, the visibility was about 10 yards at best with white all around.
Reaching the Summit
With no visibility, if feels like you are on a treadmill with no end in sight, so it was a great feeling to finally reach the summit.
As we were trying to navigate to the cross on the peak I thought I heard voices. Then a few seconds later a few shapes started appearing out of the mist - four lost hikers trying to find the summit! Very strange to hear someone clearly standing close but still out of sight.
The conditions on the top felt like an Arctic expedition - sub-zero temperatures, howling wind, no visibility and crazy ice formations. Despite having full ski kit including three sets of thermals the cold cuts right through you. The scene up there is worth it though; wind and persistent freezing conditions form an otherworldly vista of growing ice sculptures that make it look like an alien planet.
The cross itself was an incredible sight - worth the whole hike just to see that. Solid ice formations covering every inch and growing up to 2 feet in thickness.
Video of our Irish Ski Expedition
Skiing Back Down
Then it was finally time to ski back down. Eric on skis and myself, Phil, on a snowboard. It was a unique experience I have to say. Roughly 50% skiing on snow, and 50% on heather and rocks. We were skiing patch to patch, trying to dodge the densest vegetation and jump snow patch to snow patch. I've been skiing and snowboard since I was four years old and still this was like nothing else I've ever done. An epic ski? Not at all. An epic experience that'll I'll remember for a very long time? Most definitely.
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