I and my good friend Håvar traveled to Ireland by a cheap flight from Oslo/Rygge to Dublin (Ryan Air). At Dublin Airport we picked up a rental car for the last 300 km drive to Killarney (approx 4-5 hours). In the evening we checked into Sugan Hostel, a friendly and cheap place to stay centrally in Killarney town. We ate Irish food and went bar hopping to test out the local Guinness beer, before we eventually went to bed.
The tourist route "Devils Ladder" apparently has a lot of loose rocks, so we decided on a safer but more challenging option from the northwest, a traverse which include the 3 highest peaks in Ireland. This route is called Coomloughra Horseshoe.
Next morning we woke up 7am, and ate a simple breakfast at the hostel before we drove to Hydro Road on the northwest side of the mountain. Luckily I had downloaded Garmin's road map for Ireland and United Kingdom to my eTrex gps, so it was an easy job to find the trailhead via local roads. It was a 25 km drive from Killarney and we mostly stayed on the correct side of the narrow roads (left driving in Ireland). Attention! There is limited parking at this trailhead, but we had no problems finding one since we were the first car arriving this morning.
We started to hike on a closed road (Hydro Road), which went up to the small Lough Eighter dam. There, we headed rightwards over some tricky wetlands before we found a trail on the ridge that went all the way up to Caher (1001m). It was dense fog as we traversed from Caher to Carrauntoohil and we followed a track along the edge of a very steep cliff. Shortly later we arrived at the top of Carrauntoohil, still in dense fog, and we met a group of 5-6 hikers who came up the tourist route (Devils Ladder).
From Carrauntoohil we followed a good track towards Beenkeeragh. The track was surprisingly evident in the beginning, but disappeared shortly after down Brother O'Shea Gully, which is the second most common route to Carrauntoohil. We were not going down this gully, our plan was to continue along the horseshoe towards Beenkeeragh (1010m). Most of the time we could follow a small track over the sharp ridge, a route that is supposed to be both difficult and exposed, and therefore only for "experienced parties" according to Irish sources. But we think this part was far easier than expected, and it was only easy scrambling on a wet and slippery ridge. On top of Beenkeeragh we finally got out of the rain-fog, thus we could look back on the ridge we came across. It looked very impressive from here.
From Beenkeeragh we continued the horseshoe, and bagged another 2-3 peaks along the ridge, before we were down at the small dam again. We arrived back in the car after 6+ hours on foot. We decided to spend the second half of the day by driving along the famous tourist road "Ring of Kerry" before we returned to Killarney for dinner (fish and chips). Then we started on a long night drive back to Dublin to reach back in time for our flights that departed Dublin at 7am in the morning. Håvar was flying back home to Oslo, while I was flying to Scotland to climb Ben Nevis.
Finally lots of thanks to my friend Håvar, who joined me on this short but fun trip to Ireland!
Drive to Carrauntoohil at EveryTrail
Carrauntoohil at EveryTrail