Maumturks Challenge 2017


Maumturks Challenge 2017 

A handful of years ago, this plenty fit chap cruised home in or around 7th place on the Maumturks Challenge. Never is the Challenge ever going to be a race. . . that goes against the cardinal principle of what true Challenge Hillwalking is all about. . . but needless to say that the chap was plenty pleased with his efforts on the day and that his years of experience was showing true. . . 
This year saw the overseeing of the initial registration being handed over to a third party event management company. Would-be Walkers could register for a number of friends, that in effect, meant, that all it would take, would be for a pleateroa of lightning fast, Internet Savvy punters to be ahead of you in the queue and your aspired place was gone! 

This is exactly what happened. This happened to our aforementioned friend too, but like many, he made the conscious decision to take part in the Walk anyway. On the given day, they would be numerous, tens, of walkers. 
They were named "The Undocumented" by the stewards on the ground, who each year expertly strive in their efforts to keep ALL who pass over the Turks on the Challenge, safe and sound. 
It was whilst training for this great Challenge a couple of weeks earlier that this man tragically fell to his death. His name was Patrick (Paddy) Casey - he was a well known and experienced Hillwalker. 

A very cool, almost freezing fog was to greet over 200 walkers as they arrived at the first Checkpoint of Corcogmore. A beautiful mountain which scores a very high grade of 89% on the MountainViews website for good reason. . . its views are spectacular. 
Although the darkness of the night sky has yet to pass and there is still low lying cloud . . . 
everyone knows what is going on underneath! 

And yet, not even before Binn Mhór something incredible starts to happen. . . Walkers are starting to describe how their silhouettes are being projected forwards into mystical looking rainbow spheres . . . . they are describing Brocken Spectres!! 

There is an enchantment up here atop the Maumturks that is known to many. The freshest of breaths spill in from the Atlantic and the Pale Quartzites can quite simply, reflect the full spectrum of light on any given day. There are sound definitions of what is at work here. . . but nevertheless, the more you walk over these mountains - the less you come to understand. 
They both enchant and mesmerise. 
With only the highest peaks of the Twelve Bens visible over an enveloping cloud inversion . . . over here on the Turks, the day will remain beautifully clear and bright. 
It is now out of this clearest of sunshine that I meet Holly. 

Within the deepest of brown eyes there is a sorrow here that many will miss. Youthful expectations are in exuberance with this young woman, she wears a continuous smile that is infectious to all she meets. She walks with a friend and is glad that she has chosen to. As late as the night before, she tells me, how she still wasn't certain if she should undertake the Challenge. It's not that Holly isn't prepared and it certainly isn't anything to do with her fitness levels . . . she has that most enviable of characteristics that blesses her with a "natural fitness". . . just like her father. 
No, as it happens Holly is walking in her father's honour and in her father's name. 
Holly is the daughter of the late Patrick Casey. 
Holly is quite literally walking in her father's footsteps. 
The compose, the demeanour but most brilliantly, the smile that Holly portrayed onto all who would meet her was to put it simply, inspiring . . . an inspiration to all. 

I have reported on many a Challenge Walk over the years this is my 10th report on the Maumturks Challenge. I remember how even picking the word "report" was done with great care . . . never, was I ever going to critisize a Challenge Walk. . . from the outset I had made the decision to always do what I could to promote Challenge Hillwalking in Ireland (albeit in my own unique "rant and raving" orative way). Either way, every Challenge Walk that I personally have ever been on, has been run (without exception) with great expertise and care.
But before the day's end on this year's Maumturks I knew only all too well how this would be my last report on the Maumturks Challenge. . . it would be wrong for me to try to add any more to the great day that is . . . especially with such talented young bucks every bit as orative like Gerard Sheehy and Patsy Cahalane blazing such an interesting trail. 
But onwards and upwards and the day progresses over this classic "ridge walk". 

At Letterbreckaun many (myself included) find it a nessecity to take on board extra water from the lake here, the day is that warm. At all the Checkpoints the ever helpful stewards from NUIG greet all with encouragement and friendship. 

And now here at the Col of Despondency where the vistas are extraordinary it has now become obvious that it has been a fabulous day. . . it is the best weather of any that I can remember. . . 
but that's not the point. . . in all my years, it has been the most inspiring. 

Sincere Thanks to NUIG Hillwalking, 
Jim Holmes.