The Maamturks Challenge 2013

The Maamturks Challenge 2013

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“So when we say that there’s a Gale force warning in operation we’re not just saying it for the craic like . . . “

These were the recent learned words from Evelyn Cusack as she clearly pointed out at a recent WAI / MV Event as to the very real impact on a windy day atop Irish mountains.

Did we listen . . . well yeah, we did . . .

Did we inwardly digest . . . well sort of kind of . . .

Everyone was all too aware on this years Maumturks Challenge, that bad weather was promised to hit the western sea-board in or around 1pm on what began as a lovely clean, crisp if cold, Saturday morning . . . . Initially it certainly seemed that "we might just get away with it, or at least be half way back down before the Gale Force warning would warrant any concern". And yet to the second, a deceptive mist rolled over from the saddle of Loch Mham Ochoige and spread over this rocky ridge in all directions as if it were in league with the fairies. And as we now understood that Met Éireann's champions weren't trying to cod us I knew only too well to listen a little more attentively when Joan Blackbourne says "Severe  Gusts"!

Now the wind and rain it brought was, to the Last Hillwalker . . . nothing like anyone had endured before!

A lazy wind - it would go through you than 'round you . . .

A savage wind - it could skin a potato ready for the pot . . .

I watched as it actually lifted a fifteen-stone (still-growing) man off his feet to be flipped over onto his back!

As walker after walker battled to stay upright especially on the jagged quartzite blocks that lay in wait all around Binn Bhriocáin - the earlier freezing fog that poured elegantly through the cols and saddles seemed a distant memory the way it dissipated to reveal a welcoming morning sun.

But it is not for no reason that The Maumturks is one of the toughest in the “Challenge Walks Calendar” and it certainly is for no reason that all the participants were very aware how Irish weather atop Irish Mountains will always deserve respect and never complacency.

So it was a pleasure to see how this maturity which is a necessity to the Challenge Walker, won through on a tough day of battering wind and driving rain that tested more than just resolve as all knew that "sure there'd have been no fun in staying at home by the fire - with the feet up watching repeats" when with thanks to the ever cheerful boys and girls from NUIG you can come out and really see at first hand how Irish Mountains and Irish Weather are truly ALIVE!

Well Done to All,

Jim Holmes.

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