The Maamturks Challenge 2008

The Maamturks Challenge 2008


“Well it’s not called the Col of Despondency for nothing!”

I’ll get back to this truth later but best to start with a word that I’ll admit that I had to confirm its correct spelling with word-check!....... Excruciating………as in the pain that was to be felt on many an occasion on the Maamturks 2008.

‘Twas to be a cold dark start on Saturday morning last and that’s before the first of many a snow shower would greet the “early kick-off" walkers on their way towards the first checkpoint of Corcóg. Very early on in the proceedings it became all too apparent that there had been quite a lot of rainfall or even snowfall in the days before as the rock-faces were just awash with new streams and any grassy ledges were both boggy and sloppy - not quite becoming of the “rocky” Turks! “Bad Form” I for one most definitely felt….. Indeed there would be a lot more bog to contend with throughout the day, even more so than usual for this lovely ridge.

And bizarrely there would be lots of snow too (predominately in the first third) giving an altogether different prospective on the day! But the day did progress in its own unique Maumturks way, with all the well known pains and pitfalls that the “Turks” just love to throw at the hardy venturer.

But with views that are John Wayne inspiring…….awe….aawwww…(no I can’t do the accent), and with sunshine in the valleys and snow-covered mountain tops all agreed that there is forever something new to behold on each and every Maumturks Challenge. It was probably at this point that the mist came down, in case anyone dared become complacent. In all fairness at least visibility was good for the most part, except of course when it bucketed!

And bucket it did. Whilst descending from the checkpoint at Maumturkmore an especially cruel snow shower, come hail shower of bullet shapes and of kryptonite consistency truly battered all and sundry.

And this is where we thankfully arrive at the Col of Despondency. Mmmm….here we go.

With the dominance of a strong wind chill throughout the day, taking any kind of, even a short break, was very much a “no no”. But here at the Col, I was to produce my secret weapon…….a hot flask of tea! Ah yes, I’ll be suckin’ diesel now. Well one sip brought a grown man to tears as he realised the extent of the extra weight he had laboured to carry to this Col of true Despondency.

Not only was my beverage stone cold, it actually, genuinely, emphatically tasted like Ben Johnson’s “random sample” of Olympia 1988. I’m told my curses were to be heard from afar by reverend pilgrims on Croagh Patrick. Consoled not a single bit, there was nothing left but to slog-on, so slog-on I did……and a few EXCRUCIATING hours later a smiling face would offer me a wondrous cup-a-soup as I received my certificate. Did I say “never again”? Well let’s not be too hasty Ted…..sure can’t we get a better flask for next year? Yeah I suppose we can.


Sincerest Heartfelt Thanks to the organisers. Without exception everyone remarked on how helpful, friendly and courteous all concerned truly were.

Many Thanks.

Jim Holmes.