Maumturks 2016

Maumturks 2016


With an almighty bite to an incoming Atlantic Breeze, 198 walkers set off over a two hour stagger in what would be the 41st Maumturks Challenge as hosted by NUIG Mountaineering Club.

The first of the walkers start off at 5am which ensures a full run of the day (always a clever play). The second wave tend to depart around 6 (ish). Now at this hour there isn't the need for head torches, as sunrise at this time of year checks in at 6.30am . . . and what a sunrise greeted the 41st Maumturks!!! Then for the most part all walkers are off and running - with an element quite literally "blazing a trail" by 7 in the am . . .

Taking around a hour, Corcogmore has the first welcoming checkpoint where already 20% of the day's ascent has now been completed. . . this is why many a matured Challenge Walker veers way left so as to allow for a more gentle gradient (it's all in the pacing you see!).

Now whether here, or in the Cruisín valley below, this is where you'll see the first of the sun's rays, kiss hard mountain rock in what is always a very powerful  (be it spiritual, emotional, or whatever) way. No one can put their finger on it. . . but everyone who walks here, will always testify that there's certainly a whole other something going on here. . . and all this in just the first part of the day!!

Out of what seems like sheer rock, the checkpoint of Maumean presents itself all of a sudden. . . and at this point, around a quarter of the day's length is now behind the Challenge Walker. Yet climb to the top of the mighty Binn Chaonaigh above, and now near on 49% of the day's ascent has now been bested. This is always a nice place to be, both mentally and of course in a physical way!

Onwards to Loch Mham Ochoige and once here, and assuming all is well in the camp. . . this is now the point of no return!! Sure doesn't the day get better and better each year!

The blowy bitter wind brought many a flurry of snow which looked very pretty against a backdrop of morning sun. And once these showers passed, the air was left incredibly clear with the most magnificent views of Mweelrea and indeed the Twelve Bens themselves.

Curiously though, the day was very different for many. . . all depending where the Challenge Walker was fortunate enough or (as seemed to be the rule of thumb for me) unfortunate enough, to welcome these savage showers. . . Down in the valleys - Happy Days! Atop Binn Bhriocáin - and mother of Jaysus the wind would split a flea!!


But as always seems to happen on the Maumturks, the day always seems to find an even keel in time for the Walkers' first views of the Col of Despondency. . . I wasn't "lettin'-on" when I was saying that there is (most definitely) a whole lot of something else going on in these enchanted mountains!!

So up and over the infamous Col (did you make a mental note of how I can gloss over this ginormous world of pain in one sentence. . . thought so!) and at the checkpoint of Leenane Hill at the "Far North West Top", to be precise, with its spot height of 556m - here is where we all delightfully say . . . yes, you guessed it. . . . "it's all downhill from here".

The staggering homeward bound of all the Challenge Walkers was a little bit more than the two hours at the start of the day . . . but what is of paramount importance to note, is how the group who come down last, safe and sound, off the great ridge. . . are every bit as important (if not more so) than the group who roll down first!

NUIG mountaineering with their great cheer and legendary "bualadh bos" always ensure that the true merits of the day are never lost.



Sincere thanks to All and a Hearty Congratulations to All,

Jim Holmes.