Note July 2016: Depending on which logs to believe, there may now be two or three boxes in slight different locations. Always check recent logs for updates. Any box will count as a find
The following cache description is the work of Klaus23, the original owner. Please read it carefully and follow all the safety recommendations. Several people have died on this mountain - do not underestimate it! Be especially aware of the false and dangerous track that has developed at the summit. (See below for details.)
The Kerry Mountain Rescue Callout Statistic will give you an idea what can go wrong.
A hunt for this cache is a day's worth of time and effort, but a rewarding one as it takes you to the highest point in Ireland. The cache is designed for moderately experienced climbers, but it should be suitable for accompanied beginners with a decent endurance level. Carrauntohill forms part of the MacGillycuddy Reeks which which are closely associated with Ireland's premier beauty spot, Killarney, and surrounding County Kerry.
Carrauntohill Summit, behind the prominent 'Hags Tooth'
What's with the funny name?:
Most commonly anglicised as Carrauntohill (sometimes Carrauntual), Corran Tuathail translates as "the inverted reaping hook" Another possible origin is a translation of "Carn tuathail", Toole's Cairn.
The MacGillycuddy's Reeks are named after a local chief and the name refers to the son of the servant of Saint Mo-Chuta, Mac Gilla Mochuta. Mo-Chuta is the Irish name of St. Carthage, the founder of the Celtic monastery of Lismore.
The Walk itself and the Equipment:
The round-trip is around 7 miles in length and can be done in anything from 4-7 hours, depending on weather conditions and speed. You will absolutely require Discovery Series 78. There is also a special 1:25,000 MacGillycuddy Reeks map, available locally in the Lowe Alpine shop in the Killarney Outlet Shopping Centre (which does sell both maps). Forecasts for the MacGillycuddy Reeks are avaliable here. The walk offers stunning views on a reasonably clear day.
Satellite Image of South-West Ireland
The MacGillycuddy Reeks are a challenging mountain range, and at the car park and at the top of the mountain there are memorials to people who died while climbing and walking in the area.
The peak can be approached from several directions but I have outlined the "tourist route". Although the walk itself is moderate, the Devil's Ladder section is challenging. Weather conditions here can change very quickly. Appropriate precautions should be followed in terms of fitness, safety equipment carried and clothing/footwear worn. There is a mountain safety guide which you can consult here.
You should strongly consider the following equipment necessary for this cache: Waterproof Boots, Warm Inner, Waterproof Outer Clothes, a change of Clothes to leave in your car, Water, Food, (and reserve food and water), GPS, OS Map, Hat, Gloves, Whistle, Mobile Phone, Hiking Stick, Torch and Survival Bag. Unless you're confident and experienced enough, it's probably a good idea not to do this on your own, and I would not consider this cache suitable for young children.
I found there is mobile phone coverage on most of the mountain and at the summit. In emergencies, Kerry Mountain Rescue can be contacted per telephone on 112/999 like other emergency services. They have a very useful and informative website here.
Driving directions, accommodation, food and drink:
Driving directions to Killarney from within Ireland or Britain can be found on AA Ireland's Routefinder.
Driving Route to Cronin's Yard from Killarney
From Killarney follow the N72 towards Killorglin and then turn off at signs for Beaufort (see route on above map). There are signposts for Carrauntohill and you can follow the map to Cronin's Yard at V 836 874 (Irish OS). The farmer charges 2 euro for parking in his farmyard - a bit pricey, yes, but if your car is still there at nightfall he's the one that raises the alarm, and he also has a hot drinks machine, a changing room, a toilet and a phonebox, so it's a pretty good setup.
In true Irish fashion, the old couple bumps the charge up a few cent each year, but they don't really ask for cash, and act very grateful when you hand over the money. Or if you don't pay, one of them will come over and talk to you until you do remember to cough up! There is also camping avaliable in the farmers field during the summer, but I am not sure what the charge is.
There are several caches nearby which could act as an added incentive for a longer trip to the area. An overnight stay in the locality would be recommended. There is an abundance of hotels in the area as Killarney is Ireland's tourist mecca. I have always found Neptune's Hostel to be good value for money.
If you've come for the beer, you're in the right town, and bars will be busy all summer. If you're coming off-season, I have always found The Laurels nice to visit when the town is a little quieter.
On occasion you might find one of the most famous buskers in the world playing outside, Patrick "Pecker" Dunne who lives locally. A member of the Travelling community, who has played with The Dubliners and Luke Kelly, and starred in the film Trojan Eddie with Richard Harris and Stephen Rea.
The memorials at Cronin's Yard:
Amongst other small plaques in the farmyard, there is a memorial to five crewmen of a USAF Douglas C-47 which crashed into the ridge above Coomeenapeasta Lake in Hags Glen on the 16th December 1943. Although the plane is supposed to have crashed on the 3rd February 1944, there is a sad story which has only recently been revealed. You can still find small fragments of the aircraft if you know where to look. The full, saddening story is told here by local historian Ger O'Connor.
Use the above map to give you an idea of the scale and the three main parts of the walk.
Hags Glen, taken from the top of the Devil's Ladder
The first part is a 3 mile hike up through Hags Glen. This is suitable for most people providing they have sturdy footwear. Hike along the established trail until you cross the small river and join the main path. Make your way along the valley, passing between the two lakes to Hags Glen at N 52 00.115 W 009.43.489. From here continue to the bottom of the Devil’s Ladder at N 51.59.624 W 009 43.999.
Approaching the Devils Ladder in Hags Glen
The Devil's Ladder forms the second part of the hike, and is the most challenging. You may enjoy it, you may hate it, but you'll definitely find it hard going. You might meet some of the real hardcore on this stretch - Mountain Runners and the like. I seem to meet a lot of masochistic Kerrymen going up or down this part of the mountain. Usually in their 50's and sporting weatherbeaten faces and ex-army issue boots, accompanied by a Heinz 57-Varieties mongrel, they proclaim that they are "just going to the top of the ladder". Hardy souls.
Looking down the Devil's Ladder
If you’re planning a rest, now would be a good time. The top of the Devil’s Ladder is at N 51 59.569 W 009 44.279. The Devil’s Ladder will take you from 1354 ft to 2370 ft; it’s almost a 2:1 gradient and tricky in the wet.
Looking South-West from the Ridge
After you've mastered the Devil's Ladder you're into the third and final part of the hike, the ascent on the summit itself. Once on the ridge the summit may be in sight to the north-west. This is a straight-forward hike, there are several paths and numerous cairns to guide you. The summit is at N 51 59.971 W 009 44.562. It is best to aim to the left (south-west from the summit) of this initially and then arrive at the top.
When moving off the summit, find the Devil’s Ladder (top) waypoint on your GPS and descend on the correct side of the mountain, if in doubt, wait for the cloud to clear. Remember, most accidents and difficulties are encountered on the way down. Enjoy the hike and be careful.
***Warnig*** The following information has come to light in December 2005:
A number of recent incidents on Carrauntoohil attended by Kerry Mountain Rescue Team have highlighted an extremely dangerous situation which exists on the mountain at present. These include the recent death of a young walker following a serious fall and a number of other ‘near misses’ in which parties have become cragfast.
As many people know, the summit is surrounded on three sides by very steep ground, and has always required careful navigation to locate the correct route in descent, particularly in poor weather. This situation has been exacerbated in recent times by the fact that a visible ‘false’ track has now developed leading from the summit directly towards dangerous ground.
This track may have initially formed due to increasing numbers of people climbing routes such as Howling Ridge however many unwary walkers are now mistakenly using this track in descent before – hopefully - realising their error and returning to the summit. A vicious circle now appears to be in operation whereby increased traffic results in the track appearing more and more like an established descent route. The problem is therefore likely to become more acute in the coming months.
Kerry Mountain Rescue Team would like to take this opportunity to urge all walkers to exercise extreme caution when navigating from the summit, particularly when visibility is poor. Walkers should note that there are no safe descent routes anywhere to the NE or E of the summit. All parties should carry a map and compass and should include at least one competent navigator as part of the group. As always, in case of emergency in any mountainous area in Ireland call 999 and ask for Mountain Rescue.
Please refer to recent logs as to the status and exact location of the cache. It has moved several times over the last few years. Currently (April 2016), there are two possible locations: Inside the structure that supports the cross and by the Mag O'Connor plate. However, the latter one appears to be missing.
If you are planning to attempt this cache and require any information of any kind, or if I can be of any assistance please feel free to e-mail me.
If you're feeling energetic, why not consider the other 'highpoint' caches in Ireland and Britain:
Britains Highest Geocache
Ben Nevis, Scotland
Snaefell, Isle of Man
Scafell Pike, Lake District, England
Summit or Submit
Snowdon, Snowdonia, Wales
Slieve Donard, Mourne Mountains, County Down, Northern Ireland