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14th Jun 2019

Climbing Carrauntoohil sounds intense, so here’s how to tackle it like a pro

Louise Carroll

Brought to you by MINI Ireland

If spring/summer isn’t the time to get hiking lads, when is?

The stunning weather (and our urge to get moving) has us on the hunt for Ireland’s best outdoor spots.

To reach your destination in comfort, we’ve teamed up with MINI, who are giving 48 hours in a MINI test drive to anyone wanting to discover their range and help them celebrate their 60th birthday! So go on, get to Kerry in style, all.

Here’s John Burke’s guide to Kerry’s McGillicuddy Reeks. And yes, he’s an entrepreneur and hiking junkie who has climbed Everest. In his own words;

“The McGillicuddy Reeks has been my training ground for most of my bigger climbs. It holds a place in my heart for so many reasons.

It’s a place I’ve had many great laughs, felt glorious sunshine on my skin and experienced howling wind and bitter rain on extreme days.

The route options are endless but if you’re a less experienced mountaineer, the standard route up Carrauntoohill has got to be the best option – it has no major navigation challenges.

It’s also important to never underestimate the scale of the mountain as this has led to a hectic past for the Kerry Mountain Rescue team. Any route on this mountain is a big day out, even with good weather.

My most memorable experiences on the McGillicuddy Reeks would include the Howling Ridge. It’s a route famed in mountaineering circles. While it isn’t extremely technical – it’s a grade V. Diff – it’s important that you have some rock climbing under the belt because it involves extensive rope work.

Book a guide. There are experienced guides that I have really enjoyed this route with, like Piaras at Kerry Climbing or Brian from Climb It.  They’ll ensure you navigate it well and will share great stories and information along the way.

The starting point for me, for any route on Carrauntoohil, has got to be from Cronin’s Yard where John, Esther and a team run a wonderful café with showers and facilities.

After heading in through the Hag’s Glen and then routing towards the Heavenly Gates, it’s here the technical climbing starts.

All in, there are about eight pitches so it’s a long day. The most challenging part I found was ‘The Tower’ – a steep section of high rock that must be passed about half way on the route.

All in, car to car, it took about eight hours at a nice pace, with time to top out on the summit.

After a hard days work, the only thing needed to finish an epic day on Carrauntoohil is a warm bowl of Esther’s soup and a toasted sandwich.

Every minute of the day will take your breath away. The exposure is incredible and the terrain’s nicely challenging. Plus, the history along the way, from stories of the Eagle’s Nest, the Hag’s Tooth, to all the active farming that still goes on in the mountain, is great for the soul.

The views from a route less travelled on this famed mountain will leave you with memories and photos that so few get to experience.  You will look out across the lakes of the glen, surrounded by the highest peaks on our land, Beenkeragh (1008m), Caher (1000m), along with Carrauntoohil – three peaks all over 1000 metres.

Put it on your bucket list, get in touch with a guide and enjoy!”

Brought to you by MINI Ireland

There’s a MINI for every lifestyle. So to prove it, we are giving you 48 hours in a MINI to see just how versatile the range can be. Are you up for the challenge? Discover the range at or why not book now?