Well, it was, to paraphrase football terminology, a walk of two halves.
When we set off at 5.15am it was glorious weather, cold and crisp with a totally clear night sky twinkling with stars. You could clearly see the lights of all the head torches sneaking their way up the mountain. The rest of the morning was great, sunny and bright but cold, and we were storming along making great time. It started to get a bit windy round about Binn Idir, but remained dry until we hit the lake at Maumahoge, when it started to get a bit drizzly.
As we climbed up there on to Maumean, and getting close to Letterbreckaun the wind started to get up, and it started raining too, but when we got onto the summit of Letterbreckaun itself for the checkpoint there it started to really gust. The people at the checkpoint were barely able to stand up to punch our cards, and it just got worse from then on, especially in the col just below the summit, where we, and a lot of other people were either blown to the ground, or had to almost lie flat to avoid being blown away. I've personally never experienced wind like it. The bizarre thing was though that as we carried on from there, and onto the ridge towards Gowlaunard, the wind practically died away to nothing. Must be something about the funnelling effect of the particular col.
After that, it was just very rainy and very windy all the way to the finish, with some more quite spectacular wind gusts on the way, again mainly in the cols. While we were hunting for the final checkpoint on Meall Cheo, we came across the checkpoint staff leaving, saying they had to close the checkpoint as their tent had been ripped to shreds. They tried to convince us to go back to the Col of Despondency and exit there, but we were having none of it and carried on, descending by the safe route down by the river.
I see that the weather station mentioned in this thread recorded a max wind speed of 47.9mph and rainfall of 17.6mm that day, and that's almost at sea level, so you can imagine what it was like up high!!!
In the end I finished in about 13.5 hours, which given the conditions was pretty respectable I think.
A friend talked me into doing the challenge' and 3 of us ended up doing it. Had never walked on the 'turks before but done plenty of hiking on the Comeraghs in Waterford and a wee bit in the Alps. Surely it couldn't be as bad as people made it out to be????????? Oh lordy that walk put manners on me , we finished in about 13 hours but only just. I've never known wind like that before, nearly took the contact lenses out of my eyes. I'm fairly tall and felt like a rag doll getting tosed around up there. Much respect to the women that took part and finished and the slightly older people that took part as well. Would I do it again? Ask me in a few days.
'Twas a rough one alright (and that's from someone who spent the day in a checkpoint tent....) - I think the reputation that the Maamturks had has been restored after a few fine-weather years recently. Finishes 1 and 2 saw more walkers coming through this year than they have for quite a while, so fair play to those (above) who made it to Finish 3...
Deepsleeper, do you have any stats on how many completed the walk and how many stopped at Finishes 1 and 2? I also saw a tweet from someone on the walk claiming that later on the walk was closed at the Col of Despondency due to safety reasons, presumably because the checkpoint at Meall Cheo closed, is this true?
P.S. I never got my sausage
I've just found these stunning photos on Flickr ...
They show how fantastic the conditions were for the first half of the day, but note how few photos there are after Loch Mhám Ochóige
Well done to the organisers , stewards etc for putting on a great event particularly those who manned the checkpoints in very difficult conditions. Was very impressed with the good humour and encouragement of those checkpoint staff.
Just like Alun above I would be very interested in finding out how many started and completed the event and the average time taken.
Congrats to all who completed some or all of the walk as it really is a monster.
I agree. The conditions in which some of the checkpoints had to operate were truly appalling, but they always seemed to be in amazingly good form despite it all, and always welcoming and cheerful, which helped us walkers a lot. Thanks to all involved, great job!
There were 187 walkers who registered on the morning all of these got through the first check point. About 120 made it to Leenane. I don't have numbers for how many came off at the escape points. I think a good few dropped off at the lake to Finish 1 - some people also dropped off into the Glengosh side after the lake. As far as I know very few who actually got through the Col of Despondency dropped back to Finish 2.
I don't know if anyone is going to do the sums on the times. Its not a race and the club does not compile league tables or anything. The challenge is personal. This point may have escaped some people about thirty people did the walk without registering-it seems because they didnt like the length of the queue at 5am. The reason registration is open for 1.5 to 2hrs is so that people can sign in- do the kit inspection - and start in their own time - there is no "start" as such.
Well done all!
(The only injury I heard of was a cut knee but the lady who had it finished the route and didnt seek treatment on the hill.)
Thanks, galwaycyclist, that's interesting to know. I'm not that interested in stats on finishing times either, since as you say it's a personal challenge, not a race, but at the point that I finished at about 18.50, a friend of mine inquired as to how many had finished and was told IIRC that 76 had finished. This was surprising as I distinctly remember leaving the CoD at about 16.30 and looking back and seeing nobody else on the horizon, while there were a good group of people travelling at much the same pace as our group.
Anyway, if I was being generous, I'd say that those who chose not to wait around for registration were probably just being cautious about the weather and wanting to get moving as quickly as possible to try and get as much of a head start on it as possible.
Thats a fair point about the weather. I will try to get confirmation on the number who finished but it might take a few days.
Some class pictures, start of the day looked amazing.
Thanks Galwaycyclist. Interesting. I thought that wind might have caused some injury problems. I fell on rocks coming down from Letterbreckaun smashing the GPS in my trouser pocket which probably saved me a bit. Painkillers got me through. Later on when the wind got mental I tried to imagine how the mountain rescue would be able to get you down and how long it could take.
Fair play to them. And the stewards, especially those at the last checkpoint [that we didn't find] whose tent was ripped to shreds.
Fair play to you too Alun. That was a good time from the Col to the finish.
My first time - what an experience
Sorry, I've just noticed a typo in my post, it was 18.50 when I finished, not 17.50.... I'm not that fast
I was wondering whether anyone got injured on Letterbreckaun. We saw one girl fall over and then got blown onto some rocks, but she seemed OK. Like you say, if there had been a serious incident up there, any rescue would have taken a long, long time as there would have been zero chance of a helicopter flying anywhere that day.
We only heard of one injury from the guys handing out the soup and certificates when we arrived back at Leenane, at around 16:30hrs. A woman had hurt her ankle on the first climb, but walked on and injury became worse en route. Tent at the last check point was still standing at the point I left it so I guess the wind must have continued to get worse after our group finished the walk. Had a few falls myself, and saw a load of others do same, only by sheer luck that there are not more injuries. Glad to be back in a warm house with fire blazing (But will probably end up doing it again).