Slieve Donard is in the Mourne mountains in Northern Ireland and is the highest peak in Ireland at 850m.
Unlike Pen Y Fan, Snowdon and Scafell Pike the ascent starts at sea level so it is almost twice the ascent of Pen Y Fan which starts at 400m. When you approach from Dundrum and the mountain comes into view it is daunting and very pointy!!
We were joined for the day by Stu Trainor and Alistair Miller, both past members of the Regiment and who managed to lighten our mood as soon as we linked up with them. Great banter!! We were incredibly lucky with the weather for the climb and managed to hit a weather window which kept us dry until we were almost halfway down.
The start of the climb is up through the Glen forest, a steep track littered with large boulders and a mat of tree roots that make the going very difficult.
As you come out of the trees you find a good track and climb slowly until you reach the 400m contour. Then the climb really starts. Flat stones give way to boulders again and the slope steepens considerably.
At 550m you reach the Mourne wall and the slope gets even more challenging. The Mourne Wall is a stone wall that goes for miles but for this climb ends at the summit.
It did two things: Sheltered us from a wind that got progressively stiffer and colder the higher we went and provided a climbing assist as we used the wall (well at least Julie and I did) at times to grab onto and pull ourselves up. At 500m cloud had set in and the summit was in cloud but at least the size of the building at the summit allowed for some pictures in its shelter.
Going down was harder. At halfway it began to drizzle which made the boulders, rocks and tree roots slippery.
All of us slipped and fell at one stage or another however we made the Donard car park safely and celebrated in the local café with some of the best cakes I have seen!
The next climbs are Snowdon (15 August), Ben Nevis (14 September) and Scafell Pike (28 September).
If you would like to join me let HHQ or I know. So far, we have 12 coming along to Snowdon and a couple for each of Nevis and Scafell Pike.
The whole challenge is to raise money for the museum fund. You can donate by BACs transfer to the following account: Sort Code: 30-11-75. Account: 01119674. Ref: Hamiltonclimb.
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