Climbing the Maumturks

Climbing the Maumturks

Having never climbed any mountains before this year, I definitely made up for it during the month of March. Every weekend we climbed a mountain, as listed below, and I have linked each mountain to the corresponding blog post here on my website.

March 4th Slieve Binnian

March 11th Croagh Patrick

March 18th Slieve Donard

March 25th Maumturks (this blog post)

After I climbed, or rather half climbed, Slieve Donard, I decided that I really needed to know more about mountain climbing/walking in general, so after doing some research online, we discovered we could do a Mountain Skills course over a weekend in Connemara.

A complete list of course dates and providers is available at

We completed Mountain Skills 1 over the last weekend in March. The training included climbing the Maumturks, reading and navigating using maps, mountain climbing safety, calling in exact coordinates to the emergency services just in case anything happens, and appropriate gear to wear and what to carry in your rucksack, i.e. food, first aid kit etc.

In general, I would recommend doing this course, there are many course providers out there, and they are all listed on the Mountaineering website. See the link above.

I would also recommend chatting to the course provider before signing up to check the overall fitness levels required and to see if the course is suitable for you.

As I am new to mountaineering, I was the slowest in my group and spent a lot of time in the back catching up; I will need to up my fitness level.

That said, I learned quite a few tips and things not to do over the past month as follows:

  • Good quality mountain boots are a must, I wasn’t fond of anything around my ankle, but they will keep your ankles safe. Don’t wear Docs as I did on my first climb.
  • Always carry a whistle. If you blow on it six times, it signals you need help, anyone climbing near you that hears it has a duty of care to respond. They will respond by blowing their whistle three times. Keep blowing with a break every six whistles so they can navigate to you. (Note: Never blow your whistle unless you are in trouble and need assistance) I wish I had known from my first climb.
  • Be realistic about your level of fitness. I walk daily and can easily do 20km on the flat, but up a mountain is very different. I am very slow, which I need to factor in when timing a hike.
  • Wear layers and bring rain gear, especially in Ireland.
  • Bring food and a flask for a warm drink.
  • Always tell someone the route you intend to take and the approximate time you expect to finish.
  • The weather on a mountain climb can change dramatically, and it is much more extreme as you go up, even on a small mountain. For example, see my post about our second climb on Slieve Donard. At sea level, the wind was 11km per hour, but I couldn’t stand up straight in the valley. Wind speeds can double in certain areas as you climb.

Our final mountain walk in March had the best weather, sunny with blue skies in all directions. It was also my most challenging. There was no defined path as in the other three mountains. So instead, we hiked up the right side of the mountain around the lake at the centre and back down the Maumahoge Saddle. In total, it took about four hours. Parts of the way were quite steep (challenging for me as I’m not too fond of heights), and areas were very boggy, which led to wet feet. Good waterproof boots are a must, but the views were spectacular, and I would do it again.

So basically, to sum up, my month of climbing mountains:

  • It was challenging and very worth it.
  • But, even as fit as I think I am, I have a fair bit more to go.
  • I have short legs. After pacing exercises, I discovered my hubby walks 70 steps for 100 meters, and I walk 80 steps. That explains why I’m always pottering behind everyone.
  • I suffer from the donkey syndrome of being immovable if I decide on it, but I am slowly overcoming it, thanks to my carrot-toting hubby.
  • I’m thrilled to have taken on something I never in a million years thought I would ever do. Even though I don’t want to climb every mountain, I see or maybe ever get to the top peak. I enjoy doing it and look forward to more mountain climbing over the summer.


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