Last Updated on January 27, 2024 by Joanne
Carrauntoohil is a beautiful mountain in Ireland from which you can watch the waves of the Atlantic ocean. Well, if there is good weather… The highest peak of Ireland is unfortunately covered by clouds during most of the year and I wasn’t lucky during my four days long stay in Ireland either. It was raining all the time. I didn’t have any magnificent view from Carrauntoohil but I still had a great time in the mountains. This article will give you all important information about Carrauntoohil you need before your visit. It suggests the best routes and provides a map as well as my personal experience from the mountain. Enjoy reading!
Important information for climbing Carrauntoohil
Short description of the ascent from Cronin's Yard: Hike with easy scrambling on the way Essential equipment: Standard hiking gear Best time to visit: April - November Fees or restrictions: No Camping allowed: Yes Height of the peak: 1039 m Hiking distance: 5,9 km (one way) Time to ascend: 2,5-3,5 hours up, 2-3 hours down Elevation climbed: 881 m Water availability on the mountain: Several streams on the way up to 600 m Difficulty level: *** (6 stars maximum) Personal rating of the mountain: *** (6 stars maximum) Beer on the peak: Killarnex Blond **** (6 stars maximum)
What is the best route to Carrauntoohil?
Carrauntoohil is the highest peak in Ireland and is part of the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks mountain range. There are several routes to the summit, each varying in difficulty and offering unique perspectives on the stunning Irish landscape. Here are three different routes to Carrauntoohil:
1. The Devil’s Ladder Route:
Starting from the Cronin’s Yard, this route is the most direct and most popular path to Carrauntoohil. The trail ascends steeply through a feature known as the Devil’s Ladder, a narrow gully between two peaks. The ascent becomes more challenging near the summit, involving some scrambling over rocks. The Devil’s Ladder route provides breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and valleys if you’re lucky with weather without clouds. Check out this route on this map.
2. The Brother O’Shea’s Gully Route:
This route begins also at Cronin’s Yard and initially follows the same route as the previous one. Instead of taking the Devil’s Ladder, hikers ascend though via Brother O’Shea’s Gully, which involves some steep and exposed sections. The route then joins the Devil’s Ladder route near the summit. This option provides a more challenging and less-traveled alternative to the standard approach. Check out this route on this map.
The first and second route can also be well combined on the way up and down.
3. The Caher Route:
This route starts at a different side of the mountain. Beginning from the Hydro Road, this route takes you up to Caher Mountain before reaching Carrauntoohil. The ascent involves some scrambling, particularly on the Caher Ridge. This route provides a more challenging and less crowded option compared to the previous routes.
Map of the best route to Carrauntoohil
My story of climbing the highest mountain of Ireland – Carrauntoohil
I climbed Carrauntoohil as a part of my project European Peaks during which I climbed the highest peak of every European country. I was really looking forward to Ireland. It was such dry weather in Spain where I was before that I even wished for rain. My wishes were fulfilled more than enough. In Ireland during the first 24 hours it rained continuously and it was as cold as around 15 degrees.
I stayed at a modest but beautiful guesthouse near the town of Killarney where I could enjoy two nights with an exceptionally tasty typical Irish breakfast. Breakfasts on the British Isles are just unbeatable.
After checking the weather forecast, I finally decided to go to the highest mountain in Ireland during sunset. The weather was supposed to be best during that time and the sky should have even been clear.
Reaching Carrauntoohil via Devil’s Ladder
It was just a short car drive to the start of the hike so I could start my hike at 6 pm. The Irish mountains were beautiful. I had a wonderful view, only the top of Carrauntoohil was hidden in the clouds. I enjoyed the hike a lot but unfortunately the clouds were getting lower and lower. When I reached the foot of the mountains, the clouds fell so low that there was very bad visibility. I went up the path called the Devil’s Ladder. It looked quite exposed from below, but the actual hike up was very nice. There were no demanding parts there, just curious sheep looking for fresh grass.
Unfortunately, when I got to the ridge, the clouds were still low so I couldn’t see anything at all. It was very windy and it even started to rain. At that moment I looked at my watch and it was 9 pm. Exactly that time the sky was supposed to be clear. I just learned a new lesson. Don’t trust weather forecasts in Ireland and get ready for everything.
Be ready for Irish weather
When I got to the top the wind was even stronger. I was sometimes glad to have a 15 kg backpack with me. It worked well as an anchor so I couldn’t take off. It was tough to hike up in the wind but luckily it was not long. When I reached the peak I was very grateful there was a small shelter on the top of the mountain so I could enjoy my peak beer in relative warmth.
On the way down I decided for tactics – the sooner I will be down, the less dark it will be. I managed to run the first part of the hill to the beginning of Devil’s ladder in 15 minutes. A full moon peeked out from behind the clouds, shining so pleasantly that I didn’t need a headlamp. It was a nice decent until I got a shock. Suddenly, two scary bright eyes popped up. I quickly cleaned my glasses from the rain drops to see more, waiting for the worst. Which animal is going to eat me? After looking more closely, I realized it was nothing else than the eyes of a curious sheep. After this horrifying experience I took more attention and checked every step on the way down. Soon I was back at my car.
It doesn’t rain in bars
The next morning, after enjoying another delicious breakfast, I wanted to explore the western part of Ireland. I was particularly tempted by the rugged and wild coast. However, the weather was not good at all again so I followed the Irish saying: “It’s not raining in the pub.”
When I visited Ireland last time I went to the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin so I chose another typical tourist attraction this time – the Jameson Distillery. After my visit I have to say: I’m not a museum person, but I really liked it. The tour was very interactive and we also had the opportunity to test the difference between American, Scottish and Irish whiskey. I would summarize the tasting as: I will never again buy the American one.
All in all I liked my Irish visit. The weather was simply terrible but the country has its spirit even during bad weather times. Unfortunately, Carrauntoohil became the first mountain where I really couldn’t see anything but that’s life. I have a reason to come back.
DISCLAIMER: Unfortunately, Carrauntoohil and Ben Nevis are the only mountains where I don’t have pictures from my camera. The explanation will come in the Ben Nevis chapter.
My tips for the mountain Carrauntoohil:
- As always, I recommend to have some extra days for the summit day. In Ireland especially it is difficult to find a day with sunny weather. My four days in Ireland were not enough to have nice weather.
- If you are lucky with the weather on the other hand, visit also the west coast of Ireland which is very beautiful – Dingle, Skellig Michael or Cliffs of Moher.
- In case of bad weather remember: It doesn’t rain in bars.