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Carrauntoohil on Sunday morning. Billy Horan
the hills

Mountain rescue teams urge walkers to be safe this Christmas

St Stephens Day is one of the busiest times on Ireland’s hills and small mountains.

MOUNTAIN RESCUE TEAMS have urged Christmas walkers to be safe this week as they head to the hills to burn off the extra calories consumed.

Kerry Mountain Rescue volunteer Damian Courtney told Morning Ireland that this is the one of the “busiest time on the hills”.

He asked walkers to be prepared for their activities, adding that “some preparation goes a long way to prevent accidents”.

He said having the proper equipment is vital as a lot of incidents involving falls or slips are called in during winter.

“The ground is very wet,” he explained. “Even simple slips can turn into serious accidents.”

A good pair of walking boots and warm, waterproof clothes are essential, according to volunteers.

Courtney noted that runners are “not appropriate” for the mountains.

He also advised that every group exploring any mountain should have at least one person with experience who can navigate in difficult conditions.

People getting lost is also another common cause of call-out for rescue teams.

“At the moment, it is very wet, cloud and windy…the days are also shorter so there should be a plan to be down off the hills by 3 o’clock.”

Mountaineer Billy Horan said the conditions on Carrauntoohill in Kerry were “ok” for experienced hillwalkers over the past two days.

However, he noted that an ice-axe was required at the top of O’Sheas Gulley which he navigated on Sunday.

“It was blizzard like conditions approaching the summit as the strong winds picked up the soft snow and blasted it into my face,” he told “My backpack filled with snow as I searched in there for the balaclava, eventually found it. There was about two inches of soft snow at Coimin Uachtarach, Ireland’s highest lake, and there were snow drifts of about 1’ 6” on Carrauntoohil’s southern descent route which had been blown from the top of the mountain.”

Mountain rescue teams urge walkers to be safe this Christmas
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  • Two Inches Of Snow At Ireland's Highest Lake

    Source: {Billy Horan}
  • Snowing at Ireland's Highest Lake

    Source: {Billy Horan}
  • The Route Ahead

    Source: {Billy Horan}

All images: Billy Horan

Difficult driving conditions, but no major travel disruption amid ‘orange alert’ winds

A serious business: the work of Ireland’s mountain rescue volunteers

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