Caurrantoohil is definitely one of my favourite mountains in Ireland. And I'm lucky enough to have climbed it more than a few times and using several different routes.
Back in October I got to climb it just in time for the first snow of the year and late enough in the day to get some great pictures of the setting sun on an almost deserted peak.
Our starting point is Cronin's Yard, about 15km outside Killarney, where you can get lunch in their coffee shop after and meet loads of other hikers. The car park is €2 for the day and you just pop you money into the box on the wall.
Setting off from Cronin's Yard you get a nice gradual hike for 2km into The Hags Glen. Keep going straight along the well beaten path marked with mounds of stone, and it will lead you straight to the Devil's Ladder (The Tourist Route). This day however, after 1km, I took a right turn to head for Br. O'Sheas Gully and the Upper Lake instead.
From here we found that we were adding and removing layers from time to time. In the shade of the mountain the temperature dropped dramatically and when we’d cross back into the sun, the temperature jumped. A good backpack with warm layers easily accessible was handy.
The trail brought us along the riverbed heading up to the upper lake, and just before it you have to climb a small waterfall to get to it. This is Ireland’s highest lake and the views are spectacular! At this point a quick brew and a snack on the shore is a must.
Br O’Shea Gully is a steep scramble. It’s the furthest right of the two gullies you’ll see and the shortest. Reaching the top you’ll be treated to a spectacular view of the Coomloughra Horseshoe and Caher, Ireland’s third highest peak.
Turning left and up the rocky peak will bring you straight to the top and the highest point in Ireland, Carrauntoohil. Lunch and awesome views await!!
Expect the hike to be about 3 hours to reach the top and the same back. Including breaks you should budget 7 hours, making sure to be back at your car before sunset.