These images record the TMC Level 3 Walk led by Andrew Kelliher on Feb 11, 2018. The route took us from Lisleibane, up a spur to Coomeenapeasta, across the Reeks to the Devil’s Ladder, out the Heavenly Gates and back to Lisleibane, a total distance of 13.39 Km, over 5 hours and 40 minutes, with a total height gain of 1184m.

The conditions were fantastic. The forecast (BBC) was for snow, which fell in bursts as pellets/graupel, and lay as powder snow. There was some pack on the ridges and a few patches of ice. The wind was light but gusting in snow bursts that reduced visibility on an otherwise bright and sunny day.



It was a fantastic day in the mountains and the question is this:

   does it qualify as a QUALITY MOUNTAIN DAY?


   would it be classed as a Quality Hill Walking Day (QHWD)?


A QMD matters if you wish to progress in the sport. The ML or Mountain Leader award requires that you log at least 20 quality mountain days. A QHWD, on the other handis the cornerstone of the award for group leaders. More about that in a later post.



According to the Irish Mountain Training Board, a broad definition of a QMD is one which presents new experiences and challenges. Such a day would generally consist of the following:

  • The candidate is involved in the planning and instigation.
  • The walk would last at least 5 hours and take place in an unfamiliar area.
  • The majority of time should be spent above 500m, distance should be over 16km with over 600m of height gain during the day, and cover a variety of terrain.
  • The use of a variety of hill walking techniques.
  • Adverse weather conditions may be encountered.
  • Experience must be in terrain and weather comparable to that found in the Irish and UK hills.


Then there were six, approaching the top of the Heavenly Gates. Bertie is behind the camera. Connie and Billy headed for the summit.


Does Andrew’s walk qualify?

Six of us were involved in doing a recce with Andrew under very similar conditions, which qualifies as being involved in the planning and instigation of the walk. The conditions were challenging, cancelling out familiarity with the terrain, although there was still no need to navigate. The snow meant we had to carry extra  equipment, although the quality of the snow (pellet) meant that ice axes and crampons weren’t much use. That required other techniques. We were well over 500m for most of the day and our total ascent of 1184m was almost twice the minimum requirement of 600m. We covered 13.39Km, a good bit short of the 16Km recommended but we did have to use a variety of hillwalking techniques, especially going down the Heavenly Gates, which were full of powder snow.




Generally speaking – and the Irish Mountain Training Board has given a broad definition  that generally includes the above – Andrew’s walk would have to qualify as a QMD. It certainly did present new experiences and challenges. That is why TMC has always  climbed in snow, and there is no better place for a quality day in the mountains than the Reeks on a snowy day.

For more on quality mountain days have a look at this forum or this blog.


Next: Far Away Hills Are White!







Love & Mountaineering …



It’s Valentine’s Day …


I climbed with TMC for the first time in 2000, on a wild day in Derrymore, on a walk led by two marvellous women, the late, great, and badly-missed Phil O’Mahony and the woman I would later marry, the fantastic Nuala Finn.


Happy Valentines Day to you Nuala

And to all of you who share your love of the  the mountains


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Logging your walks and climbs



This short video records the ascent of Curved Ridge in the Scottish Highlands by members of TMC on September 28, 2017. It’s a good idea to log all your walks (lowland and mountain) or climbs (rock climbing outdoors and the wall indoors),  especially if you are considering submitting for an award like the Lowland Leader Award or the Mountain Leader Award (better known as the M.L.), the Single Pitch Award (in rock climbing), and the Climbing Wall Award  etc.


Recording a walk

It has never been easier to record your walks and climbs. Back in the day all walks were written up in the club’s log book, but, surprise surprise, things have moved on. Mike Slattery’s watch, yes watch,  gives a good impression of the approach, climb, and walk out on the day we climbed Curved Ridge. View Ranger is a great way of recording actual routes on  the OSI 1:50.000 maps that we use.  Most members will be familiar with the maps Bertie Hickey puts up on Facebook:



Berties Map
Route map/track by Bertie Hickey



This is the route of Andrew Kelliher’s recce for the Level 1 walk tomorrow, Sun 11 Feb, 2017, the long awaited return to the Reeks. Interactive maps like this are taking over from the traditional route card, but two points need to be made on this.

  • The first point is that you still need to be able to navigate from a map and interpret the terrain that you are walking in. We recommend that you have a ‘paper’ map (laminated) and compass with you and that you apply the navigation skills that you learned in Mountain Skills 1 & 2.
  • The second is that you will need to carry your phone, or whatever device you are using to access View Ranger, in a weather proof pouch and have a backup power source in case the battery fails. These are widely available but remember, they need to be weather proof as well. Water and electric circuits don’t mix.



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Andrew Kelliher leading the group from Coomeenapeasta to the the Bone.



The next step is to keep a record of the walk, not just the route.

  • You will need to decide on the type of walk, whether it was a walk amongst equals, a group walk with a leader, or a walk that you led.
  • You will also need to decide if it qualifies for a Quality Mountain Day (QMD).
  • You will need to describe the weather, including wind speed, direction, precipitation, and temperature.
  • Finally you will need to  include all details of your route, including map sheet number, start and end points, peaks summited, total height gain, and notable events.
  • You should have a screen grab of the route, if you are using View Ranger, and photos that show the conditions and/or challenges encountered during the walk.
  • It is also recommended that leaders record the name of everyone on the walk.


Writing up the log

Then you need to write up the log.  This can be done online on the Mountaineering Ireland website. Every member of Mountaineering Ireland has access to an online digital log. Simply log on and access the Digital Log menu on your Homepage.


Screen Shot 2018-02-10 at 20.33.46


Then fill in the details.


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It’s as easy as that!

We recommend that you collect the information as you go, getting a weather forecast, making a route card and/or tracking your actual route,  taking photographs of conditions etc. It is handy to write up each section in Text Edit, Notepad or something similar and cut and paste the information into the online log.


That’s it.


Next post: what makes a Quality Mountain Day?







Youth Aplinist
Photo: http://www.mountaineering.ie/Youth/YouthAlpineInitiative/default.aspx


TMC “went to the polls” last night in what may well turn out to be a referendum on the furure development of the club.  Around 25 members voted for a measure that would have paved the way for greater participation by young people in the club. The measure was vehemently rejected by a large majority of members present. However if one counts the active members present at the meeting, the vote was much closer to an even split.


The vote was preceded by an information session, during which Ruth Whelan, Membership Development Officer with Mountaineering Ireland, did a good job of showing that removing the ban on membership for people under the age of 18 would have little or no affect on routine club activity.  The motion was then put to a very well attended special general meeting and was rejected by a well organised and determined opposition.

TMC has said NO, emphatically, to a small measure of equality that sought to address the badly skewed age profile of the club, a factor that is acknowledged to be a problem by all sides.

From a club development point of view, it was an extraordinary event. The information provided by Ruth fell on deaf ears, mostly. That was hardly surprising under the circumstances but the hostility towards a small measure of equality was quite shocking, as was the underlying attitude to young people and their involvement in our sport. As one member put it, this can easily be achieved but the members simply don’t want it.

There was a lot of talk about selfishness afterwards; a recurring theme of the night was that the presence of young mountaineers would impact negatively on an adult day out in the hills. It’s never as simple as that. I’ve been in the club for almost 20 years and I would always have regarded it as a fairly relaxed, egalitarian organisation that valued access to and participation in mountaineering, underpinned by skills development and progression in the sport.

That does not appear to be the case any more. The vote last night was about making a choice  between the long term development of the club and, what one memeber called ‘keeping things simple.’ Keeping things simple has meant, in my experience, a resistance to club supported training, a laissez faire attitude to gender equality, and the dismantling of simple procedures that ensured that the club walks were representative of the membership as a whole and responsive to member choice. This last point is causing a lot of disquiet among members.


Bertie ReeksIMG_8041
who’s afraid of the big bad Reeks? TMC members doing a recce for the Level 1 walk on February 11, 2018.


The impact is all too apparent to anyone who has participated in Level 2 walks recently. Bog trots in the Slieve Mish are the new standard, and, across the board, there seems to be a policy of avoiding winter walks in the Reeks, despite this being rejected by a previous committee. The leadership of walks has also been “simpliified.” For years it was expected that leaders would have Mountains Skills 1 or 2 and first aid training. The ability to navigate seems to have become entirely optional and navigation has been a serious issue on at least three Level 2 walks since November. The most recent walk was a shambles. It has got to the point where one has to question whether TMC can even meet it’s duty of care to its members at this level.

Those are the negatives.

The positives are equally striking.

Training is now subsidised for any member who wants to progress within the club, an essential element in ensuring equality across all levels within the club. The current committee has achieved full gender balance, one of a small number of clubs in Ireland to do so. Around 25 members voted, in very difficult circumstances, in favour of a small measure of equality in our club. That is 25 reasons to be optimistic about the future of the club and those of us who sponsored the motion thank those members for their support.




In the last blog I put up two images that represented very different ideas of what TMC might  stand for: four generations of mountaineers working on the development of the Dingle Way or a protestor in a nappy apparently opposing a vote that would allow participation by young people in the club.

The stark differences in our vision of the club were cruelly revealed by the vote last night but we have to recognise the fact that a sizeable proportion of the members present at the meeting opted for an inclusive and progressive club. This is a club issue and it cannot be dismissed as an individual grievance. This is, as Ronnie Reagan said, a vision thing.


A postscript: publish and be damned!

The genie is out of the bottle and keeping things simple is no longer an option. We develop or we die. Publishing this post was not easy. I’m fairly sure that it is going to piss a lot of people off, and some people are going to try and have it taken down. So be it. The blog itself was started in response to the secrecry surrounding the publication of the club booklet, possibly another example of “simplifying things.” Members need a forum for things that need to be said, and this is one such forum.

The situation last night was so extraordinary that some response is necessary and the consequences of publishing can’t be any worse than the fallout from the meeting itself. Indeed, the consequences of staying quiet and letting things slide could be far worse. The debate needs to happen, not here, but among the members.

This is the last posting on this subject.






Tom Finn and BoyIMG_7985

Tom Finn, founding member of the club and a young boy (unidentified) working on a section of the Dingle way. Jimmy Laide and Nuala Finn are in the background.


TMC members vote tomorrow on a motion to remove the ban on membership for people under 18 years of age. No one is quite sure when or why the club introduced that rule but the club was built on participation by young people and family members, like Nuala Finn, who was introduced to mountaineering by her father when she was seven years old and now serves as club president.

There are members of the club who climb with their children, but these young climbers are barred from being members until they reach 18 years of age. We are seeking to make a small change in the wording of the constitution that would change this situation and create opportunities for the club to develop by giving other young people a chance to participate and progress in our sport.

That change is being put to the members at a special general meeting that has been called to decide on the issue.



An honourable tradition, four generations of mountaineers on the Dingle way. From left, Jimmy Laide, an unidentified girl (suggestions please), Tomás ‘An Gréasaí’ Breathnach, Sean Kelly, Nuala Finn, Noirín Carroll, and Tom Finn (front). The Dingle way was developed by members of TMC as a way of encouraging greater participation in mountaineering in Kerry.


This whole process started a few years ago when Ian Hassell, then Chairman, pointed to the aging profile of club membership and suggested that the club needed to be more attractive to younger members.  This is a chance to make such a change.

The meeting will be preceded by an information session, in which Ruth Whelan of Mountaineering Ireland will bring people up to speed on the new child protection legislation and any implications it may have for the club as a whole. There has been a lot of talk about “law” but we have never regarded this as a legal issue. It is about fairness and the future development of the club.

There is opposition to the move, which is puzzling given that young people participate in the ‘Tuesday Night’ walks and in the very successful Park Run, and it doesn’t seem to a problem for other participants.  It doesn’t seem to be a problem for most sports club in the country for that matter. Why is mountaineering so different?


Remember, turn up and vote … early and often! It’s your club after all.


Ian Hassell making a point about changing the club constitution at the  club walk two weeks ago … though we’re not quite sure what it was. Any suggestions for a caption?







Píosa dramaíochta faoi chursaí sléibhteoireachta: in omós do Aodh Ó Domhnaill 1947-2018


From tuairisc.ie:

An scríbhneoir ildánach Aodh Ó Domhnaill ar shlí na fírinne

Choimeád éagsúlacht agus feabhas shaothar Aodha Uí Dhomhnaill spiorad agus nuálaíocht i ndrámaíocht na Gaeilge. Tá creathadh mór bainte as saol na Gaeilge agus saol na hamarclannaíochta tráthnóna ag an scéala go bhfuil an scríbhneoir ildánach Aodh Ó Domhnaill imithe ar shlí na fírinne.

Bhásaigh Aodh Ó Domhnaill go tobann Eanair 24, 2018 agus é i mbun na hoibre ab ansa leis ag a dheasc scríbhneoireachta.

Rugadh Aodh Ó Domhnaill i mBaile Átha Cliath sa bhliain 1947 ach, ag maireachtáil i mBaile an Fheirtéaraigh i gCorca Dhuibhne a bhí Aodh agus a bhean chéile Máiréad Ní Chinnéide, arb as Ciarraí di, le roinnt blianta anuas.

Le fiche bliain anuas is leis an drámaíocht is mó a bhíodh sé ag plé agus luaitear go háirithe é leis an gcompántas a raibh a chroí agus a anam ann, Aisteoirí Bulfin.


Taifeadadh  an píosa seo in Oidhreacht Chorca Dhuibhne, ar an mBuailtín, i Mí na Samhna seo chaite, tar éis do comórtas a bhuaigh le linn Oireacthtais na Samhna, i dteannta le Noel Ó Maoileoin.



Once upon a time in the mountains …

Photo: Tom Finn TMC


I was going through Tom Finn’s (1927-2007) slide collection today and came across this photo, probably taken back west. We are not sure who the men are, let alone the nuns they seem to have rounded up. We think the men are Tom’s climbing buddies Brian Daly, Denis Switzer, and Bill Edwards. If anyone can confirm this, we would be delighted.

Tom was a founding member of the club, a pioneering mountaineer, and a keen photographer. He usually had his camera with him when he went mountaineering and illustrated details of all climbs were entered into a club logbook or a personal journal.  These provide a fascinating insight into the development of mountaineering as a sport in Kerry,  as well as the history of  Tralee Mountaineering Club.

If you have any ideas about what was going on in this photo, or a suitable caption, get in touch!




“You know the nun in the square wimple is wearing a habit like Auntie Pat’s but I don’t think it’s her. In the early days she had to stay in a convent – she used to stay at Pres but I don’t recognise any of the nuns. I think it’s definitely Denis, Bill and Brian.”

Clodagh Finn 

“I like the symbolism of the nuns on the mountains  on today  February 1st the feast day ‘Saint Bridget’ which traditionally marks  the beginning of spring  representing rebirth and renewal,  hope, youth and growth.”

Mags Twomey

Picking up on Mags’ point about Lá ‘Le Bríde or Bridget’s Day, just in case people think that it was a man only club “back in the day,” women were just as involved in the development of TMC from  the beginning, as this early photo of a climb on Brandon shows:

Brandon group