Yeah, looking back at these photos I’m remembering the pain, the cold, the fog, the numbness in my fingers. The sweat rolling down my back just before I took a break and ate a banana. The thirst, dying for water and at the same time trying to spare it. The confidence I felt when I set foot on Croagh Patrick, was robbed from me about two and a half hours into the climb when you know you’re fucked……. everyone is telling you the top is only twenty minutes away……obviously time stops at a certain altitude because I was told this every twenty minutes for what felt like 3 days.
The summit seemed to be in the sky somewhere, and you are already in the sky fluffing through clouds to try and see your feet and navigate your way over slippery trecherous shale….Then out of the fog comes two young lads drinking two cans of bulmers and on thier way down, ” Well lads”, says I….” Is there much further to go and more importantly what time does the bar close?”….They just looked at me and said you should be there in about 20 mins…….!!!! WTF
The group had split up and all the fit ones (eyes thrown up to heaven) tore on, and left the less fit ones behind. Then less fit ones left the vertically challenged ones behind, and thats where I was. Heights were never my thing but God was good he gave me fog so that I couldn’t see down, but then I couldnt see up either. It was like having a really bad hangover when you cant really make sense of anything, and you laugh inappropriately as to avoid panic crying.
I actually felt afarid leaning heavily on my Cattle prod( I thought it was a walking stick but the women from the agricultural sector told me different). There were lots of people coming down the mountain smiling and looking relieved to have reached the top but I couldnt see past my nose. I kind of felt like Jack in the film “Titanic” when he was in the water holding onto Rose before he slipped peacefully into the frozen water, Basically you know that you are doing a good deed but on the other hand its fierce cold and you know you could die at any minute.
Then, that moment when you see this mad lad dressed like a Monk, in his bare feet holding a stick like he was Moses going to part the waters says” Well done girls, and may God be with you”. I wasnt sure if it was St.Peter welcoming us into Heaven or we had actually arrived…. Then I heard the chorus of laughter coming from a corner of the summit that I recognised. I followed the laughter and there they were, the fast ones! Enjoying sandwiches, bananas and Sharons energy balls…Two of the fast ones even got to go to mass, the others were raging they missed mass but I was quietly delighted.
The relief that I was alive, that I made it, was one of the best feelings in the world. I broke open the sandwiches and treated myself to a snickers , guilt free…I had definetly walked off the calories in that bar and could have eaten another 3 if I had them. After all the celebrations and photos the realistaion hit me, I had to go back down.
After two hours, Sharon’s knee cartilage damage and three of the fast ones getting lost, we got back to the cafe for tea and buns. Oh Lord was I happy, I suprised myself I actually did it. I don’t do outdoorsy stuff. Fresh air, mountains and unguided dangerous treks were all new to me. We stayed in Westport that night and to be honest the hot shower in the hostel was by far the best feeling I’ve had in a long time. Then it was time for food, drinks and amazing company. Would I do it all again?…. Ah Yeah…..