The first snow to fall at Lugnaquilla occurred last weekend – some of it whilst I was on my way up.
Howling winds and horizontal snow, with wind chill of -5°C in the morning – that’ll wake you up alright.
I have to say, I’ve been to Lugnaquilla many times but this day was the toughest that I recall. It was not purely because of the weather, I’ve been up in much worse – it was just a long day. I spent 12 hours out walking the area, carrying heavy camera equipment the whole time.
The Moon was slightly more than three quarters full, and on a clear, frosty morning illuminated the way enough that I barely needed my head torch – only in the forest was it dark enough to warrant its use.
The sun not up yet, but it’s not far off. I can see that there is snow lying on the lug already and it appears that it’s getting a fresh batch of it.
As I approached the north prison, the sun had risen and the winds were strong.
Northerly winds are cold too!
This was a very challenging shot, the wind was so strong that standing was a problem let alone trying to shoot a dimly lit landscape with a high resolution camera.
Camera movement ruins sharpness when using longer exposures – this was 1/30th of a second shutter speed – which sounds fast but really is not. Viewing the scene in live view, I could see how much vibration was being caused by the wind. My advice when shooting these scenes is either use a higher ISO (I don’t prefer this) or wait patiently for a drop in the wind and use a cable release (my preferred option). Obviously, sometimes you cannot wait – for example if it’s -5°C and howling winds you might not really want to stand around! Still, I managed to get a sharp shot at ISO 64 here, using a bit of patience and some grit!
I wait all year for this!
The summit, with a light dusting. This would not last long – the October sun would later prove to be too strong, despite the freezing temperature up here at present.
The fog came in rapidly, and then blew past as suddenly as it appeared.
The sky was partly cloudy all day, with fast moving clouds, some low (hence the fog) and some higher – but all fast moving (due to high winds).
It’s already apparent in the image above that the snow was not going to last long, the sun had been up for a couple of hours at this point and the temperature is just above freezing (though it did not feel like it with the wind chill!).
There is a rocky outcrop slightly north west of the south prison that I like to sit at for a snack sometimes, so I headed over that direction – I was pretty hungry. Starbar time. Yum!
Yeah, the fog came and went, this is really not unusual for Lugnaquilla. Climbing the mountain without basic navigational skills is really not something I would advise.
On the subject of navigation, an important point here is to not store your compass near a mobile phone. If you don’t know why, put simply – magnets will depolarise a compass and thus cause it to become inaccurate (usually, completely wrong) – smartphones contain magnets.
A long range shot now, looking down to Aughavannagh with some nice sun rays.
It’s been a while since I wrote a blog post about Lugnaquilla actually, but that’s not to say I have not been lately – I’ve actually been once or twice each month this year so far. This would be my second visit this month.
At this point, I decided that I would hop over the other side of the mountain, to look down the north prison to the Glen Of Imaal. It adds a few kilometres to the trip but I thought it would be worth it.
I was glad that I did!
At this time of year, the sun never hits the cliffs on this side of the mountain, as is shown in the photographs above and below. The northerly winds were biting here.
Regular readers of my blog will know that I am quite the fan of rock formations, and it wouldn’t be a real visit to Lugnaquilla if I didn’t shoot at least one!
Beautiful autumnal light on this visit, although it was a challenge keeping the camera steady in the wind. Autumn and winter is where the good light really happens, everything else (other seasons) is just practice to my mind.
Where does the time go!?
Sunset was only a few hours away at this point and I had a lot of ground to cover to get back to the car. I started my walk at 06:00 and ended it at 17:48 – 22.94 km later! Taking lots of photographs to a high technical standard takes a lot of time, so it’s not that it took me 12 hours to walk 23 km – photography eats up a lot of that time.
So I started the homeward journey, along the cliffs of the north prison.
Another angle overlooking the great cliffs of the north prison a bit further down the mountain.
I’ve always liked the view over to to the west from here with Keadeen sitting in the distance.
Looking down to the Glen Of Imaal. Long way back to the car!
A wider shot, showing the distance I have yet to travel. The ridge leading to the middle of the image (from the left) is the Camarahill/Corrig ridge that is my return journey. Some nice light!
Gonna feel this walk in my legs for a few days I think.
Off Lugnaquilla now, and it’s like a switch was flicked – no wind at all!
I once encountered an unwanted visitor here at this small pond – a deer tick had attached itself to me. Lovely!
Makes sense really, it was late summer and presumably this is a drinking hole for deer so that’s where I would hang out if I was a tick! The DEET spray did not protect me much here, it would appear! No harm though, I have a tool for removing them with ease.
A nice skyscape.
The sun low in the sky now, about an hour and a quarter until sunset. My journey back follows from left to right in this image, with Camarahill the brownish bump at right with the wall slightly off centre.
As darkness comes nearer, I reach the top of Camarahill – the last descent of the day beckons. Taking one last glance over to Lugnaquilla – I was seeing a face in the shadow cast by the north prison of Lugnaquilla. It’s the BFG!
The last shot of the day, sunset on the way down from Camarahill.
A long day!
Thank you for reading!
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