Have you ever climbed The Reek?
No? Then you most assuredly should. Easy enough climb, until you reach the scree. Gets very tricky then, especially if it’s raining. One can easily slip on the moving underfoot scree and rip the skin off your hands as you try to break the fall, or even snap your leg completely.
Or if you are a total looper, or full of religious zeal, then you might consider to climb the whole thing barefoot. Like many others do. Then you guarantee those mountain rescue boys will be getting the call to come get you, or someone else who underestimated the ordeal. And grossly underestimated the toughness of the soles of their feet as they bleed profusely on the sharp mountain rock. Mayday, Mayday – dot dot dot dash dash dash dot dot dot.
What are you on about MB? Reek? Scree? Religious zeal? Bleeding feet? Mountain rescue?
Ok lads. To explain.
MB & his fellow countrymen & women have a holy mountain back home in County Mayo on the West coast of Ireland. A place of religious pilgrimage. Just north of Galway city, which many non-Irish might be more familiar with. Five miles from the small picturesque town of Westport. The mountain is called Croagh (pronounced ‘croak’) Patrick. The locals call it ‘The Reek’. Reek is colloquial Irish term for a farmer’s hay stack. The mountain is symmetrically shaped and looks just like one, hence the name. CP is 2,507 feet high. The last one quarter of the climb is steep and difficult as the mountain is covered by sharp fragmented broken rock (called ‘scree’), and it can be hell to climb if the rain comes down. And in the West of Ireland the rain comes down quite often. As in – most days.
On the day that MB climbed it in 2006 it was a beautiful blue sky bright sunny day and the views out over Clew Bay were incredible. Clew bay has hundreds of small islands and is a wonder of nature. The biggest day on the year in terms of pilgrimage is the last Sunday in July – only two days back, when tens of thousands make the climb. Many climb in bare feet as some sort of penance or offering to their God.
Now in the opinion of MB, climbing barefoot back in the day (400 AD, pre Nike & Adidas) was not a bad idea – as that’s what you did for the other 364 days per year. But since the arrival of the shoe, man & womankind have lost that ‘hard as leather sole of foot texture’. Now the sole of the foot is soft as a baby’s bum – and hence the requirement for the mountain rescue, who must bring the injured down each year. This years major injuries however (see below news link) were a broken leg and a cardiac arrest – neither related to the bare feet climbing. But MB is sure some of those ‘bleeding feet people’ also needed assistance, just like they do every year. So MB is in two minds about this climbing barefoot business.
The reason that it’s a place of pilgrimage is that Ireland’s national saint – St Patrick – fasted on top of the mountain for forty days and nights in the year 441 AD, presumably the Lenten fast. And even before Christianity arrived in Ireland the mountain was associated with the Celtic pagan festival of Lughnassa (pronounced ‘Lu-nasa’).
MB follows a blog called The Silver Voice From Ireland – who has a great post on the topic which she reblogged a few days back. So to have a proper read on the topic, and with grateful thanks to the Silver Voice, click on the following:
And to read news report of last Sunday’s climb:
End of post.
Regards from MB.