Climbers are on top of the world . . . in Co Kerry
NOVICE climbers are finding their feet in the Alpine-type environment of Ireland's highest ice-capped peak.
Adventure enthusiasts are scrambling across high snowy ridges, climbing steep waterfall ice, and using ice axes to ascend frozen snow gullies.
But instead of jetting to the French Alps or Canada for the extreme sport, the snow and ice climbing courses are in the majestic MacGillycuddy Reeks in Co Kerry.
Nathan Kingerlee, of Outdoors Ireland, said even beginners and novice climbers could attempt the sport under strict guidance.
"There are serious dangers in the mountains right now, but with the right training, knowledge and equipment, it's an awe-inspiring and spectacular place to be," said Mr Kingerlee, manager of the Killarney adventure company.
"A whole new adventure sport of ice climbing and winter mountaineering which previously, people had to travel overseas to experience, is developing overnight in Ireland. It's incredibly unprecedented.
"Kerry's MacGillycuddy Reeks have transformed into an Alpine mountain paradise, for those who dare to venture into them."
Mr Kingerlee warned safety was paramount after record snow falls and sub-zero temperatures blanketed the mountain range.
He said: "The mountains in snow and ice conditions are potentially dangerous and anyone venturing into them either needs to be highly experienced, with full equipment, or join a training course."