New year ice-capade tops off cool start to 2010
A father and son rung in the New Year by climbing Croagh Patrick -- despite temperatures of minus 10C.
Teacher Andrew Marsden is an experienced climber and he and son Conor (12) encountered few problems as they scaled the Co Mayo mountain.
Andrew, an applied mathematics teacher at St Jarlath's College in Tuam, has climbed Croagh Patrick a few dozen times in all sorts of weather, but it has never been this cold.
"I was in the Alps last February and it was not as cold as Croagh Patrick was this time," he said.
The climb usually takes about two-and-a-quarter hours, but with the snow and the ice, their new year venture took about four-and-a-half hours.
They set out in the morning and enjoyed plenty of sunshine for the ascent, but, by the time they got to the top, the temperature was down to about minus 10C.
"The view from the top is always spectacular, but this was the best we have ever seen it. There was a clear sky and the countryside looked magnificent," said Andrew.
He and Conor were correctly attired for the climb, but others were not and suffered accordingly.
"There were quite a few people on the mountain, but a few were not properly attired and wore crazy footwear, including one woman who wore plimsolls," said Andrew.
Conor, a pupil at Kilconly National School where they live in north Co Galway, used crampons for the first time and found them very beneficial.
It got colder as they got to the summit, with the feeder-tubes on their water carriers freezing.
"The walls of the church at the top of the mountain were a sheet of ice. The church was covered in ice and the wooden structures at the top had icicles of up to 12 inches hanging from them," added Andrew.