Stars glow in the night sky above St Patrick’s Oratory, the church at the summit of Croagh Patrick. To the left of the picture can be seen the faint filaments of the Milky Way.
Since Mayo County Council installed an escalator up to the summit of Croagh Patrick, taking pictures like this is a doddle…
Ok, there isn’t actually an escalator up to the summit – not yet anyway.However, it appears that some folk in Mayo County Council would like a helicopter pad on the summit, to assist rescues. Given that An Taoiseach is a Mayo man, and a keen hiker, it appears that he was lobbied to support the pad when he participated in the Reek Sunday climb a couple of weeks ago. Despite the headline of this Mayo News article, it is not clear what he thinks of the idea. Mountaineering Ireland [of which I am a member] is not in favour of the idea, citing weather conditions which would restrict the number of times that the helicopter could be used [this Irish Independent article describes one such occasion - high winds on the summit are a regular occurrence]
One issue that is not in dispute is the amount of erosion on the mountain. My own preference would be to put a stepped path to the summit, similar to Diamond Hill or the Mourne Mountains. Sure, it would have a visual impact, but it won’t be any worse than the ever-widening trails that already mark the path to the summit. It should also make the round-trip to the summit a lot safer – 80% of Mayo Mountain Rescue’s call-outs are to help people on The Reek – and many of the call-outs are due to twisted ankles or falls.
Since the last time I visited the mountain, Mayo County Council have introduced paid parking for the car park at the base of the mountain. I don’t have a problem paying a few euros paying for facilities – presumably the 3 euro fee (for up to 12 hours, which would cover even the slowest climbers) helps pay for the toilets located in the car park – if fact, I’d happily pay an extra euro to pay for teaching people to flush them occasionally.
The mountain continues to attract climbers at all times. My wife and I climbed the mountain on a clear and humid Friday night, meeting descending climbers well after sunset. The weather changed later in the night – becoming misty and very windy – which pretty much finished the night as a photographic trip. We decided to descend at around 2am, and got back to the car park at around 3.30am. On the way down, we met 2 couple from Ballina heading to the top and met three more climbers setting off for the summit just as we returned to the car park. The mountain never sleeps.