Thursday, February 5, 2015

Croagh Patrick, Ireland

Summit Climb, Westport, County Mayo

Executive summary by darmansjah

Round-Trip: 8 miles, 1 day

When to Go: Spring through fall is best for weather, but the climb can be done year round when the summit isn’t covered with snow and ice. Expect fog, wind, rain, and hail rolling in off the Atlantic at any time.

A climb of this gnarly, holy peak provides ample beauty, challenge, and spiritual power to really experience this long-settled country. Croagh is the Gaelic word for "sharp mountain," an apt term for this steep ascent of the 2,507-foot mountain where St. Patrick is said to have spent 40 days and nights in prayer at its summit. More than half the people who come to climb the rocky, exposed, and lung-churning trail to the top are not hikers of any stripe, but pilgrims paying homage to St. Patrick, who, with his Celtic cross design, symbolically brought Christians and pagans together. Stunning views of Clew Bay and all of verdant County Mayo are the payoff for making it to the top, with its tiny white chapel. A Guinness in the centuries-old Campbell’s Pub at the base is the mandatory finish. There, the most oft heard phrase is, “Wow, that was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.”

Insider Tip: Myth says that if you climb Croagh Patrick seven times, your entry into heaven is assured despite previous bad behavior.

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