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Devil's Ladder Route

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The traditional “tourist route” up the mountain, the Devil’s Ladder route has now become badly eroded in places and the Devil’s Ladder gully itself demands care due to its loose condition. Allow 6 hours for the round trip.

Harvey 'Superwalker' 1:30,000 "MacGillycuddy's Reeks"

Ordnance Survey Ireland 1:50,000 Discovery Series Sheet 78
Ordnance Survey Ireland 1:25,000 Map “MacGillycuddy's Reeks”

Please note dogs are not permitted on Carrauntoohil. Please respect the wishes of the local landowners - without their goodwill, access to the mountain would not be possible. Thanks.

Start at either Lisleibane (Grid Ref. V827873) or Cronin’s Yard (Grid Ref. V837873). From Lisleibane follow the obvious track into the Hag’s Glen. Alternatively, from Cronin’s Yard follow the path until you meet the main Hag’s Glen track shortly after the Gaddagh River crossing (Grid Ref. V827864).

Continue into the Hag’s Glen, crossing the ford at Grid Ref. V821854 (demands care after prolonged heavy rain) and passing between Loughs Gouragh and Callee. After ascending a short rise the path becomes less distinct as it crosses an area of waterlogged ground before arriving at the foot of the Devil’s Ladder. The Devil’s Ladder itself is a steep gully filled with loose scree and boulders. It is now quite unstable in places and care should be taken, particularly when icy or in wet weather. Although it is tempting to leave the bed of the gully for what appears to be better ground on the flanking slopes (particularly in descent) this should be avoided. Stay alert to the risk of rocks being dislodged by other parties above you, or onto other parties below you.

In recent years severe erosion has occurred on the Devil's Ladder itself, particularly in the upper section, and there is a significant amount of loose rock and scree present therefore caution should be exercised. Whilst many people continue to use the route safely, others have started to use the old "Bothar na Gige" zig-zag route on the flank of Cnoc na Toinne as an alternative. It should be pointed out that this route is not without its dangers either, particularly in wet or icy conditions, and there have been a number of accidents there in recent times as a result of simple slips. It also involves a significant amount of extra ascent in the overall climb compared to the Devil's Ladder itself. Although it is a very old route, Bothar na Gige had fallen into disuse until fairly recently, however since regaining a degree of popularity it has also been subjected to a high degree of erosion and is now loose and slippery in places.

At the top of the Devil’s Ladder bear right onto the long summit slope of the mountain. From an initially vague appearance, the track becomes more distinct as you gain height. Although it branches in several places, all variations lead eventually to the summit. In poor visibility beware of heading too far to the left of the track and onto the dangerous ground above Curraghmore, or too far to the right where a narrow track leads across the face of the mountain towards the ‘Heavenly Gates’.

Return via the same route or the Brother O’Shea’s Gully route.

BEWARE! – The summit itself is surrounded by steep ground and extreme caution is required when commencing your descent, especially in poor visibility. Note that there are NO safe descent routes anywhere to the North, Northeast, East or Southeast of the summit. Always carry a map and a compass and have at least one competent navigator in your group (ie. capable of accurate navigation in all conditions, including white-out and darkness).

Initial descent bearings from the summit are as follows:
1) For the Devil’s Ladder, follow a magnetic bearing of 192° until you meet the track, then follow it as it trends SE to the top of the Devil’s Ladder.
2) For Brother O’Shea’s Gully follow a magnetic bearing of 230° for 50m before turning to 308° and descending steeply towards the top of the gully
3) For Caher follow an initial magnetic bearing of 230° for 50m. Next follow 195° for approximately 200m before following the rim of Coomloughra as it veers away to the right.

To turn on/off route lines for the following images just roll the cursor over each image.
(Note - dotted lines show hidden section of route)

The initial Hag's Glen approach to the Devil's Ladder (and Brother O'Shea's Gully) route.


The line of the Devil's Ladder itself, which demands care (especially when icy or in wet weather).


Looking up the slope of the Devil's Ladder


The long drawn out summit slope of Carrauntoohil as seen from the top of the Devil's Ladder. The path sub-divides many times here but all variations lead eventually to the summit.


The view from the Devil's Ladder back down into the Hag's Glen showing Lough Gouragh and Lough Callee (photo courtesy David Manzor)


The view from the 'Back Ladder' towards the Bridia Valley (photo courtesy Frank O'Connell)


The summit cross of Carrauntoohil (photo courtesy Frank O'Connell)


This information is provided in good faith and is believed to be accurate. In deciding to use this route description you have agreed that Kerry Mountain Rescue Team or the author of this text cannot be held responsible in any way for the accuracy of the information contained herein, or for any accidents which occur to a person using this route description, howsoever caused.

Go to Brother O'Shea's Gully (Cummeenoughter) Route
Go to Caher (Coomloughra) Route



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