On the weekend of 14th-17th March, a Saint Patrick’s Day holiday weekend in Ireland, I ran a trip for the Hillwalkers Club from Dublin, to the ruggedly raw and beautiful mountains of Snowdonia, North Wales.
This remarkable area of mountains lies close to the coast at the northwest corner of Wales, and is within easy reach of Dublin by ferry and car.
Seven of us arrived around 20.00 at our accommodation in Llanberis village, a cosy guest house, and soon headed to the neighbouring pub for dinner and a discussion of the weekends plans.
The forecast was for dry but cloudy weather, without significant wind, but with the possibility of snow still lying on the higher tops, so plans were laid for the next day to hike to the summit of Yr Wyddfa, (Snowdon), at 1085 metres the highest mountain in England and Wales.
En route to the slate workings
The popular routes up this peak take well worn tracks from Pen y Pass, which involves the minimum of ascent, they can be crowded and are possibly the least interesting of the many ways to get up Snowdon.
I decided, therefore, to take the guys up the far more interesting and much quieter South Ridge, a route that starts at Rhyd Ddu on the west of the massif.
We started up an old mine track and headed to austere, tumbled down, and abandoned slate workings higher up the valley. From here we turned north, up the South Ridge, enjoying some mixed ground, rugged paths and rocky steps, before crossing the narrow and precipitous Bwlch Main and making a final pull to the summit.
Snowdon summit
The day ran true to form, with a good deal of cloud spoiling any chance of the wonderful views that can be had on this route. However, we had a great time, with only a little snow above 900 metres, and a relatively quiet summit to take our photographs.
We returned via the Rhyd Ddu path which brought us back to the car, and headed back to Llanberis to complete a satisfying day.
Day two brought more in the way of drizzle, but we were undeterred, and set off for Cwm Idwal at the base of the Glyders, a blocky range with four mountains over 3000 feet, Y Garn, Glyder Fach, Glyder Fawr and Tryfan.
After a relatively easy walk-in, passing Llyn Idwal and some damp looking climbers on the Idwal Slabs, a popular rock climbing venue, we tackled the rocky ascent up through the Devil’s Kitchen, past huge fallen blocks of volcanic ash rock and into an ever narrowing cleft in the dark mountainside.
All the team at Glyder Fawr summit
We emerged at a small lake, or llyn, on the bwlch between Y Garn and the rest of the massif, and reluctantly ignoring Y Garn itself, headed up a long rubbly scree slope to the summit of Glyder Fawr at 999 metres.
Our route now followed the Glyders ridge, a moonscape of frost shattered rocks and bare ground. These rocks had stood above the ice during the last glaciation, and as a result had been split by the freezing and thawing of water into strange shaped slabs and blocks, seemingly thrown on top of one another like giant building blocks in a child’s toy box.
Strange goings on, on the Cantilever Stone
In the misty conditions the whole impression was of an unworldly and alien landscape. It was here we found the much photographed Cantilever Stone, close to the summit of Glyder Fach, and posed for our own pics.
Our route now took us down and north, across the head wall of Cwm Tryfan and over to the bwlch between Glyder Fach and Tryfan itself.
From here we scrambled up the south ridge of Tryfan to the two stone blocks, Adam and Eve, on the summit.
Scrambling down the south side of Tryfan
We returned the same way and then descended into Cwm Bochlwyd to make our way down the rocky path to our start point and our transport back to Llanberis. The hike had taken 7 hours, and the guys were very happy with their day.
Monday, St. Patrick’s Day, gave us fine weather, and we drove to Capel Curig to climb Moel Siabod. At 872 metres it is not one of the bigger mountains in Snowdonia, but it makes up for this with some superb grade 1 scrambling on the Daear Ddu ridge, and a wonderful rocky summit traverse.
The walk in was a delight, along another old miners track to more abandoned workings, this time in clear weather and high cloud, past small lakes and flooded workings that finally led to the start of the scrambling route. The Daear Ddu ridge has an imposing northern face, steep and rocky, but is more benign on the southern side, more gently sloping with grassy rakes and rocky outcrops. There are several ways up, and the most exciting is the route that keeps close to the ridge crest, overlooking the steep north face.
Scrambling on the Daear Ddu ridge
I chose a route that bypassed some of the hardest sections, whilst still sticking to the true ridge as much as possible. The rock was dry and the day fine and far too soon we were at the top of the route, which finishes directly at the summit trig point of Moel Siabod. Here we unfurled the Irish flag and took photographs before heading northeast along the summit ridge, which was quite narrow in places, and topped with huge boulders and slabs of volcanic ash, a grippy rock called tuff that is found all over Snowdonia, and which gives great confidence with foot and hand placements.
Moel Siabod summit
Finally the ridge ended and we reluctantly descended the grassy west flank of the mountain to a path that led down through mixed woodland, old oaks dripping with lichens, mosses and ferns, and along the Afon Llugwy, a river benign and gently one minute, roaring rapids the next.
Back in Capel Curig we headed for a local pub, where we saluted Saint Patrick and our wonderfully successful weekend.
Our three days of Snowdonia hikes had come to an end, the guys and gals were elated, and the mountains I have known and hiked in for 40 years did not disappoint us yet again.
I will be returning soon, of course, will you join me?
As a teenage boy, I read a book by Earnest Hemingway, titled ‘The Snows of Kilimanjaro’. Since then this mountain has always fascinated me, and as a geology student studying the volcanic rocks of the African Rift valley, I revisited that fascination in my mind.
This colossal cone of rock, rising from the hot African plain, and topped with glaciers and snow; one of the seven summits, the highest point on the continent of Africa, is a wonderful mountain and a challenge attainable by anyone with determination.
Kilimanjaro, 5895 metres high, seen from the Moshi road.
It must be over 12 months ago now, that my friend and work colleague at the time, Mostafa Salameh, asked me if I would be interested in joining him as an assistant guide on a charity climb of Kilimanjaro.
The charity concerned was the King Hussein Cancer Centre and Foundation in Amman, Jordan, a hospital that specialises in the treatment of people with cancer from across the Middle East. I was delighted to be able to help, both to give my time for such a worthy cause, and to finally take a close look at this magnificent mountain.
And so I found myself at the beginning of February on a plane to Doha to meet with Mostafa and the 25 Jordanians who were taking on this challenge. My flight was late, and gave little time for introductions before we were again in the air, and this time bound for Tanzania and Kilimanjaro International airport.
From there we were transferred to our accommodation for the first night, the Ameg Lodge in Moshi, where there was time for a leisurely meal and time to get acquainted with my adventurous travelling companions.
The Ameg Lodge was a series of bungalows, set in well kept gardens, and with an accompanying bar and restaurant. A pleasant start to our trip.
The next morning we bustled into our vehicles for the 2 hour drive to Londorosi Park Gate, where we were required to sign in with the park rangers. From there we headed to Lemosho Glades, our start point at 2100 metres, (6900ft). The journey was slow, on rapidly deteriorating mud tracks, finally we left our vehicles, ate a hasty lunch, and set off on the climb through the rain forest that now surrounded us.
We were headed for the overnight stop at Mti Mkubwa (big tree), campsite, for some of our group the first night they had ever slept in a tent. It had started to rain, the beginning of the unseasonal damp and cool weather that was to be a feature of our eight days on the mountain, and the heavily used campsite soon became muddy. We assembled in our large domed dining tents, drank tea, and chatted excitedly about the challenges ahead.
Black and white colobus monkeys in the rain forest zone.
The next day we started out early, and still moving through the rain forest zone, soon encountered a resident of these parts, the Black-and-White Colobus monkeys. They were quite illusive, only giving themselves away by the heavy movement of branches in the trees. We occasionally got a glimpse of one, silently staring down at us from the safety of their lofty perch.
By lunchtime we were out of the trees and in the moorland zone. At this altitude the flora consists almost entirely of tall, woody tree heather, a large straggly shrub with small white flowers. On leeward slopes, out of the wind, it can reach well over 2 metres in height.
The steep path we had been following levelled out as we made our way across the Shira plateau, and headed for Shira 1 Camp, our home for the night.
The following day was a short one, we reached Shira 2 Camp by lunchtime, and had the afternoon to rest and acclimatise to our new altitude. We were at 3800m (12630ft.).
Moving through the moorland tree heather
In the late afternoon I took off for a short walk up the mountain, the ground here was rocky, vegetation more sparse, and the skyline dominated by the crisp white outline of Kibo, the highest of the three volcanic centres that make up Kilimanjaro. Behind our campsite was Shira Cathedral, the smaller of the three, the other being Mawenzi, a peak we could not see from this side of the mountain.
It snowed overnight, and lay as a pure white blanket over the mountain. We were headed for the Lava Tower, a prominent jutting pile of volcanic rock at 4800m, from here we would descend to the Barranco Campsite at 3940 metres, thus giving us valuable acclimatisation time.
Just before the Lava Tower we lost the first of our colleagues, the first of six who would not make the summit; succumbing to Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS), he was given oxygen and escorted back to Shira 2 for evacuation, summit bid over.
Snow and Kibo, our final destination
We were now hiking through the alpine zone, an arid and cold landscape, desert like and with little vegetation. However, we found it blanketed with snow, not normal and an unusual sight at this altitude.
It is here that we saw the amazing Giant Groundsels, plants that have adapted to this harsh environment by using dead foliage to insulate the stems against the cold and desiccating winds, and by storing water within their fleshy leaves and trunk.
Dendrosenecio Kilimanjari – Giant Groundsel
Campsite below the Barranco Wall
The particular adaptations of plants, isolated on high peaks like Kilimanjaro, Mount Kenya and Mount Meru means each species is unique to its environment. These Kilimanjaro Giant Groundsels are found nowhere else on earth, and indeed there are many other plants for which this is the case, forever isolated on this alpine island of ice and snow, amid a sea of hot African savanna.
The low lying snow, and yesterdays sun, had caught many of the porters unaware, by morning they were queuing for anaesthetic eye drops to treat snow blindness. This is sunburn of the retina, and can easily be avoided by wearing sun glasses, but most of the porters did not have sun glasses. It was a sad sight, and a salutary lesson.
Thankfully they were all much better in a few days.
From Barranco campsite we would move up to our penultimate stop before the summit, but first we had to negotiate the Barranco Wall, a rocky scramble of a few hundred metres.
The morning was wet, persistent light rain fell in the grey early light, making a relatively straightforward route somewhat more challenging as the rock, well polished from hundreds of booted feet, became slippery and challenging for the unwary.
One or two of the party were nervous of the climb, and the precipitous drop from the rocky ledges, but reassurance from our African guides and our steadying hands, ensured that everyone made it safely to the top.
From here the path levelled, meandering through pleasant little valleys and over coarse rocky ridges before descending into the cloud and back into the heavy vegetation of the moorland. Soon, however, it climbed again, back into the rocky alpine zone.
By mid afternoon we reached our bleak overnight stop, perched on a broad ridge with the mountain behind us and before us a sea of fluffy off white cloud, so close you felt you could step out on to it and walk across the skies of Africa.
The next morning we headed out for Barafu Campsite, the trail was rocky and firm, with very little vegetation around, patches of snow still daubed the ground, though it was not cold. We traversed below glaciers and icefalls, high on the mountain above us, before dropping into the Karanga valley, a dry and desolate place.
A final climb onto a sharp ridge and we were at Barafu or High Camp.
We had arrived in the early afternoon, and the camp was crowded, busy with porters shouting, guides giving instructions, tents being erected and weary trekkers stumbling through the rocky maze.
One of our capacious dining tents.

Our cook soon prepared a hearty lunch, and afterwards we had a briefing about the climb to the summit later that night.

We were at 4600 metres, (15,092ft.), and with 1295 metres, (4,250ft.), to the summit the ascent would be taken very steadily, ‘pole pole’ as the African guides would say, (swahili for slowly slowly). This mantra, often repeated over the last seven days, would take on a real significance that night.
New batteries in the head torches, plenty of snacks in the pockets, fleece base layers and down jackets, all were checked. Then we rested, ate a small dinner, and rested again, some tried to sleep, I busied myself ensuring everything and everyone was as ready as they could be. One of the women was ill, gastroenteritis, desperately bad luck, her chances of summiting gone.
And so it begins.
 At 11.00pm we set off, a snake of light joining with the other lights making their way up the mountain. It soon became cold, and then the snow came. 
It fell on already icy, compressed snow, making the route slippery and difficult, the slow pace slowed again. Barafu camp had emptied itself of summiteers, and they were all heading up the same slippery path. We stopped regularly, to warm cold hands, take on a little fluid or food, and to re-assess our group. In the dark and snowy conditions it was hard to find everyone, I stayed towards the back looking out for stragglers, periodically meeting up with knots of familiar faces, huddled in the biting cold of the night. Another one of our colleagues had to return to camp, dizzy and with a blinding headache, and another with chest problems, given oxygen, they were sent back down accompanied by a guide.
Dawn over Mawenzi peak.
People were now coming down towards us, members of other groups who had not made it to the summit.
Slowly we clawed forward, and slowly we got nearer to the summit, as dawn came and the snow stopped we could see the sun rising over Mawenzi, the third of the volcanic peaks that make up Kili.
We were well over 5000 metres, and the thin air held much less oxygen at this altitude, we were gasping for breath, and then suddenly we were at Stella Point, the day grew lighter, and photographs of the triumphant climbers taken.
The last stretch, though difficult in the thin air, was on much easier angled ground, and my attention was taken by the wonderful views of glaciers and the snowy crater rim. It did not seem long before we were stood at the summit, Uhuru peak, almost 10 hours after setting out.
Stella Point
Lots of photographs were taken, and then I accompanied some of the team back down the mountain to Barafu camp, a relaxed decent. Much of the snow that fell the night before had melted in the mid morning sun, and lower down the patchy snow gave way to bare rock and scree, giving better purchase and allowing us the opportunity to try a bit of scree running, always good fun.
We chatted happily in the thickening air as we approached the camp, and headed for the dining tent for well earned tea and biscuits.
Slowly the others joined us, many with aching muscles and sore knees but all elated to have made it to the summit.
After a late lunch we headed out to our overnight stop at Millennium camp, before continuing the next day to the park gate and the end of our adventure on Kilimanjaro.
The summit photo, 5895 metres, (19,340ft.), Uhuru peak.

21 of our 27 summiteers had made it to the top of Kilimanjaro, and in so doing they had raised more than $1.4 million for the King Hussein Cancer Centre, an astonishing effort.

And I got to walk in the ‘Snows of Kilimanjaro’.

Not a bad result.

Thank you to all our team for making my job so pleasant, and the wonderful guides and porters who climb this mountain every week.

A mountain activity and environmental blog.

Mountaintrails provide guided hiking tours in Ireland and Wales. We also offer Mountaineering Ireland accredited Mountain Skills courses and navigation training.


In summer, Ledge Route is a 450 metre grade 2 scramble that finishes at the summit of Carn Dearg, a 1221 metre subsidiary top of Ben Nevis. Under snow and ice it is a grade II winter route and reputedly the best of its grade on the mountain.

On 10th January this year, three of us headed up the valley of the Allt a Mhuilinn in the grey half light of a wet morning. The imposing massive wall of Carn Dearg rose to our right from the valley floor, its higher crags lost in the pale misty cloud, snow clinging to its flanks on ledges and in gullies, where it could get some purchase.

Allt a Mhuillinn and Carn Dearg

Patches of wet, soft snow slowed our progress as we gradually gained height on our approach to No.5 Gully, the start of our route.
There had been a lot of rain in Lochaber since Christmas, and at this altitude it had fallen as snow. This had become unstable in fluctuating temperatures and as we climbed the slope towards the start of No.5 Gully we had to pick our way over and around the previous weeks avalanche debris. This had refrozen to give us a safe, if awkward, passage.

The entrance to No.5 Gully

As Rob, the leader of our team, prepared the first belay stance and we put on harnesses and tied in, the snow began to fall anew, large white flakes falling from the pale grey sky. Strong winds were forecast from the southwest, but here on the north face we had reasonable protection, and the snow fell in a moderating breeze.

Ledge Route gets its name from a rightward slanting ledge that then sweeps back left to overlook No.5 Gully. Here the route turns right again to join the ridge proper, and leads to some very exposed situations.
The ledges and gullies were banked out with fresh deposits of snow lying over older and more consolidated material. It was decided to pitch this section of the route, and with Rob leading, we plunged our cramponed boots and ice axes deep into the steeply sloping snow to get purchase and made our way carefully up towards the ridge line.

Steady progress towards the ridge

Once on the ridge we could move a little more easily, and ‘moving together’, in Alpine fashion, we made steady progress along the sometimes very exposed ridge.
We stopped for a brief lunch on a small platform before continuing towards our goal, Carn Dearg summit.

Carn Dearg and the end of the climb

Icy cold strong winds and whiteout conditions greeted us as we topped out making the 2km walk to the summit of Ben Nevis itself an unpleasant option, so we quickly stowed our gear before navigating down the southwest side of the mountain to the Red Burn, a stream that in winter becomes a shallow, snow filled gully.

As we walked down and out of the cloud Glen Nevis opened up before us in shades of russet green and brown, the wind eased, and we had the pleasure of seeing several pairs of ptarmigan, an iconic highland bird of the grouse family, in their white coats. They called in alarm at our passing, their distinctive harsh, throaty staccato call filling the cold air.

Descending the Red Burn towards the Lochan Meall an t-Suidhe

We made our way back, firstly by the path running alongside the Lochan Meall an t-Suidhe, and then over sodden, boggy heath to wade the Altt a Mhuilinn and return to our transport.
Our final destination for the day was the Nevis Range cafe, where we indulged ourselves with tea and cake, a fine end to a brilliant day.

Thanks and acknowledgement go to Rob Johnson of http://www.expeditionguide.com/ for leading the day and for some of the images, and to Mark Shaw for his good company.

Our bodies need fuel, food, to provide energy for our bodies to function, this energy is often quantified in terms of kilocalories, (Kcal).

On average, a man will require 2800Kcal – 3000Kcal a day and a woman 2000Kcal – 2200Kcal. When we exercise this demand will increase, and we might burn another 1000Kcal on a long day out in the mountains.
These figures are somewhat generalised, our metabolism slows as we get older, using less energy, and there are always variations between individuals.
To provide a constant and regular supply of fuel when in the mountains we need to pay attention to what we eat and drink.
Breakfast of champions!
Here are my five top tips to ensure you don’t run out of essential energy when out in the hills:
             1.     Fuel up at the start of the day. Don’t miss breakfast, and eat complex carbohydrates which release                             energy slowly, porridge with honey is good, as is muesli with dried fruit and nuts. A cooked                                        breakfast will also give you plenty of fuel for the day, bon appetite!
              2.     At your lunch stop refuel with more slow energy release foods, oatcakes, bananas and peanut butter                          sandwiches are all good examples.
             3.     In winter conditions it may not be possible to take a break at lunchtime, you may be on an exposed                           ridge or a windy and cold summit and need to press on and seek a more sheltered spot later. To avoid an                    energy drop at these times, graze on complex carbohydrates during the day, dried fruit, nuts, and cereal bars              are good options, avoid high sugar foods like chocolate, which give you a quick high but no lasting energy                    boost.
4.     It is essential to drink plenty of fluids, especially in warm weather, dehydration is a best tiring, and at worse, life threatening. It is generally recommended to drink 2 litres a day, but in reality this varies with individuals, the weather, and the severity of the hike. On a hard day in very warm conditions you may need to drink 4 litres, on a cool day maybe 1 litre will suffice. Experience will teach you your own requirements.
It’s best to avoid caffeine rich drinks, like tea and coffee, as these are diuretic and will make you pee more.
For a warming drink try hot chocolate, or my favourite, rosehip tea with a spoonful of golden syrup. In warmer conditions try fruit juice diluted 50:50 with water, this provides essential salts as well as hydration.
Mountain summits do not always make the best lunch spots.
5.     Finally, it is important to refuel with some carbohydrate when you get off the hill, maybe the remains of your snacks or lunch, and try to eat your evening meal within 2 hours of ending the hike. This will give you muscles the energy and protein they need to repair the micro tears that your strenuous day on the trail will have caused.

With good weather forecast for the west of Ireland over the August Bank Holiday weekend, I decided, along with two friends, Piotr and Natasza, to head for the mountains of Connemara.
These quartzite hills, (hills or mountains?, this became a discussion point over the weekend,) have intrigued me since I first visited them back in January, and I was keen to explore them further.

Approaching the summit of Leenaun Hill.

We arrived around Saturday lunchtime, and parked up in the small lough side village of Leenaun, snuggled at the eastern end of Killary Harbour, a long narrow fjord, (the only true fjord in Ireland).
We had decided to warm up on a horseshoe walk that has the grassy Leenaun Hill at it’s head. The hill over looks the village from the south, and at 618 metres is no lightweight.

It was breezy, with grey, high, fast moving cloud that dumped the occasional shower, but the horseshoe was free from hill fog and we enjoyed an invigorating hike, getting the wearying travel stiffness out of our limbs. The views down Killary Harbour and over to the Twelve Bens to the south and Mweelrea to the north were excellent, and we were in good spirits as we headed for our weekend base, camping at the Connemara Hostel.

Sunday dawned clear, sunny and with very little wind, the forecast was for the weather to hold for the next two days.

Killary Harbour from the shore below the Connemara Hostel

We had discussed the possibility of doing Carrot Ridge before we came away, and the weather gave us every opportunity, so having sorted our climbing gear, we headed for Gleninagh.
Parking can be difficult here, but after some crafty negotiation with a local resident by Natasza, we managed to park at the last house on the private road leading into the valley.
We were ready to go.





Carrot Ridge

The approach to the ridge is across the boggy basin floor of the Gleninagh valley, after the recent hot spell the bog was spongy but essentially dry, neither the river crossing nor the surrounding bog presented us with any problems. This is followed by a steep pull up a rocky, peaty slope to the start of the ridge proper at the base of a pinkish quartzite slab.
These quartzites are very fine grained, pale and smooth; no doubt they would present a tricky challenge when wet, but thankfully we had warm and dry rock to work with today.
Carrot Ridge is the prominent line, in centre of shot, running
 slightly right to left.
Reputedly the longest rock climb in Ireland, at 370 metres, Carrot ridge is graded as a diff climb, but as we were climbing in boots, I think it was a grade harder. There is also a couple of sections of scrambling. Though not particularly difficult, the first few pitches are notable for the lack of positive holds, and combined with the evident exposure, we decided to stay roped up for the most part.
Piotr and Natasza led alternate pitches, and it was soon evident that we were doing longer, and fewer, pitches than suggested in the topo. However, we were finding good belay stances and placing enough protection to keep us reassured, so were not too concerned.
Piotr leading on the first pitch
Where we could, we took coils and moved together, this was limited to the scrambling sections of the route,  which amounted to about 190 metres.
As the day wore on the sun came round and bathed the ridge, we were climbing in glorious sunshine, warm and content……
Natasza negotiating a narrow ledge.
Moving together high up on the ridge
The main face of the crag, with Benbaun in the distance.
Carrot Ridge in profile, the paler band running left to right.

Reaching the top of the climb hot and thirsty, we took a break, before heading over Bencollaghduff and down to the col at Maumina. It was good to stretch the legs, with the rocky west ridge of Bencollaghduff offering a few challenges of its’ own.

Heading for Bencollaghduff, Bencorr in the background.

The views all around were stunning, the rocky mountains of the Twelve Bens surrounded us, and more distant, the shimmering sea acting as a blue frame for this lovely picture. Further off we could see the cliffs of Moher, and all the while the warm sun filled the blue sky.

We got back to the car at 8.00pm, and agreed that fish and chips, washed down by a few pints, would be a great end to a great day, and so we headed to Letterfrack to quench our thirst.


Monday, and we opted for a day hiking in the Maumturks, the weather was fine, though it was cooler and breezier than the previous day.
We intended to hike part of the ridge and finish on Letterbreckaun, the second highest mountain in this small range at 667 metres.
We started our walk on the narrow road that doubles as the Western Way, at a pull in opposite the small Lehanagh Lough, and made our way into a grassy, damp valley, called Illion West. Red ochre coloured cattle grazed here on the lush vegetation.
We headed up to the col at Maumhoge, the stiffness in our legs a legacy of yesterdays exertions, before heading northwest up to the summit of Knocknahillion.
Letterbreckaun, (667m), from Knocknahillion
As yesterday, the views were magnificent and long, and we enjoyed a superb hike along the broad but narrowing ridge towards Letterbreckaun. This undulating rocky ridge was dotted with small pools and minor unnamed loughs, sparkling in the sunlight, and providing an harmonious blue to the pale grey of the quartzite rock.
We stayed a while on the summit, reluctant to leave, but eventually had to make our way down via the sloping picturesque valley of Benadolug and back to rejoin the Western Way, and the walk back to the car.
As we packed up ready to head back to Dublin, the clouds rolled in and rain showers blew through the hills, we had made it just ahead of the weather.
We were tired but very content as we headed home after a wonderful three days in these stunningly rugged and craggy mountains.