Day 5 Truncoil to Gangabal Lake and Haramukh Army Camp

The Big One

We left our chilly but sunny camp in Truncoil at 9.30am after a nice breakfast and a wash in the ice. Basically a strip off, pour water and soap over head and scrub with the ice and snow. You feel great after it. The trek took us along the valley through some small pockets of snow to a river crossing. We hopped across the rocks and a gradual climb along a muddy hill, just showing the signs of growth, brought us to a ridgeline where we could see the snowy valley ahead. The new growth and feeling of spring in the air with alpine flowers beginning to bloom and ice melt all around gave a great feeling of nature to the area.


Start of the hike to Gangabal Lake.

The views got better and better as the day went on and so did the hiking. Hiking through the snow, occasionally falling in a deep patch up to your hips and some tricky ridges and balancing acts meant it was tiring work. As we reached our first ridge before entering an area totally snowed in we bumped into some guys trekking with the Indian army. A seriously fit bunch carrying over twenty kilos of gear from their camp above Gangabal Lake to Naranag


Myself, Emma and Indian army with Haramukh peak in the background.

What more can I say about the next few hours trekking except that it was the most amazing trekking I have ever experienced. The views can only be told in a few photos and even these do little to show the vast expanses of snow and mountain peaks in the area.


We continued hiking in over twenty degrees for the next few hours. Just before reaching Gangabal lake, which had just started to melt, we had to cross a river. This was great fun with a homemade ladder and ropes as our aid.


Another twenty minutes and we reached the lake and the views of Haramukh Mountain. A quick stop for photos and we made our way around the lake for a few kilometres to the army camp. We walked straight in past all the guns and were greeted, mostly well, by the guys on site. The camp doctor came over to chat while they cooked us lunch and we sat on the roof of one of the huts taking in the view. They explained how this was base camp for summit attempts of Haramukh. The army had some successful attempts in recent times, however,
Haramukh is feared by the locals and never summited by them. It also falls in the top five most dangerous climbs in the world ahead of Everest according to the army doctor. The mountain peaks at around 5200 metres with base camp above 4000 metres.


Myself, Emma and Haramukh!

The return hike took around three hours with the legs getting a little heavy towards the end. We met lots of locals carrying supplies up to the army camp. Duble the distance of our trek with 20kg on their backs both ways. Now that is fitness. This you have to be born to do.

This trek of over seven hours would be the toughest and most amazing day of the entire trip. Sometimes words are useless to explain the beauty of a place like this one. All I can say is go trekking in Kashmir.




Gaelforce North 2nd Place 2014

Race Report Gaelforce 2014





Finally a chance to get to the blogging again. Sorry folks for the lack of updates over the past week. It’s been a busy one to say the least. Training went really well with two touch brick sessions early in week and then with work busy I had a break from training Wednesday to Friday before the race kicked off Saturday morning.

So the question is where do I start! A fourth place finish in tough wet and windy conditions in 2013 meant I knew I would be in with a shout of the top three this year if things went well and of course depending on the oposition in the field. Preparation is key and last week wasn’t the best, I have been working 12 and 13 hour shifts, some at night and some during the day and juggling a bit of sleep and training in. All in all however I was feeling strong and ready to give it everything.

On Friday evening, Emma and I made the long journey to Letterkenny to register , drop off bike at transition and find our B&B in a little village close to the bus pick up for the morning. A stunning part of the country and the B&B was really nice with fantastically helpful owners. It turns out it is only three weeks open. I’ll post a link later in case anyone fancies a trip North!

The race consists of a 15km trail run, 2km kayak, 25km bike, Mount Errigal climb,18km bike including off road section, and finishes with a 1km beach run. 64km in total.

At 7am I hopped on the bus to take us to the start line. After a quick toilet stop, a sprint/warmup to the start line and a few minutes of being served up as midge food the hooter sounded and we were off! The first 4km is a fast downhill section and I quickly slotted into 2nd place and tried to find my rythm. The pace was fast but I felt relatively comfortable and maintained about a 20-30 second gap on the man ahead for the entire 15k. We averaged 3.10 minutes per kilometer for the downhill section and later settled into 3.45’s and 3.50’s . An incredible run past lakes, mountains, a castle, and up over the hills through bog before descending to Garton Lake where the kayak stage took place. I completed the 15km bang on the hour mark and felt good as I splashed out into the lake to jump onto the kayak, hot on the heels of the man ahead. Shaun is a great adventure racer and I knew I had my work cut out to catch the local hero! After an easy kayak section I was closer and as I headed to the bike transition I felt in better condition than I had a year ago at this stage. I caught Shaun within a few minutes on the bike and we agreed to help eachother over the bike stage. This turned out a good tactic and even though I had to put up with constant cheers of “go Shaun go” it was the best decision for us both. We reached the foot of the mountain stage in 47mins. I hopped off the bike and to my embarrassment took a right instead of a left, tried to turn quickly and landed face first on the gravel. A nice start to the mountain run or what ! As always the mountain is energy zapping and tough as hell but we summitted together in 27minutes and the descent began. I wasn’t in the right frame of mind at this stage. I knew it but I couldn’t get it out of my head. My fall in the Dingle race 3 weeks ago was still fresh in my mind. I made the worst mistake of thinking too much and within a minute of the descent I fell again, landing on both knees. Another sore one and Shaun, after asking if I was ok, gained nearly 50 metres on me. I dusted myself down once more and decided it is now or never, stop thinking about things and get on with it. I completed the descent in 11 minutes and passed Shaun at the bottom of mountain. I later heard the views were amazing from the top! Back on the bike again and the final section awaited. Shaun was back with me at this stage and we attacked the off road section together. At this stage Shaun had a little more nerve and attacked the second half of the offroad with real gusto. I lost a few seconds on him which would prove the difference in a few minutes time. I kept him in my sights as we blew the last 10km of the race apart. I could see him cross the line 40 seconds ahead of me. I finished in 3.14 hours, 19 minutes faster than last year. Apart from extreme pain all over my body, I felt fantastic. All that training does pay off and there is no better feeling than crossing that line knowing you have beaten yourself once more !

More photos to follow later and a few interesting links and plans for the next few weeks..

One of my friends Kevin and his mates, completed their first ever race yesterday all in aid of a charity for diabetes. Link here for anyone interested. Well done to ye all.

Garmin results for race ( on running mode so average pace off during bike sections ! )

A fantastic place to stay for Gaelforce North –