It was a nice evening when I set out to climb to the summit of Donard for my first planned winter summit camp. I had just bought the new tent that week, a Vango Banshee 200. It was also my first time back in he Mournes since I had come home from my Everest Base Camp / Island Peak trip.
I set out up the Glenn River route, aiming to be at the summit with just enough daylight to pitch before dark. The route was actually quite busy for that late in the day with the last of the people leaving the mountain for the day as I was on my way up.
I only had my 38 litre Osprey day pack at the time so it was a bit of a struggle fitting everything in and I had to attach both the tent and sleeping bag to the outside.
The weather looked very promising for a nice sunset and some nighttime views of the lights below but unfortunately by the time I got to the saddle the usual low cloud was starting to roll in.

The evening looked very promising on the way up.

Until the all too familiar low cloud started rolling in.
 Once at the summit I was forced to pitch the tent on the east side of the wall, facing the coast, due to the strong westerly that was blowing. I already knew at this point that it would likely cause a problem later in the night because the wind was forecast to change direction by a full 90 degrees and blow from the south. I guess I was hoping that it wouldn’t be that bad when it did but I should have known better from my experience on Donard summit.
The tent was secured very quickly and I was soon able to get down to the business of making tea and settling in for the night. The wind was quite strong but it was on the other side of the wall at that stage so I still managed to get to sleep.
It was a struggle carrying all the required gear with only a 38 litre pack.
First things first, get the tea on.
 It was around 4.30 when I was awakened by the wind. At this point it was blowing from the south and the tent was in the direct path. At first it was manageable and I was hopeful that I could sustain camp until daylight. Unfortunately though the wind continued to gain strength and I began to get concerned about the potential for damage to the tent on it’s first outing. At this point I made the decision to pack up and descend before daylight.

The conditions at 5.15am when I decided to pack up and descend.
Check out my long term plan to camp on all of the Mourne 500’s here


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *