17th of March

The best day on the top of Slievenamon no one would say was kind. It stands independent. There are at least 40 miles to the nearest mountain that might bend a lazy wind. But mostly, there is nothing preventing the wind from having a right good run at you from any point of the compass once you’re near the summit.

Climbing her, there are many temptations to leave ones jacket under a stone or in the forest. Your body generates a level of heat that you feel has become a permanent condition. This causes one to shed layers. But that is a big mistake, one the mountain will punish.     So if I’m late getting going I see many bits of cloth beside the path. Sometimes the odd backpack. And even the odd exhausted person with a vein throbbing on the forehead, jettisoned for the good of the climb by fitter friends. These fellows, for it is normally men, reclining with that air of Neronian smugness happy in his decision to accept the easy breath than the drowning gasp of the unfit, the lactic screech in the muscles and the craving for a wee.  His kidneys have gone into overdrive sucking excess water from his system. But now that he has halted the body reabsorbs and removes some of the pressing pressure. However the people who have deposited their clothing will feel a degree of nakedness before the elements above that it seems the cold is sourced in their very marrow.

I wrote usually it is men that falter. And that’s true. It is usually men you see strewn. What I’ve never quite figured out is why they don’t begin back down. Why display the acceptance. Women tend not to, and I don’t believe women are any less or more fit. They just have the brain to return.

What’s actually quite remarkable are the numbers from around here that have never summited. And while I know there are people who aren’t ‘Mountain’ people by inclination, they tend like the other side of my family, of the sea.  Those in the middle leaning one way or the other. But this breed, oh, I just don’t know.

Slievenamon is a short climb, but it has a very steep angle of ascent, leastwise the way most people climb it has. This tends to keep people off her. You can see the pitch very easily for the roads cut near the base that a 1:1 gradient is the norm. In the early years, the current path cut for the transport of concrete and provisions to the troop of the Ordinance Survey that were in permanent encampment to tend the limelight certainly eased the climb. I lately had access to the archive about this period and if they are anything to go by, the summit was no place for those with an imagination. What with a speaking wind and clouds that dance along the rim to small whirlwinds, the sídhe. That there is a mound there also hardly helped matters either.  What they were doing up there was really quite simple. Since the mountain was visible in all directions, a light atop her was also. This wouldn’t happen on a range with peaks serried like teeth where one peak or more peaks couldn’t be seen from a trig point. But looking out, the independent Slievenamon could be seen. And back in the 1840’s the intense white of the lime could be seen as far away as Snowdon in north Wales.

The path cut by that troop of surveyors eventually grassed over. But then about 30 years ago a deflector TV antenna was installed by some bright spark. In order to service this installation they cut a track and from there all the problems stem. In the last 30 years erosion has cut a gouge out of the mountain peat. This is compounded each year by people like me compacting the turf.  Which prevents the rain soaking in and in turn causing pooling, thence a pothole and a full-blown cavity soon follows. Leading to a widening of the seventy foot wide gorge forming up the side of the ridge. The exposed gravel is unstable underfoot, ankle-splittingly so, the hikers widen the path automatically for their own safety.  But as anyone with a grasp of physics will tell you. A 1:1 grade, a good few tens of thousand tons of peat, undercutting water and with people acting like cheese wire. You are just asking for it.


Next week we’ve the change in the clocks. Spring forward Fall back an’ all that jazz. Personally I think this is a waste of energy. I know that there is a whole who-haw about fuel usage and car accidents. Somehow Scottish cows can tell.  And I can see some validity to that argument, either side of the solstices, ‘sept the cow thing. But by the time we change we’ll be the other side of the equinox, and that’s just nuts. It’s now 6.15am, and while not full daylight is nonetheless bright enough for me to see the green of the grass. While out the other end, it’s bright at 19.15pm. So I reckon if we must have this change, we could easily change back around the 10th of Feb.

Those that know me in real life know that I’ve been on a quest to buy a DSLR camera. Nothing in the mid to late thousands. No No no no no, nope, that’s my friend Kristine’s department. She needs that quality for her work shooting wildlife down on the Antarctic peninsula.  And something not basic/beginner either. Which normally means that in two years time I’ll need an upgrade. No. Something that will last a while.

This problem that has lasted six years now. In 2006 you could get a mid range dslr with 7megapix. Two years later it was 9-12megapix. In 2010 it was 14megapix. And today it’s 18megapix. You simply cannot get a 2006 camera today, not that you’d want to frankly. Since the snapper you’d give a seven-year old that you bought for €30 has 7mp these days, probably take a better shot too. But surely you say that a 10mp from 2008 would be grand. No not really. They discovered a technical problem where the higher in mp you went the more shake became an issue. So the 2010s without a good image stabilization was destroying the good of going up in the MP’s. Anywho, you get the scenario, it’s the same all over. Every two or so years the price halves and the capacity doubles. Except like here you get odd glitches. I feel that the greater the mpx’s is not going to improve the quality of the framed shot and you are down to crop. Actually I think they hit it about 14mp quite frankly. And with the image stabilization compensating for most shake, I think we’ve hit a plateau. One where I wont feel a total idiot spending a few hundred yoyos, and where I wont get the comment ‘at least you can use the lenses on the new one’.

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14 Responses to 17th of March

  1. sage says:

    Sounds like a nice day walk. I really like this description: “reclining with that air of Neronian smugness happy in his decision to accept the easy breath than the drowning gasp of the unfit, the lactic screech in the muscles and the craving for a wee.”

    I have a Nikon D-90, but last year in preparing for my trip in which I didn’t want to lug around a big camera, I got a Fuji waterproof/shockproof point and shoot pocket camera with a 13 mpx–great little camera. But I still like the DSLR.

    • Vince says:

      Yep, that it was. Actually it was kinda fun to be with the others, normally I’d be up and down before they had hit their second REM cycle.

      Actually the D90 is what I’ve me eye on. That product slot anyway.

  2. Ed says:

    The reason why men are the first to fall are because we have larger muscle mass that uses much more nutrients and oxygen to keep it going and steep climbs really starve them. That is why most of the men sitting by the wayside were probably the bigger guys.

    You can see this mountain from Snowdon? I climbed Snowdon about eight years ago but it wasn’t the clearest of days so I couldn’t see over the Irish Sea.

    If you look, there is a huge number of articles out there showing that unless you are blowing up prints to the size of movie posters, you don’t need to worry about MP’s in the 8 and larger range. All you are doing is taking up unnecessary hard drive space, slowing transfer times and limiting the quantity of pictures on your camera’s card meaning more frequent downloads. Below is perhaps one of the best written articles on the subject.


    • Vince says:

      Re. the Snowdon sight. I kinda doubt it. It certainly technically possible, they crossed the Irish Sea North to Scotland and across the Irish Sea North-North-West to Slieve Donard. Both crossing longer, but only just. So a sight probably was taken but Mount Leinster would only be a point off that bearing and could be sighted on all points on that coast. Still 150 mile base, be pretty useful. And since, it could then be use to drop onto most of southern Ireland you’d never know. Must check if I can see the notes as well as the reports. But ‘see’ might be a tad over egging. 170 years ago, when that ultra white light blazed, since nothing else was anywhere near as bright. That chip of light could be sighted upon with adequate optics.

      I’ll have a read on the NYT a bit later.

      Ok, I read it. And yes I would agree with him in general. But if you notice a theme with the shot I take of the dawn/dusk twilight/gloaming. Then it matters.
      I want to pick up the subtle changes in the light, a watercolour in a way. With low mpx that washed out watercolour is quite simply impossible. While you can pick up the red and the black/brown/grey there will be an edge between in that either/or way. So with the higher mpx such divisions are far far smaller.

  3. Kelly says:

    I’ve not done much hiking and don’t particularly care for the sea, either. Growing up I spent more time on lakes and rivers (swimming and water-skiing) and these days it’s on my own pond, fishing.

    I despise the time change and refuse to acknowledge that it saves energy in any way.

    No fancy camera for me, I just have a reasonably decent point and click (Sony Cyber-shot) and have started using my iPhone more and more. National Geographic had a couple of articles online where some of their contributing photographers gave pointers on using iPhone cameras and some of their favorite apps for processing the photos. I’ve only starting scratching the surface there.

    • Vince says:

      I don’t really mean that comment like that. It was more that there being an amenity in the local area and it not being used. It would be like having a 10,000 acre lake and neither swimming sailing or fishing on the thing by 80% of the locals.

      My problem is I’ve pushed the Nikon coolpix out as far as I can get it. And I was thinking of upgrading, but the quality split over time has changed. So I stayed with the Nikon a few years more than I should. Then a few weeks ago I went and got a Samsung 14mpx with 10X. That should hold me for a while. Leastwise I’m not under pressure to get a new one ‘right this moment’. This year sometime will do just grand.

  4. R. Sherman says:

    Typed a whole damn three paragraphs and now they’re gone. I don’t have the energy to redo it. Let me know if you find a decent, inexpensive DSLR that doesn’t way a ton.


    • Vince says:

      Sorry not my fault. WordPress are dicking about with settings. I expect it has something to do with facebook envy. Ha, Zuckenvy: When a social media attempts to monatize.

      And I’ll write when I do. What I’m a bit shocked with is the price is just about $-€, where if $800 it’s €800.

  5. Kimberly says:

    That last shot is gorgeous. Looks like it was a good climb. The bit about the gouge caused by the traffic, etc, is kind of fascinating – such damage in such a short period of time.
    I’ve run into the camera dilemma too. My mom shoots professionally in Hawaii and has a monster of camera (Canon 5D I think), but it’s a beast…way too much camera for me. But I have higher expectations of a camera than just a point/shoot. The last one I purchased was a Sony H5 (about 5 years ago) and it still takes amazing pictures. “They” call it a SLR-like camera. It gives me the option to play manually, a great macro, zoom, and stabilizer for the higher mps. As someone else mentioned above though, over the last year or so it’s just been sitting on the shelf having been mostly replaced by the much smaller iPhone. I hope you are enjoying the new one.

    • Vince says:

      52° 25′ 48″ N, 7° 33′ 46.8″ W you’ll see the scar if you zoom in on the south-east side from the top. But when you are down at level you see that you are 30ft below the surrounding surface.

      Yes I’ve been reading that the I-phone is making strides. I expect that’s why the price has come down so much generally. But I still think the price point is twice what it needs be.

      And yes, so far I’m getting on well with the new one.

  6. Rebecca S. says:

    With all the mountains around here, you would think we were climbing all the time, but not so. Our mountains are in general, heavily forested, so unless you are good with a compass, you must take a manmade trail, and there aren’t nearly enough of those. We have discovered a lovely one and one sunny day (not many of those lately, either) we will climb up and take some photos of the views, as you have. Thanks for taking us along.
    I do really like my Canon Rebel SLR. I much prefer the immediacy of it, rather than the wait that has been the norm when taking photos with a regular little digital camera. It is a bit of a beast to lug around sometimes, though. So, ideally, it would be good to have one of each type of camera.

    • Vince says:

      Yeah and you’ve things that will kill also. And that might be a bit of a bummer.

      I find photographing from the mountains unbelievably difficult. I was on Mt Parnassus a few years ago at Delphi. This overlooks a gorge. The photos I took might as well be on a boat so flat were they.

  7. Rebecca S. says:

    Oh, I suppose you mean things like cougars and bears and such…mosquitoes, wasps and stinging nettles tend to be more of a problem 🙂

    Yes, it all depends on the light, doesn’t it!

    • Vince says:

      Yes it does, he light that is. But it also depends on perspective. Like never shoot directly out, always across. This is where you need to plan the shot for you’ve to hoof it to where you can get in whatever is at sea level. And then sometimes up and down to get that ‘just spot on’. With everything in frame.

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