Wicklow Mountains, Ireland - December 30, 2000


Staff member
Lost in all the euphoria of the New Years snowfall, people in the US probably did not notice that Great Britain and Ireland also had some snow last week. There were tales of 6-8 inches in the West but since roads are now plowed and snowtires do not exist here I thought it was safer to head down to the Wicklow mountains(about 15 miles south of Dublin on the east coast of Ireland) and attempt the first ski descent of the prominent cone of Djouce which is about 750 meters high but starts at sea level.

I was on the road Saturday at first light (which is about 8:45 this time of year) and was not too impressed with the dusting of snow in the fields leading to the mountain. Loaded skis and boots onto my pack and headed up the east side of the mountain. The cool thing about hiking in Wicklow is you can always see the sea so on a sunny cold day I walked through packs of sheep and a few deer between the sea and Djouce's impressive snowy summit. There are no trees in the Wicklow mountains so there is nothing to obscure your view on the way up. On the top there was 2-3 inches at best but the ground is mostly covered with thick heather which I had discovered in Scotland makes for good sliding. So around 10:30 I got my boots and skis on and descended the northwest side of Djouce in what had to be the first ski descent in the Wicklow hills. I found the sliding quite good but the thick heather often made turning problematic. I descended about 300 feet and walked back up and found a bit of a bowl on the North east side where the heather was a little less thick and the slope was a bit steeper.

I did 3 runs down there of about 300 veritical feet each and was able to get in a few turns. by now many more people were ascending. 3 mountain bikers made what looked to me to be a much more dangerours descent then mine down the rockier east side. then 2 snow boarder came up and they were using the south side where the wind had made the snow somewhat firmer though with somewhat thinner cover. Turns were much more possible and for my last run, through some careful traversing I was able to ski almost halfway down. <BR> <BR>A total ski day of 6 runs of 200-400 vertical feet each, but I'm pretty sure I left the first ski tracks ever made in the Wicklow mountains.