Yeshua O’Brien-Bayer raises €1,215 for Irish Guide Dogs with Carrauntoohil climb
A KILLAlOE teenager has completed a “nerve wracking” charity challenge by climbing Ireland’s highest mountain blindfolded.
Not content with going up and down Carrauntoohil eight times in seven days in August 2020, Yeshuah O’Brien-Bayer (15) climbed to the top without the benefit of his eyes on Saturday.
Standing at 1,039m, Carrauntoohil is the highest mountain in Ireland and is set among the Macgillycuddy Reeks in Co Kerry.
On Friday morning, Yeshuah left for Carrauntohil with a support group to prepare for the climb, which started at 8.35am from Cronin’s Yard the following day.
They included his father, Hergen Bayer, uncle Emmanuel Bayer, Dominik Maslanek, Shane Oakley, Scott Chatterson and Camden Chatterson.
To add to the sense of occasion, John Cronin from Cronin’s Yard put the blindfold on Yeshuah.
It took Yeshuah four hours and twenty minutes to reach the top of the mountain blindfolded, compared to his usual time of between two and a half to three hours.
At the start of the climb, weather conditions were cold, misty and foggy. However, around 10am it started to get warmer with full sun emerging at noon.
More than €1,215 has been raised for the Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind including €300 in cash donations of which half was received in Cronin’s Yard.
Yeshuah recalled for most of the first hour he wanted to take off the blindfold and give up every two minutes.
After a few stops and some reassurances, he decided to concentrate on completing the climb on a step-by-step basis.
At one stage, he missed his step by about ten centimetres and stepped into the river but importantly didn’t fall in.
“It was amazing how much I learned to trust everyone. My hearing increased profoundly.
“At certain stages when I was walking on a narrow path my balance would go a little bit. But I knew what was down there even though I couldn’t see it. I was a little nervous, but I trusted everyone who was around me.”
The group split the climb into three stages – stage one was the normal hiking path, stage two was climbing up halfway and stage three involved completing the remainder up to the top.
Yeshuah’s father, Hergen guided him during stage one and then his uncle, Emmanuel took over for stage two .
For the so-called zig zag section where the path is only a foot wide, Emmanuel went in front and let Yeshuah dance around him for the turns following his footsteps.
Yeshuah was delighted to reach the summit safely.
“When we reached the top, everyone was very tired because there was so much communication. If there was any safety risk at any stage, we would have stopped. We were blessed with the weather. It was nice when we got to the top.”
“About 200 people at the summit started clapping when I got to the top. There was sheer relief when we got to the top because I didn’t think I would make it.
“The fear of slipping was nerve wracking. I didn’t stumble at all. My mind was very tired at the end because there was so much listening for a long period, which was very tough.”
Once Yeshuah reached the summit, he took off his blindfold and it was decided he would complete the descent without the blindfold as it would be dangerous to have his eyes covered for this length of time.
When St Anne’s Community College Transition Year student, Shane Oakley first heard about the blindfold climb he thought it was a strange idea, but he knew Yeshuah would complete it and was impressed with the coping skills he displayed during the ascent.
Shane scouted out safe routes for Yeshuah to travel on and recorded his journey on a camera and phone. This was his first time to climb Carrauntohil.
“The start of the climb was alright but when we got towards the end it was quite difficult. I was surprised that Yeshuah knew where to place his feet without anyone telling him. It was almost like he could sense it.
“At the start, Yeshuah did struggle a bit, but as he went further up the mountain, he got better and better. He got more used to being blindfolded.
St Anne’s Community College Transition Year student Dominik Maslanek felt Yeshuah was very brave to attempt and complete this very difficult challenge.
Dominik, who videod the challenge, climbed Carrauntohil for the second time, describing it as a “fun experience”.
“I am very proud Yeshuah for completing this challenge for a very good cause.”
by Dan Danaher