When I headed off to Ireland this past August, I never thought I’d be climbing the vast, jagged rock in the new STAR WARS movie! The Force Awakens.
A little background…the vast, jagged rock is named Skellig Michael, a UNESCO world Heritage Site. Located off the coast of Kerry, it is home to the ruins of a monastery built by monks between the 6th and 8th centuries. For safety and conservation reasons, visitors are limited to 15,000 per year and the only way to access the island is by boat from May to October. One must climb 660 treacherous steps to reach the ruins of the monastery. A risky trip for sure with many risks — 2 American tourist fell to their deaths in 2009.
Since I kept a diary during my trip, here is a first hand account of the scariest day of my entire life.
August 16th, 2015, Portsmagee, Ireland – Do we depart for Skellig Michael or not?
It was pouring rain when we woke up @ 7:30 a.m. We were told the tide and the weather determine if we go. The rain let up so we are going.
The boat ride takes 45 minutes each way. There are no bathrooms on the boat or the island. You must prepare yourself with water & lunch. We pre-ordered these items at our hotel, The Moorings in Portsmagee where the boat leaves from.
Bring along mints or gum to wet your mouth. Do not take in much liquid because you have no facilities.
In addition, be prepared for any type of weather. You will need a waterproof jacket and a sweater to stay warm. Temperatures change during your trip. Only the most reliable shoes such as sneakers or hiking boots. It can be very slippery and wet on those steps and the boat too.
All will come in handy when you are on the only option which is the outside deck of the boat which can be quite a bumpy ride.
We arrive at Skellig Michael. Getting off the boat was a little hairy due to the swells of the water and fact that there are no handrails on the steps.
At the top of the winding path we meet our guide. He told us it is extremely dangerous up here. People have been killed by accidents and another accident occurred last week. Everything is natural and you are at your own risk. (No kidding.)
We begin the climb. The steps have no railings…at some point, they have no sides. Twists and turns of uneven steps everywhere.
After the first flight, people are turning around and are not willing to continue on this journey. I do not like heights but figured, how bad can it be? Boy, was I wrong.
Not only was I out of breath but because I do not like heights, I think I was hyperventilating worrying how the hell do I get down?
My heart was racing but we took a few breaks and I kept forging on thinking of all of the monks that did this every day. What a hard life. I had to be able to do this like them.
Almost to the top, I lost my balance for a quick second. It was like someone pushed me forward to regain it. (There was no one behind me.) If I had fallen backwards, I would have tumbled all the way down the steps and right into the Atlantic Ocean!
I made it all the way to the top! To prove it, here is the link to my video http://on.fb.me/1PMoiXy
Here were the beehive huts made of stone, built by the monks. Such a sacred area. I felt elated that I accomplished this unbelievable climb but started to wonder, how the hell I was going to get down?
That day, I had on my Tree of Life Necklace from my RM Irish Jewels collection. I thought about all the different branches of my life and that this would be another branch. I could do it. I could descend this and tell the story.
With my heart in my hand, I followed my boyfriend’s lead down the steps. I kept hugging the side of the rock until…there wasn’t any rock to hug! At one point, I had to walk over a ledge that was about 3 feet wide with nothing on the side! (I learned later, this is where the 2 Americans lost their lives.)
Twists and turns with no railings down. Some people who are so used to climbing are trying to walk past you so they can run down these treacherous steps. SHOW OFFS!
We finally made it down. We made it! There were so many people at the bottom who said they could not get past the first set of stairs. Some people were so frightened for their families because they stayed put. This is not a trip for the faint of heart.
When we returned to our hotel for lunch, the owner asked if we climbed Skellig Michael and I said yes, all the way to the top. He said CONGRATULATIONS! You betcha.
Has anyone taken this treacherous climb?