by brightonrob » Sun Nov 01, 2020 6:24 pm
Route description: Liathach, Glen Torridon
Munros included on this walk: Mullach an Rathain (Liathach), Spidean a' Choire Lèith (Liathach)
Date walked: 20/09/2020
Time taken: 8 hours
Distance: 11.5 km
Ascent: 1380m8 people think this report is great. Register or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
I was lucky enough to be able to park in the small layby right at the foot of the normal ascent path, and set off following at a discrete distance behind other folk who seemed to have a better idea than me where they were going, although the path at this point was quite clear. It wasn't immediately apparent how it would get to the ridge though.
But it did. Unremittingly steep with the occasional short scramble, it wound around and through the various rock barriers, arriving quite suddenly at a bealach, from which astonishing views opened up. At the far right is Coinneach Mhor and, descending steeply from it, the aforementioned ugly step that had blocked by planned route to Sail Mhor.
Feeling somewhat lazy after a long day the previous day, and knowing that today wasn''t lkely to be any easier, I passed up the opportunity of an out-and-back to Liathach's eastern summit Stuc a Choire Dhuibh Bhig, and set off on the steep and scrambly path to Stob a Choire Liath Mhor. That view just kept getting better!
After a short descent the climbing resumed across boulder and scree to the first and highest of the day's two munros, Spidean a Choire Leith, from which there is an impressive view encompassing the second munro, Mullach an Rathain with the nothern pinnacles, Tom na Gruagaich on Beinn Alligin and the mountains of Skye in the background.
And of course the route ahead would not be straightforward, because lying in wait was Liathach's not-very-secret weapon, the pinnacles of Am Fasarinen. Gulp!
The view looking back the way I had come was simply awesome, the vast ridge of Beinn Eighe in particular appearing like some monstrous ocean breaker sweeping across the landscape, streaked with quartzite foam on its trailing edge.
A steep and awkward descent took my mind off the fluttering butterflies for a while, but soon that was over and although the going became somewhat easier, the ridge was narrowing unmistakably as the pinnacles drew closer.
To be honest though, it wasn't as hard as I'd expected or feared. Yes, you need a head for heights but nowhere is the scrambling actually very difficult at all. If you've done the Aonach Eagach, or even Crib Goch, you shouldn't find this too daunting. At one point though I thought it would be otherwise. I was behind a group of four who were moving quite quickly and efficiently, but suddenly I found them struggling to find a way up a difficult looking step - not very high in itself but with a nasty and probably terminal drop lying in wait for a faller. While they were struggling I peered hopefully past them and spotted an easy rock staircase leading to the very same ridge. "Hey guys", I said, "why don't you come this way?". They weren't interested - apparently they were deliberately making it harder to keep it interesting! Leaving them to it, I strolled up my staircase and soon all but the highest of the pinnacles were behind me.
The butterflies had settled. Getting to the top was a pleasant, easy scramble, and I perched on the top for a rest and a snack. The camera angle here is a little deceptive - I am not of course standing with one foot dangling over a precipice, I am actually comfortably and securely seated, observing that my car was just about visible way down there.
It's a good hike then to reach Mullach an Rathain, from where you can look back over most of the day's exertions. The quartzite cap on the top of Spidean a Choire Leith is very striking.
I can't say I enjoyed the descent much - hundreds of metres of steep, loose dirt and stones isn't my thing, and neither is trudging 2 miles or so back along the road to the car. But it was a job well done, I thought - I'll sleep well tonight.
by Dunblane Bagger » Mon Nov 02, 2020 1:45 pm
We took the bypass path last time we climbed it, as the wind was buffeting us all over the place on the ridge so we opted for safety first in the lee of the wind. The bypass path was horrible though and I would have preferred to get my hands on the rock for 4 limb drive as opposed to 2.
What a place though.. Stunningly beautiful, but the descent is pretty brutal (a bit like coming off the Aonagh Eagach down to the Clachaig Inn).
Well done in going up an over. It is definitely something I will be doing as I complete my second round
by jmarkb » Mon Nov 02, 2020 2:47 pm
Another option I might try sometime is to start from the Coire Dubh Mor car park, go up the NE of ridge of Stuc a' Choire Dhuibh Bhig and return from Mullach an Rathain by Coireag Dhearg, and a traverse under the N face to reach the Coire Dubh Mor path. If you can arrange the transport, then completing the traverse over Sgurr a' Chadeil to the Beinn Alligin car par would be another possibility.
by brightonrob » Mon Nov 02, 2020 10:21 pm
jmarkb wrote:Another option I might try sometime is to start from the Coire Dubh Mor car park, go up the NE of ridge of Stuc a' Choire Dhuibh Bhig and return from Mullach an Rathain by Coireag Dhearg, and a traverse under the N face to reach the Coire Dubh Mor path. If you can arrange the transport, then completing the traverse over Sgurr a' Chadeil to the Beinn Alligin car par would be another possibility.
Hmm that looks like a long day! Good luck with that Did you mean NE ridge? That looks pretty horrible to me - from the map, and what I remember of the view across from Beinn Eighe. The SE / E flank looks a bit more doable, but I'm sure you know the ground better than I do!
by brightonrob » Mon Nov 02, 2020 10:26 pm
Dunblane Bagger wrote:We took the bypass path last time we climbed it, as the wind was buffeting us all over the place on the ridge so we opted for safety first in the lee of the wind. The bypass path was horrible though and I would have preferred to get my hands on the rock for 4 limb drive as opposed to 2.
I don't blame you on going for the bypass on a windy day - the top would be a much more uncomfortable place to be with a buffeting wind! Highly recommended though on a decent day.
by brightonrob » Mon Nov 02, 2020 10:30 pm
Dunblane Bagger wrote:What an amazing mountain Liathach is, and Torridon is such a beautiful area.
Quite agree. This was my first visit, and if anything I found Beinn Eighe even more appealing. Already plotting to go back - as if there aren't another few hundred Scottish peaks I've never been near!
by jmarkb » Mon Nov 02, 2020 11:34 pm
brightonrob wrote:Did you mean NE ridge? That looks pretty horrible to me - from the map, and what I remember of the view across from Beinn Eighe. The SE / E flank looks a bit more doable, but I'm sure you know the ground better than I do!
It's kind of a combination of both - you start up the SE flank and head out right to reach the NE ridge higher up, above the horrible steep wet crags.
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