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That tremendous Torridon trio
by simon-b » Tue May 31, 2016 11:06 pm
Munros included on this walk: Mullach an Rathain (Liathach), Ruadh-stac Mor (Beinn Eighe), Sgurr Mor (Beinn Alligin), Spidean a'Choire Leith (Liathach), Spidean Coire nan Clach (Beinn Eighe), Tom na Gruagaich (Beinn Alligin)
Date walked: 24/05/20166 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).
On the second Monday of the trip I had a big day on the Ceathreamhnan 3. So on Tuesday morning I was in no real state to get up early enough to go for my last main targets of the fortnight, Lurg Mhor and Sheasgaich (these two can now wait for my planned stay in Lochcarron, in June). But the weather forecast for this and the coming days looked particularly good further west, so my Plan A plus became the Torridons.
Tuesday 24 May 2016: Beinn Eighe
Distance: 18.7 km
Ascent: 1230 m
Time: 7.7 h
Despite Monday's exertions, I hadn't slept that well, but at least was able to get up at a civilised hour, and still have time to drive to Glen Torridon for Beinn Eighe. Leaving a rather cloudy Beauly Firth behind, things did brighten up as I approached Kinlochewe. Then on to Glen Torridon and the car park, and it was becoming a fine day, although the tops were in cloud.
After a short walk back along the road, I began ascending towards Coire an Laoigh. I took it at a steady pace, knowing I was likely to feel the after-effects of Monday. But I got up to the trig point without too much bother, and the mist had lifted from the mountains. So now I was ready for the short scramble to the true summit of Spidean Coire nan Clach.
The scrambling may have been easy, but I'm always wary that, when I'm tired, my coordination might not be what it should be. So I took care, but reached the target soon enough.
I was cautious on the return to the trig point too, and en route met two summit bound walkers also taking their time. We agreed that the scramble looked more intimidating from the approach than it actually was. So then it was west from the trig point, and a nice walk along the ridge.
I met another walker coming in the opposite direction. We agreed what great mountains these were, and he kept finishing his replies with, "Genau!" So after a quick chat, I wished him, "Auf Wiedersehen!" and we went our separate ways. On I went, up to the cairn on the subsidiary top of Coinneach Mhor, and then came the right turn to head to Ruadh-stac Mor. Approaching the summit, I met an American couple who'd just left it. "You've got it all to yourself", said the man. Not something to be taken for granted! On a nice day in the Torridons, you don't get the solitude you might expect on some Scottish mountains.
With Ruadh-stac Mor in the bag, I returned south to the bealach, then turned right down the steep, scree filled gully. By staying next to the right hand wall, firmer rock could be found for foot- and handholds than on the loose stones in the middle.
I was glad to get down into the corrie, and then eagerly made my way to the lochan for that view .
On the walk out, I met a couple coming the other way. He was Scottish, and had climbed Beinn Eighe this way before, but this time they were probably only going to the corrie. She was English, and this was her first time in Scotland. I told her she was in for a real treat when they reached the lochan!
Driving back to the cottage, I felt tired. Monday's adventure and subsequent lack of sleep were catching up with me.
Wednesday 25 May 2016: Beinn Alligin
Distance: 11.2 km
Ascent: 1250 m
Time: 5.5 h
When I awoke on Wednesday, it was much later than I expected - I'd forgotten to set the alarm . But I'd caught up on some much needed sleep, and there was still time to get over to Torridon for the relatively short round on Beinn Alligin. Once again, things were a lot brighter as I drove through Kinlochewe than they had been back around Beauly.
It was approaching noon, and gloriously sunny, by the time I got parked and began walking. The ascent via Coire nan Laogh was one of those where many of the best views are behind you - easily missed if you're in a hurry.
That sleep had worked wonders, and I felt fresh again on this walk. It was great to arrive at the summit of Tom na Gruagaich, with superb views.
Care was needed on the descent from Tom north to the bealach, but the following ascent to Sgurr Mor was straightforward enough. The great gully of Eag Dubh looked dramatic from above, but was very easily passed.
Up on top of Beinn Alligin's big peak, the views were also pretty magnificent.
Next I dropped from Sgurr Mor, ready to take on the Horns. Scrambling onto the first one presented no real problems (the bypass to the right duly avoided as per WH recommendation). Perhaps the most exposed bit was on the very top, which was, however, an easy walkway.
There was no trouble at all getting onto the second Horn. For the third, the WH advice was again followed - right a bit, then left up a chimney. In the clear weather, it was easy enough to find the descent path, and cairns helped with staying on track for any intermittent bits. Then followed a pleasant walk out alongside burns and waterfalls.
Driving back east, Ben Wyvis was well obscured and some of the Corbetts were in the cloud; I'd been to the right place .
Thursday 26 May 2016: Liathach
Distance: 11.5 km
Ascent: 1370 m
Time: 7.1 h
In June 2013, I'd approached the Corrag Bhuidhe ridge of An Teallach, hoping mist and drizzle might clear, but it didn't. So I elected to take the bypass, and had missed out on the pinnacles as I reached my 100th Munro, Sgurr Fiona. A superb day on Aonach Eagach, Glen Coe, with Cat (Marcol) two years later had partly made up for this, but there was only one way to truly resolve the issue. And that was to take on and conquer the An Fasarinen pinnacles of Liathach.
So for the third day in succession, a relatively grey Beauly Firth was left behind, and a sunny Glen Torridon approached. But this time it was a glen and mountains with inversions! I found a parking spot next to the cairn which marks the start of the ascent alongside the Allt an Doire Ghairbh. The steep ascent was started at a steady pace; I didn't want to burn myself out before taking on the scrambles which were to come later. Up I stomped. Another walker had also parked up, and was climbing a short distance behind me.
On reaching the ridge, I stopped for a quick refuel with an energy bar. The other walker caught me up. We agreed how lucky we were to be on Liathach on a day like this, and I asked if he would like a companion for the journey over the pinnacles. He was genuinely pleasant and polite, but said he liked his own company. I took no issue with this, understanding him completely. We were to encounter each other one or two more times, and he was always friendly and happy to chat on these occasions. There were a few ups and downs over rough ground along the ridge to Spidean a' Choire Leith. But it was a great place when I reached it.
Leaving the summit over a steep boulder field required cautious progress and careful navigation even in the clear weather.
I did find a rough path through the boulders. This eventually led to the bealach, and the junction of paths, the left hand branch leading to the bypass. My mind was already made up as to which branch I was taking: right, upwards and onwards! I came up to the rocky ridge leading to the first pinnacle. The crest was razor sharp at first, with a sheer drop on the other side. I used the crest as a handrail and found some traversing footholds on the flank, then climbed on to the ridge where it widened just a little, a bit further on. But still very exposed . I moved along the ridge carefully, taking my time. It would be false to say I stuck to the absolute crest the whole way. I'd move around a rocky tooth here and a vertical pillar there, down a chimney here and up a crack there. It was the sort of place where fear and danger are not quite the same thing. There were less exposed feeling situations which could bring more technical difficulty. At one point, there was a steep, downward leading rock staircase right on the sensationally exposed north side of the crest; this looked very hairy indeed . I saw a potential, more secure feeling option down a small gully on the south flank, but on inspection this looked steep and awkward, with holds perhaps a long way apart. So I took the staircase, which was seriously hairy, but manageable with care. But I was determined to visit the top of each major pinnacle. Between the last two pinnacles was a delightful section of ridge; narrow, extremely steep on the left flank, sheer on the right, but virtually level on top and easy to walk on.
The scramble onto the last pinnacle was steep but not difficult. And, unlike Aonach Eagach, once the top of the final pinnacle is reached, difficulties are over. And yes, I can say I did visit the top of each main pinnacle. I looked north, where An Teallach was visible on the horizon, and thought, "one-all!" It's funny how we reckon we enjoy a scramble like this so much, then get such a feeling of elation when it's finished. Or maybe that's what it's all about.
En route to Mullach an Rathain, I made a small detour from the main path to visit a subsidiary top. From here was a fine view of both Munros and the pinnacles. The solo walker bypassed this top and overtook me.
I finally met him again on top of Mullach an Rathain, where he was once more perfectly friendly and happy to chat. There was also a couple sitting there enjoying the sunshine and the view. They'd come up the way I'd be descending, and were content with the one summit. As well they might be; the vista was glorious.
The descent back to the road was steep, but not too tricky with care. Making the road walk back to the car, I looked up at the south face of the mountain I'd climbed. There are many hills I have been on and thoroughly enjoyed. But for being left awestruck, and wondering if what you have just experienced has really sunk in, I haven't known another in Britain quite like Liathach.
by dooterbang » Wed Jun 01, 2016 6:31 pm
I just missed you by a couple of days.
Not long to go now
by Fife Flyer » Wed Jun 01, 2016 6:47 pm
See you in under 3 weeks
by Guinessman » Wed Jun 01, 2016 9:14 pm
by cmarcol » Wed Jun 01, 2016 10:11 pm
by simon-b » Thu Jun 02, 2016 8:05 pm
Cheers Martin. Let's hope I've left that weather there and it stays there for our next trip.
Guinessman, I can see why you want to go back there.
Thank you Cat. I remember you saying your first scramble was on the Horns. That was good going if it was a wash out, although I know you've done harder ones since. At least we both got sunshine on Aonach Eagach.
by Gordie12 » Thu Jun 02, 2016 9:02 pm
by dav2930 » Thu Jun 02, 2016 10:57 pm
I do agree that Liathach in particular has to be one of the finest ridge traverses in Britain. Only the Cuillin, An Teallach and Aonach Eagach can compare with it I think. But it occurs to me that it was 1983 when I did it! High time for a repeat methinks
Fantastic stuff Simon; compleation not far off!
by simon-b » Fri Jun 03, 2016 6:49 pm
Thanks dav. If you've read Fife Flyer's Fisherfield report, you'll know why trying to keep up with him on Carn Eige would get you fit.
by pamfox » Tue Jun 07, 2016 5:44 pm
Hats off to yer
by BobMcBob » Tue Jun 07, 2016 6:23 pm
by simon-b » Tue Jun 07, 2016 9:15 pm
Bob, I remember reading your old An Teallach report and being inspired. But that clag and drizzle stopped my chance of photographing my own boots from Lord Berkeley's Seat. So it was great to succeed on Liathach's pinnacles! I agree, three extremely memorable mountains, cheers.
by BobMcBob » Wed Jun 08, 2016 9:45 pm
simon-b wrote:Bob, I remember reading your old An Teallach report and being inspired. But that clag and drizzle stopped my chance of photographing my own boots from Lord Berkeley's Seat. So it was great to succeed on Liathach's pinnacles! I agree, three extremely memorable mountains, cheers.
Cheers Simon. It's well worth going back to An Teallach - I say do it as a victory lap when you compleat , and get a photo of your boots, I'm starting a collection
by rockhopper » Mon Jun 13, 2016 9:30 pm
by mamoset » Tue Jun 14, 2016 5:47 pm