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Liathach - The Beast of Torridon

Liathach - The Beast of Torridon

Postby satkins » Fri May 12, 2017 11:00 am

Munros included on this walk: Mullach an Rathain (Liathach), Spidean a'Choire Leith (Liathach)

Date walked: 06/05/2017

Time taken: 8 hours

Distance: 14 km

Ascent: 1500m

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Weather:Sunny, no wind, temp on tops 12C
Starting Grid Ref: 934567

So I had no intention of being in the Highlands on this weekend. The Tuesday before I had been driving my normal commute on the M25 to Heathrow when the weather forecast radio announcement sparked my interest.
"Prolonged spells of sunshine as high pressure sits over Northern Britain well into the weekend and next week."
Arrived into work and checked MWIS. Its May, Northern Highlands, sunny, no wind, no cloud on tops, this can only mean one thing, its time to meet the Beast Of Torridon!
I have been wanting to do this ridge and the mighty "Am Fasarinen" for years and this was too good an opportunity to miss. Plus what better for a 40th birthday present to myself.
Anyway, admin sorted, a call to the mother-in-law near Inverness, a long road trip on Friday and I found myself at the base of Liathach on a perfect Saturday morning looking up the impenetrable sandstone terraces of the Beast.
impenetrable sandstone terraces of the Beast

Garmin VivoActive on, map out, with a sense of excitement and trepidation I started the ascent following the path alongside "Allt an Doire Ghairbh"
ascent path

1.6km with 800m ascent certainly wakes you up in the morning, took a break at the corrie Coire Liath Mhor, the buttresses are impressive and the height gain apparent judging by the size of my car in the now tiny lay by.
tiny car in lay-by

The final 250m of ascent was a mixture of steep track and hands on scrambling before reaching the col of Bidein Toll a Mhuic and that view, no words, no wind just silence.
no words

Heading East to the top Stuc a Choire Dhuibh Bhig with views over to Beinn Eighe, the camera was in overdrive
view from Stuc a Choire Dhuibh Bhig

Walking on the ridge to the quartzite boulder field capped munro of Spidean a Choire Leith was a pleasure, all the while thinking about the numerous videos and walk reports I had seen of those pinnacles.
view to Spidean a Choire Leith


Perched on top of the munro, approx 1030am, another 5 people also deciding to have lunch, all looking at the awesome sight ahead. No-one moving!
those pinnacles

No more procrastinating, made my way gingerly down the boulders from Spidean a Choire Leith and onto the ridge. Narrow path leads to the first pinnacle. Climbed up onto the first tricky sandstone slab, with an eye-watering chasm on the North side, edged along a horizontal crack until eventually mounting this "rock saddle", pulled myself forward until eventually standing on the top. My heart was pounding, exhilaration, I loved this, can't wait to continue.
mount the horse!

People that I passed all had a knowing smile, this is good stuff, great to be alive.
The pinnacles were mostly escapable to the South side without using the eroded escape path and you can add as much exposure as you can handle by sticking to the ridge. I had to down-climb several sections but once facing the rock, I found plenty of hand and foot holds.
typical Torridonian sandstone rock formations

One of the pinnacles featured these mini steps which could be ascended like a staircase from the south side from the path at the base of a gully.
rock steps

The final pinnacle is approached from a narrow path with a simple scramble and an airy seat to contemplate what had come before , and to have a banana!
the airy perch


Once off the pinnacles, the ascent to the final munro is a 30min slog with no difficulty. Then another impressive vista layed out before you - Cuillins, An Teallach(next target), Ben Nevis, Outer Hebrides all beautifully visible.
Loch Torridon and beyond

An Teallach(next target)

Beinn Alligin and Trottenish on Skye in background

Finally, just when you think the Beast has finished with you, the energy sapping, leg screaming descent over the slabby sandstone, steep scree fields and a mixture of paths and rocky steps, she spits you out onto some boggy marsh to finish you off, then expects you to walk back 3kms to your car.

scree and steep descent

I will remember this day fondly, the day I dropped everything to see what I was capable of, the day that the ancient Torridon guardians were kind enough to let me see the Highlands in all of their glory.

Looking back on Liathach

liathach.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

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Re: Liathach - The Beast of Torridon

Postby Mal Grey » Fri May 12, 2017 11:22 am

Enjoyed that, the excitement and wonder at being in such a place, on such a day, really shone through in your report.


This is one of my favourite views in the mountains. As a student, I even attempted to sketch it (I'm no real artist) from the "High Mountains" book and had it on my wall in my room.
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Re: Liathach - The Beast of Torridon

Postby denfinella » Fri May 12, 2017 1:36 pm

Brilliant. And well worth the drive in that sort of weather!
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Re: Liathach - The Beast of Torridon

Postby Alteknacker » Sat May 13, 2017 7:22 pm

That wonderful combination of beyond words splendour and pumping adrenaline - as you say: "...great to be alive...".

For me it started as I saw Liathach for the first time driving along the "A road" from Kinlochewe to Torridon and I saw the mountain for the first time...

Great stuff :clap: :clap: :clap: - and surely worth the mega journey to get there ...
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Re: Liathach - The Beast of Torridon

Postby Andymac75 » Sat May 13, 2017 7:45 pm

I'm sure you will always remember that day.

What an epic day,and and an awesome part of our country.

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Re: Liathach - The Beast of Torridon

Postby BobMcBob » Sat May 13, 2017 11:31 pm

A cracker! :clap:
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Re: Liathach - The Beast of Torridon

Postby Chris Mac » Mon May 15, 2017 11:34 am

Top stuff! Very descriptive and stunning photos. :clap:
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Re: Liathach - The Beast of Torridon

Postby jamesb63 » Mon May 15, 2017 12:05 pm

What a day you got for it ,stayed there for a week and eventually
croosed it in thick clag so great excuse to return thanks for the great pics :clap: :clap:
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