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Liathach by the back door

Liathach by the back door


Postby dogplodder » Fri Sep 15, 2017 10:38 pm

Route description: Liathach, Glen Torridon

Munros included on this walk: Mullach an Rathain (Liathach)

Date walked: 11/07/2017

Time taken: 7 hours

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Liathach has always been a mountain I've looked at from below and assumed I couldn't climb. It was a case of "look but don't touch". It was that impregnable mass of rock I couldn't keep my eyes off as I walked along the ridge of Beinn Eighe and couldn't stop photographing from Loch Clair. Years ago my Munroist neighbour told me it was his favourite mountain and I could see why.

I'd had no problem with the Forcan ridge but the Am Fasarinen pinnacle ridge was a more serious challenge and the bypass path was in places arguably worse. I guess if I had a pal who knew what they were doing and was happy to take me along I might have attempted it. But failing that, it wasn't likely to happen. That is until I read Torridon Snails' marvellous report on exploring the west end of the ridge and reaching the top of Mullach an Rathain from the north. That set me pondering over the map and working out a route. But I couldn't persuade anyone to come with me on what Torridon Snails described as "1700ft of vertiginous bog" up the shadowy side of the west ridge. :think:

Then seeing snow-capped Mullach an Rathain under a stunning blue sky in March got my juices going. I had to get up there.

Mullach an Rathain from south side of Loch Torridon
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So when I had a squad of guys up for a hill and willing to trust my daft ideas I saw a chance to unfold my cunning plan. The forecast was for rain in the morning and showers in the afternoon but after about 5.00 it was to be full sun until 10.00 pm. So the plan was to leave late morning, stop for lunch at the Whistle Stop in Kinlochewe and start walking at 1.00 pm. We would have a shower or two on the climb to the ridge but by the time we were up there the sun would be splitting the sky. :D

Nicely set up by lentil soup (me) and lentil soup and bacon butties (the men) we parked in the car park about 3km west of Torridon village, on the west side of the Abhain Coire Mhic Nobuil. It was 1.00 pm and not raining but as we followed the path up the east side of the river we could see rain ahead.

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Obligatory photo of waterfall with Sgurr Mhor and Horns of Alligin
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By the time we reached the bridge where the path crosses to reach the Horns the temperature had dropped and it was time to add a layer. The rain started soon after, not heavy rain, more a steady drizzle, but enough to merit the waterproofs going on.

Adding a layer at the bridge
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I hoped that we would avoid the worst of the vertiginous bog between us and the ridge by continuing along the river for about 20 minutes before taking a SE line up. But the path along the east side beyond the bridge was patchy and we started edging uphill a bit sooner than that, partly I think because we were keen to get started. It was raining and a bit of a slog, but we knew it would be, and wet underfoot, but we knew it would be that too. It was just a case of keeping the head down and getting on with it.

Lads ahead and first sight of Mullach an Rathain and the Northern Pinnacles (note rain drop on lens)
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Beinn Eighe from climb up Liathach's west ridge
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Beinn Alligin, Baosbheinn and Beinn Dearg
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There's nothing like a bit of distraction to take the edge off a wet climb and chatting to James about his upcoming wedding was the perfect antidote (for me anyway). Before we knew it we had topped out on the ridge and things started to look brighter. Mullach an Rathain still had cloud on top but we had time on our side to wait for it to clear.

Mullach an Rathain summit still in cloud
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Ian went off to explore the western top of Sgorr a' Chadail, while the rest of us hunkered down with our backs to a boulder and soaked up the views.

Grandson layered up as it was chilly when not moving
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Loch Torridon and Beinn Damh
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Liathach's west ridge and Ian returning from Sgorr a' Chadail
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We walked further up the ridge to a platform of rock just below the summit - perfect for a food stop in the late afternoon sun. BBC Weather had predicted sun at 5.00 and it had come a little early and stayed with us right through until we got back to the cars at 8.30. :D

Scenic sunbathing spot
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Northern Pinnacles
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View south to a glimpse of Loch Carron
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Loch Torridon and Sgorr a' Chadail at west end of ridge
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Mullach an Rathain summit now clear
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Son and grandson in the lead
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Grandson at top
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The rest of the crew
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If you were taking someone on their first Munro I don't suppose Liathach would be the first one to come to mind and here I have to confess that for two of the group I had done just that. For James and Feng this was their first Munro - and I told them it would be pretty much downhill from now on! :lol:

In my defence I knew they'd be fine. James had already been out on a few hills with me and romped up Fuar Tholl when others were quaking. Feng had spent two years in the army which told me he was fit. Feng said it didn't mean anything as he was conscripted along with every other young man of that age but I didn't notice him having any difficulties along the way, even if he did start to lose the will to live on the soggy descent! :wink:

I think that day, standing on that summit, my grandson got the bug. The views from there are outstanding. Loch Torridon shimmering in the sun and drawing the eye out to Skye and the Outer Isles, then round to Beinn Alligin, Beinn Dearg, Beinn Eighe and the hills of the Coulin Forest. Then Liathach itself with its jagged Fasarinen ridge extending to Spidean a' Choire Leith and the nearer northern pinnacles with the secret lochan nestled below. Words don't do it justice. Jonny had done a a few Munros before but nothing on quite that level of magnificence.

Before we set off I'd given him a Munro log book and on the journey home he was busy filling in the ones he'd done and asking when would be the next one. :thumbup:

Am Fasarinen Pinnacles and Spidean a' Choire Leith
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Northern Pinnacles and Glas-toll Lochain with Beinn Eighe in the sun
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Start of descent
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Liathach's west ridge and Beinn Alligin
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About to drop off the ridge
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Descending the ridge and Beinn Dearg
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On the way up I'd noticed a good path on the west side of the river so suggested we head straight for it and cross to the other side. Going down was a slippy affair, on lumpy ground, and you had to watch where you put your feet. It wasn't such a problem going up but ankle twisting territory going down. I was glad of my poles and only Ian and I had them so there were some interesting balletic moves and a few slips.... and it did seem to go on for rather a long time. The guys were taking a line at right angles to the river, as I'd suggested, but clever clogs here thought she would save herself a little distance by taking a line that would reach the river further downstream. This was not the smartest move. :roll:

By the time I reached the river (downstream of the others) it was carrying too much water for me to cross. There were boulders to be sure and a more athletic person would have managed but I wasn't comfortable with it so kept walking downstream. Meanwhile the guys had crossed and were marching down the excellent path on the other side while I stumbled along the pathless side, every so often looking to see if I might make it over but the water was just too deep.

I've used my quota of photos so will continue in another post.
Last edited by dogplodder on Mon Sep 18, 2017 10:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Liathach by the back door

Postby dogplodder » Fri Sep 15, 2017 10:47 pm

The guys catching me up on the good path at other side of river
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Waiting for me at the bridge
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The bridge
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Mullach an Rathain from the drive home
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This one makes it look closer than it is!
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It was a great day and now I can't wait to do the one at the east end too! :D
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Re: Liathach by the back door

Postby malky_c » Sat Sep 16, 2017 3:29 pm

Good route - must give this a go sometime :) .
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Re: Liathach by the back door

Postby Huff_n_Puff » Sun Sep 17, 2017 7:11 am

That looks great, another route to add to the ever lengthening list :lol: What a great mountain to start a Munro career on!
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Re: Liathach by the back door

Postby Bob the Dog » Mon Sep 18, 2017 9:51 am

I reckon that's the way I'll go up, there's no way I'm going over the Pinnacles nor doing the bypass, as I get a bit jumpy under stress, and that's no place to be jumping up on people and sending them flying. Your route looks fantastic. A great report too.
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Re: Liathach by the back door

Postby Torridon_snails » Mon Sep 18, 2017 2:24 pm

Lovely report, as always, brilliant photos looking down the Loch from the summit, and great that you helped your friends to share the experience. Thanks for posting it, and thank you for the mention... we feel very honoured.
All the very best,
Daniel and Clare (Torridon_snails) - fresh back from staying at the foot of the Mullach... hopefully will post something soon...
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Re: Liathach by the back door

Postby dogplodder » Wed Sep 20, 2017 3:15 pm

malky_c wrote:Good route - must give this a go sometime :) .


Go after a dry spell. :wink:
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Re: Liathach by the back door

Postby dogplodder » Wed Sep 20, 2017 3:18 pm

Huff_n_Puff wrote: What a great mountain to start a Munro career on!


Might as well start with something worth climbing! :D
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Re: Liathach by the back door

Postby Jaxter » Thu Sep 21, 2017 8:00 am

I haven't managed to make it to torridon yet this year, so thankyou for reminding me why it needs to happen 8)

Good for you finding a way to get up there too, I think you'll agree it's worth it :lol:
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Re: Liathach by the back door

Postby BlackPanther » Thu Sep 21, 2017 10:11 am

That's a superb idea for a "Liathach quickie", goes on my list :D I'm looking for alternative routes in Torridon now, having nearly finished the list here...

I always feel chuffed to read about the young generation catching the mountain bug - it means that the hillwalking profession won't die with us :wink:
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Re: Liathach by the back door

Postby montie » Thu Sep 21, 2017 12:09 pm

Excellent report. I never tire of the views from the summits in Torridon. Loved it .
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Re: Liathach by the back door

Postby dogplodder » Sun Sep 24, 2017 4:27 pm

Bob the Dog wrote:I reckon that's the way I'll go up, there's no way I'm going over the Pinnacles nor doing the bypass, as I get a bit jumpy under stress, and that's no place to be jumping up on people and sending them flying. Your route looks fantastic. A great report too.


You'll love this route..... and no white woolly things to bother about either. :wink:
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Re: Liathach by the back door

Postby dogplodder » Sun Sep 24, 2017 4:29 pm

Torridon_snails wrote:Lovely report, as always, brilliant photos looking down the Loch from the summit, and great that you helped your friends to share the experience. Thanks for posting it, and thank you for the mention... we feel very honoured.
All the very best,
Daniel and Clare (Torridon_snails) - fresh back from staying at the foot of the Mullach... hopefully will post something soon...


Will look forward to reading that when you do. :D
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Re: Liathach by the back door

Postby dogplodder » Sun Oct 01, 2017 10:06 am

Jaxter wrote:
Good for you finding a way to get up there too, I think you'll agree it's worth it :lol:


Absolutely yes, fabulous mountain. :D
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Re: Liathach by the back door

Postby dogplodder » Sun Oct 01, 2017 10:08 am

BlackPanther wrote:That's a superb idea for a "Liathach quickie", goes on my list :D I'm looking for alternative routes in Torridon now, having nearly finished the list here...

I always feel chuffed to read about the young generation catching the mountain bug - it means that the hillwalking profession won't die with us :wink:


If we ever get a dry spell that would be a good time to go. Not looking likely this year then. :lol:
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