A Snowy Day on The Storr

Route: The Storr - ascent

Fionas: The Storr

Date walked: 02/12/2024

Time taken: 4 hours

Distance: 9km

Ascent: 640m

ImageThe Cuillin beyond Beinn Tianavaig by Anne C, on Flickr

With two previous ascents of The Storr I’d never yet had it clear at the top, cloud shrouding the summit both times.Disappointing, when I knew that the views along the Trotternish ridge as well as the western seaboard of the North West Highlands would have been amazing.

Friday was looking good, with a forecast of very cold but clear weather and almost no wind - perfect for that iconic peak that looms above Skye’s spectacular Trotternish coast.

We could see from the house that there was snow at the top but we had the micro spikes with us, plus with the sun on the slopes, the walking would be, I hoped, on quite forgiving snow.

The suggested route is from the main Old Man of Storr car park but we did it from the now much visited small waterfall about half a mile before this on the A855 where there is also free parking (marked on OS maps.) Not that we chose this because we're tight-fisted :D but it's the way Chris knew when he was young, when he was taken up by his brothers.It would take us onto the Bealach Mor on a nice grassy path, one of the few easy entrances to the high ground.

ImageOur objective, morning light by Anne C, on Flickr

The first time I ever climbed The Storr (a staggering quarter of a century ago at least :crazy: ) I used Ralph Storer's recommended route via the Old Man path initially, before branching off way to the left into Coire Faoin and clambering up a gully onto the ridge.I was on my own and blithely headed off, the gully incredibly steep and mossy and trickling with water.It got so steep and greasy, that at one point quite near the top, I slithered down the slope for several long seconds, giving myself a heck of a fright.By the time I got onto the ridge and looked back down at what I thought would be my descent route, I realised it was so steep I'd never be able to reverse it.Panic! :shock: The mist had come down too.
The Storr is very precipitous so I was aware that most of where I was, was barred by cliffs. Anyway, to cut a long story short, a quick look at the map showed a safe way off at the Bealach a Chuirn below Hartaval.But in the eerie, heavy fog, knowing the cliffs were all around and having not done my homework on alternative descents, I'd had some anxious moments.

None of that Storer stuff today! (Chris has always thought a lot of his routes are/ were ‘dodgy.’)

The worst part of the walk was negotiating the first 5 mins of super icy, solid moorland, quite lethal, caused by extensive flooding round the waterfall.The Old Man route would be drier than this route of ours because the path there is now so well built, at least up to the rock pinnacle itself.Still, old habits die hard…

ImageIcy start by Anne C, on Flickr

It was easy to avoid with various little detours and soon we were on the sheep track which follows the river. Normally this is a bit of a bogfest but the ice meant it was quite firm thankfully. This in turn, led us fairly quickly to a rough ATV track, visible from the walk start and which climbs a grassy outcrop before joining a really lovely high level path.

Looking back to the parking area and start…

ImageLooking down at walk start by Anne C, on Flickr

Near the walk start, aiming for the break in the cliffy ground…the light was dazzling…

ImageHeading for the Bealach Mor (the Big Pass) by Anne C, on Flickr

The high level grassy track now visible as a thin line heading to the left and which would take us to the Bealach Mor…

ImageGrassy path visible heading left to the Bealach by Anne C, on Flickr

Chatted a bit about the meaning of ‘The Storr ‘, something I’m always interested in as Gaelic names are usually so descriptive.This certainly sounded Norse and thr Norse translation means ‘big’ .Seemed accurate as it’s the highest summit on the ridge.But at home I found out that there is a similar Gaelic word (Stor) which can mean ‘cliffs.’ Certainly it’s the cliffs of the The Storr which are such a spectacle and draw the eye.

Through a gate and in five minutes beyond that we had reached the Bealach Mor, the Big Pass and found ourselves on the wide, grassy Trotternish ridge.

ImageNearly at the Pass by Anne C, on Flickr

ImageOn the ridge by Anne C, on Flickr

Torridon in all its glory, beyond Rona…

ImageTorridon dominating the skyline beyond Rona by Anne C, on Flickr

From the car park it was less than a 200m pull up onto this spot, in just over 1km of distance.Another good aspect about The Storr is starting at the 150m contour :D

There were great views down to tiny lochans and back towards the Storr Lochs, Beinn Tianavaig and the Black and Red Cuillin away to the south.

ImageUntitled by Anne C, on Flickr

ImageSouth to the Red and Black Cuillin of Skye by Anne C, on Flickr

To the east lay the layer upon layer of peaks that are the North West Highlands, a magnificent sight.The Torridons in particular dominated and it was good to identify mountains we’d ascended in the past, seeing them from a very different angle.

We now had just over 2.3km of ridge walking ahead with stunning views in all directions – across the sea to Raasay and Rona, way out west to the Outer Hebrides, Macleods’s flat topped Tables in the west of Skye.Quite a landscape.

The ridge was lovely, mildly undulating and giving a superb high level walk - today, on crunchy, forgiving snow which wasn’t slippy or hazardous.

ImageNice path by Anne C, on Flickr

I’ve got so many photos of Torridon from the ridge, revealing my obsession with it…. :D

ImageZoomed to Beinn Alligin and Beinn Dearg, Torridon by Anne C, on Flickr

ImageDSC_0345.jpg by Anne C, on Flickr

The clarity was so good, that Suilven and Quinag were clearly visible too…

ImageQuinag, Suilven beyond Gairloch by Anne C, on Flickr

Across to Redpoint beach and Beinn Ghoblach…

ImageBeinn Ghoblach and Ben More Assynt and Conival by Anne C, on Flickr

Time to look at our objective ahead which was holding its own in some amazing company…

ImageSummit ahead by Anne C, on Flickr

ImageThe Storr landscape by Anne C, on Flickr

By the time we’d reached the 450m contour , the hardest work of the day lay ahead - the hill’s final 270m of ascent up a very broad slope.Easy enough in normal conditions as there’s a clear path but it was completely covered in snow and it was a case of breaking trail up most of it.Hard work! Luckily, towards the top we picked up footprints and what looked like a route made by skis.

ImageFinal slopes to the top by Anne C, on Flickr

ImageFinal push by Anne C, on Flickr

Heads down, we plodded on up but instead of doing the sensible thing and following Chris’s footsteps, I found myself veering off to the right, seeking a slightly easier angle (it wasn’t.) Anyone looking at us from below would think we’d had a major fall out(not that that’s ever happened before😜) We finally dovetailed just below the summit.

My main thought was - it was clear …third time lucky!

Cloud was coming and going at the northern end of the Trotternish Ridge, very atmospheric beyond Hartaval, the next summit...

ImageThe Trotternish ridge - Hartaval next summit by Anne C, on Flickr

ImageTowards the Quiraing, showers coming in by Anne C, on Flickr

Harris was partially covered in cloud...

ImageHarris beyond Hartaval by Anne C, on Flickr

Very obvious on the western horizon was the distinctive, triangular small hill that is Eaval on North Uist.

ImageNorth Uist's distinctive pyramid of Eaval by Anne C, on Flickr

Chris was brought up on South Uist and always announces "God's Country!' when we step foot on the island; but my mother’s family were from North Uist so I announced the same thing( as I usually do) when I saw Eaval. :D Oh the joys of petty rivalry…I was now waiting for Chris’s next slur on my native land that North Uist has ‘peely - wally peat’ compared to the rich, black stuff of his homeland. Ah the same old, same old… :lol: No shortage of erudite conversations when we’re out and about…

The Storr has a big wide summit and seemed, if anything, even bigger under snow so we wandered around for ages, just drinking in the vistas.

The Red and Black Cuillin...

ImageThe Black Cuillin to the south by Anne C, on Flickr

Zoomed to Blaven…

ImageBlaven zoomed by Anne C, on Flickr

Beinn Tianavaig in the middle ground…

ImageBlaven and Glamaig beyond Beinn Tianavaig by Anne C, on Flickr

Exploring the summit…

ImageExploring the summit by Anne C, on Flickr

ImageUntitled by Anne C, on Flickr

An Teallach beyond Redpoint beach…

ImageAn Teallach and Red Point beach beyond Rona by Anne C, on Flickr

Zooming to Beinn Alligin and Liathach , the clarity was such that I was sure I’d see figures on the ridges and summits(I didn’t but still…)

ImageZoomed to Liathach by Anne C, on Flickr

ImageEnjoying the summit by Anne C, on Flickr

I’m always drawn to mountains that are beside the sea….there is something special about everything rising out of or being largely defined by water, lochs or ocean….

We were up there for half an hour or so, as ever, difficult to leave the stunning location that is the Storr’s summit.Even on an island with such superb mountains in terms of the Red and Black Cuillin, it holds its own for views (I believe.)

ImageThe Cuillin beyond Beinn Tianavaig by Anne C, on Flickr

Time to head down just as an icy breeze picked up a bit…nice snow to walk on all the way down, plenty of grip.There were now several people coming up and we said hello in passing though they were mostly heads down as we had been.

ImageDSC_0383.jpg by Anne C, on Flickr

ImageDSC_0404.jpg by Anne C, on Flickr

We followed our outward route back to the Bealach Mor but when we reached it , I didn’t recognise it and insisted to Chris that it was a bit further on.Wrong! My choice led us down the nearby Bealach Beag which took us onto a narrower , icier path which ran alarmingly close to ground which was very steep.The photo below shows us approaching the Bealach Mor - I thought it was the next break in the cliffs/steep ground :roll:

ImageDSC_0410.jpg by Anne C, on Flickr

But we soon picked up the correct path and were on our way down onto the moorland approach by the river .I wouldn’t like to find these specific descent routes in mist because they aren’t always immediately obvious and the terrain looks very similar.

Heading down the path…shadows deepening…

ImageThe grassy path to the Bealach Mor by Anne C, on Flickr

The light over Torridon was gorgeous…

ImageTorridon from the path by Anne C, on Flickr

ImageBeinn Alligin on left by Anne C, on Flickr


ImageLiathach in Torridon from the path by Anne C, on Flickr

The sun was already going down as we reached the car and we stopped often on the drive back towards Portree.The Cuillin and Sgurr nan Gillean…

ImageBlack Cuillin , evening by Anne C, on Flickr

ImageThe Storr, sun going down by Anne C, on Flickr

Just as impressive , I thought , was The Storr itself in late afternoon light, its image reflected in the lochs.A great, relatively short outing for a winter’s day and always…the sea, the sea….

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Anne C

User avatar
Activity: Walker
Pub: Any wild camping spot
Mountain: Quinag
Place: North Uist
Gear: Zamberlan Boots
Member: john Muir Trust;NTS;RSPB;Historic Scotland
Ideal day out: Mountain beside the coast or coastal walk with lots of wildlife spotting

Munros: 142
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Sub 2000: 48
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