Thursday, 2 November 2017


Liathach ridge
Claire & Robin with the Classic View of Liathach
The traverse of Liathach is one of the finest ridge walks/scrambles on the planet and my second favourite mountain. When a one day fine weather window comes along and you get two keen folk (and their dog) up for a spectacular day out then you're on to a memorable day in The mountains. I persuaded Robin and Claire that Liathach is a must do mountain. Robin has just 50 Munros left before completion with Claire a few more to catch up on his tally. They hadn't climbed any of the Munros in the Torridon area.  Robin also has just 50 Corbetts to tick off (mountains between 2500-3000ft).
They had just had a rough weather day on the Wednesday up on a Corbett in the Strathfarrer area. In the afternoon we met up and headed NW. It was raining when we arrived in the glen so a pint in the Torridon Lodge was a good excuse to get out of the rain. The campsite was deserted when we arrived, of course. We trusted the weather forecast which stated clear skies for the following day. It was!
Sparkling early morning light on the approach to the ridge
Stunning early morning light as we set off up the steep slopes and onto the ridge line for our grand traverse. It takes approx 2 hours to get onto the ridge and up to the Eastern summit of Stuc a' Choire Dhubh Bhig. There are numerous 'Munro Tops' along the ridge, this being one of them. It's a shame not to visit this summit as it gives one of the classic views of the Liathach ridge and Beinn Eighe to the east. Unfortunately  Robin was suffering with a niggling knee injury. We had the dog to think about too. Coupled with the fact of lifting a small dog over some of the scrambling, Robin made a sensible decision to head down the hill.
First view from the ridge, Beinn Eighe & Flowerdale Forest
The first Munro summit, Spidean a' Choire Liath
So it was just Claire and myself to continue. The roller coaster traverse now begins. The traverse of Liathach involves a 7km ridge line with a section of scrambling over some spectacular Torridonian sandstone pinnacles, Am Fasarinen. Before this airy scrambling there are two minor tops to walk along before reaching the first Munro of Spidean a' Choire Liath. We were treated to wonderful clear views throughout. To the North and West lies The Flowerdale Forest. These smaller mountains are equally spectacular and stunning view points from their tops. The bigger hills that dominant the landscape are the Munro massifs of  Beinn Alligin and Beinn Eighe.
A Brocken Spectre from the summit
Beinn Alligin and Beinn Dearg from the descent off Spidean
We were treated to a Brocken Spectre from the summit. Just a lonely wisp of cloud floating by to give us this spectacle and the only bit of cloud we had all day! The low overnight temperatures had left a wee bit of frost on the summit slopes of Spidean so a bit of care on the icy quartzite rocks was needed.  The descent off the summit drops down to the start of the fun bit, Am Fasarinen. This section of the ridge gives some sensational scrambling at around Grade 2 if taken direct. Claire has plenty of experience with rock climbing and Via Ferrata so she breezed along on this. There is a by-pass path much lower down which I would definitely not recommend. It traverses on steep, often loose ground and has become quite eroded over the years, especially around the numerous gullies. Of course you miss all the fun too!
First scrambling section
Down as well as up!
More up
More down
Steep descents on fabulous Torridonian Sandstone
The views are good too!
It just keeps on coming!
In between these sections of pinnacles there are moments to relax and walk! We were savouring the clarity of light, hardly any breeze and just stunning views. Today you could pic-nic on the pinnacles. There was only 4 other people we saw on the mountain. Of course November means shorter daylight hours. Setting off a bit earlier and having a good steady pace means you can still enjoy the odd rest stop. It's normally a 7-8 hour day.
The final pinnacle
The final down climb
Am Fasarinen and Glen Torridon
After Am Fasarinen it's just a simple stroll up to the second Munro, Mullach an Rathain. The views from this 1023m summit are outstanding. You geat an amazing view 1000m below to Loch Torridon with Beinn Alligin and a distant Skye Cuillin as clear as a bell.
The view from Mullach an Rathain
Northern Pinnacles of Liathach, Spidean a Choire Liath & Beinn Eighe
There are plenty of gullies too!
The initial descent is a path in steep scree. The long walk down has been made much nicer over the last few years with a well made, pitched path in the upper reaches of the Toll Ban all the way to Glen Torridon. There was a terrific moon on the drive back home. Brilliant day out and next time Robin will be there! Second finest mountain on the planet. Next up An Teallach!


Rob said...

Very informative blog, Gary!

All the best,


Gary Hodgson said...

Thanks Rob. Hope it inspires you too.