BlogA blog of our mountain adventures in Scotland, hiking, biking, rock-scrambling and more !
Torridon6-8 May 2016
Torridon on the north-west coast of Scotland is a dramatic place where wild mountains plunge out of the sea. We were heading up the 6 Munro summits in this area, with Richard and Emma leading. Here's their tale of the days...
The weather forecast was looking really good as we headed for Torridon to rendezvous with the group in lovely sunshine. As we drove into Torridon the rain started, but not for too long! After picking up a couple of folk on the way we started up Beinn Alligin in dry cloudy conditions hoping the good weather would turn up soon.
The Beinn Alligin forecast promised a warm, sunny day and we were somewhat disappointed to find ourselves climbing towards Tom na Gruagaich, 922m, the first of the Munro summits, in rather heavy and persistent rain and sleet.
There were only patches is snow left up high and we managed to shelter behind the summit crag for a bite to eat before continuing along the ridge in quickly improving conditions as the rain eased off and the cloud began to break up as we headed across towards Sgurr Mor revealing tremendous seascapes towards the Isle of Skye and superb views eastwards towards Beinn Eighe and Liathach. Everyone was smiling on the climb to the highest point at 985 metres thoroughly enjoying every moment on the first of our Torridonian mountains.
Next it was the horns of Alligin and the temperature was climbing and the sunshine drying the rocks perfectly so we took an adventurous line over the horns to give everyone the chance to sample the delights of scrambling on the Torridonian sandstone! We couldn't have had better conditions and I'm pretty sure some of the group wanted to go back over the horns...
All the layers were coming off as we picked our way down our descent and we watched a search and rescue helicopter training on Beinn Dearg, the Corbett immediately north of Beinn Alligin. We were able to sit in the sun in Coire Mhic Nobuil before strolling back to the road through native and regenerating pine forests with a distant eagle soaring above.
Saturday saw us joined with a couple more folk, this time heading for a traverse of Beinn Eighe's Munros. The day dawned with somewhat greyer skies and stronger winds as we headed up the well-constructed path along the Allt a'Choire Dhuibh Mhoir into Coire Mhic Fhearchair for the climb of Beinn Eighe. This is one of the most dramatic corries in Scotland with the corrie loch backed by magnificent buttresses of Torridonian sandstone. Leaving the loch we passed some remains of a Lancaster bomber which crashed into the upper reaches of the mountain in 1951. The corrie is a magical place and we were soon at the foot of the rocky scree filled gully that leads to the ridge above. A small patch of snow filled some of our route up but it was soft enough to kick steps in making a easy line to the ridge from where it was a wind-blown walk up to the summit of Ruadh Stac Mor, 1010m.
We didn't stay long due to the wind and were soon tucked out of the worst of the wind for some well deserved lunch and a dramatic view of the Coire Mhic Fhearchair. It was also our first encounter with John of the hills. He appeared near the summit apparently having been inspired by seeing us to come up the gully onto the mountain. After checking he was going the right way we watched him battling the wind up onto the next peak on the ridge. It was soon our turn and the wind was fierce as we climbed up and passed another patch of snow rather unhelpfully located. Once on the ridge the wind wasn't too bad and we enjoyed the fantastic quartzite along the way to Spidean a'Coire nan Clach with the odd outcrop of sandstone to scramble over. Vast snow slopes on the north side of the mountain and a golden eagle sighting all added to the afternoon.
The final steep pull up Spidean a'Coire nan Clach saw a few tired legs in the group, but we soon were on the last scramble to the summit with some great views in all directions. It was also here that we found John again seeming to be a little lost so we took him into our group for the descent as there was a big snow slope to cross and he was unsure of the route. It didn't take us long and we were soon enjoying another break in the corrie at the top of the excellent path back down. I think the group took quite a liking to John of the hills as he became known and he left us at this point it get back to his wife in their camper van. The wind had dropped and we had an entertaining descent with a substantial snow slope to traverse and the opportunity for some fun snow slides for a couple of members of the group.
Our final hill of the weekend was Liathach. Incredibly strong winds overnight on Saturday persisted into Sunday morning and there was some concern over the traverse of Am Fasarinen, or the Pinnacles, as they are more frequently known due the south-easterly direction of the wind. However, concerns were unsubstantiated as the wind speed fell. We left some cars optimistically at the finish and began the steep climb up to the ridge. The steep climb to gain the ridge was tough, especially with Beinn Alligin and Beinn Eighe already in our legs from the previous days. The wind wasn't too bad and the rain had stopped so after some food and drink in a relatively sheltered location we began the ascent of the quartzite boulders and the false summits on the way to Spidean a'Choire Leith. We had several patches of snow to contend with before the final alpine summit ridge to the summit and we were getting intermittent views out of the cloud. The snow actually made the final section to the summit easier than normal which was a lovely treat.
On the summit we basked in warm sunshine and were beginning to see the rest of Liathach emerging from the hazy clouds. The wind was dropping though still a few rogue gusts. After a quick bite we decided to go for it, but would take an easy line over the pinnacles to avoid any strong gusts of wind and the threat of rain that seemed to be coming from the south. The wind was still blowing as we weaved our way along the crest taking a relatively easy line before reaching the airy summit of Am Fasarinen with views of both Munros now clear of cloud. We found some shelter for a late lunch at the end of the scrambling and were soon on the final summit Mullach an Rathain. The winds had eased considerably and what had seemed like rain was burning away so by the time we had descended the scree into the corrie we were roasting and lay in the sun drinking and relaxing before the final descent into the glen where it was 21 degrees! It was an outstanding effort by the group and we were all feeling very pleased after a wild traverse of Liathach.
More photos by Richard and Emma are here on Flickr.
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