Liathach

by Dan Bailey - UKHillwalking.com ? Sep/2011
This route has been read 2,768 times
Walking

WalkingLiathach

Highland, SCOTLAND

google map Graded severe ?

Voting 5*
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Distance 9 miles (14.56 km)

Total ascent 1,481m

Steepest climb 62% (1 in 2)

Time 7 hours (Walking)

Start/finish Coire Dubh Mor car park, NG957568

Summits included en route:
Hill Liathach - Stuc a'Choire Dhuibh Bhig 915 m
Hill Liathach - Stob a'Coire Liath Mhor 983 m
Hill Liathach - Spidean a'Choire Leith 1055 m
Hill Liathach - Am Fasarinen 927 m
Hill Liathach - Mullach an Rathain 1023 m

Nearest town Gairloch or Lochcarron

Terrain Rough paths, and very stony underfoot on the high ridges. Taken direct the Am Fasarinen pinnacles give some superb, airy grade 2 scrambling but most of it can be avoided via a well-trodden path on the left (south) flank. There are comparatively few safe descent routes from the ridge, making this quite a serious day out in poor weather.

Seasonal variations A major grade II winter mountaineering traverse, comparable in scale and challenge to Aonach Eagach or An Teallach, the other big two Mainland ridges. Bear in mind the potential difficulty of escape from the crest of Liathach.

Weather and hill conditions mwis: Northwest HighlandsMet Office: West Highlands

Public transport Infrequent buses connect Torridon to the train line at Achnasheen and Strathcarron

Guidebooks Scotland's Mountain Ridges, Dan Bailey, pb.Cicerone
www.cicerone.co.uk

Maps OS Explorer 428 (1:25,000), OS Explorer 429 (1:25,000), OS Explorer 433 (1:25,000), OS Explorer 435 (1:25,000), OS Landranger 25 (1:50,000)

Accommodation Kinlochewe Hotel bunkhouse 01445 760253 Torridon YH 01445 791284
Free campsite in Torridon village

Find more Classifieds near this route

Tourist info Lochcarron (01520 722357)

Torridon is the archetypal west coast range, and if you like your scenery on an epic scale it's unequalled. Rising over tidal Loch Torridon and the lochan-pitted hinterland beyond, each mountain stands proud of its neighbours, unique and individual. Each takes the form of a massif, with multiple summits and sharp-chiselled ridges, gouged out by great corries and walled with huge terraces. Liathach is the best and beastliest of them, a dark satanic cathedral of ragged crests and bristling crags, dominating its surroundings and offering few lines of easy access. The full traverse rates as one of the great ridge routes of Scotland, a challenging and exciting walk with options to indulge in some top quality mid-grade scrambling.

Close this photo
+Liathach from Loch Clair, 68 kb
Liathach from Loch Clair

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Detailed description

1
NG9574856832 Take the Coire Dubh Mor path (signposted) uphill into the glen separating Beinn Eighe from Liathach. At about 300m altitude look for a cairn marking a less well trodden turnoff left. This heads roughly west towards Stuc a' Choire Dhuibh-Bhig across rough ground and easy angled slabs. Pass some huge boulders. As the slope steepens zigzag just to the left of a prominent band of crags, climbing towards a higher tier that seems to bar entry to the ridge above. The path trends right below this to reach a point on the skyline overlooking Coire Dubh Mor. Turn hard left here and the crag tier is easily breached via a short steep grade 1 scramble. On the crest above, rounded sandstone gives way to angular quartzite blocks, giving rough walking to the top of Stuc a’ Choire Bhig.

2
NG9421858225 Looking ahead the ridge now rises in an ascending series of tops to the blunt pyramid of Spidean a’ Choire Leith, higher of the hill’s two Munros; it's further than it looks. Follow the crest into a gap from where a path drops into Glen Torridon via Coire Liath Mhor. Nb. This is a popular access route onto the ridge and the last obvious escape route south until the summit of Mullach an Rathain. Rough ground then leads over twin-topped Stob a’Choire Liath-Mhor. From here descend to another gap before the tough slog onto Spidean a’ Choire Leith.

+Mullach an Rathain and Beinn Alligin from Spidean a' Choire Leith, Liathach, 144 kb
Mullach an Rathain and Beinn Alligin from Spidean a' Choire Leith, Liathach
© Dan Bailey - UKHillwalking.com, Jun 2010

3
NG9293457967 Beyond this scree-draped summit the crest of Liathach abruptly narrows into the Am Fasarinen Pinnacles, a series of shattered battlements topping the tiered cliffs of Coire na Caime. Descend steep scree (various paths) to the little notch that marks the start of the fun stuff. Scramblers should stick with the crest, clambering over or around each pinnacle in turn - there's plenty of exposure but crampon scratches give a good general guide to the easiest line. Alternatively to avoid most of the hands-on stuff look for a path low on the left (south) side. Beyond the highest pinnacle the ground soon reverts to walking, with a short descent then a long gentle cliff-edge climb to Mullach an Rathain, Munro number two.

+Spidean a' Choire Leith and the Am Fasarinen Pinnacles from the Northern Pinnacles of Liathach  , 104 kb
Spidean a' Choire Leith and the Am Fasarinen Pinnacles from the Northern Pinnacles of Liathach
© Dan Bailey - UKHillwalking.com

4
NG9118757678 Descend briefly southwest, then curve left into the scree bowl of of Toll Ban which is descended for several hundred metres. A clear path leads down, roughly following a burn. As the burn enters a deep cutting the path veers away from it, threading through the sandstone tiers of Liathach's lower slopes to regain the road beside a small plantation.

5
NG9137655404 Follow the A896 back up the glen to the car park; it's not a fast or busy road (by any means), and gives an easy and very scenic end to the day.

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