If you had to recommend only one Scottish mainland winter ridge, which would it be. Exclude the following which I have already done. Tower ridge, Aonach Eagach, Curved and Fiacail.
Not done either but the Forcan ridge and the CMD arete would both be on my list. Traverse of something in Torridon too but I can't remember the name off the top of my head.
Another vauge and nameless recommendation but I remember doing something not that far from aviemore that involved a cycle to a condemned bothy then a brilliant grade I ridge up then hang a left at the summit and come down a shorter ridge. I'm sure someone local to the area could fill in the details.
Edit. It's Ben Alder I'm thinking of and the obvious ridge on Geal-Charn - Sgor Iutharn looked really good too.
Ha. Beaten to it!
That's the one!
Yes, I've got provisional plans for the Torridonian routes. I'm trying to flush out whether there's a strong vote for one particular 'must do' route, if my time is very limited. I forgot about CMD which I did do years ago on my first winter course. Cheers.
Liathach traverse E to W would certainly be up there.
Flicking through some old climbing mags in the hut I was staying in last weekend there was a cracking article ref a winter traverse on Beinn Bhan's A' Chioch Ridge. I haven't done it yet, something I would like to remedy sometime soon after reading that article. It looked very, very nice.
yes I've just become aware of that one after a bit of YouTubing and realised its shown on the cover of my edition of Martin Moran's book, Scotland's Winter mountains. It's defo going on my list as well.
There's quite a difference between Fiacaill Ridge and Tower Ridge, so it depends what sort of thing you're after. Looking at the mountaineering end of things rather than harder stuff, these are all brilliant days out (not an exhaustive list) -
CMD arete I:
An Teallach traverse II:
Forcan Ridge II
Liathach traverse II
Beinn Alligin via the Horns I
Black Carls on Beinn Eighe I
Ledge Route on The Ben I/II: https://www.ukhillwalking.com/articles/destinations/the_big_routes_lochaber_traverse-8313
Lancet Edge, Sgurr Iutharn I
Long Leachas and Short Leachas, Ben Alder I
Sron na Lairig, especially with a return along Beinn Fhada II
Beinn a' Bheithir via either Dragon's Tooth I/II (it also has a proper Gaelic name) or Schoolhouse Ridge I
Golden Oldie (II) or one of the other ribs on W face of Aonach Mor
NE Ridge Sgor an Lochan Uaine (Angel's Peak) I
N ridge Aonach Air Chrith I
S.Ridge Mullach Fraoch Choire I
Cobbler traverse III
A'Chioch ridge Beinn Bhan II
East ridge of north peak, Stob Ban (Mamores) II/III ... which you could combine with the Devil's Ridge for a big day out
Ring of Steall (inc Devil's Ridge) I
...NE Ridge of Aonach beag looks amazing too but I've not done it in winter - possibly a bit undergraded at III on the cruxy bit though mostly easier
There are a few ideas in this old article:
and some slightly harder stuff here (the layout has gone funny - I'll try to sort that next week):
I'm sure I saw a really good book which inspired us to many of these in our formative winter climbing years. Any ideas?
Often wondered what the East Ridge of Carn Dearg Meadhonach is like. Looks short but quite a nice line.
I'm starting to read up as much as I can about the winter Cuillin as a long term goal.
Looking like AT is the must do route for the mainland. Cheers.
> Liathach traverse E to W would certainly be up there.
Liathach pinnacles are superb, best ridge by far - up Terminal Buttress and back along the pinnacles for a great, but long, day
Thank you Dan for taking so much trouble with this list. It is indeed more the mountaineering end I had in mind, as I'm trying to revive my love affair with Scottish winter after a few years lay off, but currently have limited chances to get out. I'm going to use your list as a basis on which to start a re-entry programme. Cheers.
I did Liathach summer route back in the 80s and it might have been May. Without axe or poons we accessed the ridge up an old snow slope with bare hands using large bucket steps. That was the first and only time I ever had the hot aches and well remember sticking my hands under my armpits and apologising to my companion for the torrent of rude words I was about to unleash.
I’m going up to Skye end of January but AT is definitely on the cards as soon as the weather looks good 😀
Cheers for the list Dan, do you know of any good books that cover Scottish ridges? 😉
Lovely book -!!
Dan's too modest. I found his Cicerone book while googling last night. It's winging its way to me as I write. 😄
This post was a bit too subtle for me but penny's dropped. Cheers.😊
As well as all the above, the traverse of A'Chioch on Beinn Bhan, Applecross, looks really good. Not done it but been up in the vicinity. Close to the Torridon options too.
Another useful book with lots of ridge routes is "Scotland's Winter Mountains With One Axe" by Garry Smith.
Ben More Assynt and Conival via the south ridge. It doesn’t appear to be in any guide books, but as good as Scotland mountain ridges go. Here is a wee vid I made a couple of weeks ago https://vimeo.com/377853446?utm_source=email&utm_medium=vimeo-cliptranscode-201504&utm_campaign=29220
thanks Scott. I enjoyed that. Quite a spicy little section in there.
Cheers. That's another one I'll be checking out. Lots of reading going to be done over Christmas. Just watch it turn out to be a lousy winter now that I've got my mojo back.
thats defo on the list now, cheers.
do you plan on a winter traverse of the Cuillin. If so, lots of piccies please.😊
Having done Brown’s Ridge this summer gone, I’d say that Ben Hope must be absolutely fantastic in winter, though I imagine most if not all of the routes there are quite the undertaking in winter - but honestly, what a place!
Thanks Jim. Interesting.....
I don’t think I’ll be doing the full traverse (unless the weather gods really make it an opportunity not to miss ), I’ll be doing a few of the Cuillin rounds as a recon and a stop off for the Forcan ridge on the way up or down, camera will definitely be in attendance 😁
Bloody good list, thanks.
Yeah, it's fairly short but a good line and adds a whole extra ridge to your day if you're using ti to access the CMD arete
> I'm sure I saw a really good book which inspired us to many of these in our formative winter climbing years. Any ideas?
> I'm going to use your list as a basis on which to start a re-entry programme...
Great idea Ann!
> Ben More Assynt and Conival via the south ridge. It doesn’t appear to be in any guide books...
Yes, Conival SE ridge is surprisingly impressive, and you can combine it with a descent of the S ridge of Ben More Assynt for a longer grade I / II sort of day.
I didn't cover it in the Scotland's Mountain Ridges book but did a summer description of the round in another of my Cicerone books, Great Mountain Days in Scotland https://www.cicerone.co.uk/great-mountain-days-in-scotland
If we are adding ill-frequented Far North West offerings for remote solitude, grand vista's and classic mountaineering ground far from the honey pots. Both escaping the 'guided' ground prevalent in 'Scottish Mountains With One Axe' and the oft covered ridges of other guide books, try the following, one long, one punchy and short, both far from the road:
Mainland only (as per the original request):
North ridge of Creag an Duine from Loch Choire Mhoir
Sgurr Dubh E ridge (of Mullach Coire Mhic Fhearchair)
Sadly not on the same scale as AT, or Liatach
Creag an Duine is a good call. I've not done it in winter, but sure it'd be spectacular. Not had a chance to look at Sgurr Dubh E Ridge yet in either season.
So many ridges, so little time
Sgurr Dubh is good as part of a day, rather than being a day in itself, if that makes sense.
Though if short of time on your next foray North, you should do the NE ridge of Anoach Beg. A grand day, the approach via Glen Nevis adds the spice of time pressure, and with the likelihood of no foot-prints its a world away from Tower Ridge (and other trodden classics for that matter), providing an exploratory feel particularly if you dispense with the guidebook, giving the element of doubt and uncertainty to your route finding choices. Cunning outflanking traverses, accompanied by locally wild exposure, some run-outs and a feeling that the games not played out right up until you pull on to the shoulder made it one of my best days out. All followed by the final mauve tinge of the setting sun from the summit framing the Ben and a descent into the inky blackness of the unlit glen with no cultural lighting.
Brown's Ridge is brilliant in winter, better than in summer as it's got lots of lovely turfy bits, and as you say, quite a place. RIP Andy & Steve.
To the OP. Lots of great suggestions above but having done all the routes mentioned so far (though a few only in summer) the Liathach traverse tops all of them for me, especially if you do the Northern Pinnacles first. Wonderful day out. Forcan Ridge would be second.
A couple of others not mentioned yet are the south ridge of Conamheall in the Deargs, only Grade I but in a brilliant situation, and the N Buttress of Stob Coire Dhorcaill on Ladhar Bheinn (crap summer scramble but loads of turf in winter, easy II). Or if you want really remote, the ENE Ridge of Ben Aden is good, fun, lots of Grade II problems in a great wild place. And I'm still jealous of a mate getting a winter traverse of Suilven, which would obviously be fantastic if you're there at the right time.
Agree Laithach is the next obvious choice.
Stob Choire Dhorcaill, do you mean Stob a Chearcaill, or the promontory that splits the Coire into two about 700m NW of Chearcaill? ~ I'm thinking of a another winter Knoydart foray this year.
I heard of someone that did the full Suilven Traverse W-E by moonlight, and had their feet back under the work desk the next/same day..............what style.
> I heard of someone that did the full Suilven Traverse W-E by moonlight ...
What do you mean by the full traverse? Do you mean directly up the west nose from the ground-up? If so, what are the climbing grades involved?
Correct including the nose, from memory of the guide I think there is a grotty (summer) gully that goes at about II/III ? in winter. I haven't done it, or even gone for a recce, so can't advise further. Summer, there is a cleaner rock route at about HS, again I haven't done it.
Being a mere mortal I wouldn't be able cover the rough approach, gully, & traverse quick enough to keep up with the moon, let alone beat the clock back to work.
A winter Suilven would be amazing... And as we're talking hen's teeth then let's add the Rum Cuillin traverse. That's got to be up there with the best of them, and I'm willing to bet it rarely gets done in full on-winter conditions. In deep untracked snow I imagine it'd feel as close to an expedition as you can get in Scotland
The Bacardi traverse, ah we can dream.......and for good measure the crossings would have to be by sea kayak.
Achir ridge on the Isle of Arran. III. South to North direction. It doesn't rely on frozen turf more a coating of snow which it has at present.
And better still I've bought your book. Doh!!
Never been to Arran. I think you've just given me a good reason to put it on the list. Cheers.
good luck for your trip. ❄️
The promontory that splits the corrie (actually called Stob Dhorcaill, just looked, sorry for the confusion). Noel put it into Scrambles in Lochaber but it's mostly grass in summer so figured it might be fun in winter, and it was. Did it with "Deleted Bagger" of this parish, possibly his first winter climb. Just one tricky bit, which was just above a large pit of soft snow so non serious. The exposed bits were easy, with lots of well frozen turf.
Winter moonlight on Suilven, wow!
Yes, they did the grassy gully right of the main western nose, given Grade II in the SMC guide, then the rest of the ridge.
Yes, the Rum Cuillin would be fantastic in proper winter conditions. I've done Askival and Hallival in semi-winter, but the rock was mostly snow free. Sopping wet actually, remember the Pinnacle Slab feeling quite hard.
> Never been to Arran. I think you've just given me a good reason to put it on the list. Cheers.
You do know that Arran is not on the Scottish mainland as per your question?
Its a cracking place to go though in winter, off the ferry, on to the bus to Sannox, up cioch na h oighe, along the tops to Goatfell, back down the tourist path to Brodick and ferry home - a fine scramble on a winter (or summers) day
ha ha. yes indeed but I've got a bit carried away now like a kid in a sweet shop.
Many thanks to everyone who took the trouble to post replies and I hope the info might have been of use to others. Here's to ridges without midges. Cheers.
Would you take the down climb on the bad step under winter conditions or take the abseil a few yards further on instead? Only ever done it in summer conditions.
I only did it North to South in the early 80s. This turned out to be a big mistake as we lost a lot of time getting out the gap. Far easier and quicker to abb coming in the other direction.
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