Hills: Stob a' Choire Liath Mhor, Spidean a' Choire Leith, Am Fasarinen and
Mullach an Rathain
Date: Friday 28th June 2019
Company: Myself, Ann-Marie and Michelle
Distance: 8.8km, Ascent: 1290m
Time: 8Hrs 45Mins
When the mountain weather forecast is exceptional,
e.g. 10mph winds, no cloud, excellent visibility and chance of cloud-free
Munros almost certain, it is worth setting out to do exceptional hills; less
exceptional hills can be undertaken on less exceptional days. As such, I
checked out my list of remaining hills required to complete a second round
of Munros and Liathach leapt-out of the list suggesting "climb me".
My one and only previous ascent of Liathach was in August 2004, a
walk/scramble I undertook myself on another fine day. Liathach is after all
both a beauty and a beast of a mountain best avoided in bad weather.
On the evening previous, I posted-up a message to FB to see if any friends
would like to accompany me. Despite the short notice, Ann-Marie and
Michelle opted to abandon plans to ascend Ben Macdui to instead traverse
Liathach. Good choice!
We set off walking around 6.45 in already exceptional weather. We would
be undertaking the standard traverse going east to west starting from the
A896 about 50m west of the Allt an Doire Ghairbh. Once beyond the
electricity poles, we stopped to take our first photographs of the mountain.
Liathach from start of walk:
into Toll a' Meitheach is via an excellent well-engineered path. It is
however relentlessly steep. We therefore stopped several times during the
ascent to catch our breaths and to soak in the views.
the Toll a' Meitheach:
ascent I was able to judge our height thanks to knowing the surrounding
hills and their heights. We were soon above Seana Mheallan, a 437m Marilyn.
Beinn Liath Mhor, Sgorr Ruadh and Maol Chean-dearg all looked superb.
Looking across to the hills of south Torridon during ascent:
the ridge, at a height of 833m, we stopped for a break. We decided not to
head east to also ascend the Munro Top, Stuc a' Choire Dhuibh Bhig. I
ascended this Munro Top on my previous ascent and as the wind was forecast
to increase in the afternoon, I was keen to get the pinnacles behind us
while the winds were still light.
ridge, looking back towards Stuc a' Choire Dhuibh Bhig:
As we began
our traverse of the ridge, while the views to the south were great, the
views to the north were outstanding - Beinn Eighe, Baosbheinn, Beinn an
Eoin, Beinn a' Chearchaill
views to the north:
we were ascending over and in between boulders to reach the summit of Stob
a' Choire Liath Mhor, our first Munro Top.
Stob a' Choire Liath Mhor:
stop at the summit of the Munro Top instead continuing on towards the Munro.
The descent from Stob a' Choire Liath Mhor involved some very easy
down-scrambling on Cambrian Quartzite. The bulk of the scrambling yet to
come would be on Torridonian Sandstone.
downclimb from Stob a' Choire Liath Mhor:
of Spidean a' Choire Leith was again via lots of quartzite. On reaching the
summit of Spidean a' Choire Leith, our first Munro, we stopped for a good
the summit of Spidean a' Choire Leith:
and Michelle at the summit of Spidean a' Choire Leith:
ahead out to Mullach an Rathain via the Am Fasarinen pinnacles:
the summit of Spidean a' Choire Leith:
continued on a short distance to check out the descent route and was soon
again joined by Ann-Marie and Michelle. The descent from Spidean a' Choire
Leith was not particularly pleasant. Lots and lots of quartzite boulders.
There are a couple of paths heading down through the boulders, we didn't
take the most eroded one but instead followed a fainter one.
from Spidean a' Choire Leith:
back to the unpleasant descent from Spidean a' Choire Leith:
Fasarinen pinnacles now lay ahead. On reaching the first of the pinnacles, I
was keen to get straight into scrambling and sticking to the ridge line. I
think if one were to ascend and descend all the pinnacles, the traverse
would take quite a long time and the scrambling would get harder than Grade
And now the
fun begins, the Am Fasarinen pinnacles:
downclimbing the first of the pinnacles, we followed the by-pass path for a
short distance but decided to then stick to the ridge line as much as
possible including ascending to the summit of Am Fasarinen. The bypass paths
below look vertigo-inducing and are no place for a slip. Better to keep
hands and feet on rock!
of the highest pinnacle ahead:
down to Loch Coire na Caime and across to Beinn Dearg:
scrambling on Torridonian Sandstone was simply wonderful. The rock was dry
and grippy albeit rounded compared with the quartzite at the Munro summits.
We had our hands on billion year-old rock. This is quite old until you
realise the Lewisian Gneiss further north is about four times older.
back to section of down-scrambling:
of Am Fasarinen involved the longest secion of scrambling; there are however
lots of good holds.
up Am Fasarinen:
back, we could see we had already traversed more than half the pinnacles
section. The Am Fasarinen pinnacles section is not long in distance.
back towards Spidean a' Choire Leith:
and Michelle atop one of the longest sections of scrambling:
We were now
already approaching the summit of Am Fasarinen, a Munro Top, and highest of
View of the
ridge ahead out to Mullach an Rathain:
the summit of Am Fasarinen, we stopped for a short break. Adrenaline was
flowing but we could see easy ground ahead beyond the final section of
summit of Am Fasarinen:
section of scrambling on the pinnacles:
from Am Fasarinen was not difficult and there is a good path to follow.
back at the descent from Am Fasarinen:
back to Am Fasarinen:
Am Fasarinen pinnacles, it is hands-in-pockets type walking out to the
second Munro, Mullach an Rathain. It was a relief to have the scrambling
behind us but at the same time, I would have enjoyed the scrambling section
to have been longer in duration.
back to Spidean a' Choire Leith and the Am Fasarinen pinnacles:
Northern Pinnacles of Liathach look scary in comparison to the Am Fasarinen
pinnacles. I have not done these but think the grade is possibly Moderate?,
with quite a bit of loose rock. Think I would feel more comfortable using a
rope for these.
Northern Pinnacles of Liathach:
lots of smiles on reaching the summit of Mullach an Rathain, our second and
final Munro of the day. We had successfully completed the Liathach traverse,
especially good for Ann-Marie and Michelle who had not previously undertaken
summit of Mullach an Rathain:
Ann-Marie at the summit of Mullach an Rathain:
another break at the summit, we carried on west for circa 100m before
following a steep and very-eroded path downhill. Walking poles are really
useful for this section. After descending maybe 300m, we reached the start
of a well-engineered path which we followed out to the road.
descent from the ridge, like the initial ascent onto the ridge, is steep and
relentless. The descent was ardous due to the heat; it was 30C at the
roadside and not much less coming down the mountain.
back during descent from Mullach an Rathain:
the road we thumbed a lift back to the starting point getting a lift
literally within one minute of reaching the road. Massive thanks to the
individual who stopped to give us a lift back along the road, and good luck
on doing the Aonach Eagach.
On returning to the Beinn Eighe car park,
where I had parked-up my van, it was nice to see a stag with Liathach
behind. It was however not nice inside my van which had reached an
unbearable 39C inside. I therefore started the engine and run the
air-conditioning for a while to cool it down.
Thanks to Ann-Marie and Michelle for joining me on a day I am sure we will
all remember for some time. Liathach, what a hill