This weekend I had the pleasure of accompanying David for two days on some of Torridon’s ridges and Munros. Considering how poor the weather had been recently, we were extremely lucky to hit upon a break in the wind and rain. David is compleating his Munro round and now has less than forty to go.
As Saturday was forecasted to be the better day, we decided to leave it for Liathach and complete Beinn Eighe on Friday. Armed with full winter packs, we headed off up into Coire Laoigh and at about 400m hit the first of the snows. By the time we had entered the coire bowel, the snow was deep and trackless. We kept to the right of the coire and moved between islands of safety due to a layer of graupel in a very suspect snow pack. Soon we were at the head of the coire and a few more minutes took us to the trig. We could see the heavily snow covered ridge stretching out in front of us with the stunning views of Liathach and beyond but first we had to get to the top of Spidean Coire nan Clach.
David wanted to practise some rope work in lieu of Saturdays Liathach attempt and this small stretch of ridge provided the perfect practice ground. Views from the summit were breath-taking but knowing how long a day we were in for with the current snow conditions we didn’t linger. Trail breaking our way round the ridge was exhausting work although somehow rewarding knowing that we had the mountain to ourselves. We eventually arrived at the top of the stone chute and continued on to Ruadh-stac Mór. Although less than a kilometre this always feels like someone got the map wrong, as it seems to take an eternity to reach the summit!
The stone chute had some icy sections but we avoided crampons by cutting steps for a short section until we reached the fresh snow and an easier angle. The path through the boulder fields of Coire Mhic Fhearchair was completely obscured so the journey from the top of the stone chute to the waterfalls took a good hour and a half! We arrived at the road after ten hours of fantastic mountain walking, full of the views of the North West Highlands.
Saturday was day three for David so with tired legs and less promising weather than the previous day we decided to have a shorter day. Spidean a Coire Leith at the east end of Liathach seem like the perfect target to up David’s Munro count.
We started up the path just after nine and soon we were on steep wet snow lying on grass, yuck! We decided to put crampons on which really improved our security and after a few tricky moves we had gained the ridge line. The weather had closed in a bit now and visibility was not that good as we crossed a beautiful sculpted snow arête to reach Stob a Choire Liath Mhor then dropped down for the final ascent to Spidean a Coire Leith. With no views at the summit we didn’t hang about, quickly descending to the col between Spidean a Coire Leith and Stob a Choire Liath Mhor. I knew that retracing our steps would be pretty arduous on the ridge lines blowing soft snow and the temptation of losing height quickly was very appealing, I decided to descend directly south down a wide snow gully. The snow pack had consolidated well with the sun of the previous day and with refreezing overnight, making our progress safe and swift, although we did have a couple of awkward moves lower down. Soon we were back on the main path with only 300 metres left to descend.
Two quite different days on the Torridon mountains, both equally enjoyable. Many thanks to David for using nineonesix-guiding and for being great company. Good luck with your final Munros.
blog by Dunc Maclennan, nineonesix-guiding