Friday, June 15, 2012

149-150. Liathach (Spidean a'Choire Leith (75), Mullach an Rathain (108)) 03/06/2012

On our way up to the Orkney Isles, Hilde and I stopped off in Ullapool for a couple of nights. We therefore had some time to take advantage of the good weather in the hills. In deciding where to go, I posed the question of difficulty to Hilde and she suggested we try something a bit tricky. Therefore we went for the mighty Liathach - they don't get much trickier than that on mainland Scotland.

With fresh legs we made easy work of the steep slopes of the first top and then we were onto ridge territory. The descent from here (before even thinking of the first munro) was a little exposed and we met another walker who was having some difficulty. After offering our encouragement, we ploughed on to Spidean a'Choire Leith, from where we were able to feast our eyes on the part of the ridge which makes Liathach famous - 'the pinnacles'. Only a kilometer or so long, but it winds and weaves with no route possible that doesn't include scrambling. The drivers down in Glen Torridon can look up to a 1:1 slope for 1000m and think it's pretty steep, but the drop on the side they don't see is virtually sheer...

There are two ways to negotiate each of the four pinnacles - either a 'path' round the side or a rocky scramble over the top. In general the path is technically easier at each stage without too many scrambling moves, but often the exposure is extreme with the drop right next to you as the path clings to the edge of the pinnacle. For that reason and the fact that it's nice to be on top of things, we generally went for the route along the crest.

It has to be said that there was a little bit of sitting down to do after this ridge to calm our shaky legs, but it was a thrilling experience and we'd managed without much worriment. The rest of the ridge to the second munro was straightforward and it gave a great view of our route. The descent was quite long and unforgiving on the joints, but it had been a great day.

Looking on to the pinnacle ridge from SaCL.

A close-up of the tricky bit.

The first munro, with a view along Ben Eighe in the background.

The first half of the ridge.

Undaunted on the start of the ridge.

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