Winter-lite on Liathach and Beinn Bhan

13 Feb

Last week a sudden change to cold and snowy weather born on easterlies meant deep powder rapidly swamped much of the highlands. With windslab building on north and westerly aspects and many mixed routes buried in unconsolidated snow, big ridges and buttresses have been a good choice of late. Andy and I ambitiously thought Beinn Eighe might have collected enough snow for the harder routes to become acceptably wintery but upon arriving in Torridon we quickly realised mountaineering in the stunning weather was the better choice.

Looking down Way up and north through the Torridon hills to Loch Maree


West along the ridge from Am Fasarinen to Mullach an Rathain


Top down view of Third Pinnacle Gully (III) from the near the start of the scrambling


Andy enjoying the views south to the Glen Carron hills during the traverse of Am Fasarinen


After the scrambling up to Am Fasarinen easy but spectacular walking leads on the final munro


The final stretch of the ridge to Mullach an Rathain affords excellent views into Upper Coire na Caime, the Trinity Gullies and the Northern Pinnacles


West out to Beinn Alligin, Skye and the Outer Hebrides from the summit of Mullach an Rathain


First hand accounts from Beinn Eighe of un-wintery conditions confirmed our suspicions, so the next day we continued in the same vein and went to the majestic corries of Beinn Bhan for the Traverse of A’ Chioch (II).

Early morning light fills Coire na Feola on the approach to A’ Chioch


Silver Tear and The Cooler struggling valiantly to form in the cold dry conditions on the Coire na Poite backwall


The upper section of the A’ Chioch traverse as seen from the start of the route


Looking back towards A’ Chioch from halfway up the final section of the ridge with the Glen Carron and Torridon hills beyond


Spectacular views greeted us from the summit plateau across the Inner Sound to the Isle of Skye and a snowy Black Cuillin


Raised footprints on the summit plateau of Beinn Bhan


The arch-classic Cioch Nose (lower left) and the long upper continuation ridge leading to the summit of Sgurr A’ Chaorachain. The Cuillins of Skye and Rum emerge from the haze beyond


Andy taking it all in on the descent from Beinn Bhan


So this bizarre winter continues to perplex and at times frustrate, as I’ve found it continuously difficult to get any technical climbing done. However, in weather and conditions like we had in the Northwest this weekend, its hard to complain too much…




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