Friday, 9 August 2013

Liathach, Aug'13

Steven led a private group up Liathach at the beginning of August.

I met David, Paul and Ben at the foot of Liathach on a bright and clear Monday morning. Although the sun was strong, the midges were out in force, so gear was briskly put together and we started up the steep path into Toll a'Meitheach. Now away from those wee pests, we could relax, blether and get into a good stride. A couple of 'granny-stoppers' gave us a taste of what was to come later and quite quickly we were onto Liathach's crest, where the amazing views opened up. We left our sacks on the ridge and detoured eastwards onto the minor top of Stuc a'Choire Dhuibh Bhig - bet you didn't know that this top was considered just under the magic 3,000ft mark in 1974, but re-measuring since has brought it back over Munro Top height ? Fine views and a few photos by the small cairn, we returned to our sacks for a quick bit of refreshment.

Spidean a'Choire Leith's pointed cap dominated the view ahead, with a minor top in the way. Progress over the narrow ridge and quartzite boulderfield was steady, with mountain-goat Ben leading the way up. As we reach the summit, cloud engulfed us, teasing us with occasional views along the rest of the ridge. We stopped for lunch here, hoping the mist would lift, but alas no luck.

The initial route to the Am Fasarinen Pinnacles follows the crest of the ridge over large quartzite chocks. A path is seen off right, however this continues down to a precipitous drop and turns sharply - fine in clear conditions, but best avoided in mist. So, to be on the safe side, we stuck to the crest, clambering and jumping over the boulders. Of course, the cloud lifted when we were half way down, exposing the alternative route ! We reached the lowest point before the pinnacles, where a deep cleft dramaticallly cuts the mountain - good place for a photo ! We more or less stuck to the crest of the pinnacles over the entire length - there's nothing particularly difficult, just a bit of exposure here and there and a few awkward moves descending. On one of the pinnacles, Ben headed out on a spur sitting on top of a rock balanced picarously over a massive drop - again another good photo opportunity ! David also brave enough took his opportunity to pose !

As we left the pinnacles behind, the mist came in - we'd timed it perfectly. This was quickly followed by a heavy shower requiring full waterproofs and remained on all the way to the summit of Mullach an Rathain. This couldn't dampen these guys enthusiasm at what they'd just achieved and more phots were taken on the summit, even though there was absolutely nothing to be seen.

All that was left to do was to descend down some scree and pick up the repaired path leading path to the road. The sun returned as the scree was swapped for grass and we blethered with other folk as we trading places with them on the walk downhill.

A great day out ! More photos on our Flickr site.