This is the most famous of the Torridon hills. If I have a favorite Munro out of those I’ve climbed then this would be it. It is a truly spectacular mountain and affords wonderful images not least when driving along the southern shore of Upper Loch Torridon from where the above photograph was taken.
Liathach actually has two peaks of Munro status: Spidean a’ Choire Leiththe (3,225 ft) and Mullach an Rathain (3,356 ft). If you were to approach Liathach from the East it looks impregnable. Just look at the classic shot taken below from Loch Clair. There are however a couple of chinks in its armour and and one is to follow the path alongside the burn that runs precipitously down the hillside in a series of waterfalls on its south eastern side. What I really like about climbing this mountain is that as soon as you leave the road you start climbing steeply up a well maintained path. You gain altitude quickly. Some mountains involve a long walk, often through difficult terrain, even before you begin to climb.
The traverse of the mountain including both of the above mentioned peaks is a challenging expedition and especially so the intervening ridge, which is a series of rocky pinnacles. In fact they are known, utterly appropriately, as Am Fasarinan (The Teeth). A good head for heights is needed to cross these obstacles, which provide an exhilarating (if you are that way inclined) scramble for any serious hillwalker or mountaineer. In winter the ridge becomes an even more serious expedition and not one to be taken lightly.The pinnacles can however be avoided by means of a narrow path that traverses the ridge on the south side. This is no easy option either as the path is extremely exposed, especially where it crosses the many gullies and narrows so much that it becomes a ledge barely a shoe width wide. The sight of the valley floor nearly 3,000 ft below can be somewhat unnerving.
The second time I went up Liathach I took my two boys with me – their first Munro. Having just climbed Spidean a’ Choire Leiththe and started to edge our way along the path – the heavens opened. It was heart in mouth time as we trod our wary way along the path with water streaming down the rock face and conditions turning increasingly slippery. I was mightily relieved when we reached the end of this path. Actually I was shocked and inwardly castigated myself for exposing my sons to this danger. In retospect this is not the wisest choice for a first Munro.
Having struggled to maintain nonchalance and sang-froid I found I needn’t have bothered as the boys were utterly unfazed by it all. Indeed they thought “The Path of Death” so incredibly cool they wanted to immediately retrace our steps back along!
“Another time, another time. Let’s get down for our tea”.