Torridon Winter Mountaineering - February 2019

Where mountains meet sea in a wonderfully remote wilderness

I had never visited Torridon in winter. Huw had been working in this remote region on the North West coast of Scotland for the last few winters and so we decided that an expeditionguide trip was in order. Invitations were sent, accommodation booked and even the weather was organised. The game was on!

Torridon sits on the mainland of Scotland, smack bang opposite the Isle of Skye. We based ourselves in the village of Gairloch which has a couple of pubs, a supermarket, a great butchers and some nice places for tea and cakes.

Huw and I were joined by regular clients Oli and Russ with a rough plan to enjoy some of the best single axe routes in the area. The mountains all start from sea level and so the days are pretty big. For us they were made just that little bit tougher by the fact there was snow down to sea level and so getting onto the ridges involved plenty of wading.

"There are few more evocative sights than a snow dusted Beinn Alligin at dawn, especially if you are lucky enough to be setting out on this route. The rounded horns and the cleft of Eag Dhubh are compelling features, inviting closer inspection."

Dan Bailey - Scotland's Mountain Ridges

  • Beinn Alligin Traverse
  • Grade 1
  • Distance: 10 km
  • Time: 7 hours

We were lucky enough to get four days of fabulous weather where we enjoyed some stunning views across the mountains and sea. For anyone that has enjoyed winter mountaineering elsewhere in the UK but has never visited Torridon this should be on your "must visit" list. Throughout the week we only saw two other people and yet saw five Golden Eagles - thats a pretty impressive ratio.

Beinn Alligin
An Teallach in profile
An Teallach Traverse - a mountain so special that they named a beer after it

On our second day we headed North to An Teallach. Russ was under the weather and as we drove I got more and more excited at the prospect of a ski descent. In the end Huw and Olli enjoyed the full traverse whilst I skinned up to the top of Bidein a Ghlas Thuill and enjoyed a ski descent almost back to the van.

Huw's Blog Post from the day:

"Well that was a grand day out with Oli on the big and brilliant traverse of An Teallach. We went east to west starting from the track that leads to Shenavall and finishing at Dundonnell. The snow had firmed up a lot overnight which was a very welcome development given the long walk to and from the mountain. The crossing of the ridge was, as always, brilliant and for Oli there was another two Munros in the bag with Sgurr Fiona and Bidean a Ghlas Thuill."

  • Grade II/III
  • Distance: 16km
  • Ascent: 1400m
  • Time: 10 hours

A'Chioch on Beinn Bhan

For our third day we went down to the Applecross Peninsula and walked into the A’Chioch ridge on Beinn Bhan setting off in steady rain. Amazingly we climbed almost all of this great route in the dry before poor weather really kicked in again for the descent.

Given some white stuff it becomes one of the finest trips of its grade in the country.
  • Grade: II,3
  • Distance; 9km
  • Ascent: 940m
  • Time: 8 hours


For our final day we set off to do the traverse of Liathach, one of the best winter ridge traverses in the UK and so up there with the rest of the week. We were beaten back by the incredibly deep, soft, wet snow on the approach and so made the decision to bag its highest summit and descend - still a huge day!

Huw's blog post from the day

We might have set off with a plan but the mountain has dictated the terms for most of the day. The idea was an east-west traverse of Liathach’s fine and famous Pinnacles but our beeline to the starting Munro of Spidean a Choire Leith was rendered unwise by deep snow and falling ice. Instead we worked our way into the col a good deal further east near the lesser top of Bidean Toll a Mhuic. Having burst through the cloud on the ascent Rob, Oli, Russ and me enjoyed a glorious (although ultimately unplanned) crossing of Stob a Choire Liath Mhor and on to the original objective of Spidean a Choire Leith, which is incidentally Liathach’s highest point. Although much easier than on the approaches the snow was still hard going. Flic-flacking cornices created a wonderful series of ‘S’ shaped scoops along the crest of the ridge. Fascinating to look at but quite slow going to walk through. Ideas of The Pinnacles abandoned and now in near nothing visibility we descended the way we’d intended to arrive, down into Coire Liath Mhor to re-join our tracks of the morning beside the the burn of Allt an Doire Ghairbh. A brilliant circuit on the mountain and never mind that it wasn’t the one that we’d set out to do.

This was the first time that we have run this trip and it will be an annual feature in our calendar from now on. If you have done some winter mountaineering before, have a good level of mountain fitness and fancy some of the biggest and best mountain ridges in the UK then get in touch.

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