Beinn Eighe Liathach and Beinn Alligin attempt Oct 1976 then a call to Cruachan.

Torridon at its finest

I am in Torridon just now the hills are plastered with snow after a bleak morning of rain and sleet. The weather cleared in the afternoon and we had a great wander as we descended the Torridon hills cleared they were plastered with snow. They looked stunning in the afternoon light a “snow nirvana”. We could see most of the great Torridon hills but Liathach Beinn Eighe and Beinn Aligin were the showstoppers. As the light faded we were treated to an incredible change of light add to that the moon hitting Loch Torridon it was a special evening. The temperature dropped suddenly everything froze but what spectacle it was. My memories flashed by of incredible days on this area. The highlight looking back was a winter attempt at all of the Torridon trilogy and the tops. In winter with snow this is a true adventure these mountains become Alpine and can be extremely hard mountain days.

Beinn Eighe

My first attempt at this epic day it was in 1976 it was an early winter and we were at Torridon with the RAF Kinloss MRT staying at the boathouse on the loch shore. I had just completed my first Walk from North to South of Scotland in May of that year and pretty fit. We were going well it was myself Jim Morning and a budding young star Berty Bertwhistle that made up our hill party. That day we started very early on Beinn Eighe on the Black Carls many miss this ridge well worth the effort with its crumbling quartstone then on to the two Munro’s and all the tops. It’s a great day doing this hill alone just doing the Munro’s. When you add in all the tops it’s a wonderful high level alpine walk and scramble. You have to double back on places and at the end descend the steep screes into the Glen into Coire Dubh Mor up onto the screes then a scramble onto the ridge route finding can be tricky and then on to the main ridge. The Liathach ridge in winter is a great day but add on the last Munro top Meall Dearg it’s to me an Alpine day. This can be loose in summer but in good winter conditions it’s truly an magical end of a great hill. We were dropping of the hill heading for Alligin pretty tired heading into the Glen. It’s a big pull onto the Horns of Alligin then up onto the Two Munro’s on Alligin when we got a call on the radio that we were called out. It was to Ben Cruachan for a missing walker. We headed down as fast as we could feeling the days efforts to our land rover in Alligin car park. It was then change a bowl of soup and a long drive to Cruachan. In these days 3 /4 hours we were needed for an early start we did not hang about . I will never forget that drive Jim Morning who was with me on our attempt on the Trilogy was driving the big 4 tonner on these tight roads. We arrived and managed a few hours sleep at the Police station and then we had a 2 day search on some serious ground. Sadly the walker was not located till several years later on the other side of the mountain. Just another day another adventure it seems another life.

As I write this these mountains hold so many great days . On Beinn Eighe The famous Triple Buttress with its 1000 feet climbs. The Lancaster crash in Fuselage Gully. The many trips with relatives and friends to the crash site forever etched in my memory.

The New Memorial in the Corrie with the late Joss Gosling boots who was on the initial call out in 1951

There is also the ugly step on the ridge to Sail Mor this stopped a few on the 1951 call out as it was technical winter ground few visit this spot.

The Ugly step on the 1951 Call out Joss Gosling collection.

The wild remote Corries that few see and exploring every one. Camping high up near the Loch, swimming in the Loch way before “Wild swimming” was an thing. Watching Eagles soar meeting the family of deer and seeing the Lochans shine in the sun. This is Gods country.

2007 My last day on the RAF Kinloss Team with Mark Freestone now the Team leader on the Ugly Step.

Liathach has so many memories of great winter routes hard fought traverses of the mountain in poor conditions and more hidden Corries Coire Na Caime a vast hardly looked at Coire compared with the others that have so many ice climbs in winter. I have wandered in her on several occasions. To me the Northern pinnacles in a winters day that would not be out of place in the Alps. You get a great view of the Am Fasarinen Pinnacles the crux of the main ridge. It was her that one of our team fell here in the 70’s and was saved when the Team Leader Pete Mc Gowan descended after him during a winter traverse. He was very badly injured and a huge carry off the hill in the early days before the helicopters could push it in bad weather. Its a long way from home.

Liathach and the Northern pinnacles what a route worth the walk in. With the Munro top Meall Dearg.

Beinn Alligin is a grand outing there are some wonderful scrambles in the back Coire the via The Great cleft onto the ridge. The Horns of Alligin all great fun and exploring the gullies and ridges and the views to the sea from the summits .

From the Beinn Eighe painting by Pat O’ Donavan

Add in the big forgotten call outs that never made the news with the Local Torridon Team. Big stretcher carry offs from Beinn Eighe. Avalanches on Liathach more huge stretcher carry’s and one of our own who fell from the pinnacles. Finding routes of the hill in the dark. Searching the steep sandstone terraces covered in fresh snow or wet slippy grass. Bringing someone off alive everyone working together exhausted but in tune with life. These are memories.

Meeting Martin Moran the local guide in the past with his clients now sadly gone. He always took time to chat and ask what you were up to. So many adventures that a winters view can conjure up. There are of course the Corbett’s every one a gem well worth the effort but sadly missed for their larger neighbours.

It’s raining again today I doubt there will be many views . Yet this place means so much in any weather thank you Torridon.

About heavywhalley.MBE

Mountain Rescue Specialist. Environmentalist. Spent 37 years with RAF Mountain Rescue and 3 years with a civilian Team . Still an active Mountaineer and loves the wild places.
This entry was posted in Corbetts, Corbetts and other hills, Enviroment, Equipment, Gear, Hill running and huge days!, Local area and events to see, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Munros, People, Scottish winter climbing., Views Mountaineering, Weather, Well being. Bookmark the permalink.

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