Liathach. The undisputed king of Torridon. It surely battles with An Teallach for the gong of Britain’s finest single mountain. This is a mountain of regal majesty. It rises from Glen Torridon in an uninterrupted thrust of layered sandstone topped with jagged ramparts and austere quartzite domed summits. Its north facing aspect is all the more wild and impressive, with tumbling crags and dramatic cories coupled with a hinterland of dotted lochans and muscular peaks. When you bare in mind that this is some of the oldest exposed land in the planet, you quickly realise that you are in the midst of something truly special.
To truly get a sense of Liathach’s grandeur, you have to get amongst it and up onto its ridges. From below, this looks an impossible task, as its battlements look impregnable. However, there are ways to ascend and descend, though they are few and far between. This is a large part of Liathach’s aura; once you are committed to the ridge it really feels like you are cut off from the World below. Once you hit the main summit of Spidean a’Choire Liath, the sight ahead of the ridges and summits yet to come confirm this feeling. Exciting and threatening in the same breath.
Although the character of the landscape is vastly different, it is difficult not to liken Liathach to The Aonach Eagach in Glencoe. Both feature two Munro summits that are separated by a knife edge ridge containing numerous pinnacles, offering serious grade two scrambling. In Liathach’s case, these are the spectacular Am Fasarinen Pinnacles. Whilst the scrambling is not quite as sustained as on The Aonach Eagach, the surroundings are mesmerising. The esoteric mountains of the Coulin Forest rise up to the south, Loch Torridon stretches seaward to the west and ahead sprawls Liathach’s most spectacular summit in Mullach an Rathain - The Peak of the Row of Pinnacles. Completing the panorama are Torridon’s hinterland peaks of Baosbheinn and Beinn Dearg and, beyond all of this, the likes of mighty Slioch and distant An Teallach. Highland splendour.
A traverse of Liathach is life affirming. Spectacular in every sense. It is no wonder the mountain is battered by superlatives from outdoor writers and enthusiasts alike. One of the greats. I have ticked it off the top of my Scottish mountain bucket list, where it has been replaced by a winter traverse that is supposed to be the finest winter mountaineering expedition in Scotland: a full winter traverse… of Liathach.