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George, Liatach - a north west Scottish climbing experience!

Somehow Iíve missed out visiting the Torridon hills in winter, perhaps because a five hour drive from Edinburgh never appealed especially when all the usual climbing areas, Glencoe, Cairngorm, Creag Meagaidh and Ben Nevis, were only three hours away. But now, as I only have to drive from Aviemore, there really is no excuse for not going.

An early start was still necessary as the walk in is fairly long Ė one and a quarter hours along the Coire Dubh Mor path then another hour to get to Coire Dubh Mor itself which was where we wanted to explore. This coire is well known for itís grade V ice climb, Poacherís Fall and we were hoping that the route would be in condition but if not, then there were other options from the easy descent gully which is called Way Up to the reliable grade III gully, George.

When we reached the Coire, we were a bit disappointed by the lack of continuous ice on Poacherís Fall so looked elsewhere for the dayís entertainment. George was a possibility and we waded towards the right-hand side of the Coire through soft, sugary snow which was often thigh-deep. Hard work for Ron who was doing the trail-breaking.

The first 100metres of the route was a straight-forward snow slope and we moved roped together to reach the more interesting climbing above. This we broke up into four short pitches which took us firstly up some snow and easy-angled ice to below a short and steep blocky wall. Ron had to do some nifty balancing to get up this and the lack of a decent runner high up made the pitch all the more fun! Then I got to crawl and squirm my way through a blocky cave exiting out onto the face with a couple of balancey moves. When Ron climbed this pitch I could hear some grunts as he squeezed through the narrow cave only these sounded as if they were coming from some troll deep in the heart of the mountain. His axe appeared first and triggered the image in my mind of a periscope popping to survey its surroundings!

We thought that was most of the climbing over and easy ground was above but the route tricked us there. Ron tackled a strenuous blocky, bulge and finally pulled over it using a dubious piece of turf and a dodgy hook in the rock for his axe. I  scrabbled and scraped my way up this bit and was glad that I hadnít had to try and lead it! Then snow slopes to the sunny ridge of Liatach and we just had to go up onto the summit of Spidean Choire Leith to complete the day.

Route info:

George, Coire Dubh Mor, Liatach

III, 4**, 200m


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Copyright Fiona Chappell 2003-2012 (updated Wednesday, 10. October 2012)