Colin's Munros


Beinn Eighe; Cuillin/Torridon map OL8
26th Oct 2004, 12th Oct 2006 & 3rd April 2008

Route 1: 11⅓ miles; 1435m=4700' ascent; 9hrs 10mins (excluding the two eastern tops)
Route 2: 14¼ miles; 1880m=6175' ascent; 9hrs 15mins
Route 3: 15½ miles; 2000m=6560' ascent; 10hrs 35mins (excluding Ruadh-stac Mor)

The path round Sail Mhor from Liathach. First view of Loch Coire MhicFhearchair and the Triple Buttress The ridge over to the Triple Buttress from Sail Mhor. The Triple Buttress showing the crux of the path to Sail Mhor Rhuadh Stac Beag and endless grey rocks from Sgurr Ban The straightforward ridge from Spidean Coire 
nan Clach to Sgurr Ban and on to Sgurr nan Fhir Duibhe. The ridge up to Sgurr nan Fhir Duibhe and beyond from just below Sgurr Ban. The end of the north ridge of Spidean Coire nan Clach from Lochan Uaine.

Traverse of this ridge is unquestionably 5*. Note, for example, the stunning views of Coire Mhic Fhearchair from Ruadh-stac Mor with, in the Spring, its snow laden plateau and cornice typically in sun with thick clouds behind. Note also the brilliant turquoise algae around L. Coire Mhic Fhearchair.

Routes: The three routes here include a number of different variations on the standard route and so it is worth looking at all three for ideas. The Beinn Eighe massif includes two Munros, four Munro tops and one Corbett. Route 3 covers all of these in one day, with a little scrambling mixed in. Nevertheless, it fails to provide the full experience as one sees little of the south facing slopes and there's no close contact with Loch Coire Mhic Fhearchair or looking up at the Triple Buttress. So the other routes should certainly be tried.
Routes 1 and 2 are essentially the same, covering all the tops but omitting the Corbett. The main ridge of Beinn Eighe is "Y" shaped, with two branches at the north western end, one going to Sail Mhor and the other to Ruadh-stac Mor. Route 1 involves the ascent of the Sail Mhor arm first and a detour along the Ruadh-stac Mor branch, whereas Route 2 starts with the ascent of Ruadh-stac Mor and is followed by a detour out to Sail Mhor. There is little difference between these two in terms of distance or ascent, but the scrambling for Sail Mhor is less and easier in Route 1.
  1. Those without scrambling experience should omit Sail Mhor, but it is a Munro top and very well worth the effort to visit. More details for this top are given below.
  2. The standard route up Ruadh-stac Mor is via the stone chute at the far (S) end of L. Coire Mhic Fhearchair. The second route below gives a much pleasanter alternative up its NW corner.
  3. An apparently frequent mistake made in the cloud is to assume the trig post on Spidean Coire nan Clach is at the summit. In fact, the highest point is another 200 yards further on and 21 metres higher.
  4. A detour from Beinn Eighe to the two eastern tops Sgurr Ban & Sgurr nan Fhir Duibhe and back adds 2.0 miles to the distance, and 400m more to the ascent.
  5. The fastest and easiest descent from Spidean Coire nan Clach trig pt is as follows: Descend from the post by path directly towards Stuc Coire an Laoigh. After approx 8 minutes, 1m after a cairn, the path takes sharp left and decends S into Coire an Laoigh. From the coire lip there is an engineered path S beside the Allt Coire an Laoigh.
  6. If the corrie lip into Coire an Laoigh has an impenetrable cornice, a descent can be made by dropping off SW from the cairn on the corrie rim into Coire nan Clach where there is a good 500' of excellent scree running, although the path becomes rather faint once the corrie is left. The path follows the park boundary southward, ending at a large well-built cairn on the roadside at Slugach.
  7. A direct descent to Kinlochewe is possible from Sgurr nan Fhir Duibhe using the ridge northwards to Creag Dhubh, and then the excellent path due east down the ridge and along beside the Allt a' Chuirn. However, the pinnacles between Sgurr nan Fhir Duibhe and Creag Dhubh require some scrambling, and they form the most difficult section of the whole ridge with the single exception of the descent from a'Coinneach Mhor to Sail Mhor.
  8. The Corbett Ruadh-stac Beag might be more usefully paired with its neighbour Meall a' Ghiuthais, another Corbett, in a separate expedition.

Sail Mhor: Routes 2 and 3 below include a difficult traverse from a'Coinneach Mhor to Sail Mhor with some non-trivial down-climbing (details next). A much easier alternative which still includes Sail Mhor is given in Route 1 which starts with an ascent of the steep but straight-forward slopes below the Triple Buttress from L. Coire Mhic Fhearchair to the col between a'Coinneach Mhor and Sail Mhor. After going out to Sail Mhor, the route ascends to a'Coinneach Mhor and then does a detour to Ruadh-stac Mor and back. This reduces the scrambling to ascent only, and eliminates the route finding problems between a'Coinneach Mhor and Sail Mhor, which only occur in one direction. Of course, once up Sail Mhor the route can be reversed back to L. Coire Mhic Fhearchair and home, enabling the Munro top to be conquered without any scrambling.

Beware of the difficult descent off a'Coinneach Mhor towards Sail Mhor. It requires some easy but sometimes exposed scrambling. (Sail Mhor must be the second most difficult Munro top on the mainland, with Liathach's Meall Dearg being first.) The ridge over to Sail Mhor starts with an exposed scramble down the western edge of the Triple Buttress. (See photo above.) Descend due W from cairn; do not take the neighbouring ridge to right which is the middle of the Triple Buttress. The descent is difficult and very dangerous in poor conditions, especially if there is no visibility. There are usually signs of a path, but some easy path choices lead to cliffs where many feet appear to have trodden incorrectly. This is because the natural build up of fine sand and gravel in gullies through weathering looks just like a path caused by the passage of feet. Often there is no view forward which would allow difficulties to be assessed. However, the rule is easy: return to the crest of the ridge whenever necessary.

At the first difficulty of the traverse to Sail Mhor there is a minor detour to the south side of the ridge, but do not descend more than half way down to the cliffs. Sand rivulets indicate a path which ends at the top of cliffs, but that is because too many people have gone too far when seeking an easy route. Do not attempt to descend the cliffs on the south side. Instead, traverse horizontally back to the crest of the ridge. The cliffs become higher as you progress westwards, so that you should regain the crest close to the point where the cliffs meet it. Allow a few minutes to find the right alternative, and do not be afraid to retrace your steps. If the traverse is done at the right point, it is possible to cross the prominent crest of the ridge and descend easily about 5m on the Triple Buttress side before traversing almost horizontally back to the crest. The crux is then reached: a vertical 3m/10' pitch at the bottom of the descent just round from the crest on the S side. This borders on rock climbing rather than scrambling (see photos). However, it has really good foot and hand holds despite being essentially vertical. It is not at all difficult. A minor pinnacle to the west of all this can be skirted to the south or climbed over, as preferred. (It presents no difficulties.) The return ascent of this ridge is straightforward scrambling; route visibility is much better. Difficulties ascending immediately above the bad step are avoided by going temporarily to the left, i.e. towards the Triple Buttress.

Ascent of Beinn Eighe from Ruadh-stac Beag: The northern outlier Corbett Ruadh-stac Beag is easily reached from the excellent path which starts at the A832 1km north of Kinlochewe – see Route 3. The ridge N from the col at Lochan Uaine is entirely large scree of sharp quartzite at its angle of rest – unpleasant to ascend. The north ridge of Spidean Coire nan Clach can be ascended directly from the col with a bit of scrambling: ascend the screes as far as possible, follow the ledges diagonally upwards to the right until further screes are reached; ascend those screes until the cliffs are attained; then climb the rocks, moving to left or right as necessary to pick the easiest routes. The screes on this side of the col are also very steep, but of much smaller rocks and sand. The rock on the ridge end is crumbling quartzite with plenty of ledges and very good hand and foot holds of sufficient quality for wet and windy weather.

Route 1 (3/4/08): This route starts at the usual car park on the A896 between Liathach and Beinn Eighe. It provides an excellent way to do Sail Mhor, avoiding route-finding problems and avoiding a descent of the bad step on the ridge back to a'Coinneach Mhor. Start by ascending from L. Coire Mhic Fhearchair taking the line of least gradient, initially S then veering almost round to due W, to arrive at the lowest point of the ridge out to Sail Mhor.
The table below omits the eastern Munro tops of Sgurr Ban and Sgurr nan Fhir Duibhe (due to lack of daylight) but they can be added as in the GPS link above or as in Route 2.
Weather (3/4/08): Slow progress due to heavy wet snow underfoot above 600m. Persistent rain am. Thick cloud at 400m till 1430, then rising to 1100m, so blind ascent to Sail Mhor.

0930 Park on A896 at P 6.3 miles W of Kinlochewe, at E end
of Liathach. (The parking is set back on N side of road.)
  80   00.0 miles NG95755685Orange
1020 Take well-engineered path NW by Allt a'Choire Dhuibh Mhoir
to ford by stepping stones (only just usable if river in spate)
3452651.66 milesNG9467058955 
1005 Continue NW to path split at watershed 3903102.5 milesNG9345459403 
Take right fork round W end of Sail Mhor
to N end of L.Coire Mhic Fhearchair
5855054.15 milesNG9395061099Orange
  Cross outlet from loch & take path to S end of lochan. 6005204.7 milesNG94416055 
1320 Ascend Coire Mhic Fhearchair to lowest point of
ridge between a'Coinneach Mhor & Sail Mhor
860 7805.1 milesNG9394360162 
1340 NW/N along easy ridge to T Sail Mhor 9809005.4 milesNG9381660584Just no
1400 Return S/SE to bad step at col 8759155.8 milesNG9408060084 
1430 Ascend exposed rocks E back to T a'Coinneach Mhor 97610156.1 milesNG9444560015Orange
  400m E to col 945 6.25 milesNG94776005 
  200m E to E top of a'Coinneach Mhor (cairn) 95410256.37 milesNG9501960099 
1455 NNE to bealach 868 6.53 milesNG95166030 
NNE/N to M Ruadh-stac Mor 101011707.1 milesNG95146115Orange
1545 Return S/SSW to bealach 868 7.63 milesNG95166030 
  SW to a'Coinneach Mhor, E top (cairn) 95412557.8 milesNG9501960099 
  Continue 300m SE to minor col 902 7.96 milesNG95255992 
  SE 100m to minor top 91212658.06 milesNG95335986 
1615 SE 500m to bealach 825 8.36 milesNG95705953 
1645 Ascend ½ mile ENE to Spidean Coire nan Clach (trig pt) 97214108.9 milesNG96515964 
1655 Continue NE 600m to M Beinn Eighe 99314359.0 milesNG96615978Orange
Time permitting, detour E to T Sgurr Ban &
T Sgurr nan Fhir Duibhe, returning to M Beinn Eighe
(2.0 miles more distance, 400m more ascent)
1700 SW 600m to Spidean Coire nan Clach (trig pt) 972 9.15 milesNG96515964 
  300yds SSE to cairn at col 855 9.3 milesNG96605941 
1830 Descend SW into Coire nan Clach on initially clear path
then S to A896 near Slugach (or SW to path for car park).
(If no cornice, then path E into Coire an Laoigh & down.)
  95 10.85 milesNG96685709 
1840 W along road back to car park   80143311.34 milesNG95755685Orange

Route 2 (26/10/04): This route starts at the usual car park on the A896 between Liathach and Beinn Eighe. Unlike Route 1, Ruadh-stac Mor is ascended first, followed by a west to east traversal of the main ridge from Sail Mhor, eventually returning to the starting point.
Weather (26/10/04): No rain; almost dry feet. Rising clouds, eventually just touching tops.

0905 Park on A896 at P 6.3 miles W of Kinlochewe, at E end
of Liathach. (The parking is set back on N side of road.)
  80   00.0 milesNG95815683
1005 Take well-engineered path NW along Allt a'Choire
Dhuibh Mhoir to path split at watershed
3903102.5 milesNG93405943
1055 Take right fork round W end of Sail Mhor to
N end of Loch Coire Mhic Fhearchair
5855054.2 milesNG94006114
1155 Cross outlet from loch and ascend ridge end opposite to
ridge end cairn. The ascent is mostly large stone scree and
much easier than the sand chute from loch SE up to bealach.
9809004.95 milesNG95006148
1200 SSE to M Ruadh-stac Mor 10109305.15 milesNG95146116
1220 S to bealach 868 5.7 milesNG95136031
1230 SW to a'Coinneach Mhor (old GR, cairn) 95410155.85 milesNG94996009
  W to col 945 6.0 milesNG94776005
1240 W to T a'Coinneach Mhor (new GR) 97610456.15 milesNG94536011
  Descend W to col, taking note of remarks above. 865 6.5 milesNG94016014
1325 NW/N along easy ridge to T Sail Mhor 98011656.8 milesNG93816059
  Return S/SE to col 865 7.15 milesNG94016014
1400 Ascend exposed rocks back to W top of
T a'Coinneach Mhor (again)
97612857.5 milesNG94536011
  E 400 yds to col 945 7.65 milesNG94776005
1410 E 200yds more back to
E top of a'Coinneach Mhor again (cairn) NG950601
95412907.8 milesNG94996009
  Continue 300yds SE to minor col 902 7.95 milesNG95235997
1420 SE for 100yds more to minor top 91213058.05 milesNG95355987
  SE for 500yds to bealach 825 8.35 milesNG95725955
1500 Ascend ½ mile ENE to Spidean Coire nan Clach (trig pt) 97214558.9 milesNG96515965
1505 NE 200yds to M Beinn Eighe 99314759.0 milesNG96665981
  SE/E for 300yds to col 900 9.25 milesNG97015980
1530 ENE 600yds to T Sgurr Ban 97015459.6 milesNG97486004
1545 E ¼ mile to col 845 9.85 milesNG97875999
1600 E 300yds to T Sgurr nan Fhir Duibhe 963166510.0 milesNG98176003
  Return W 300yds to col 845 10.2 milesNG97875999
1625 ENE ¼ mile to T Sgurr Ban 970179010.45 milesNG97486004
  WSW 350 yds to col 900 10.75 milesNG97015980
1650 WSW/NW 600yds to M Beinn Eighe 993188011.0 milesNG96665981
1655 SW 200yds to Spidean Coire nan Clach (trig pt) 972 11.15 milesNG96515965
  300yds SSE to cairn at col 855 11.3 milesNG96605941
1755 Take path E into Coire an Laoigh, then S by
Allt Coire an Laoigh to A896 (Details above.)
105 12.8 milesNG97765781
1820 W along road back to car parking   80188014.25 milesNG95815683

Route 3 (12/10/06) This route starts in Kinlochewe and includes (optionally) the Corbett Ruadh-stac Beag. If this is omitted then it is comparable to Route 2 in ascent and distance. The final descent into Kinlochewe starts with some interesting pinnacles and concludes with a fast, easy path. To reach every Munro top, some parts of the ridge need to be traversed twice. This one repeats different parts from the previous two routes.
Weather (12/10/06): Strong winds and rain all day.

0905 Kinlochewe Hotel   30   00.0 milesNH02896192 
0920 ¾ mile N along A832 to path end
(300m before visitor centre)
  25   00.7 milesNH02196277 
1015 Path W to gate at deer fence 3653402.45 milesNG99686221 
1035 Take left fork at cairns 4704453.15 miles  
1040 Path W to highest pt 4754503.2 milesNG98566253 
1135 Contour S across boulder field,
descend SW to river and follow path
SW up Allt Toll a' Ghuibhais to stream split.
6006004.45 milesNG97586087 
1150 SW/W to Lochan NE of Lochan Uaine 7257254.85 milesNG97046077 
1220 N up scree of large sharp quartzite boulders at
angle of rest to C Ruadh-stac Beag
8968955.3 milesNG97296135Orange
1255 S back to Lochan NE of Lochan Uaine 725 5.75 milesNG97046077 
  SSW to Lochan Uaine on bealach 710 5.95 milesNG96796057 
1340 Ascend the ridge end directly to top. (Up screes
first, then diagonally right up quartzite shelves, then
up screes to crags, and ascend crags on crumbly
quartzite with very secure foot and hand holds.)
92511106.2 milesNG96806018 
1350 S on knife-edge ridge to M Beinn Eighe 99311756.4 milesNG96665981Orange
SSW to Trig Post 972 6.55 milesNG96515965Orange
1430 WSW/W to bealach 825 7.07 milesNG95725955 
  NW to top 91212607.4 milesNG95355987 
  NW to col 902 7.5 milesNG95235997 
1450 WNW to a'Coinneach Mhor cairn 95413207.65 milesNG94996009 
  W to col 945 7.8 milesNG94776005 
1500 W to T a'Coinneach Mhor NG944600 97613507.9 milesNG94536011 
  Scramble W down to col (see above for details) 865 8.3 milesNG94016014 
1535 NW to T Sail Mhor NG938605 98014708.6 milesNG93816059Orange
  Return SE to col 865 8.95 milesNG94016014 
1600 Scramble E up to T a'Coinneach Mhor 97615859.3 milesNG94536011 
  E to col 945 9.45 milesNG94776005 
1610 E to a'Coinneach Mhor cairn NG950601 95415959.6 milesNG94996009 
Time permitting, detour to M Ruadh-stac Mor.
(This adds 230m ascent and 1½ miles to the total.)
  SE to col 902 9.75 milesNG95235997 
  SE to minor top 91216109.85 milesNG95355987 
1625 SE to bealach 825 10.15 milesNG95725955 
1645 E back to Trig Post 972176010.67 milesNG96515965Orange
NE to M Spidean Coire nan Clach 993179010.8 milesNG96665981Orange
  col 900 11.05 milesNG97015980 
1720 ENE to T Sgurr Ban 970185011.37 milesNG97486004No Orange
  col 845 11.6 milesNG97875999 
1745 E to T Sgurr nan Fhir Duibhe 963197011.8 milesNG98176003Orange
1815 Scramble over sandstone pinnacles
NNE to Creag Dhubh
905200012.35 milesOrange
  Very fast path E down ridge to about 530m. 530 12.85 milesNG99376080 
1855 E along flatter ridge to river crossing 260 13.33 milesNH00126096 
1900 E to gate in deer fence 255 13.4 milesNH00226096 
1930 Due E along superb path to A896
(I turned right at track)
  41 14.85 milesNH02536107 
1940 N for ½ mile on A896 to Kinlochewe Hotel.   30200015.55 milesNH02896192 

Previous Top Next