BMG Route Choice: Resurrection, Sgurr Mor Fannaich

© Owen Samuel Collection

In this feature from the British Mountain Guides, a qualified and experienced guide takes you through one of Scotland's most beautiful winter routes.

Here Owen Samuel picks out Resurrection on Sgurr Mor Fannaich.

"Resurrection is a North West Highlands snow and ice classic of alpine proportion. The length and nature of the climbing assures you'll get your money's worth and you bag yourself a Munro or two to boot."

Route Info: Resurrection

Sgurr Mor, East Face  © Owen Samuel Collection
Sgurr Mor, East Face
© Owen Samuel Collection

  • Range: The Fannichs, North West Highlands, Scotland
  • Mountain: Sgurr Mor, 1110m
  • Route: Resurrection, Sgurr Mor, East Face
  • Return: East Ridge and Beinn Liath Mhor Fannaich (Munro)
  • Length: 300m of climbing, a long day out!
  • Grade: III,3 3 Stars Grade 4 with the Owen Samuel left hand variation
  • Guide book & Map: Scottish Mountaineering Club, Northern Highlands Central. 1:50,000 scale Ordnance Survey, sheet #20
  • Valley base: Ullapool

Approach: The good thing about the long approach walk, is that you're likely to have the route to your self. This only serves to enhance the sense of adventure on this remote climb. It's 7.5km from the A835 parking at Lochdrum. With an ascent of only around 500m to the foot of the climbing. The rough terrain under foot makes this a 3hr walk.

[popin(300, 189054, TRUE, "right") Route Summary: Looking across at the face from a shoulder on the north ridge gives a good feel of the conditions. Make sure there's been plenty of snow that builds up and drains to form the ice on the bottom pitches. But don't go directly after a dump of snow on a strong westerly wind as the face could avalanche in a mind bendingly enormous way. If experiencing a lean conditions season, leave the route until the end of February. But not too late into March, as it catches a lot of morning sun.

The first of 7 or 8 pitches is fantastic pure ice climbing, with ice screws and rock belays, turf gear and pegs are also recommended. The next few pitches are on snow but if you're cunning you can get rock belays on the left side of the big open snow field. On my ascent I took a line direct and left of the normal line and found lots of great climbing. Another nice ice pitch leads to another snow field with some tricky belay finding. Now the head wall finishes the route off in spectacular fashion climbing steeper ice scoops through rocky terrain in two lovely pitches, finishing with a, heart in mouth, cornice to cut through.

Best tactics for an ascent: Be ready to get creative with making belays. A strong experienced team may chose to solo the middle snow field, The central/normal line on the face has less technical climbing and allows the climber to out flank the cornice, but here you are forced to use multiple snow belays.

Descent: Standing on top of Sgurr Mor gives fine views across to Sgurr Nan Clach Geala where the hard classic ice and mixed route Sky Scraper Buttress is found. Take note of the conditions on this crag as it has one of the longest walks in Scotland and your mates will offer many beers in return for this beta. It's a long walk back into the darkness, so don't delay heading off down the east ridge, up and over Beinn Liath Mhor Fannaich and down to Loch Droma.

What makes it so special: You can belay around the summit cairn on the last pitch making the line very aesthetic. You will almost certainly have complete solitude. The route is 300m long and very committing. You'll have a great time extorting beer from your mates in the pub in exchange for conditions information.

On Sgurr Mor, Fannichs  © fimm
On Sgurr Mor, Fannichs
© fimm, Jan 2008

1st pitch
© Owen Samuel Collection
Tricky belays on the 1st snow field
© Owen Samuel Collection
The head wall
© Owen Samuel Collection
Sun on the summit
© Owen Samuel Collection

Owen Samuel and Rocio Siemens having fun outside their Llanberis home  © Jack Geldard - Editor - UKC
Owen Samuel and Rocio Siemens having fun outside their Llanberis home
Owen Samuel is a fully qualified IFMGA mountain guide and member of the British Mountain Guides Association BMG

He lives in Llanberis where he runs Ibex Mountain Guides with his wife Rocio.

He likes a varied approach to work that often takes him to distant corners of the Alps and interesting and out of the way places in Scotland. He happily takes clients Rock Climbing, Winter Climbing, Alpine Climbing and Ski Touring.

9 Jan, 2012
Must go back and do the icefall start one day. NB There is no 'e' in Munro!
9 Jan, 2012
A great article, particually the tips about runners and belays. The 'old' description of it being a near solo due to the lack of protection has put many folk off doing one of the best lines in the area. One question though, did you ever buy the beers for the person who gave you the Skyscrapper buttess beta? Yours James (i like Guiness) e
9 Jan, 2012
We did in thin conditions however clearly had been guided with chopped ledges/snow belays. A warthog was handy in the turf at the top. Highly enjoyable day out.
9 Jan, 2012
When the snow line is above about 450m (not unusual) - the walk in is one of the shortest in the north west, with a good path all the way to Loch a' Mhadaidh and as the article mentions only 500m to gain. You can even see the face from the road, weather permitting - so it's never felt very remote to me. I'm expecting to see a few more folk this season up Sgurr Mor after these tempting photos - I'll be the one weaselling away up Easter Gully cos the top pitch of Resurrection puts me off.
9 Jan, 2012
Nice article. I thought the walk-in was bloody awful!
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