Scottish Winter Climbing And Mountaineering Routes in Scotland UKScottish Winter Climbing And Mountaineering Routes in Scotland UK
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On the Forcan Ridge.
Forcan ridge Map Photos
The Forcan Ridge of the Saddle is a sensational alpine-style scramble. It is narrow in places and there are a number of tricky moves that cannot be avoided. The length and situation make it justifiably one of the most sought after winter ridge routes in Scotland.
Area: Northwest Highlands, Glen Shiel
Grade: Winter II   what does that mean?
Total Distance: 9.5 km
Total Ascent: 1070 m
Time: 7 hours
  • Ordnance Survey Landranger 1:50,000 Sheet 33
  • Ordnance Survey Explorer 414 1:25,000
  • Harvey Kintail Map 1:25,000
  • Avalanche hazard: Care needs to be taken on the descent into the corrie below the Saddle, as there have been avalanches here. Otherwise, it's fairly safe.
    Avalanche Forecast area: SAIS do not currently issue a forecast covering this area. The nearest forecast area is Lochaber and the observations are made at Ben Nevis and Aonach Mor, which are over 40 km away.   more
    Gear: Take a 50 m rope, some slings and a few nuts. Take some 'tat' (a sling or loop of rope you don't mind leaving behind) as you may need to abseil.

    Park in a layby off the A87, roughly 7 miles west of the Cluanie Inn in Glen Shiel. You will see the stalker's path zig-zagging up a rocky mound on the south side of the glen.

    Grid Reference NG968143.

    Meallan Odhar 

    Go through a gate and follow the stalker's path which zig-zags at first before bearing right and traversing beneath Meallan Odhar to a bealach, which separates Meallan Odhar from Biod an Fhithich. From here follow the north ridge of Meallan Odhar to its summit.

    Forcan Ridge to the Saddle (1010 m) 

    Follow the broad ridge southwest from Meallan Odhar until you reach the obvious crest of the Forcan ridge. The first step involes negotiating some slabs. If these are icy or covered in fresh snow, you may want to consider deploying the the rope.

    Above this, the going is easier until the ridge narrows and climbs to the summit of Sgurr Na Forcan. Take care on the slanting slabs that make up the crest, as the snow is prone to slide away alarmingly.

    Continue along the ridge until you reach the obvious ‘bad step’. If the snow is good, this can be avoided by a steep descent to the left otherwise you may need to abseil.

    Once the step has been negotiated, continue along the ridge, over subsidiary summits until you reach a trig point. This is the summit of the Saddle.

    WarningOnce committed to the ridge, there are no easy escape routes until you reach the Saddle.


    Descend the SSW ridge of the Saddle for about 300 metres (distance) before dropping into the corrie and heading towards Bealach Coire Mhalagain.


    From the bealach, follow a stone wall which leads you back to the start of the Forcan ridge. From here you could return by the ascent route over the top of Meallan Odhar but it is quicker to take a direct line right (S) of Meallan Ohdar and rejoin the stalker's bath just above the zig-zags (NG961135). Follow the stalker's path back to the car.

    © 2007