6 - 7
FATMAP difficulty grade
Remote, wild and rarely in condition, the long, long journey required to ski Ben Hope is undeniably a gamble but when it pays off, boy does it deliver! The most northerly Munro in Scotland, Ben Hope is a truly majestic mountain with excellent views across the wilds and the North Sea.
The nearest thing to a Norwegian ski touring experience in Scotland, when the weather, snow conditions, desire and team align, you're in for a bucket list adventure and a memory that will last a lifetime. Arguably the most difficult part of the day will be the journey to the mountain itself.
When Ben Hope is in skiable condition, it tends to mean that Scotland is in the deep throngs of winter - aka potentially treacherous driving conditions in a seriously remote part of the country - so you'll need to make sure you have winter tyres and/or chains and experience of driving on icy and steep single track roads.
This tends to be a mobile-coverage-free zone so make sure you're prepared! Located around 2.5 hours north of Inverness, from Lairg follow the A836 to the north in direction Tongue.
Just north of the village Altnaharra a small road branches to the west and follow this for about 16km until you reach Alltnacaillich where you can leave the car.
Park sensibly so as not to block access to the croft then proceed up the track (most likely with skis on pack) on the south side of the river. Once you reach the plateau, head north in the direction of Ben Hope itself.
If conditions allow, ascend gently leaving Creag Riabhach to your left before heading in a NE direction up to Sail Romascaig then onwards along the ridge to the summit itself at 927m. The views at the top are genuinely jaw dropping.
Be ready for a full life enhancing panorama that encompasses the North Sea, stunning Norwegian-esque inlets of the Kyle of Tongue and Loch Eriboll, dramatic neighbouring summits of Ben Loyal and Fionaven and mile after mile of untouched Scottish wilderness.
Take your time here, you may never be in this position again! With its wide open heli-ski style face, the options for the descent are endless when conditions are prime.
We opted for a yo-yo style adventure, harvesting lap after lap of perfect cold dry January powder from west to east before finishing up on the summit of Sail Romascaig at sunset.
From there all that remains is to retrace your ascent track for a bit of whacky races through the rocks and heather until it's no longer skiable - or your legs give up! At that point, it's most definitely skis back on pack time for the hike back down to the car.
Nobody wants to hurt themselves in a remote location such as this! Once back at Alltnacaillich simply follow the B road back to Altnaharra or if driving conditions are super sketchy, continue northwards to Hope before looping back to Altnaharra via Tongue on the A838/A836.