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/ Easy Winter walking - Glen Etive

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Ellison123 - on 04 Jan 2018
Hello everyone,

Happy New Year to all.

Looking for some advice on the Scottish Winter Walking scene/grade I gullies. I'm experienced, with a strong mind and confidence to be going solo. I am looking for routes/walks mainly around the Glen Etive area as I will be combining my trip with my photography.

Any advice and recommendations will be greatly appreciated.

Thank you,

Ellison
Sophie G. - on 04 Jan 2018
In reply to Ellison123:

If there's lots of powder (I think there is right now) go for ridges, not gullies. Sron na Lairig is a belter. So is Beinn Fhada, i.e. the N ridge of Stob Coire Sgreamhach. So are Buachaille Etives Mor and Beag. So is Ben Starav. So is Cruachan...
It's actually hard to think of a ridge-walk around Glen Etive that is *not* worth doing.
Ellison123 - on 04 Jan 2018
In reply to Sophie G.:

Thank you! Some great advice. I'll take a look at them in some more detail. Ridges will work great for my photography as well.

Thanks again!
NottsRich on 04 Jan 2018
In reply to Ellison123:

Ben Starav is beautiful, but was a slog last time I did it under powder due to quite a lot of boulders at one point on the ridge. If you have some consolidated snow in the gaps between boulders, and then powder on top of that, then it would be a much easier walk! Worth doing either way though.
Sophie G. - on 04 Jan 2018
In reply to Ellison123:

Or at a lower level, there's Beinn Trilleachan, which I haven't been up but looks great, or Beinn Maol-Chaluim, which I've been up twice and is great. Often the half-height hills are the best place for photography of the big hills.
And yes, you naturally see much more from a ridge than from a gully. You get more sun too, and less avalanche risk (though not necessarily zero risk).
Sophie G. - on 04 Jan 2018
In reply to Sophie G.:
This is a good short day: Sron na Lairig, Stob Coire Sgreamhach, Bidean, Beinn Maol Chaluim. The main thing to beware of, especially in winter, is the descent SW off Bidean--this is *very* steep and unless it's well frozen will also be loose. (It might also be avalanche-prone, I don't know, depends on the conditions on the day.) Otherwise this route is unproblematic, assuming you're happy on easy exposed scrambling on Sron na Lairig, and don't mind descending through the roots of a recently-felled forestry
Post edited at 15:46
Simon Caldwell - on 04 Jan 2018
In reply to Sophie G.:

> This is a good short day: Sron na Lairig, Stob Coire Sgreamhach, Bidean, Beinn Maol Chaluim

When we did Sron na Lairig and Stob Coire Sgreamhach it took over 10 hours! Waist-deep powder probably contributed ;-)

> The main thing to beware of, especially in winter, is the descent SW off Bidean--this is *very* steep and unless it's well frozen will also be loose

We did this in ascent last week. There are lots of crags about, most of which can be avoided by keeping well to the right (in descent) where it's mostly steep grass - the Harveys map shows it well.

By whatever route, I'd second the recommendation of Beinn Maol Chaluim, a cracking little hill.

Stob Dubh on the other side of the glen also makes a good easy day.

Post edited at 15:57
Sophie G. - on 04 Jan 2018
In reply to Simon Caldwell:
Fair point, Mr C. I did that round in under 6 hours... in summer
Post edited at 17:00
GrahamUney - on 04 Jan 2018
In reply to Sophie G.:

That's certainly a good day, but it's not short in winter. It would be a pretty major expedition in winter conditions. The snow would have to be well bonded throughout to allow you to finish in a short winter's day. You must be an amazing winter walker Sophie to do that in a 'short' day!
Dave Hewitt - on 04 Jan 2018
In reply to Ellison123:

Good luck, but it seems a slightly confusing question given that "easy winter walking" and grade 1 gullies are radically different things. As someone who doesn't climb but who goes out a fair bit in winter and occasionally strays into grade 1 territory, I'd reckon that grade 1 gullies equate to hard winter walking. I spend a fair bit of time in what I tend to think of as "grade 0.5" territory, which is pretty much inevitable if doing winter Munro/Corbett stuff and perhaps comes closer to the "easy" requirement, but then again hardly anything is really easy in winter and so much depends on conditions. (You wouldn't get me anywhere near Point Five itself, I hasten to add.)

Also, re Sophie's suggestion about going for smaller things, Beinn Maol Chaluim and Beinn Trilleachan aren't really "half-height hills" - BMC is only seven metres shy of being a Munro, and BT is 840m, both of them with low starts and some rough ground en route. As various people have said, Etive's great, but the basic rule of thumb I grew up with in regard to it is that the lower 400m is almost always pretty rough and unpleasant (wet, tussocky, rocky holes in the ground etc) and it's only when you get above that level that things start to be proper fun. There's not really anything easy there at all - big hills along both sides of the glen right the way down, with rough ground and river issues cropping up as well. In terms of what might fit the bill, one very good winter day I had there was Sgor na h-Ulaidh via the forest track system from Invercharnan and then the col between it and the 750m Meall a'Bhuiridh bump. It's still a full day in winter but easier (and less avalanchy) than from the standard Coe side, and the tracks (assuming they're still in reasonable nick) get you up the first couple of hundred metres straightforwardly. The summit is a tremendous perch and might well be just the thing for your photography.

Be cautious about Stob Dubh /Beinn Ceitlein across the glen - another big (if very fine) brute of a thing and consistently steep - there have been deaths of experienced people on this.
Sophie G. - on 05 Jan 2018
In reply to Dave Hewitt:

Dave Hewitt makes very fair cautionary points. (A general problem with these threads: you never can be sure what expectation/ scariness level you're addressing.)
gman2012 on 05 Jan 2018
In reply to Ellison123:

Sron na Lairig is grade II so you might want to rule it out.

Zig Zags (I) on Gearr Aonach is another option, then continue along the ridge towards SCNL - there's an easy scramble to the summit of SCNL or you can head down to the right for a look at Forked (I) or Broad (I) gully (or make for the path down Coire nan Lochan if you've had enough). This route is very popular with guided groups getting an intro to winter, if there's an avalanche risk they'll go for the scramble rather than the gullies. From SCNL you've got the option to descend or head across for Bidean/Lost Valley.
More_Than_a_Plod - on 06 Jan 2018
In reply to Ellison123:

For a beautiful photography point of view have a look at An Grian in Glen Etive. At 494m it's an interesting notch that gives a great view long the Glen.
Park at Alltchaorunn and cross the rather boggy ground to the style then over the newly remade footbridge. Head up following one of the burns. You can then head up towards Stob Duhb at 883m if you decide to. It's dfar from the regular crowds and doesn't see masses of footfall. I love it perched on that little notch.
Ellison123 - on 09 Jan 2018
In reply to Dave Hewitt:

Great comment, thank you. I guess it was a little vague. I merely based my question upon my own confidence and experience levels. I am more than happy to solo Grade I gullies and find them enjoyable and well within my own comfort zone. I probably should have worded my question slightly better.

Your advice is greatly appreciated, thank you.
Ellison123 - on 09 Jan 2018
In reply to More_Than_a_Plod:

Thank you, I think I will plan this into the last full day of my trip

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