4 - 5
FATMAP difficulty grade
Buachaille Etive Mòr (1,021m), or more commonly known as ‘The Buachaille’ to the local climbing population, stands dominant over the A82 road leading into Glencoe and is situated at the head of Glen Etive.
With its pyramidal structure and easy access from the road, this mountain is one of the most photographed and recognisable mountains in Scotland.
Do not be deceived in thinking this mountain is a ‘walk in the park’ by the sheer number of tourists that climb it during peak season, for in certain areas it holds terrain that would make even the most hardened alpine veterans queasy on the approach.
This guide focuses on the infamous curved ridge scramble that runs along one of it’s north-eastern ridges and is not recommended for the inexperienced mountain dweller.
For those wanting to tackle the four Munro’s without the exposure of curved ridge, take the main path that leads up to the saddle situated between Stob Dearg (1,021m) and Stob Na Doire (1,010m) turn left at the top and enjoy the summit views of Buachaille Etive Mòr.
For those wanting a taste of some strong Scottish whiskey, here’s what awaits. Leave the car park and follow the path towards the Langangarbh hut.
Cross over the bridge and head up towards the mountain.
Before long you’ll come to a fork in the path as seen on the GPX file, giving you the option to stride left or right.
It’s crunch time.
Right, a straightforward ascent on the main path awaits to take you steeply but surely to the saddle as described above.
Left, I hope you like Scottish whiskey.
Follow the path for as long as you can, bearing in mind it meanders and diverts into smaller trails often.
Navigating to curved ridge is challenging and it can be easily confused with other ridge’s, spines, or gullies.
Do NOT rely on the FATMAP GPX file, as this is just a rough guide of the ridge’s location.
Excellent visibility is highly recommended, so you are aware of the terrain you are heading into.
While it is very beneficial to follow others to the start of the scramble, be mindful they may be lost too.
Do not be afraid to turn around early on the approach, as this scramble is committing.
There’s no going left or right once you’re on it.
It’s either up or down, and if you’re suddenly discovering that Scottish whiskey isn’t to your liking mid scramble, attempting to down climb on wobbly legs and jittery nerves is going to leave a bad taste in one’s mouth. Once on the scramble head straight up the ridge, using good foot placement and strong handholds to calmly and responsibly make your way up the route.
Remember, sensible decisions.
Don’t think your Alex Honnold suddenly, because you’re not.
Prepare yourself for some high exposure in sections with the crux bordering that boundary between scrambling and climbing.
Some folks do place protection, use ropes and belay scramblers in certain sections, most seem too not.
The tolerance of risk is totally subjective to the climber and / or conditions.
Once nearing the top of the scramble you’ll start to make out the feature of Crowberry tower.
This is climbable without ropes but once again, Alain Robert or Dean Potter, you are not.
You make the decisions, not Instagram.
Follow a well-worn trail from the bottom of Crowberry tower up to the summit of ‘The Buachaille’ for spectacular views of the Glencoe plateau and highland regions beyond.
Congratulations, you’ve passed a true Scottish whiskey tasting, but remember, don’t get too drunk on the tasters, you’ve still a long stride ahead.
Alternatively, you can turn right at the saddle and meander your way back down to the car park to call it a day.
For those on a Munro mission, follow the GPX file to visit the summits of Stob Na Doire (1,010m), Stob Coire Altruim (941m) and Stob Na Broige (956m).
The descents from each summit provide a rocky path with perfectly sized ankle twisting stones so be on your guard.
After the last summit of Stob Na Broige, turn back on yourself to take path down the saddle between Stob Coire Altruim and Stob Na Doire.
Prepare for a steep descent down to the valley bottom that really hits hard on the knees after a long day, so brace yourself.
Trudge back along trail to the car park to complete the circular walk.
You’ve earned yourself an actual shot of Scottish whiskey after that one! But remember, don’t drink and drive.
This hike and guide were completed during spring weather conditions.
This is just one opinion of this route.
Make sure to do your own research by consulting local internet resources, mountain guides or guidebooks to evaluate other opinions so you can be best prepared for the terrain. A Guide by Red