Buchaille Etive Mor
See Also: Climbing & Scrambling
This is one of the most impressive mountains in Scotland. It's imposing profile appears to guard Glencoe against invasion as you approach the glen from the south, it's near vertical walls and buttresses soar towards upwards as if the mountain were a pyramid.
The mountain is much more impressive "close up" than in any photograph and offers the mountain traveller opportunities in all seasons.
For climbers there is an almost unlimited combination of routes
that can be climbed to reach the summit - easy classics like Agag's
Very Difficult) or the more challenging
January Jigsaw (
VS) on Rannoch Wall. - Hopefully
I'll get a whole page dedicated to both these topics soon...
For the walker or munroist there are plenty of other routes to the summit of this munro. - Straight up and down the horrible big corrie from the car park would be the easiest and probably the most painfull... it is also the most popular route and suffers from severe erosion. The scree is brutal on your knees, too.
Too often is the rest of the ridge ignored... I would like to see this mountain treated with the respect it deserves - it's just not there to be bagged, it's there and connected to it is a fine ridge and several other peaks (& munros!) running from Larigh Eilde (Glen Etive side) to the summit of the Boockle.
In winter this mountain is a classic - there are world famous ice-climbing routes like Crowberry Ridge that people travel the entire country (or from abroad) to climb in winter...
Unfortunately, the slopes, ridges and buttresses of the mountain have been the scene of many fatalities in winter - the nature of the slopes coupled with the mountains popularity as a winter climbing venue and its accessibility mean that more accidents appear to happen here than anywhere else in Scotland. This isn't true - the mountain is no more dangerous than any other and all should be given appropriate respect. In Glencoe the avalanche forcast is posted in the Boockle car park and on the walls of the pubs. There is no excuse for not reading it and acting appropriately. If you don't understand the forecast make sure someone responsible in your party does, then go on a Winter Skills Course yourself - if these aren't an option go to the pub and stay off the hills in winter - I'm sure that becoming another statistic is not a pleasant experience.
The Glencoe Mountain Rescue Team work tirelessly in winter to both keep the mountains safe (by posting reports) and by assisting unfortunate climbers (usually daily). They nearly went bankrupt recently - please consider donating some money to the local MRT wherever you are visiting in the UK.
(No more rant's & rave's, promise!)
In summer this is a straightforward walk and the routefinding is fairly easy assuming you can navigate acceptibly(?) using a map & compass! - In winter navigation is probably just as easy - the ridge is fairly narrow and should be fairly obvious navigational features at the more complex areas of the ridge. In winter the biggest danger is probably cornices - be careful.
I recommended starting from Glen Etive - there's a very small village where the Larigh Eilde ends (signposted) - finding somewhere to park here is best - two cars essential for this, otherwise it's a very long walk . The second car can be left in the Boockle car park just off the road through Glencoe.
Make your way onto the hillside (making sure you're not traversing Buchaille Etive Beag by mistake) and wander up to the summit - there will probably not be a path as this is not the "popular" way up the Boockle... it's the quiet, scenic way that allows you to enjoy Glen Etive and the tranquillity of the Scottish Highlands. The lack of a well-worn path shouldn't be a problem since the slopes are fairly gentle - it's only annoying if it rains because the grass is longer so your feet get wetter...
From the first "summit" the way onward along the ridge should be obvious but checking the map is always a good idea - there's a big cairn/shelter on the first large summit (just before the narrower ridges start) so take a bearing up the slope and start walking and listening to the silence.
At the shelter there appears to be two ridges leaving the summit - there isn't. The ridge along to the Boockle gets intesesting here with steeper slopes and narrower paths (but not too steep or too narrow) adding some excitement to the day... this ridge leads to the next summit and another sharper ridge leads on to the final slog to the rocky summit of the Boockle... extended views along the Glen and out over Rannoch Moor will (hopefully) be your reward.
Descend the big corrie carefully to the car park - this is the
steepest and most dangerous descent of the day!
Because of erosion :-(
In winter the biggest cornices are likely to be at the bottom of the curves or these ridges - you'll be able to check out the descent route before starting - if the cornice looks too big, unstable or whatever then perhaps Bidean would be a better alternative?
Amenities, Pubs, Travelling
All that stuff is described in: