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A proper mountaineering route: Not as hard as some of the truely epic ways up the mountain, but still enough to get a taste of what mountaineering can be like.
A steady snow plod, with the exception of the rocky band about half way up. As always, the quality and quality of the snow will change from week to week. The route is graded as Winter I, and was pretty much that when we did it.
Hazards and warnings
Mountaineering is dangerous. The nature of the gully means it is dangerous in avalanche prone conditions. The cornice at the very top, can be quick tricky to get past.
Cross the bridge and take the path to the Etiv face of the mountain. Follow alongside the stream, and pass into the wide gully (Great Gully) that goes to the right of North Buttress. The view up into the chasm below Crowberry terrace will strike fear into you. Follow the obvious snow gully. Depending on snow conditions, you will meet a steep, often iced up rocky band between two butresses that is the crux of the route. After that, the ground becomes less steep and you enter a wider corrie, before you top out near to the summit.
When descending, follow the walkers route down via the bealach.
I did this route a long time ago, the depths of a Scottish winter, when good winter conditions were more reliable. Myself and my climbing companion had down lots of winter walking before, but were still inexeprienced in long gully routes. Fortunatly conditions were good, once we had passed the slushy snow at the base of the Etive face, and we made good steady progress until we hit a rocky band that hadn't banked out with snow. There was a bit of ice on the rock, but I didn't feel any of the placements were very solid, and found it a terrifying if not short pitch. And of course, with protection being pretty limited and not very solid, the thought of a fall wasn't too nice, as the climber would probably rip the belayer off the stance.
Once past this we made good progress again, and made it to the broad corrie, and then past the mercifully small cornice, and then after a short stagger, we were on the summit. Coming down was uneventually, as we took the walkers path down.
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