Scottish Winter Climbing And Mountaineering Routes in Scotland UKScottish Winter Climbing And Mountaineering Routes in Scotland UK
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Exit slopes of Central Gully.
Ben Lui - Central Gully Map Photos
The classic winter climb of the Southern Highlands, Central Gully is an absolute must for winter mountaineers. It was one of the earliest scottish winter routes climbed, conquered in 1892 by members of the embryonic Scottish Mountaineering Club.
Area: Southern Highlands, near Tyndrum
Grade: Winter grade I   what does that mean?  but more difficult in lean conditions
Total Distance: 17 km
Total Ascent: 1080 m
Time: 7½ hours
  • Ordnance Survey Landranger 1:50,000 Sheet 50
  • Ordnance Survey Explorer 364 or 377 1:25,000 (Ben Lui's on both the Explorer maps)
  • Harvey Crianlarich Map 1:25,000
  • Avalanche hazard: Avoid Central Gully in new snow or thaw conditions as the steep approach slopes can slide. Avalanches have also occured in the gully itself. In avalanche prone conditions, the two ridges bounding Coire Gaothaich (ENE and NNE ridges) can be combined to make a nice circuit. The ENE ridge is an good route in its own right, probably Winter grade I.
    Avalanche Forecast area: SAIS do not currently issue a forecast covering this area. Glencoe is the nearest but that's 30 km North of Ben Lui   more
    Gear: Take a 50-metre rope, some slings and a few nuts. Wear a helmet in Central Gully.
    Tips: The approach involves a pleasant but long walk due west from Dalrigh on a good dirt road. If the road's not snowed up (and it's rare for it to be snowed up these days), a bike can be used and is recommended. It is possible to cycle some distance beyond Cononish and this will save around 1½ hours.

    Park in the car park at Dalrigh, about 3 miles north of Crianlarich on the A82.

    Grid Reference NN344292


    From the car park, walk towards a small cluster of buildings. Follow the dirt road to the right of the buildings and take the right fork just beyond. Cross the river via a footbridge and ignore signs for the West Highland Way. Take the right fork just after the railway line and walk along the riverbank to the farm at Cononish (about 4 km from Dalrigh). Walk through the farm and continue along the track which heads WSW above the glen and eventually drops down to a river. As you approach, the sweeping arc of Ben Lui towers in front of you.

    Ben Lui (1130 m)  

    Cross the river and ascend on the right (N) bank of the tributary stream descending from Coire Gaothaich. There is a reasonable path here. Stick to the bank of the stream until the gradient starts to ease as you enter Coire Gaothaich. Make for the centre of the corrie and the steep approach slopes leading to Central Gully.

    The entrance to Central Gully can be identified by a triangular rock outcrop on its right hand side (ignore another feasible gully further left). Climb into the gully which narrows and trends left before opening up just below the summit ridge. Trend slightly right, where the cornice is usually not too large, and exit onto the ridge. Turn left (SSE) and walk to the summit, which is reached after only 75 m (distance). The gully involves about 150m of ascent.

    Escape Route!
    From the summit, retrace your steps to where you exited Central Gully and continue to the subsidiary summit a short distance beyond. From here, follow the NNE ridge and descend right (E) into Coire Gaothaich from an obvious col (NN266267).


    WarningThe most interesting descent is made via the ENE ridge. However, this is grade I terrain and route-finding is difficult. If in doubt, it is probably best to descend the NNE ridge (see Escape Route).

    If you decide to descend the ENE ridge, take care to locate it correctly - it starts just below the summit and can be easily overshot.

    Descend a narrow section, then stay right (S) of some large gullies that block the way. When the ridge levels off (NN270264), turn sharply left (NE) into Coire Gaothaich and rejoin the path you climbed on the ascent.


    Follow the track via Cononish to Dalrigh.

    © 2007