Sgurr nan Gillean
Sgurr nan Gillean is the mountain closest to Sligachan - the impressive triangular profile is visible behind the Sligachan hotel, towering over Am bastier and it's viscious tooth!
For walkers the best, indeed only, approach to this mountain is via
the aptly named Tourist Route - this is in fact the South East Ridge
(marked on map) - it is officially named "Tourist Route"
because it's a graded rock climb (Graded
Easy). All this
means is that it is a hard(ish) scramble - this is mostly because of
the exposure of large drops on a narrow ridge. A fairly serious
proposition unless you are a confident scrambler.
As a comparision for those who have traversed the Aonach Eagach in Glencoe, this is harder.
The way up & down
From the Sligachan Hotel, head out along the footpath to Coire Raibhach then cross some tough, rocky terrain to attain the South East Ridge. The approach could be the longest part of the day depending on how good a scrambler you are/how busy the summit is.
Once you are on the ridge it's a constant scframble to the top with two real "difficulties": some steep slabs in the middle of the ridge requiring care and balance to ascend and some very steep scrambling above a drop near the summit. The best bit (or worst depending on your view) it the short walk (or crawl) to the summit which crosses a huge drop on a very narrow (< 1m wide) slab... this ridge really is a classic you will never forget.
The summit itself is tiny - as small as it looks from the ground (it looks like it reaches a point - it does) and it really is breathtaking!
For those of a nervous disposition going down is likely to be relief tempered by trepidation - you have to look at the drop all the way down... For everyone else, enjoy the sense of releif, or joy or achievement or just sit back and sunbathe (if you're lucky) - the summit here is something rather special!
For the brave (competant/confident) you can try descending the west ridge for a little way - drop off the summit (you'll see the path if you look hard enough) and follow the path through the eye of the needle to see the knife-edge ridge leading across to Am Bastier.
Getting to the ridge is likely to be the only problem in bad weather - however, if the weather's bad you probably don't want to do this! Once you're on the ridge it is straight to the top - there's nowhere else to go.
Only experienced mountaineers should be trying this if it is covered in snow - a slip or fall here can kill you in summer or winter.