Can a specific software load be installed directly, or do I need to install in increments?

For PTP equipment you can install any software load directly.

There are some restrictions on downloading software after specific versions, that are detailed in the release notes.

The safest way to downgrade a radio is to boot the unit into recovery mode, install the new software from recovery mode, and to reset to factory defaults whilst still in recovery.

This method ensures that all registers are set to their default settings.