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Midnight Express to Ben Alder

Midnight Express to Ben Alder


Postby CurlyWurly » Tue Mar 01, 2011 7:31 am

Route description: Ben Alder and Beinn Bheoil from Culra

Munros included on this walk: Beinn Bheoil, Ben Alder

Date walked: 25/02/2011

Time taken: 8.5 hours

Distance: 49.3 km

Ascent: 1263m

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I had wanted to have a ‘pop’ at Ben Alder for a long time now and with a reasonable looking weather window opening for the weekend, it seemed a good opportunity. There was a slight spanner in the works, however. I needed to be back in Dunfermline for a commitment in the evening. How about a run into Culra Bothy on the Friday evening, nail the mountain on the Saturday, then run back out? Seemed like a good idea and my mate Scott who was also in the area was keen to join me.

At 8pm we were heading up the A9 towards Dalwhinnie. The stars were bright in the sky and I was optimistic of some decent weather. By 10pm we were parked up near the level crossing and ready to set off. I had squeezed everything into my 25 litre mountain marathon pack and consequently, some luxuries like therm-a-rest’s had to be left behind. With head torches on we set off along the broad track that runs parallel to Loch Ericht. We were in no rush and just maintained a steady pace, ticking off the landmarks on the map; The Shieling, An Toichailt and Ben Alder Lodge. It was not really a surprise that we did not meet anyone and ninety minutes after setting off we were heading down the track that runs parallel with the Allt a’ Chaoil-reidhe. Just as I was beginning to think that we had missed the turn off for the bridge that crosses the river, a sign pointed us in the right direction and soon the black silhouette of the bothy loomed up in front of us. The first room we entered was empty and with the time fast approaching midnight, there was nothing else to do but get in our sleeping bags for the night.

I was awoken at 4am to the sound of rain hammering down and with the thoughts of traversing Ben Alder in the clag I kept my fingers crossed and dropped off back to sleep. Fortunately, luck was on our side and when I ventured outside at daybreak the tops were clear and it was "game on!”

01. Culra Bothy and Ben Alder.jpg

02. Setting off, Scott leads the way.jpg

With a big day ahead, we quickly ate breakfast and set off. The plan was to head up onto the summit via the Long Leachas but as we approached the Allt a'Bhealaich Bheithe, we realised we were going to struggle to find a place to cross. The recent mild weather and subsequent thaw had turned the Allt into a raging torrent.

03. The Allt was a raging torrent.jpg

We headed uphill looking for a suitable location and eventually found a place where the water was a little calmer. It would mean wet feet though but we were wearing fell running shoes so these would soon dry out. The water was freezing and I did not waste any time scrambling up the icy bank on the other side but Scott was not so lucky and had to stand in the water for 30 seconds or so whilst I clambered up.

04. Scott clambers up the icy banking.jpg

We had gained quite a bit of height whilst finding a place to cross and it seemed pointless dropping back down to climb the Long Leachas. Instead we decided to the shorter ridge instead.

05. Running over towards the ridge.jpg

We ran over the tussocky ground and then started the climb up. Although there was plenty of exposure, the scrambling was not too difficult and the fine views that were opening up were amazing.

06. Looking back over towards the bothy.jpg

07. The ridge heads up.jpg

08. Climbing up the ridge.jpg

09. Short scrambling section.jpg

10. Scott shows how it is done.jpg

11. Just a little exposure.jpg

12. Running up to the summit.jpg

13. The summit of Ben Alder.jpg

Once at the top of the ridge we were able to run again and soon we were on the summit top. With amazing air clarity and the clouds drifting in and out the views were nothing short of superb but with the wind picking up, we did not hang around and after a brief bite to eat on the top we headed on around the plateau edge and down to Bealach Breabag.

15. Heading around the summit plateau.jpg

16. Brilliant running conditions.jpg

17. Heading off into the distance.jpg

19. Dropping down.jpg

20. Looking back to the top.jpg

21. Heading down to Bealach Breabag.jpg

We headed up to the summit of the Munro Top, Sron Coire na h-Iolaire and then down and up to Beinn Bheoil. The views were equally impressive as was the running with the broad top affording quick progress. We dropped down off the top and humped across some rough terrain and picked the path back up.

22. Looking over to Beinn Bheoil.jpg

23. Heading over to Beinn Bheoil.jpg

24. Looking back to Sron Coire na h-lolaire.jpg

26. Dropping down from Beinn Bheoil.jpg

27. The descent.jpg

We had made good progress so far but there was still a decent amount of running remaining. I had initially suggested we head back out over The Fara but I just could not muster up the motivation or stamina to head up over another peak. Instead we plodded back along the track and got back to the car at 3pm, just in time to listen to the football on the radio back home. Phew :)


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CurlyWurly
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Re: Midnight Express to Ben Alder

Postby Graeme D » Tue Mar 01, 2011 9:42 am

Yer mad I say! Barking mad! Excellent stuff CW. I would expect no less of you! :lol:
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Re: Midnight Express to Ben Alder

Postby kevsbald » Tue Mar 01, 2011 11:49 am

Jeezoman! Happy birthday ye olde and fit sod.
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kevsbald
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Re: Midnight Express to Ben Alder

Postby Alastair S » Tue Mar 01, 2011 12:43 pm

Mad as hatters :lol:

Looks remote & wild & some challenge - well done you two.

BTW what was the loch-side track like? Would it be MTB'able?
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Alastair S
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Re: Midnight Express to Ben Alder

Postby Graeme D » Tue Mar 01, 2011 12:53 pm

Oh aye, happy birthday an aw! :D
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Graeme D
 
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Re: Midnight Express to Ben Alder

Postby CurlyWurly » Tue Mar 01, 2011 1:46 pm

Alastair S wrote:Mad as hatters :lol:

Looks remote & wild & some challenge - well done you two.

BTW what was the loch-side track like? Would it be MTB'able?


The track all the way to the Bothy is definitely mountain bikeable
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CurlyWurly
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Re: Midnight Express to Ben Alder

Postby yokehead » Tue Mar 01, 2011 2:50 pm

Bloody nutters, and I thought I had a bit of the madness in me! :D Impressive stuff it is, well done! 8) 'Brilliant running conditions' indeed..... :lol: 8)
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Re: Midnight Express to Ben Alder

Postby Stretch » Tue Mar 01, 2011 3:06 pm

Awesome!
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Re: Midnight Express to Ben Alder

Postby smirnie71 » Tue Mar 01, 2011 5:02 pm

Have to join the chorus of 'yer as mad as hatters'! Awesome pictures, great report and much envy at your level of fitness :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :D
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smirnie71
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Re: Midnight Express to Ben Alder

Postby LeithySuburbs » Tue Mar 01, 2011 7:55 pm

Aye, bonkers :lol: . However, this report is technically invalid as this is WALK not RUN Highlands :lol: .
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Re: Midnight Express to Ben Alder

Postby malky_c » Wed Mar 02, 2011 11:49 am

That's a pretty hardcore way to do it :shock: :lol:

Would love to have those views from Ben Alder - will need to go back again for another go. Probably not running though :wink:
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