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The Loch Pattack Ridge of Four

The Loch Pattack Ridge of Four

Postby Philwalker » Tue Jun 19, 2012 6:55 pm

Date walked: 16/05/2012

Time taken: 8.5 hours

Distance: 17 km

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They promised the best day of the week on the forecast, so I drove up to Dalwhinnie and began the long bike ride down the shore of Loch Ericht. It was raining! I had been starved of decent weather for two days, so continued in determined mood, meeting several walkers doing the TGO Challenge. They all reported fine weather out west all last week, but had had a mixed bag thrown at them since. Farther down the loch, clouds filled the glen between the hills, but snow-capped tops could still be seen, giving me the incentive to continue on over the high moors to Loch Pattack. Getting the bike across that bridge was the first real challenge of the day, followed by a rough ride for the last 2.5k to Culra Bothy.
Bridge Crossing.jpg
Loch Pattack bridge

I set off up a faint path behind the bothy but soon lost it and continued up the steep hillside to a small lochan. The sun appeared and warmed the spirits as I continued up the final big slope to break through the cornice to attain the Carn Dearg ridge. Clouds began to obliterate the views as I headed up towards the summit, and the now familiar snow (from the last two weeks hillwalking) removed the last of the views!
Carn Dearg Summit.jpg
Carn Dearg summit

I sat on the summit for a while in the lee of the rocks and cairn, but it continued relentlessly. The wind was now buffeting me as I set off towards the col of the Diollaid a Chairn, but when I reached a second rocky top, brightness appeared above to herald the clearance I craved, and I was soon gawping at the stunning, crag-bound Loch an Sgoir, with Ben Alder and Beinn Bheoil beyond. I am not religious, but I had to look up and give thanks - that really is a view that should not be missed.
Loch an Sgoir & Geal Charn Panorama.jpg
Loch an Sgoir and Geal Charn, Ben Alder beyond

I was now heading for Geal Charn and could see the formidable ridge leading up to its summit plateau. As is often the case, it looked far worse from a distance that it actually is, and I followed the path up into the snow. Another lochan appeared down to my right - Loch Coire Cheap seems a pathetic name for such a beautiful place, ringed by cornice-laden crags.
Carn Dearg fm Geal Charn.jpg
Back to Carn Dearg from Geal Charn

The sun came out again as I donned the snow glasses to make my way across the glistening plateau. I didn't see the summit cairn for some time, and began to wander if I had missed it as there didn't appear to be any high point. A quick look at the map showed that I was going in the right direction and a minute later I found it. Just beyond it was the best view yet, with the excellent ridge sweeping away to the west and up onto Aonach Beag, and on down and up again to Beinn Eibhinn. I couldn't wait to get onto it as sunlight streamed across Aonach Beag, looking so bright against the black clouds beyond.
Aonach Beag & Beinn Eibhinn.jpg
Aonach Beag and Beinn Eibhinn from Geal Charn

The ridge began easily with just the odd outcrop requiring minor diversions. Other walkers had compacted the snow to ice in places, but it was easily avoided. 1k down to the col and a stop to top up the blood sugars was necessary (I am a type 1 diabetic) before the ridge narrowed on the ascent of Aonach Beag.
The summit seemed to arrive in no time, as is often the case when you want it to go for ever! I didn't know which way to point the camera, but spotted the light beginning to illuminate Geal Charn to the east. Those black clouds were getting closer to Beinn Eibhinn, but the ridge towards it looked far more dramatic than the one I had just done, so I set off from this diminutive summit down the steeper and narrower ridge that swung around to the north west farther on enclosing the tiny Lochan a Charra Mhoir beneath the awesome, cornice-topped cliffs of Beinn Eibhinn. The drop was greater than before, and the re-ascent much more demanding, due in part to the fatigue that was now creeping into these 63-year-old bones!
I finally reached the summit cairn perched on the edge of those cliffs. Stunning views all around, with the best view yet of that ridge going back to Geal Charn. Loch Ericht was visible through the Bealach Cumhann, and out west, Loch Ossian, with the hills of Glen Coe, the Mamores, the Nevis range, and the Grey Corries beyond, slowly being engulfed by that cloud.
Aonach Beag & Geal Charn fm Beinn Eibhinn.jpg
Back to Aonach Beag and Geal Charn

Beinn Eibhinn Summit 2.jpg
Beinn Eibhinn summit

It began to snow as I set off down to the east into Coire a Charra Bhig. I dropped rapidly to the outflow and took a gamble by following deer tracks to contour beneath Sron Ruadh. It paid off as I found my way back down to the Bealach Dubh where red deer scattered as the snow turned to rain.
I joined the main path into the glen beneath the massive, towering cliffs of Ben Alder. This would make a fabulous walk on a good day, following the Allt a Bhealaich Dhuibh as it crashes though this rocky gorge - breathtaking, even in the rain!
Descent by the Allt a Bhealaich Dhuibh.jpg
Sgor Iutharn from the Allt a Bhealaich Dhuibh

That view of Sgor Iutharn, rising like an arrow piercing the sky, kept me busy trying to photograph it in the rain before I had to give in and race back to Culra Lodge and retrieve the bike. I arrived back at Dalwhinnie after 7:00 p.m. soaked through, but happy under the circumstances.
Try to make sure you have a clear day when you do this one, you will earn those views after the effort required, but you won't regret it.
Last edited by Philwalker on Fri Jul 06, 2012 10:20 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: The Loch Pattack Ridge of Four

Postby robertphillips » Tue Jun 19, 2012 8:46 pm

Nice walk this, done this back in february from corrour station and were less snow then. 8)
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Re: The Loch Pattack Ridge of Four

Postby Johnny Corbett » Thu Jun 21, 2012 7:38 pm

Suprised at how much snow is still on these hills, i got a bad day when i did them, never saw a thing and like yourelf got soaked. Stayed at the bothy though and got a great day the following day when i did Ben Alder & co. :)
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