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Half dozen round of Ben Alder for first post

PostPosted: Mon May 27, 2013 4:11 pm
by john928
I've toyed with the idea of putting a post on here and I was hoping that my first would have been a stupendous snowy day on Chno Dearg earlier in the year but my camera packed in ruining all the photos. After much hunting on the internet I went out and bought a lovely new Panasonic TZ40 and took it out on the Easains, again on a fantastic snowy day. Lesson here, never ever be swayed by the amount of MP a camera has, the picture quality was awful and the camera has now been sold on (apparently you need a 'big sensor'...there you go!). So I'm now back to my trusty little Sony Cybershot 5MP camera that is about 10 years old (until I get my new Nikon with a 'big sensor' next week :wink: )

Back to the walk.....

I've always fancied doing the Alder 6 and was just needing the weather. My Met Office app was queried more times the previous week than my boss would have liked. I watched the temperature tumble and snow being forecast before noticing that the weekend weather looked pretty good. So all the gear was decanted over the house before being packed away in various panniers and rucksack before heading off up the A9 on Friday afternoon.

After finding a parking spot and loading up the bike, the occupant of the cottage next to the railway crossing came out to walk his dog and opened the crossing gates for me. Nice chap and a good start to the trip!

The cycle down Loch Ericht was fantastic on a well maintained track with views of Ben Alder in the distance. It's well worth cycling it just for the views alone.

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Soon the track struck off uphill near the quite spectacular Ben Alder lodge. Urs Schwarzenbach certainly knows how to treat himself (it felt rude to take a piccy so I didn't)

Guidebooks often refer to the short cut track to Culra bothy as being muddy, I found the opposite to be true. The track is easily cycle-able and far preferable to negotiating the 'shoogly' bridge I could see in the distance.

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So within an hour and a half of leaving Dalwhinnie I was on the other side of the river to the bothy, had the tent set up and got a brew on. There were quite a few in the bothy and some other tents scattered about so I was by no means on my own. The view from the tent was stunning.

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The route for Saturday was simple, Beinn Bheoil to Carn Dearg with 4 others in between.


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I woke up to not a cloud in the sky and was off by 8. The track up to the northern flank of Beinn Bheoil was excellent with only a short pull on roughish ground before I got up to the ridge and spotted the view down Loch Ericht. This was a good spot to check in with loved ones as there was reasonable mobile signal.

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The walk up to the summit was straightforward on a good path with fabulous view all around.

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I tried a 'self portrait' on Beinn Bheoil with Ben Alders Garbh Coire in the background. No, I'm not dancing for joy, the 'self timer' just beat me to it (note to self, must move quicker....)

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The walk on to Sron Coire na h-Iolaire was easy with stunning views to Ben Alder and south to Schiehallion, Ben Lawers etc (too many pics, not enough space on this report!).

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There was a bit of effort required to get up the steep slopes and snow above Bealach Breabag but soon I was at Sron Bealach Beithe with a fine view back to Loch Ericht and Beinn Bheoil.

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The view north looked as if Ben Alder had sprouted horns!

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A nice easy stroll round the coire (gawping at the cornices) had me at the summit in quick time just as The Shamen's 'Move Any Mountain' came on the IPod. There were a lot of groups coming up from the Leachas's (must return someday to have a go from that direction too) but I was off before they got there as still had 4 to go.

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Beinn Eibhinn and Aonach Beag in the distance.

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It wasn't too long before I had made my way down the easy slopes to the Bealach Dubh path where I spotted a large group of mountain bikers who must have been making their way to Loch Rannoch. I suspect they were Army as a lot of the guys looked like Ghurkas.

I stopped for lunch and to top up water bottles at the outflow of Coire a' Charra Bhig, pleased to be out of the cold wind for a moment while contemplating the long haul up to Beinn Eibhinn. This was the bit I had been dreading but it was a lot easier than I had feared and the views back were stunning.

Ben Lawers range seen through the Bealach Cumhann.

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Ben Alder

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A quick chat was had with a guy who was descending from the northern 4 (warning me about the 'dodgy bit' coming off Geal Charn) and I was suddenly on the summit ridge.

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A few mins walk had me on the summit with the next half of the walk coming into view. I knew then that the 6 were in the bag.

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It was definitely a good day to be out in the hills as the views to the west (Loch Ossian, Blackmount, Glencoe and Mamores) testified.

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A straightforward but careful walk on a good path (the odd narrow bit) took me up to Aonach Beag in about half and hour.

Beinn Eibhinn from Aonach Beag's west ridge.

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I didn't hang around on the summit as the cold wind was picking up so had a couple of boiled sweeties and pressed on to Geal Charn on very easy ground.

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Looking back towards Aonach Beag

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Another half an hour and I was on Geal Charn and contemplating the descent to Diollaid a Chairn. I had spotted this section from my tent on Friday night, it looked steep and had a snow section just as you come off the plateau. I had my axe and walking spikes so I was reasonably confident about getting down safe, in the end I didn't need either as steps were easily kicked in the sugary snow.

Lancet Edge

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Coming down the steep bit after the worst of the snow

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Looking back to Geal Charn and the route down.

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The route up to Carn Dearg was easy with a few bouldery bits on the way, one section had large, perfectly rectangular boulders that looked like ancient building blocks. I passed a couple and a father and son on the way up to Carn Dearg (father was in agony with bad knees so I offered some 'brufen but he declined).

The view north showed me where I'd been and I got the classic Ben Alder/Beinn Bheoil shot.

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The descent off Carn Dearg is every bit as bad as it looks. Steep, pathless, heather covered holes and boulders (felt sooooo sorry for the guy with dodgy knees) but it is direct and spits you out right next to the bothy. I didn't bother heading for the bridge and went straight through the river to my wee tent and a well deserved dram.

It wasn't long before I had done my ablutions, had something to eat (freeze dried stuff is pretty good when you're starving!) and dived into my tent with Mr Sandman calling. (BTW, sincere apologies to the occupants of the tents nearest to me, I'm sure the sight of my bare ar*e while I was washing was not what you needed when you were having your dinner! :shock: ).

Next morning and back to usual Scottish weather, drizzle and clag was setting in. Gear was packed in half and hour and before long I was on the A9 back home, tired but well chuffed with myself!

Re: Half a dozen for first post

PostPosted: Mon May 27, 2013 4:57 pm
by Fife Flyer
Great report John, the weather gods were smiling on you :wink:
Ben Alder is another on my list for the summer, without the camping & like you plan to cycle as much as possible 8)

Re: Half dozen round of Ben Alder for first post

PostPosted: Mon May 27, 2013 7:23 pm
by quoman
Good report Fife Flyer,and lovley photo's.
we had a wee WH mini meet there about 3weeks ago,the snow has fairly disapeared since we were there.

Re: Half dozen round of Ben Alder for first post

PostPosted: Tue May 28, 2013 9:48 am
by canofirnbru
Nice report 'john928', I walked this route in the opposite direction on the same day and may have passed you. :wave:
That cornice on Geal Charn was a bit dodgy though!

Re: Half dozen round of Ben Alder for first post

PostPosted: Tue May 28, 2013 10:04 am
by quoman
quoman wrote:Good report John928,and lovley photo's.
we had a wee WH mini meet there about 3weeks ago,the snow has fairly disapeared since we were there.

Re: Half dozen round of Ben Alder for first post

PostPosted: Tue May 28, 2013 4:43 pm
by john928
canofirnbru wrote:Nice report 'john928', I walked this route in the opposite direction on the same day and may have passed you. :wave:
That cornice on Geal Charn was a bit dodgy though!


I would guess it must have been somewhere near Beinn Eibhinn. I was probably head down with my IPod blaring away....

It certainly was a cracking day to be out in the hills!! Let's hope for more days like that :D

Re: Half dozen round of Ben Alder for first post

PostPosted: Tue May 28, 2013 10:09 pm
by robertphillips
well done superb walk that. :clap: 8)

Re: Half dozen round of Ben Alder for first post

PostPosted: Mon Jun 03, 2013 12:14 pm
by mmm_biscuit
BTW, sincere apologies to the occupants of the tents nearest to me, I'm sure the sight of my bare ar*e while I was washing was not what you needed when you were having your dinner!

It's nice to be able to put a name to the ar*e! I think the 7 of us passed you on your way down Carn Dearg (near the turbine) as we were just heading up. Had no idea you'd had such an epic day. We did Beinn Bheoil and Ben Alder the following day but didn't quite get the same weather as you. And don't worry - we were sufficiently hungry that it would have taken much more to put us off dinner. Fab photos by the way.