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Another Alder Adventure

Another Alder Adventure


Postby weaselmaster » Sun May 13, 2018 10:35 pm

Munros included on this walk: Aonach Beag (Alder), Beinn Bheoil, Beinn Eibhinn, Ben Alder, Carn Dearg (Loch Pattack), Carn na Caim, Geal-charn (Alder)

Date walked: 13/05/2018

Time taken: 27 hours

Distance: 84 km

Ascent: 4312m

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Ben Alder was our first proper adventure, back in the heady days of 2013 when everything was new- our first multiple overnight trip, my first stay in a Youth Hostel all in that crisp, icy spring. On that occasion, we went from Corrour in a loop and experienced temperatures of -16 at night. We were carrying packs weighing 18+kg - thankfully we've learned to reduce the weight a bit since. With Allison needing 2 Tops - Lancet's Edge and Meall Glas Choire the Alder round was near the top of our list although I'd originally been planning to head to Maoile Lunndaidh. Weather seemed better around Alder and I'd also noticed a distinct lack of snow in one of the postings on TalkHighlands this week - so at the last minute we changed plans.


aldery.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts



This time it would be a walk in from Dalwhinnie - I dreaded driving through rush hour Glasgow traffic knowing we'd have a three hour walk after we arrived at Dalwhinnie. Amazingly the traffic was free flowing and we arrived at 7pm, a full hour earlier than the 8pm I'd been expecting. Laden with packs for 3 nights - can't remember the last time we did 3 nights - we set off in the evening sunshine down the excellent track towards Ben Alder Lodge. Dusk was beginning to descend as we walked along the Allt a'Chaoil-reidhe. I suggested Allison look for a suitable place to pitch, which we found, maybe 2km short of Culra, a nice level spot right beside the river. No noise overnight - apart from birds, no rain and we both slept well.

ImageP1180674 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1180678 by Al, on Flickr

The morning, sadly, appeared overcast, with a rising wind. The forecast had been for strengthening winds through the day with gusts up to 60mph...I knew we'd be limited in what was possible under those conditions and decided we'd do Bheoil and Alder, camping somewhere down the back of Coire Labhair - the ridge would not be a good move, nor would any high camps, for which there's plenty scope on these hills. We set off along the track making for Beinn Bheoil, the sky leaden, the wind biting. As we reached the summit of Bheoil the wind snapped and snarled around us. Descending towards the saddle over Coire na h-Iolaire it became unmanageable, sudden gusts slamming against us and knocking us sideways. Having the added profile of large packs didn't help either. I suggested we cut out Sron Coire na h-Iolaire and drop down into Bealach Beithe then climbing up to Alder. At least the main thrust of the wind would be behind us as we went up Alder and we didn't have any narrow ridges to negotiate.

Morning...
ImageP1180679 by Al, on Flickr

Heading to Beinn Bheoil
ImageP1180680 by Al, on Flickr

Windy Summit of Bheoil
ImageP1180681 by Al, on Flickr

It proved too windy to get there...
ImageP1180682 by Al, on Flickr

...so we escaped down here
ImageP1180683 by Al, on Flickr


This plan proved successful - we crouched in a stony fortress at the top of Bealach Beithe to eat a hurried lunch and made an unremarkable way up Alder. Reaching the trig point - gnawed by stars on cloudless nights - Allison did her best to hold herself upright whilst I took a summit photo. We headed off west towards Coire Labhair hoping that the glen would be more sheltered than it was up top. After some soggy sections around the river, we managed to locate a small level spot partly shielded from the prevailing westerly wind. The only problem was that with so many directions for the wind to hit us from - given we were lodged in the midst of several passes if it wasn't getting us from one direction it would swirl around and get us from another. The only consolation was that beside the river there were plenty boulders to weigh down the tent pegs.

Alder summit
ImageP1180685 by Al, on Flickr

Meall Cumhainn from Alder
ImageP1180687 by Al, on Flickr

It was now around 3.15 - early to camp, but little option given the conditions. I was keen to get the two Sims of Meall Cumhainn (an ex-Corbett) and Meall a'Bhealach. However, there was no way I wanted to leave the tent unoccupied in these winds and I robustly suggested Allison might like to stay behind and guard the tent against it flying away. Somewhat disgruntled she complied. Another 10k of steep slippy grass then blasting wind on the shoulder between the two hills and back along to the tent as the rain started...Had it been a nicer day I'd have had us go over both these hills and continue on to the Munro Top of Sgor Choinnich then to the top end of Loch Ossian to camp - however the wind might be even worse there.

Summit Cumhainn, looking to Alder
ImageP1180688 by Al, on Flickr

Meall Bhealach, Sgor Choinnich & Sgor Gaibhre beyond
ImageP1180689 by Al, on Flickr

White Horse on the hill (sort of)
ImageP1180691 by Al, on Flickr

Hiding from the wind
ImageP1180692 by Al, on Flickr

I was relieved to see the tent still pitched where I'd left it as we hunkered down for a night of buffeting wind and rain. As the evening drew to a close the wind abated, although the rain continued most of the night. We woke to a lovely sunny morning, with a dusting of new snow on the hills and a pane of ice at the rear of the tent. The wind was gone, pools in the watermeadow reflected the hilltops without a ripple. Starting off following the "path" along the river we quickly tired of marshiness and loops and instead took a line that would bring us up the eastern side of Meall Glas Choire. Summit attained, we were startled by the sudden appearance of a guy who'd come up from the Youth Hostel. He continued up Beinn Eibhinn whilst we contoured round to Mullach Coire nan Nead. These two Tops are lowly things, Meall Glas Coire a measly 21m drop, not even a Sim and Mullach Coire nan Nead not much better at 39m.

New snow on Aonach Beag
ImageP1180693 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1180694 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1180695 by Al, on Flickr

Towards Meall Glas Choire
ImageP1180696 by Al, on Flickr

Alder
ImageP1180697 by Al, on Flickr

Loch Ossian
ImageP1180698 by Al, on Flickr

Meall Glas Choire
ImageP1180699 by Al, on Flickr

Across to Mullach Coire nan Nead
ImageP1180700 by Al, on Flickr


From here we humphed up to the top of Beinn Eibhinn. Some large accumulations of snow remained in the north facing coires but the ridge itself looked entirely clear. It was now a fine morning for walking along a ridge - we embraced the views over to Beinn a'Chlachair, aware of just how close these mountain groups are to each other. Along to Aonach Beag, passing the narrow section where Allison almost came a cropper tangling with her crampons back in 2013, then onwards to Geal Charn. From here we had a diversion to the top of Sgor Iutharn/Lancet's Edge, which isn't very imposing when approached from this direction although there was a steep line of bouldery scree to be descended, and some residual snow patches. Great views across to Alder from this peak.

Ridge, from Beinn Eibhinn
ImageP1180702 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1180705 by Al, on Flickr

Geal Charn
ImageP1180707 by Al, on Flickr

Sgor Iutharn
ImageP1180708 by Al, on Flickr

6 Tops to go...
ImageP1180710 by Al, on Flickr

Alder
ImageP1180711 by Al, on Flickr


We returned to the main plateau of Geal Charn and made our way down the rocky defile to Doilliad a'Chairn. We passed tow male ptarmigan having a standoff - after making much croaking at each other they suddenly flew together for a wing-batting tangle. It looked a long way up again to the top of Carn Dearg, although it's only just over 150m. We continued NE for a little, meeting a couple of chaps from London who were doing a "Sleeper Challenge" - namely arriving at Dalwhinnie on the sleeper and heading back to Tulloch for tomorrow's sleeper back home. One was rather oddly dressed, an artist's smock over a Tshirt, shorts and wearing Crocs on bare feet, with water supplies in the form of a small bottle of San Pellegrino.

Towards Carn Dearg
ImageP1180716 by Al, on Flickr

Ptarmigan standoff
ImageP1180717 by Al, on Flickr

Aisre Ghobhainn
ImageP1180718 by Al, on Flickr

Loch an Sgior
ImageP1180719 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1180720 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1180721 by Al, on Flickr


We continued down towards Culra Lodge, noting the multitude of colourful tents pitched around the bothy. Numerous bicycles were also parked there. What to do...we'd got down fairly early and could easily walk out tonight, maybe do the Dalwhinnie 4 tomorrow if the weather held. Or we could pitch near where we'd set up on the way in and enjoy a wonderful sunny evening. Usually, I'm niggling to get more done, but I decided it would be fine just to take it easy and make the most of the good weather. So we pitched a kilometre or so past Culra, dipped our burning feet in the rushing, icy water of the river and lay basking in the sun for a few hours until it sank below the hills.

Culra Lodge & Bothy
ImageP1180723 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1180725 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1180726 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1180728 by Al, on Flickr

Sadly the rain came on again during the night - the temperature dropped as well. I did spare a thought for the London Boys and hoped they were warm enough wherever they'd ended up. I had thought of getting up and away early, but rain and low-ish clouds didn't inspire an early start. We set off about 9, in light rain. Larks spiraled upwards warbling sweetly. Back along the track - noting the numerous dead deer scenting the journey. We took the lower path in one section and came across various impediments, namely lots of cut granite blocks that had either been, or were due to be made into the rather fanciful castellated buildings along the lochside. Oh and a few more dead deer.

Stonefly
ImageP1180729 by Al, on Flickr

Damp morning
ImageP1180730 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1180732 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1180733 by Al, on Flickr

Psst - wanna buy some bits of a castle?
ImageP1180734 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1180735 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1180736 by Al, on Flickr

Back at the car by 12, it was too nice a day to drive home. What to do...the Dalwhinnie 4 were out given time contraints but we could manage Meall Chuaich or Carn na Caim - we settled for the latter as it was almost all track. A bit of a let down after the shapely hills we'd just come from, but it provided a good walk and - unusually for this hill - we were able to see where we were going instead of milling around in the midst of a white-out. back at the car in just under 3 hours and a hassle free drive back down the road, still bathed in beautiful sunshine.

ImageP1180738 by Al, on Flickr

View back to Alder
ImageP1180739 by Al, on Flickr

Carn na Caim
ImageP1180740 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1180741 by Al, on Flickr
User avatar
weaselmaster
Wanderer
 
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Re: Another Alder Adventure

Postby Jaxter » Mon May 14, 2018 7:49 am

Looks like a great adventure, and a bit different to the usual camping at Culra thing. I still haven’t made it there...mebbe next weekend!

At least I know where to get stone when I finally build my castle :lol:
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Jaxter
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Re: Another Alder Adventure

Postby Alteknacker » Mon May 14, 2018 9:20 am

Another interesting route in a really great area - one of my most enjoyable walks to date was an Alder round with overnight camping. And I note that you even managed to find some heather to yomp through (P1180695).

Will you be trying out the croks and Pelligrino combination this summer - perhaps on the Skye WH meet in July...???
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Alteknacker
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Re: Another Alder Adventure

Postby weaselmaster » Mon May 14, 2018 10:01 am

Alteknacker wrote:Another interesting route in a really great area - one of my most enjoyable walks to date was an Alder round with overnight camping. And I note that you even managed to find some heather to yomp through (P1180695).

Will you be trying out the croks and Pelligrino combination this summer - perhaps on the Skye WH meet in July...???


I did have a look at your rather longer route taking in the 3 a'Chlachair hills before we set off - it was a very sedate outing for us by comparison. I think I'll give the Crocs a miss - not sure they would be ideally suited for the rockier terrain - although the painters smock might be another matter :wink:
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weaselmaster
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Re: Another Alder Adventure

Postby weaselmaster » Mon May 14, 2018 10:03 am

Jaxter wrote:Looks like a great adventure, and a bit different to the usual camping at Culra thing. I still haven’t made it there...mebbe next weekend!

At least I know where to get stone when I finally build my castle :lol:


You could easily camp on the back of Ben Alder, or Geal Charn if the weather was conducive. Hope the ribs are continuing to heal :)
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weaselmaster
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Re: Another Alder Adventure

Postby malky_c » Wed May 16, 2018 1:24 pm

I well remember your 2013 report on this lot - probably your WH introduction. Quite an impressive one :D .

Some typically weaselish diversions in there! I'm quite keen to go up Ben Alder on a nice day sometime - I feel it deserves that at least, but the weather always goes wrong when I'm in the area :lol:
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Re: Another Alder Adventure

Postby Spade » Sat May 19, 2018 7:05 pm

I can never get the crocs to fit and I'm a hopeless artist so bang goes the smock. :shock: :crazy: :?
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