Dalwhinnie – Bealach Dubh
Saturday 06 October 2012
21.9 km/604 m/06:30 hrs
For quite a while I had been wanting to climb Ben Alder once more, with some views from the summit preferably! My first visit in June 2010 was in constant rain and low cloud, ascending and descending via the Long Leachas ridge.
This time the weather was supposed to be dry with light winds, and my plan was to go up Long Leachas again, camp on the grassy summit plateau and use the standard route via Bealach Beithe for the descent the next day.
And so I found myself once again walking on the seemingly endless track from Dalwhinnie along Loch Ericht.
Ponies near Loch Pattack.
Fast moving clouds – and a localised rain shower near Ben Alder.
I stopped for a short break in Culra Bothy.
Since my last visit some changes had been made to the main room: One of the bunk beds had been removed, and two tables with benches had been fitted instead, as well as some shelves.
New shelves in the main room.
After my break, I continued up the path along the Allt a’ Chaoil-rèidhe.
Sgòr Iutharn and Lancet Edge, another great scrambling route that I am keen to repeat sometime.
I left the path, crossed the stream and climbed up to the crest of the Long Leachas ridge.
On my way up I noticed the wind becoming stronger, and when I arrived on the ridge I was struggling to stay upright.
These were not exactly the “light winds” that were forecast, and I was only at a height of about 750 m. An overnight camp on the exposed summit plateau was out of the question, and in these conditions I wouldn’t have felt comfortable on the ridge itself, especially with a big pack.
I decided to look for a sheltered camp site further down and hope for better weather the next day.
I continued up the path to the bealach.
A few hundred metres before the high point of the path, I found what I thought was a sheltered place for my tent. Although the pitch was in the lee of the bealach, my tent kept shaking and rattling in the heavy gusts all night.
The noise the stags were making didn’t help either… sometimes I wonder if they ever sleep?
Bealach Dubh – Ben Alder – Dalwhinnie
Sunday 07 October 2012
28 km/678 m/08:15 hrs
In the morning the wind had eased and I climbed up beside the Allt a’ Bhealaich Dhuibh past this nice waterfall.
View down into the glen, Sgòr Iutharn on the left.
Loch Ossian in the distance.
Beinn Eibhinn and Aonach Beag.
The Grey Corries just visible on the skyline in the centre.
After reaching Coire na h-Eiginn it is an easy walk over the grassy plateau to the rocky summit of Ben Alder.
View NE across the wide plateau.
Trig point with Loch Ossian in the background.
It was great to finally see the views I had missed the last time 🙂
Beinn Bheòil and Loch a’ Bhealaich Bheithe.
Lochan a’ Garbh Choire on the summit plateau.
Steep cliffs above Garbh Choire.
Looking back to the summit.
Loch a’ Bhealaich Bheithe, and Loch Ericht in the distance.
After enjoying the views in all directions, I walked along the edge of Garbh Choire to Sròn Bealach Beithe.
Loch Pattack and The Fara.
To avoid the crags below Sròn Bealach Beithe, I walked SW for about 400 m and then started descending towards the bealach.
The S end of Loch Ericht.
Loch a’ Bhealaich Bheithe.
Lancet Edge on Sgòr Iutharn.
Last look back to Culra, Ben Alder and Sgòr Iutharn.
The walk back along Loch Ericht was as boring as usual, only a helicopter that suddenly appeared above the loch and landed at Ben Alder Lodge provided some distraction.
When I arrived back at my car in Dalwhinnie, it was well after 20:00 and completely dark, but I didn’t need to use my headtorch as I could still see the track clearly enough.
Although it was a bit disappointing not to have a summit camp, at least I had got great views this time, and Long Leachas is definitely on my list again for the next ascent of Ben Alder 🙂