Ben Alder Exped, Day 1.

Early on Tuesday morning myself, Hannah and Lena waited at Tulloch train station in powder snow and freezing temperatures to get the train to Corrour station for our exped into the Ben Alder area.  After a short ride to the station we jumped off and as the train made its way to Glasgow we were left in the middle of nowhere.  I then discovered that my brand new pole section had jammed inside the other and had to accept that the next few days were going to have to be completed with one pole (and by the end I wished I had had the other).

Sunrise at Corrour station

We made our way along the track past Loch Ossian that luckily had been driven along and then plowed!  So the going was easy and spirits were high in the morning sunshine and blue sky.  

After an hour the real work began as we left the track, passed a few deer stalkers in their green camouflage and started our wading up to the first peak.  It took us 3 hours to cover the 2 km and 500m of ascent, which I think tells the story of the day.  The word walking or trekking doesn’t describe the motion that we undertook but rather, wading, swimming, flailing, digging, staggering and falling our way up, slowly zig zagging our way round the drifts trying to connect the islands of grass that were sticking out of the snow indicating where it wasn’t as deep.   

Another snow drift!

Finally, by early afternoon we reached Mullach Corie nan Nead and made our way now exhausted towards Beinn Eibhinn and our first Munro of the day.  Luckily the broad ridge was slightly more scoured than the slope up so we made faster progress to the summit.  With a tired ‘well done’ on the summit we set our sights to Aonach Beag round the corrie rim that again was slightly more scoured.  By 3.30pm we had made the summit but over the last few hours the weather had been changing from blue sky to lower and lower cloud, so the view that we had was the inside of a white box.  After taking a bearing off towards Geal Charn we descended down the ridge and up towards the summit.  By the time we reached the top of our final peak for the day the ‘white box’ had turned to the black box of night and with the wind blowing horizontal snow across our path we had some serious nav’ing to do to get off.

Han and Lena heading towards Aonach Beag

We found the ring contours, re-entrants and the summit of Sgor Lutharn with pacing and bearings and then just had the simple task of descending the north east ridge.  Luckily the wind had dropped.  As what was presented on the map and what we were faced with was slightly different.  We found ourselves, knackered, hungry, out of water descending a grade 1 ‘whale back’ of a ridge covered in powder snow.

That completed we only had to walk the 3 km along the valley to Culra bothy.  But even that wasn’t simple in the deep drifts and deeper holes: we were all keen just to get there.  So at 8pm after 11 hours and 22km we bashed the door down on the bothy and set to work making dinner, tea and eating the cookies and drinking the mulled wine we had brought.  Although none of use were really in a sociable mood.

View to Loch Ossian

Lena and Han at the start

The fun begins, only 18km to go.

Finally on the tops

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