Information and photos of my mountaineering trips in Scotland,England and Wales:
Including hillwalking,scrambling and easy rock climbing.Also via ferrata, skiing and alpine trips in Europe.

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Sunday, 20 November 2011

Ben Alder via Culra Bothy, 19th/20th November 2011

Myself, Gordon, Mark and Willy were up at Dalwhinnie today to cycle the 10 miles into Ben Alder Forest with the plan to stay the night at Culra Bothy and climb Ben Alder on sunday. Note the Logs taped to the cross bars of the bikes.

Willy and his impression of a D-Day Landing paratrooper! Maybe a bike rack of some sort might be a better option next time. 

Mark struggling to get his two rucsacs on before setting off!

Myself with two rucsacs, the front one with boots and bike kit, just at the railway overpass behinf the garage at Dalwhinnie.

The guys setting off into the sun along Loch Ericht. Only ten miles to carry all this kit, to go!

Our first view of Ben Alder Lodge. At this point Gordon realised he'd left his boots back in the van at Dalwhinnie! So he dumped his bags with us whilst we waited for him the cycle back to collect them.!

Gordon and Mark, back on the move again after a bit of a wait. No harm done, but it put us back a wee bit time wise and we weren't confident of making the bothy before dark now. 

A closer look at Ben Alder Lodge, before the last climb up the landrover track past the lodge's gates and onto the open moor.

At the top of the hill above the lodge, you cross a bridge with a gate and by now the light has faded fast! From here, we crossed the open moor, through a herd of deer and wild ponies before taking the "shortcut" across the bog to the bothy. The shortcut turned into a nightmare as the track was very wet and err, boggy! This might not have been too bad in daylight, but as it got darker there was more walking than cycling, with much falling off and swearing to go with it!  

Luckily there was someone already at the bothy so I could just make out their lights. We also managed not to miss the new bridge that crosses the river just before the bothy, and we finally arrived at about 6pm in total darkness. Fortunately the big room with the fire was empty so we moved in for the night.

After lighting the fire we all set about cooking some well earned food. Soon the place was warm and cozy and we managed to dry some wet kit on the pulley over the fire. We did candles of our own, but there were a few already there, so once they were all lit too,  it was quite atmospheric.

Gordon, Mark and Willy enjoying a drink by the fire.

Using the flash on the camera loses some of the atmosphere of the moment!

The next day, sunday, and our view of Ben Alder and our route up the Long Leachas Ridge and descent route, the Short Leachas Ridge to the left. Sadly the could never lifted from the summit all day so not many photos were taken en route. 

Culra Bothy and our bikes in the morning.

Looking up into the coire after we had descended and still the cloud would not move.

On the way back to the bothy with Loch Pattack in the distance. We would return to Dalwhinne by the landrover track the skirts the loch. 

Final view of the bothy before the bumpy, but drier ride back to Loch Pattack, then over the moor to Loch Ericht and Dalwhinnie.

The "slightly longer", but stonier route back via Loch Pattack involves the entertaining suspension bridge which avoids the ford, which was frankly too wide and too deep to even contemplate.

Not the best photo (cheers Gordon) of me on the wibbly-wobbly bridge. From here it's a straightforward ride over the moor. A slight drag uphill , but a nice fast cruise down to Ben Alder Lodge, Loch Ericht and Dalwhinnie.

Monday, 14 November 2011

No 4 Gully marker post - yes or no?

Just read Alan Halewood's blog regarding someones premature removal of the marker post above Number 4 Gully on Ben Nevis. His piece makes for interesting reading as does the article in Caledonian Mercury. There seems to be an argument for and against the marker, especially in the "keeping wild places, wild" camp. I too  don't like "too many" artificial aids, but at the risk of contradicting myself, the Number 4 Gully marker seems like a useful one to keep.
Of course some degree of navigational skill should be required when out on the hills, but in difficult conditions this one single marker seems a small price to pay. Maybe it could be made less intrusive, I don't know? A single unmarked post? I know as a low grade climber I would seek some reassurance from it's existence and, rightly or wrongly feel some pressure from the "elite" not to be there if we're not up to MIC standard. The mountains are there for everybody , it's how we police, manage and educate those who use them that's the issue.     

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Beinn Dearg and Meall a' Mhuic, 6th November 2011

A glorious autumn morning at the war memorial at Innerwick in Glen Lyon as myself, Bruce, Ian, John and Mark headed up for the Corbett, Beinn Dearg at 830 metres. Surprisingly hard walking over rough heather leads you to the broad summit.

Looking back down into a frosty Glen Lyon as we made our way up to the summit of Beinn Dearg.

Beautiful views were had all day with a cloud lnversion for most of the morning, like this view over Loch Rannoch. On a day like this it's difficult to get a photo that shows just how much we could see.

A brief stop on the summit of Beinn Dearg for a cup of tea and a sandwich. Although it was sunny, it wasn't long before we felt the chill of the wind and moved on. The summit of the Munro, Carn Gorm can be seen to the left. From here we headed east to Meall a' Mhuic.

Another two walkers, the only people we saw all day, enjoying the views and the peace from the summit of Meall a' Mhuic as we had lunch at the summit marker. From here we went south back to Innerwick to complete a short but enjoyable day.  

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Austrian Alpine Club Insurance - What are you covered for?

Well it's been three months since our escapade on the NNE Ridge if the Eginner in Saas Fee so, I thought it was time I wrote about our experience with the Austrian Alpine Club and the insurance cover it provides, and our experience of it.
Going back to Lorna's accident on August 8th 2011, on the day, the Air Zermatt helicopter pilot took our AAC membership numbers and at the time I thought that must be the procedure, leaving us wit little to do and all will be well.

However when we returned home we heard nothing for several weeks until we got a bill from the mountain rescue people who had one of their guys in the chopper with the crew. I then downloaded a claim form from the AAC  website and completed that as required and posted in to Innsbruck, along with the mountain rescue invoice.

Several weeks passed and still we had no correspondence from the Alpine Club. Then we finally got a bill for 5900 CHF, from Air Zermatt for the cost of the rescue. Confusingly, half of it has been paid by what they said was our "health insurance". At first we couldn't work out what that was and phoned out travel insurance who have been excellent, but they hadn't been in contact with Air Zematt?
Only after searching the internet did I discover that in Switzerland, our EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) cards, cover half the costs, quote:
 "Air ambulance, fifty percent of the cost of emergency rescue and up to an annual maximum amount of CHF 5000 is covered. This is non-refundable in Switzerland but you may be able to seek reimbursement when you are back in the UK".

With this in mind we have now posted the invoice for the helicopter to the Austrian Alpine Club's insurance who have said, vial email, that it will be honoured.

So, although it can be a little confusing as to who and where you may owe money to, or who's in touch with who, it seems that in the end you will be covered for rescue costs, and any extra mountain rescue costs through the AAC.