The weather was looking great as I cycled in from Dalwhinnie first thing to meet up with Duncan and Victoria who had walked in along the lochside yesterday. It was a cold start and once I had made the rendezvous we set off to scramble up Lancet Edge and on to Geal Charn. The snow was almost all gone from the ridge making a straightforward climb taking us onto the shoulder of Geal Charn and into the realm of wonderful views. We continued on through some snow patches to walk over the grassy plateau to the summit cairn for some food seeking what shelter there was from the cold wind. Our route was all clear with the spring cornices on the northern slopes highlighting the beautiful ridge walk to Aonach Beag and Beinn Eibhinn beyond.
As we walked we spotted several Ptarmigan and then a bountiful slope of Purple Saxifrage on Aonach Beag. There was even a plant with very pale pink flowers that seemed just opened instead of well past it, which I haven’t seen before. We were soon enjoying the views towards Ben Nevis from Beinn Eibhinn our furthest peak from camp before finding some shelter for lunch out of that cold wind. The plan was to retrace our steps to Geal Charn and then head on towards Carn Dearg our final hill of the day. It was glorious walking in sunshine with views in every direction and the snow patches on Geal Charn were impressive and deep. By the time we were sitting in the shelter of the summit cairn we were very happy with our route choice and an hour later we were drinking tea outside the tents in the evening sunshine.
The second day we got an early start to beat the forecast strong winds in the afternoon and accompanying rain. We used the excellent stalkers path to Loch a’Bhealaich Bheith before striking off to the short Leachas ridge of Ben Alder after discussing our options last night to discover neither Victoria or Duncan had been that way before. It is a steep walk to being with before narrowing to a superb ridge with some sporting scrambling on route to the plateau above. There were lots of Ptarmigan and Wheatears about as well as an illusive Ringed Ouzel that we never managed to spot calling in the corrie beneath. Once on the plateau it was breezy and quite cold so we wrapped up and made out way to the summit passing the nearly buried under snow ruins of the shelter close by. After some food and drink we pressed on enjoying some great views between the cloud that would engulf us intermittently. There were some huge cornices with some weird and beautiful shapes some of which cannot be holding on much longer!
We made our way carefully down to the Bealaich Bheith before climbing onto Beinn Bheoil our final summit of the trip. There was some more lunch in the lee of a crag along the way as there isn’t much shelter on the top. It wasn’t the weather to linger as it was cold and windy, but still dry as we headed down the ridge and eventually back to our stalkers path down to the camp. It was looking like the rain was coming and after some discussion we all packed up and headed out since it was only mid afternoon anyway. Another great adventure in the Ben Alder hills and didn’t get too wet on the way out!