Plans for a winter backpacking trip to the Ben Alder area

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Winter backpacking isn’t something I do much of these days, but next week I’m heading up to Corrour Station to – hopefully – climb a few more Munros in the Ben Alder area.

Back in February 2012, I jumped on the train and headed up to Dalwhinnie before hiking out to Culra Bothy. The weather wasn’t great on the approach, and I wished I had a mountain bike for that lengthy track beside the loch, but the next day dawned calm and cold, and I enjoyed two days of superb walking and easy climbing on Sgor Iutharn, Geal-Charn, and Ben Alder.

When up on the pure white plateau of Geal-Charn, I looked west, along the ridge to Aonach Beag and Beinn Eibhinn, and thought next time.

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Next time has finally arrived! I have a week in between jobs at the start of February, and I’m going to take the train to Corrour Station on Tuesday the 2nd. My planned route takes in the Munros of Carn Dearg, Sgor Gaibhre, Aonach Beag, and Beinn Eibhinn. This is winter, of course, so high winds or difficult conditions underfoot may make it necessary to stay away from the tops – but luckily this area has plenty of options for low-level foul-weather alternatives.

In fact, it’s a great area for winter backpacking all round. I’ve booked a bunk at the Loch Ossian Hostel on Tuesday night, I’m aiming for the (haunted) bothy of Ben Alder Cottage on Wednesday, and there’s even a bunkhouse at Tulloch Station. I do, however, intend to make the most of my planned wild camp.

Here’s the map of my planned route.

I am not going to be putting together a gear list for this trip. In winter, there are more important things than having a lightweight pack. I’ll be applying a lightweight mentality when I pack my rucksack, but I’ll carrying a lot more weight than I would on a route of this type in the summer. Things like remote-canister gas stove, extra sleeping mat, extra clothes, and spare socks will certainly be making their way into my pack. Ice axe and crampons alone will add a fair bit of weight, although I have lightened up my winter hardware compared to the gear I was carrying last year.

I won’t be live-blogging this trip, but I’ll write something on here when I return – and keep an eye out for updates on Twitter and Instagram.

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