Kings of the Swingers

In the first Bear Lodge adventure of the autumn season a team of experienced Mountaineering Bears +1dog are camped in the Beinn Eighe Nature Reserve ready to take embark on a challenging mountaineering route across Meall a Ghuibhais & Rhuadh Stac Beag.

The team are gathered and ready to go. Big Ted, The Principal of Bear Lodge, wishes them well with their challenge and has some words of advice ” It can be a fine line between meeting the challenge and taking unnecessary risks. Be mindful to make the right call’

The Team:- SB, (in the red jumper) , Fred, Miss Twiggy, Ludvig, Baz, Endon, Jinjah, and LBB. Behind are their guides, me Munro, and Bosun.

Everyfur agreed that Big Ted’s advice was very sound and assured him they would work together and look after each other so that all the team felt safe as they faced the challenges ahead. Miss Twiggy generously reminded the bears that if ever they were in need of assistance they could hold onto her tail.

Starting their route on the Beinn Eighe Mountain Trail, they were amazed by the gleaming quartz crags and the view across Loch Maree to Slioch. Ludvig informed the team that quartz scores 7 on the mohrs hardness scale… rock hard.

Soon their was an opportunity to put paws on rock on the rough slabs. In places the rock was a bit Wibbly and the bears wondered if their paws would be long enough to reach the best holds, but with plenty of encouragement from Miss Twiggy and using the climbing techniques they had learnt as mountaineering bears good progress was made. The next dilemma was whether or not it was time to stop for cake!

From the mountain trail the team worked their way up towards the rocky northern nose of Meall a’Ghiubhais

All the furs were in agreement that the nose looked to steep and rocky to climb unroped. After some deliberation they decided to move together on the rope rather set up anchors and belays. This would technique would save time but still provide protection in case of a slip.

LBB and Endon make their way confidently up the rock despite the long drop beneath the.

Fred holds Miss Twiggy’s tail for a bit of aid climbing over the steep boulder. Ludvig appears to be using his hooms medal as sling. I wonder if his folk back home would approve of the use he is putting it too! 🤔

All the team are working well together with Jinjah and Baz being the first to reach the top.

Everyfur in their best noble poses for the team photo in front of Meall a’ Ghiubhais summit cairn.

And then it really is time to stop for lunch!

After lunch the team descend into the valley between the two mountains. As they plot their route up Rhuadh Stac Beag a cloud of midges descends on them. It is hard to hold your nerve when the wee beasties are up your nose and in your ears . But this is an experienced group of mountaineering bears and a dog, they are armed with insect repellents and head nets to keep the little horrors at bay.

An exposed walk up scree and steep grass leads to the base of a rocky cliff.

The plan at this point is to climb a route called ‘The Swingers’ it is graded Hard Barely Bearable, and with pawsome overhangs harder than anything they have previously attempted, but the whole team are up for it, indeed Jinjah is half way up the first pitch.

The crux is a gaping chasm and it’s Baz’s turn to lead. He is relieved to find a bomber gear placement above the hardest move, but still his furry knees are shaking as he pushes himself upwards

Phew! He is over it first try and making his way towards a series of ledges

Seated on the ledges and anchored in place Baz sets up the belay, ready to bring up the rest of the team.

Jinjah conquers the chasm with lots of small delicate movements!

When you are collie this type of climb is much harder and sometimes your legs just won’t bend in the right direction. Miss Twiggy showed great tenacity and bravery when she slipped and then swung on the rope, first to the left, then to the right. Many climbers may have given up at this point, but not the dog in #MountaineeringBears and 1dog. She grabbed the rough rock with her paw, managed to get a claw in over a small pebble and held on tight until she found a firmer paw hold and pull herself past the overhang. Her success was greeted with a round of applause from her fellow climbers as she joined them on the belay ledge.

LBB had a long wait for his turn and when you are last to climb there is plenty of time for trepidation to build up. Brave LBB did not let this hold him back. He gave the climb all he had got and his technique payed off as he was soon scaling the wall above the dreaded overhang.

On reaching the summit of Ruadh Stac Beag the team was bursting with pride at their success and it was high fives all round, accompanied by much whooping and hollering .

With the massive of Beinn Eighe in the background the stony top of Ruadh Stac Beag bears more than a passing resemblance to the surface of the moon. So convincing is the moonscape that moonbugs have taken up residence, it has even fooled some passing astronauts who have left their buggies behind much to the delight of the mountaineering bears and 1dog.

It had been a long day and even with the help of the buggies to traverse the mountain, the sun was going down by the time the team were abseiling down the great slab on the end of Ruadh Stac Beag.

And when they reached the valley the sun had set. Ploughing across marshy ground and wading through streams by the light of head torches just about everyfur ended up with wet paws and a muddy bum. It was tempting to rush, but they kept calm, watching where they placed there paws and following the compass bearing avoiding injuries and mishaps.

One paw in front of the other they trudged, singing to keep up their spirits but secretly wondering if some bear had moved the campsite or if they had bypassed it in the dark. And then they saw lights in the distance, and as they got closer saw it was Big Ted and Corbett coming out of the tent to congratulate them.

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