This summer four experienced members of the Mountaineering Bears and three instructors from Bear Lodge School of Bear Mountaineering set out for an adventure in the mountains of Assynt in North West Scotland. They planned to climb the two summits of Suilven Caisteal Liath and Meall Meadhonach .
Left to Right. Corbett, Emma, Archie, Miss Twiggy, Endon, LBB, Munro
As they prepare for their adventure the team were looking forward to exploring nature and some fine mountain views. They were also excited about making new pals as they worked together to tackle the challenges that lay ahead.
The bears started their adventure from Inverkirkaig and on route make a small diversion to visit the falls of Kirkaig.
The route to Suilven will take them through a remote wilderness so they carefully plot the route on the map and take a bearing to the base of Suilven using their new compass’s.
As the morning mist lifts they see the mountain looming before them. Soon they are rushing towards it, and in their excitement are tempted to abandon the map and compass and just follow their noses! But they don’t because they are wise mountaineering bears & know the mountain could disappear into clouds or hide in woods.
But the compass points south away from mountain! What is going on? Should they trust the compass or are the mischievous spirits of Coire Mor trying to lead them astray? Nope! they have the compass upside down. ‘This navigating malarkey is not as easy it seems’ .
Having corrected the bearing its full steam ahead. They are hopeful they may reach the mountain before lunch, but, then realise Loch Fionn lies between them and their goal.
Knowing it is never wise to come between mountaineering bears & their lunch Bear Lodge had left canoes, moored by the side the side of the loch. All aboard, here we come, the team are paddling confidently across the open water.
But they had barely set foot on dry land when they encounter another watery obstacle.The mountain stream was in spate! Munro had never seen it flowing so fast and furious.
Roped together they balanced across on the slippery logs as the swollen river gushed through gaps in dams. Endon was wondering what the wild flowers, he had spotted on the bank were when all the other furs felt a sharp tug on the rope.
Endon’s back paws were dangling inches above the water as he clung onto the log with his claws. He was a bit shaken up but not hurt and his pals soon helped him up with Miss Twiggy letting him him hold her tail for extra support,
After the excitement of the river crossing, lunch and plentiful snacks were required.
Energy levels and resolve replenished the furs found a faint path leading up the steep rough slopes of Suilven.
Slipping and sliding up the path on loose scree was exhausting and when they reached the base of some crags the team wondered if it would be quicker just to scramble up the rock.
Safety prevailed and the decided to stick to the path, a good decision as soon the main summit of Suilven, Caisteal Liath was in sight.
Noble poses Team, we have reached the summit!
What could be more fun than a summit camp.
The team were up early the next morning. Caisteal Liath is the highest top but Suilven’s second summit is much harder to reach.
There were lots of ups and downs, loose paths and big drops.
The steep drops either side of the narrow arete made even the stoutest Mountaineering Bear’s heart beat faster.
and as they climb the treacherous ground leading up to Meall Meadhonach they wonder if it is even possible to reach its summit!
But once they reach the base of the summit crags they realise they have skills to scale the rock and eagerly put on their climbing harnesses.
Archie leads first with Miss Twiggy on belay.
Archie belays for Endon as he is powering up for the big move onto the ledge.
Endon admiring the views from his belay Ledge as he brings up Emma.
LBB is glad to find a good gear placement before moving out onto the arete!
LBB knows Emma has the rope and his gear placement is a ‘bomber’ but this level of exposure still feels scary!
Emma makes an anchor at the top of the climb Once it is she secure she shouts down to Miss Twiggy, ‘Climb when Ready’
And soon Miss Twiggy appears over the rock, nearly at the top now!
Yeah! all the Mountaineering Bears have made it. They have traversed the top of Suilven and bagged both summits. Hurrah!
and just look at those views!
The easiest way down the summit crag is to abseil, but they know this more dangerous than the climbing up, so it’s only after checking all their anchors are secure, that they step over the edge of ledge
The team tired and proud paddle there way home and even the Local Selkies come out to give them a cheer.
Another successful ascent and great adventure by The Mountaineering Bears.
* All the base photo’s for this report, except the river crossing, were taken by Bear Lodge Human Scouts on and around Suilven in the area shown on the route map. The river crossing, as shown, was an obstacle only mountaineering bears had to face.
Thank you to all of the team for participating in a Bear Lodge Adventure and helping to create the story of our endeavours.