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.

Grumbling Together on the North Ridge Spidean a Choire Leith

Bear Lodge has. a busy schedule of Mountaineering Bear Training this summer so Big Ted sent the human scouts out to explore some new routes for our furry students. He was a bit worried that their climbing skills may be a bit rusty & to be honest, they didn’t look fit enough to walk to the shops, so he asked me to go along and keep an eye on them.

I persuaded them to take a trip to Torridon and as the popular routes can be very busy in summer we thought our students may enjoy an expedition up the north face of Liathach. With its steep sandstone crags and towering pinnacles much of the north face is the domain of experienced mountaineering bears but this is beyond the capabilities of the human scouts. However, the North Ridge of Spidean a’ Choire Leith, which separates Coireag Dubh Mor and Coire na Caime, and leads directly up to the summit is a less demanding and technical ascent which Big Ted said they should be able to manage. The Guide Books classify it as a moderate climb if you stick to the arête or suggest it can be tackled as grade 1/2 scramble by staying to right of the arete on steep grass. I was instructed to keep them on the arête.

We all started out from the main Beinn Eighe carpark at 8am following the Coire Dubh Mhor path between Liathac and Beinn Eighe, my heart beating faster at the sight of these two magnificent mountains, but nobody stopped to take a photo!We crossed the Allt Coire Dubh Mhor and as we came around the eastern end of Liathach we could see our target, the North Ridge, on the skyline.

Map of the Route
Crossing the the Allt Coire Dubh Mhor
North Ridge of Spidean on the Skyline

The scouts were doing well, but it was a perfect June day for hill walking, warm without being hot and enough of a breeze to keep the midges at bay. We continued along the path to the point where it divides to climb up to Coire Mhic Fhearchair to get our bearings, then doubled back for a few metres before recrossing the Allt Coire Dhub, (although there was very little of it), to meet up with a burn flowing down from Coireag Dubh Mor. It was a delightful walk on a faint path by the side of the waterfall, with Marsh Orchids and Violets in flower by my paws and the impressive tiers of rock in the coire ahead. I was getting quite excited!

Following the burn
As this burn was the last water we would come across until we were well down the other side of the mountain we needed to fill our water bottles. I offered to do this as I wanted to make sure we took enough water with us, the scouts often cut it so fine they end up dehydrated.

Filling up the water bottles

The lower section of the ridge was broad, lots of loose stones and boulders to go up, plus some easy scrambling. There was also a horrible steep slimy step of mud and moss. The scouts crawled up this on their paws and knees making strange mewling noises.

Lower slopes of the ridge

I was pleased to reach solid ground before there was any unpleasant slithering and having checked the map we all agreed it was time for lunch.

Good news that scouts can still read the map accurately. 750m altitude at midday, time for lunch.
Nice view along The Strath Lungard to Loch Maree.

Come on Jeremy Jetboyle, strut your stuff, I want my noodles. Supervising the scouts is hungry work.

Meall Dearg &the Northern Pinnacles. I wonder if the scouts would be up to climbing these,🤔
Beinn Alligin and Beinn Dearg

Lunch is over, onwards and upwards.
The scouts pointed out that it would be possible to walk around the next tier of rocks and then to avoid many of the difficulties by keeping right. I reminded them that their objective was to climb the arete, and it was time for them to stop faffing and get on with it.

‘Your meant to be climbing the rock not pulling it down!”

After this section of easy scrambling the ridge became steeper and more exposed so we decided to climb with a rope. I was mortified to discover that the scouts had only brought a 20m rope for a 160m climb. That means 10 pitches, it will be dark before we reach the summit! Grrrr!

Looking up the North Ridge
Checking he’s tied into the rope properly
I love the rock formations!

The rock was very rough and grippy, everyfur was enjoying the climbing and after a few pitches we topped out on steep grass

Topping out.

As they were likely to need the rope again the scouts decided not to untie, but to take in some coils and move together. Big Ted had warned me that the scouts were not good with this technique and I should expect lots of grumbling. He was right! I tried to close my ears to their constant moans about the tension in the rope and speed of movement as we edged along the narrow arête.

Supervising the taking in of coils
Scouts grumbling together along the narrow ridge

Hmmm! That was Stressful, I was very pleased when we were back to proper climbing and this traverse was great fun!

Ah no! There is a bitey insect in my boot!
Don’t worry I am holding the rope while the scout takes the photo!
The final difficulty. Come on! You can do it!

Whats going on here! The scout has belay all wrong, lucky nofur had a fall! 😱. He looks very sheepish as I admonish him thoroughly, I don’t think he will make that mistake again.

The view across to Beinn Eighe is amazing!
The summit up ahead

The walk to the summit turned out to be treacherous ! Huge blocks of Quartz, which were very unstable! The scouts are squeeking!

and we made! All in one piece and no rockfalls! Hurrah for the Mountaineering Bear and hopeless scouts!

Summit Spidean a’ Choire Leith.

But what goes up, must come down! They said the descent was easy, but we have to walk up another two summits before we can even start to come down!

8:30 pm nearly down

Well I’m all in, and there is still 2.5km along the road to walk beforeI can collapse in my sleeping bag. These human scouts are hard work, it was lucky I was around to keep an eye on them! Still the ridge was fun and I think our students will enjoy it.

Celebrating Autumn in Glen Quoich

We woke up on the shore of Loch Quoich to a magical view, but there was little time to sit around admiring it as we had two munro’s to climb.
Never Bears to take the easy route we shunned the path for a romp straight up the hill.
A map of our route
From the Shores of Loch Fearna Big Ted pointed out our route along the ridge to Gleouraich
The terrain around the Loch was full of peat hags and for an awful moment we thought we had lost Corbett
As we were slogging our way up to Spidean Mialach, listening to Stags bellowing in the distance, I suddenly remembered it was the stalking season. We had forgotten to check with the estate if it was safe to walk! I had visions of bounty hunters wishing to add bears to their stag tally 🙀
First Munro of the day, Mountaineering Bears and our furriend Sheltie the little lamb on Spidean Mialach
Should be safe from stalkers up here! What a beautiful day.
We stopped for lunch at Fiar Bealach
After lunch we found some cool slabs to climb. Lovely rough rock 😊
Sheltie took the path up the ridge but us bears stuck to the crest!
From the ridge we saw an eagle soaring overhead
The summit of Gleouraich the highest point of the day at 1034m altitude.
Always best to take a compass bearing when leaving the summit, we didn’t want to go down the wrong ridge!
I wonder if we will find a pot of gold at the base of the rainbow?
Quick rest but I think Big Ted is over doing it! I hope he doesn’t bring ticks back to the adventure wagon.
Almost back at the road, but still stunning views across the Loch. What a great way to start October! Paws crossed we don’t meet any coos on the road!