An Epic Climb in Northwest Scotland: Suilvan
Epic climb days always start early and end late.
We started walking in low autumn light towards the hulking shadow rising in the distance.
Our goal was before us.
I love walking behind my boys.
And their friends.
We made this climb during October holidays with another family from our church.
Sweet friends who have wanted to climb this mountain for a long time.
Well most of them have wanted to climb it for a long time.
The dad first saw Suilvan over 20 years ago and has been planning to climb it ever since.
But I might have talked the other mama into coming along with us, becausemy girl, Mary Polly, was stateside and I didn’t want to be the only female in the party.
And the day was so gloriously blue and sunny that we could not possibly stay behind.
The approach to Suilvan is really long, so I promised that we could turn around after the five mile walk in if we were too tired for the climb.
But once we had walked the entire road and then the very boggy path to the base of the mountain, we were all in.
We stepped within the shadow of the mountain, and watched as a few little tiny people made their way up to the saddle.
It looked very steep from the bottom, but once we started climbing, it did not feel as steep.
There were definitely some tough spots, with lots of scree. It was hard going, but we slowly made our way up.
Simon stayed ahead of me with the other boys. Little goats.
We gals muddled along.
But when we got to the saddle and rose up out of the shadow to see the other side, we were all aghast at the view.
We had our lunch at this spot, since it was already long past lunch time.
And I needed to take it all in for a minute.
Rest my legs before heading up to the tippy top.
After tuna sandwiches and treats and crisps and tea, we started up further.
We wondered at this wall on top of a mountain.
And every few steps, we looked back to see how far we had come from the saddle where we had lunch.
And we looked down where the drops were long at the narrow bits.
One of the scariest parts was a narrow strip just before the final ascent. You had to skirt around the right side of the mountain with a very steep drop on the right.
Followed by walking another very narrow path that dropped off on both sides.
There was nothing that required ropes but it still made me squeam and shake a little.
After I made it over, I watched Taido bring Simon along behind him.
We were all so glad to finally reach the top.
Where the big boys were already waiting for us.
And the views all around were worth every step.
We stayed for a while. Resting and enjoying the sun.
But soon it was time to head back down.
Going down from a steep climb is always harder for me.
It is scary and I lose my footing. A lot.
Also it always feels way longer to me.
But eventually I crawled my way back to the saddle.
Back down the mountain.
Following Taido all the way.
Through the crazy rock wall.
That we wondered again at.
Before crawling back into the shadow of the mountain, to make the slow descent on creaky knees.
The shadows at the base of the mountain were much longer.
And the way back was all in bog.
It took us ages to get back to the old jeep trail.
And back into the sunshine.
The light was fading quickly as we walked the five miles back to the car.
We watched the sun setting before us.
And glanced back occasionally at the mountain we had climbed.
We thought how the sunset from the top must be pretty amazing.
But we were trying to enjoy the pink streaks we could see as we made our legs keep stepping one in front of the other.
It was after 6pm by the time we got to the car and we were so very tired, but so very glad we had come.
Epic climbs produce epic hunger, and we gobbled up the biggest pot of chicken and rice you’ve ever seen before sleeping hard and enjoying that great kind of tired you get from a day of adventuring.
More info on this climb can be found at Walk Highlands.