Tuesday 25 August 2009

ML Training, 21st & 22nd August

After his wet ghyll scrambling experience, Iain was straight back out the next day working on an ML Training course for a client.

This picture shows Tim, Mike, Alex and Steve as we headed up on to the south side of Crinkle Crags in The Lake District. The weather, by this time was improving and the day gradually dried up as we navigated our way over Crinkle Crags to Three tarns before descending to our intended camp site.

There were two of us instructors out during this ML training expedition and we arrived to find the other team had already set up camp. We all set up our tents, had some food and then went on to discuss the days events and contemplate the night navigation session. We had a lovely sunset and finally started the night nav session at 21:15 lasting until midnight.

During the night nav the weather was cold and windy but there was no mist or rain to make things more difficult although a few people were to regret the fact that they had left the spare batteries they'd bought back in the tents!!!

After a relatively liesurely get up the
next morning, we all walked back to the van in much warmer and sunnier conditions and then headed to Seathwaite in the Duddon Valley to practice rivers crossings in the Duddon.

This picture shows the group practicing the "line astern" method, nicely cooling off their feet in the process. After river crossings it was back to the centre for individual debriefs and then everyone departed contemplating what they needed to do between now & assessment - we wish them all the best of luck!

Ghyll scrambling, August 20th

Iain had two days off after working with Gary Walker and was then back into the fray meeting Mandy Saunders & Family for a half day of ghyll scrambling in the Thirlmere area.

Once again it had decided to pour it down over night and Iains intended venue turned out to be in full spate - a definite no for ghyll scrambling!

However, Iain also knew of a nearby stream which would be ideal in these conditions and it turned out to be perfect. The group headed up it amid bursts of heavy rain and strong winds - a truly atmospheric day.

These two pictures give an indication of what the conditions were like but despite that ,Mandy and her friend Fran thoroughly enjoyed their session with us and were very appreciative of the hot drink when we got back to the vehicles.

Wednesday 19 August 2009

Saturday August 15th onwards

Well, since the last posting the weather has continued with it's generally unsettled trend. Last Saturday found Iain again on Ullswater with another client's group. Firstly Canadian canoeing and then ghyll scrambling. It had been very wet the previous night and that day was no exception making the Ghyll scrambling at least, a challenge!

Monday, too, started off very wet, with heavy showers moving east through Langdale - not ideal when you are meeting a client who wants a rock climbing day, fortunately soon after meeting up with Gary, the day started to dry out.

Gary wanted to get some practice in at lead climbing. He had done his SPA (Single Pitch Award) training some considerable time ago and now running an Outdoor Education department at a school near Bristol is considering the assessment, he also had a lot of shiny new climbing equipment he wanted to use. Iain took him to Middlefell Buttress in Langdale which is a popular route for training climbers and there they looked at placing running belays and building anchors, stacked abseils and they climbed the route from bottom to top.

In the latter part of the session, Gary wanted to revisit setting up a top rope/bottom belay system as well as looking at setting up an abseil. Of the two pictures here, the top one was taken at the top of Middlefell Buttress and the bottom one was taken at Lower Scout Crag - just down the road.

Gary was very happy with his day and hopefully, we'll be doing some more business in the future.

Iain now has a few well earned days off but will be back soon to fill you in on further adventures with Kendal Mountaineering Services.

Sunday 16 August 2009

Open Canoeing on the 13th of August

Wednesday 12th August saw Iain working for a client on Ullswater in the Lake District providing a multi-activity day which consisted of open canoeing, an abseil and a ghyll scrambling session - quite a lot to fit in, in 7 hours.

All of these pictures were taken on the 13th when Iain had his own clients - a party of six wanting an afternoon of open canoeing. Being based at White Cross Caravan Park on Windermere this lake was the ideal place to go and we were fortunate indeed to be able to lauch at the venue.

So, after an introductory session in which the family learned the basics of handling an open canoe, we set off north up the eastern shore of Windermere towards Ambleside. Every now and again Iain would throw in a little challenge - this one everyone found exciting as it can make the boat very wobbly, but no-one fell in!

The weather on this day was fantastic - warm but not too hot or too sunny and no wind - ideal for an open canoe session!

Eventually we reached Ambleside at Waterhead which is quite a distance from White Cross Bay. Unfortunately we didn't have enough money between us for ice creams, but Iain had brought along the Kendal Mountaineering Services brew kit and biscuits and of course the hot chocolate was drunk with enthusiasm. Almost all of the ginger nuts disappeared too!

After this, we returned to White Cross Bay and packed up, but not before the lads had capsized the girls canoe - boys will be boys!

The family had this to say about their afternoon out with us:-

"Iain was very patient teaching all of us beginners how to paddle a Canadian Canoe. We all learnt new skills and had a fantastic afternoon. We would happily recommend Kendal Mountaineering services anytime - a great experience and great value for money."

Thanks again.

Mick, Jane, Cath, Jen, Barney & Michael

And it was such a nice afternoon that having loaded the kit up, Iain threw the roof off the Kendal Mountaineering Services Land Rover and thoroughly enjoyed his drive back to the kit store.

In Iains words "a great end to a fab day!"

More blog posts to follow soon.

Wet activities in August. Tuesday 11th.

Recently more & more people have been viewing our new website and many have been asking for gorge scrambling or similar activities. Two sisters Holly & Kirsty had an exciting morning with me in Church back on the 4th of August when water levels made it a challenging trip which they absolutely loved. However, it was so wet that again, no pictures could be taken.

Last Tuesday we had a family of four booked who wanted a half day of ghyll scrambling followed by Kayaking and seeing as they were staying in Coniston, Chuch beck & the nearby Coniston Water were ideal venues. We headed upstream as far as the chockstone pitch before descending all the way back down the stream to the usual get in, with it having been decided that the right level of challenge for everyone concerned had already been reached.

After lunch, the wind conditions on the lake were found not to be ideal for a group of beginners so we headed down the eastern shore of Coniston Water to a get in not too far from Peel Island - the lake's only island (Wildcat Island - for those of you having read Arthur Ransome's Swallows & Amazons!) where there was more shelter allowing skills to be learnt and games to be played. After that we had a journey around Peel Island and back to our get in point, to pack up and enjoy a cup of hot chocolate.

Everyone seemed to be very happy with what we had achieved throughout the day and the family had this to say about their experience with us:-

"The activities were pitched perfectly, enough to challenge us but not enough to scare us newbies. The boys had a fantastic day which they will remember for a long time. I think that Jean has caught the kayaking bug as she is interested in doing some more lessons. We will definitely come back to you again."

Thanks once again.

Steve, Jean, Jack and Thomas

And so into August

August has been a really busy month so far. Iain has been doing some centre work as usual here in the Lake District. He also had two days - one at the end of July and one in August working for a client in North Yorkshire at the Gritstone outcrops of Brimham Rocks providing beginners climbing sessions there in conjunction with abseiling & ghyll Scrambling at Howstean Gorge in Nidderdale. These are both venues well worth visiting if you get a chance.

After the second day Iain didn't return to the Lakes but drove straight down to Llanberis in North Wales that evening in order to be ready to guide people who were attempting a National 3 peaks challenge starting at 08:00 the next day.

This was Iain's sixth such challenge over the last three years and includes an ascent of England, Scotland & Wales's three highest peaks - these being Scafell Pike, Ben Nevis & Snowdon all in under 24 hours. The total ascent is 9700 feet, the total distance walked is up to 22 miles and the endurance factor is described as being hard - no wonder!

This particular group were from a bank in London and were using the event to raise money for charity. There was 21 delegates split into three groups and Iain had the fast groups on both Snowdon & Scafell with the ascent time on Snowdon being 1 hr 55 from Pen Y pass and on Scafell Pike 2 and a half hours. After a 5 hour drive through the night (during which no-one gets much sleep!) the group set off from Glen Nevis Youth Hostel at 05:30 the next morning with the fast team reaching the summit at around 07:50 - 10 minutes to spare from that 24 hour deadline and it was with a great feeling of satisfaction that everyone sat down to a meal & a beer in the Nevisport Bar in Fort William that lunchtime with the event behind them.

Next day Iain was back at work at one of the Lake District centres and then this last week has been an interesting mix of his own client days plus a couple of multi-activity days for another client. You get to hear about his own client days in the next post.

Ghyll scrambling. July 29th 2009

Greg Stocks booked this half day session for for himself and 6 university mates. The night before the session was due to be run we had heavy rain here in the Lake District meaning that by dawn many streams had reached flood levels. On arrival at the venue (Church Beck), a quick look confirmed Iain wouldn't be taking the group in there but he did have a contingency plan which, in the circumstances, turned out to be just right!
So, having made their way to this alternative venue, Iain & the group proceeded to have a most enjoyable session walking through deep pools, climbing waterfalls and even enjoying a small bit of caving! This is a picture of a waterfall we didn't climb but we were able to continue above it. During this time, what had been a wet day started to clear up and by the time we had finished even the sun had come out.
Greg & his mates thoroughly enjoyed the session and agreed that the alternative venue was spot on. We are not going to say where it is - Iain doesn't want his competitors to know, but if you want to have a great ghyll scrambling experience you'll not get a better one from anyone other than us as we know alternative venues in every valley in the Lake District that can be used when wet weather renders the regular sites difficult or impossible!
And at the end of the session, a chance to warm up with a hot drink. We provide tea, coffee and hot chocolate as well as biscuits - just what we consider you need after your ghyll scrambling session and Greg and his friends couldn't have been more grateful.

July onwards

We've been very busy here at Kendal Mountaineering services over the last few months - both with private clients and other organisations which use our services. Iain has been busy with centre work around the county and also in other areas too.

During the first weekend in July we travelled to Rhydd Dhu in North Wales to join the Outdoors Magic Supermeet which had been organised as a social event with a view to bringing OM members together to get to know each other and also, take part in some of the courses that had been laid on.

Unfortunately, the weather on the Saturday was poor but found Iain heading to Tryfan with three members - Kelvin, Martyn & Mike who wished to learn basic scrambling techniques. During this day, spent on ground between Milestone Buttress and the North Ridge, we covered spotting and short roping techniques and delved into aspects of indirect, semi-direct and direct belaying techniques during which we looked at gear placements and setting up anchors/belays et cetera. During this time we were liberally doused by shower after shower, but despite getting soaked everyone agreed at the end of the day that it had been most useful.

We always manage to get positive feedback from any of the courses we run. With regards to that day on Tryfan, Kelvin, recently commented

"just like to say thanks a lot for what was a great day. Since then I've taken a couple of mates who are new to the mountains, up Tryfan North Ridge, Bristly Ridge and a few smaller scrambles round there. I wouldn't have had the confidence to lead them up there if it hadn't been for your course and we made full use of the techniques you taught me for spotting someone".

Unfortunately we've no shots to show you from that day as it was so wet it would have been instant death to a digital camera. However, we did get shots from some of our other days out - see next post.

Anyway, following on from that weekend, Iain had four days working from Ullswater with a school who bring a group to the Lake District every July. Things done included Kayaking on Ullswater, abseiling & ghyll scrambling in Borrowdale and a traverse of Blencathra by the magnificent Sharp Edge. All in all, an excellent 4 days!

The next few weeks saw Iain doing odd bits of centre work plus continued renovations on the house. We went away for a weekend to see friends in Hitchin, Hertfordshire - a lovely little Market town. Towards the end of the month we had a group booking for ghyll scrambling and the next post is about that.