Monday 28 September 2009

Lake District Scrambling & beginners rock climbing courses

A few days after returning from Scotland, Iain was out again with clients. The picture on the left shows Anne and Jeremy Clarkeson who came out with us on a glorious day on Saturday 25th September for a beginners rock climbing course in the Lake District. Iain took the pair to Lower Scout Crag in Langdale where they climbed all of the easier routes on the face and learnt the skills of tying in and belaying.
Following this Anne and Jeremy had a go at Abseiling and then all three moved on to Stickle Barn Crag to have a go at climbing some harder routes before finishing at 16:30 well satisfied with the days events and with Jeremy & Ann looking forward to a Lake District learning to lead climbing course with Kendal Mountaineering Services some time in the new year; and in the meantime, getting some time in at a climbing wall.
The picture on the right was from the previous day and shows Stephen Holding about to tackle the crux move on Dove's nest Crag - Right hand groove, a classic grade 3 scramble in Borrowdales's Combe Gill valley. Prior to doing this, Stephen & Iain warmed up on Intake Ridge - another classic grade three scramble where Iain allowed Stephen to practice and polish up his scrambling ropework techniques in readiness for a forthcoming IML Assessment. Iain was so happy with Stephens performance that he allowed Stephen to take the lead on Dove's Nest Crag - Right Hand Grooves and Stephen was very happy with his day out on the Lake District Scrambling Course he had undertaken with Kendal Mountaineering Services.
This was twice in a fortnight Iain found himself working in Borrowdale one on one with clients - but we don't mind if you want some personal tuition - in fact Iain reckons it's the best way to learn. Many organisations refuse to work with less than two people but this is why here at Kendal Mountaineering Services we are famous for our bespoke outdoor courses where you get the benefit of our personal service and have a great time.
Its only three days now until Iain leaves the UK to help guide 8 Paratroopers up Mera Peak in Nepal. Finally - he's starting to get excited! More on that later.

Thursday 24 September 2009

And whilst Iain was in Glencoe

Back in the Lake District Andrea Abbas and her family enjoyed one of our Open Canoeing days on Lake Windermere.

This session was hosted for us by one of our Kendal Mountaineering Services associates who taught Andrea & her family all of the skills appropriate for using open canoes on flat and moving water

As well as spending time journeying on Lake Windermere, the group also spent some time on the rivers Brathay & Rothay.

As well as visiting the jump near Brathay Bay.

The family thoroughly enjoyed their day with us and hopefully, we may see them again in the future.

OM Supermeet, Glencoe, 19 - 20th September

After working with Kathryn Telford, Iain had a day and a bit off then spent an afternoon and evening coaching Kye Ettridge in the skills of mountain navigation and night nav on Loughrigg Fell in the Lake District.

The next morning found Iain frantically packing to head off to the Outdoors Magic September Supermeet to be based in Glencoe where Iain was to be running a couple of scottish scrambling days on Tower Ridge on Ben Nevis and the Aonach Eagach in Glencoe.

Iain had three clients booked for both days - all Outdoors Magic members and all returning clients of Kendal Mountaineering Services.

Unfortunately the run of dry weather experienced over the preceeding few weeks chose this weekend to end and having walked in to the foot of Tower Ridge on the Saturday morning the weather was cold, wet, windy & cloudy - definitely not a Tower Ridge day!

The above picture shows Sean, Maria and chris with Tower Ridge in the background - Douglas Gap on the right and somewhere above in the mist - the rest of the ridge. Anyway, these three had never summited on "the Ben" before, so Iain took them via Coire Leis up the south ridge on to the summit before returning via halfway lochan to the car at the Alt A Mhuillin.

The picture right shows Chris Sean & Maria almost back at the car with the Ben in the background. Despite a few gaps in the cloud the mountain didn't really appear all day and then the rain set in for the evening - a good excuse for a second evening in The Claichaig and as usual on a Saturday night, the Boot Bar was very busy.

The weather on Sunday morning dawned much better as this photo shows. Chris was out for a second day with Iain and was joined by Mike & Kelvin - both returning clients from the Outdoors Magic July Supermeet at Rhydd Dhu in North Wales where Iain had run scrambling courses in Snowdonia on Tryfan. The weather started off fair but by the time the party had reached the Summit of Am Bodach at the eastern end of the Aonach Eagach, it was clear that wet weather was moving in from the west.

Despite the changing weather, the party moved together fairly rapidly along the ridge to the interesting section between Meall Dearg and Stob Coire Leith. There are regularly parts where a rope is useful for the less experienced and so for most of the time the party remained roped between Am Bodach and the foot of Stob Coire Leith.
All three clients felt that apart from one exceptionally steep & polished section they would have probably soloed the ridge. Despite that Iain's view is that when paying for the services of a Mountaineering Instructor he has a duty of care and that the use of the rope was appropriate and this point was accepted.
Once off the hard part of the ridge the party rapidly reached the descent into Glen Coe. Guidebooks these days suggest continuing over Sgor Nam Fannaidh and then descending to the valley floor between that & The Pap of Glencoe rather than descending via the side of Clachaig Gully to the Claichaig Inn.
This is due to the fact that the head of the Clachaig Gully is a wide and easy angled scree shoot which steepens & narrows into a deep slot with many vertical drops - it is a place to be avoided and many people have come to grief here. For those in the know there is a footpath descending the rib which parallels the north side of the gully and whilst steep, somewhat exposed in its upper section and unrelenting, it brings you out next to the Clachaig Inn. We reached the Clachaig at 5pm and were ready for a welcome beer.
Clachaig Gully Descent Route If you have never attempted the descent via this route before - avoid it! Only attempt a descent of the path with someone who has done it before and even then you are well advised to steer clear of it altogether in bad weather. Iain Gallagher and Kendal Mountaineering Services accept no liability for anyone choosing to ignore this advice.
After a yet another evening in The Clachaig people departed - some on the Sunday evening and the rest of us on the Monday morning. Everyone seemed well satisfied with the weekend and Ian would like to say a big thanks to everyone who participated and made it such an enjoyable time and particularly to Steve who organised the whole thing.

14th & 15th September 2009

Well sorry folks.
Bloggers taken a mind all of its own again!
Iain actually wanted a row of 4 pictures down the right so he could put appropriate text in on the left, but Bloggers decided to do its own wierd thing! If anyone's got any idea of how to sort this problem then please let us know.
Iain found himself working in Borrowdale on these dates with a lady called Kathryn Telford who, having a few weeks off work decided that she fancied a few days rock climbing in the Lake District. Kathryn experienced difficulty finding someone to take her out climbing on her own and if you find yourselves with that problem don't hesitate to contact us.
Anyway Iain was available and, as Kathryn fancied some easy-ish multi-pitch mountain routes, suggested climbing in Borrowdale on Raven Crag and on Gillercombe Buttress.
The above pictures show Kathryn whilst climbing on Raven Crag Buttress - a 4 pitch VDiff. Iain led most of the piches but gave the lead to Kathryn on one occasion as well as doing lots of teaching en route. The weather was dry but a cold N Easterly wind made hanging around for any length of time on stances a tad uncomfortable.
Having completed this route Iain & Kathryn attempted a number of other less popular routes only to find them green, slimy and heavily vegetated with no sign of any recent climbing giving rise to the view that only the classic routes on the crag are still receiving any attention from climbers.

Anyway, the next day was started early and the weather was much better. We were at the foot of Gillercombe Buttress by 09:30 and the classic 7 pitch severe sharing that name was just warming up nicely. Iain led all pitches and Kathryn thoroughly enjoyed the route. Following that we moved right on to Grey Knotts Face - a 5 pitch Diff with a surprisingly difficult second pitch involving a tight squeeze up behind a detached slab. Iain couldn't get through it (he's not fat!) and so an alternative was found to this bit. Another two pitches up and it was 16:30 and time to be getting off. Of the two pictures above, the left hand one shows Kathryn traversing off the second route and the right hand one is enjoying the sunshine on the last pitch of Gillercombe Buttress.
A most pleaseant two days work!

7th September on

Its all been go go go this September. Iain actually had a break from all of this outdoor mountaineering stuff for a week, but didn't stop working. Amongst other things he had an annual tree pruning job to do for a client which takes the best part of a week. Fortunately during this time Summer chose to put in a re-appearance making the job easier than it might have been - its not much fun climbing 35 feet up on a ladder to prune giant yew trees with a petrol hedge trimmer - in the wet!

Also, whilst this was going on Iain was practising hard with another 3 musicians for an up and coming gig at Wilfs Cafe in Staveley on the evening of Saturday 12th. The gig was part of a 50th birthday celebration party for another Ian.

Well, the gig was a success with some 12 numbers being played by the band (called the Swiss Family Robinson for the occasion - the guy who organised it being called Pete Robinson) Iain provided the PA system and dusted off his Fender Stratocaster and valve amp rig to take the role of lead guitarist.

Songs played included the likes of Alright now by Free, Take it easy by The Eagles, I only want to be with you (Dusty Springfield) and Iain took the lead slot for Hey Joe and Fire by Jimi Hendrix - it all went down very well indeed and the band got another booking for a gig almost immediately. On his return from Nepal, Iain definitely intends to be doing more with these guys!

Friday 18 September 2009

Saturday & Sunday 5th & 6th Sepember

After a day off, Iain was back out in the thick of it again with another group. This time working for another organisation with their clients who wanted a day of open canoeing and a day of climbing and ghyll scrambling.

We were working in the Ullswater valley with these clients and spent the Saturday on the lake. The picture here taken just after the start of the session gives an indication that once again, the weather was mixed, but the group were ready for anything!

The day on the lake consisted of the usual flat water skills input followed by some moving water skills on Goldril Beck - the main feeder stream from the Patterdale valley. Following this we paddled to one of Ullswater's islands for lunch and then went in search of some wind.

As you can see we found some and at 1 point had 4 canoe rafts sailing abreast at high speed - not quite the Red Devils, but impressive all the same. Whilst we all enjoyed this, the only snag was it was taking us further & further away from the van & trailer so, we had a fair paddle to get back.

Suddenly the day was over, but the group had loved it.

Sunday found us meeting the group at Helvellyn Youth Hostel where they were staying and walking around to Moorside Crag to do some climbing and abseiling. Two climbs were set up and Iain rigged an abseil so everyone was able to get on doing something.

Before we knew it, it was after 1pm and we still had lunch and then the ghyll scramble to do! This picture was taken just before we left the crag and shows the impressive remains of Greenside Mine in the background.

Greenside was one of the country's major producers of lead ore and worked continuously between 1690 and 1962! The history associated with the place is awesome and well worth reading about. As it happens, Iain spent the first five years of his life living at Helvellyn youth hostel (then known as Greenside youth hostel) - truly a local lad having also spent 21 years as a member of the Patterdale Mountain Rescue Team until 2007.

Finally, after a rapid lunch we dashed into Glenridding Beck for a short but exciting ghyll session. Again, the group loved it and this picture shows one of the team going for it on one of the many small waterfalls we had to climb along the way.

Then it was time to pack up and go home.

The group thoroughly enjoyed their weekend with us and will be back again for more in the future.

And since then!

Thursday 3rd Sepember saw Iain heading to Derwent Water to work with Paul & Joanne Price who were wanting to try out Canadian Canoeing with a view to buying their own boat if they enjoyed their day.

It was certainly an interesting day and not ideal for beginners with a fairly strong wind blowing onshore at Kettlewell car park and heavy rain showers at times, also, once again, we had had heavy rain overnight and all of the streams were in spate - the picture right gives an indication of the conditions.

Anyway, we set off and managed to find a sheltered area to learn the basic skills of open canoeing and then decided to follow the River Derwent upstream from the lake. This was hard work but we managed over a mile against the flow before deciding enough was enough! Back on the lake we decided to head along to west shore trying to get some shelter from the wind which couldn't make up its mind whether to blow from Borrowdale or the Keswick direction - at times we were being blown sideways along the lake!

With a view to trying to get some shelter, we changed our plan to island hopping
and almost made it to the keswick landings before turning round and heading back to St Herberts Island in order to raft up and make the best of the wind which, with the help of a group shelter, allowed us to sail back almost to the car park - easily the most effortless part of the day.

Despite the difficult conditions Paul & Joanne thoroughly enjoyed themselves and plan to buy their own Canadian canoe in the new year and will be contacting Iain again for a little more tuition later in the year.

Tuesday 1 September 2009

Ghyll scrambling and more Ghyll scrambling

Since the last posting, Iain's done 4 ghyll scrambling sessions and with all this wet weather, its probably been the best idea. It has to have been the wettest August ever - ideal for ghyll scrambling & canoeing or kayaking, but bad news for climbers and campers!

As usual, we've shown our clients good sessions and they've all been very happy despite the conditions. The first picture shows Rachel, Caitlin and Angela Allen out with us on Monday the 24th enjoying a Ghyll scrambling session as part of an annual two week action packed holiday here in The Lakes.
Angela had this to say about the session:-

Hi Iain, Thanks for a very entertaining afternoon. The children thoroughly enjoyed their ghyll scramble. I was very impressed with the whole session. It was good to have all the clothing and equipment supplied, and the hot drinks at the end were very welcome. We are looking forward to seeing the photographs. Caitlin has been checking your Blog every day to see if she is on it yet!!!

The next day found Iain in a completely different location with Ashley Niles and his girlfriend Lucy who had fancied trying something completely different and certainly found Ghyll scrambling to be that.

As with the previous day, the weather was kind to us with sunshine and reasonable water levels allowing the clients to have the best possible session.

On Tuesday night however, the heavens decided to open once again and Iain found himself having to use an alternative venue as has happened quite often recently. The weather was filthy but the water levels in this gill were just what Ed Brennan and his mates/family wanted.

Ed and one of the other chaps (Graham) are both military dudes and they, along with the rest of the team
literally launched themselves with enthusiasm into the gill - everyone thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Not a bad effort for an Essex bunch!

Finally, Iain had a group on Sunday -all from a company in Derby. Dan Gerrard and his friends had travelled up for the bank holiday weekend and whilst staying in Ingleton in North Yorkshire, had decided to come to us for their ghyll scrambling session.

The weather in the afternoon was miserable - cold, heavy drizzle (which later turned into full blown rain - again!) and towards the end of the session it was clear that the river was starting to rise but everyone had a great time and thoroughly appreciated the hot drink at the end.

And so into September. The next bit of work is some open canoeing this Thursday and you can read about that later in the week.