Sunday 23 May 2010

Leaning to lead, multi-pitch rock climbing course, Langdale, Lake District, May 8th & 9th 2010

Andrew & John Simpson came to Kendal Mountaineering Services with a view to learning traditional multi-pitch rock climbing techniques. Andrew & John already had experience of belaying at an indoor climbing wall, and they were also very experienced cavers - so already knew a great deal about rope techniques although modern rock climbing is quite different to caving as different equipment is used to set up anchors.

Here, on day two - having already done three climbs, the pair have a go at arranging an assisted hoist - a useful technique if your second is too tired to follow you up that pitch you have just led, or is technically unable to follow you.

This picture shows how a climber attaches himself - via two anchors to the rope prior to belaying his second up the previous pitch. Iain showed Andrew & John how to tie into the anchors using the climbing rope (the preferred technique if "leading through" or if your anchors are out of reach) and also arranging an attachment bringing two anchor points together to a single attachment using slings - this is a preferable method if you are using one climber to lead all of the pitches on a climb.

In this picture Andrew also has his belay plate correctly orientated and has attached it to is rope tie in loop - also a preferred technique for modern multi-pitch climbing.

Here, John has attached himself to the crag prior to belaying Andrew. We were not the only ones on Upper Scout Crag in Langdale that day. There were several parties from the Royal Air Force base at Indefatigable on Anglesey also making use of the crags sheltered south west aspect and sun on what was in other areas, a very cold day!

It was interesting to see what techniques were being employed by some of the other climbers on the crag that day. One chap had travelled best part of a rope length length up a diagonal route above a drop without placing a single running belay before setting up a belay with which to bring up his climbing partner. Iain asked Andrew & John to figure out what could happen and both identified that the second could take a massive pendulum fall resulting in possible injury. Fortunately this didn't happen!

In this final picture, John belays Andrew who is climbing the crux or hardest pitch of the best climb on Upper Scout Crag - Route One. We were not able to get on to this route until the second day of the climbing course owing to the crowd the previous day, but on this day there were far fewer people.

Here, John is employing the method of tying the rope in to both anchors as Andrew will continue to lead through up the final pitch once he reaches Andrew.

Following this climb, Iain taught the guys how to retreat from the crag by abseil - useful if you find yourself off route and on something harder than anticipated - or if the weather breaks! Finally we looked at some improvised rescue techniques as in the first photo. John and Andrew were delighted with their weekend learning to lead rock climbing course with Kendal Mountaineering Services. Maybe we will see them again but in the meatime, Iain hopes they enjoy their summer - climbing in the sun.

Saturday 1 May 2010

Cuillin Ridge of Skye traverse including 7 nights self catering accommodation for £350.00!

Kendal Mountaineering Services has one space available on this course running between Saturday 15th & Saturday 22nd May 2010.

The cost is £350 which includes seven nights self catering accommodation near Carbost and a guided traverse of the Cuillin ridge from end to end carried out over two or three days - either that, or two days of guided scrambling on classic scrambles of your choice, in the area.

Highlights of the traverse include an ascent of the famous Inaccessable Pinnacle (see right) and a traverse of the Thearlaich Dubh Gap (currently graded severe) on what is overall 16 kilometres of sustained mountain scrambling which is largely grade one but with some two, three. There is some rock climbing mostly at Diff standard and a number of abseils although there are ways around most obstacles encountered on the ridge.

The group in the picture below have just summited Sgurr Nan Gillean - marking the end of their traverse.

Our traverse starts at the south end of the ridge from Glen Brittle generally heading up into Coire A Grunndha taking in the Munro of Sgurr Nan Eag before heading west over the highest top of Sgurr Alasdair via (or bypassing) the famous TD Gap.

Day one ends with either a descent from Sgurr Dearg or a bivouac on Sgurr Na Banachdich depending on whether on the two or three day traverse. Around this point we also try to make an ascent of the Inaccessable Pinnacle - the true summit of Sgurr Dearg.

The 3rd picture shows the ridge from near Sgurr Alasdair west towards Sgurr Dearg and the tops of Sgurr A Ghreadaidh and Sgurr A Mhadaidh - the central section of the ridge.

Throughout the traverse you will be guided by Iain Gallagher, Mountaineering Instructor, of Kendal Mountaineering Services who has led 8 traverses of this - the most classic of mountaineering challenges anywhere in the UK. As part of the fee you are also provided with a helmet & harness as well as the accommodation & guiding making this trip truly exceptional value for money.

The final shot shows our accommodation near carbost. You will be sharing the accommodation with the rest of the group taking part in the traverse and will be living on a friendly communal basis for the week. Provision of evening meals for the group is shared by everyone whilst lunch and breakfast will be your own affair.

In order to come on this trip you need to be a fit and experienced hillgoer, prepared to work as part of a team and you will have some experience of scrambling and a head for heights and some exposure. You will have your own personal all weather outdoor equipment and a rucksack of at least 40 litres. Stout walking boots with a vibram or equivalent sole and ankle support are recommended for the traverse. Approach shoes are not recommended.

If you are interested in this fantastic package contact Iain at  or call him on 07761 483364. Further pictures from previous Skye trips can be viewed in our gallery or in the recent pictures section of the Kendal Mountaineering Services Website at