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.

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