Saturday 16 October 2010

Upcoming courses with Kendal Mountaineering Services - Autumn/winter 2010

Kendal Mountaineering Services are pleased to be able to offer weekend courses during November & December 2010. As a start - we are offering fantastic value Navigation Skills training Courses during November 6th & 7th and November 27th & 28th. For an unbeatable £50 per person for these non residential courses- you will receive two 8 hour days of navigation skills training with Iain Gallagher who is the director of Kendal Mountaineering Services and a Mountaineering Instructor.

The Navigation courses will be run in the Kentmere area of the Lake District and further details of the courses can be found in our new upcoming courses section. Contact us if you wish to reserve a place on these courses or would like further information.

Further to this, we are also now taking bookings for our residential Winter Skills week to be run in the Cairngorms National Park between February 25th & March 4th 2011. Courses on offer include a 2 day winter skills course at £100 per person, a 2 day/1 night nav & snowhole course at £90 per person and winter climbing days at £90 per person and bunkhouse accommodation is available at £16 per person per night. Places are limited so don't delay! For further info see upcoming courses - winter and contact us if you would like to make a booking.

If you fancy something exciting this Autumn then come caving with Kendal Mountaineering services.

Get underground away from the harsh Autumn weather and have an experience of a lifetime in this truly awesome environment where you can try tight squeezes and get a little wet - but you don't have to! However, you can marvel at the underground passageways and limestone formations that are to be found underground in the Yorkshire Dales National Park and enjoy a bacon butty and a brew in the famous Inglesport Cafe before (and after!) your caving session.

Half day caving sessions are £45 per person and full day sessions are £70 per person. We do give discounts for group bookings - contact us to book your caving session here.

Ghyll scrambling in the Lake District. Stickle Gill, Langdale, October 16th 2010

Here in the Lake District, we have experienced weather unusual for this time of year. Predominantly, during Autumn, Winter & Spring, our weather is influenced by a westerly airstream bringing low pressure systems and associated wet weather into the area.

However, for over a week now, we have had high pressure sitting to the west - blocking the bad weather; and an easterly continental airstream bringing warm & dry air across from Europe and one the whole, it had been very dry, warm and sunny - although the sun almost disappeared on Thursday & Friday!

It did re-appear today however - just in time for a group of American undergraduates who were visiting the Lake District for a ghyll scrambling session in Stickle Gill in Langdale.

Today, Iain was guiding this group on behalf of one of his clients and he worked with two groups of cheerful and enthusiastic students during the day who come from universities all over the States and who thoroughly enjoyed their ghyll scrambling sessions with us.

The first photo shows the morning group in the lower gill just upstream from the New Dungeon Ghyll Hotel - having just found the first deep pool.

Shortly afterwards, we arrived at the first roped climb and in photo two - one of the students has just scaled the rock wall whilst the rest of her party looks on.

Above the first climb there are a succession of small waterfalls, rocky pools - shallow & deep, before one arrives at the second and higher waterfall to be found half a mile further up the gill (photo three)and this is at least four times higher than the lower fall.

There were three teams of students during both the morning & afternoon session and in photo three our party has been joined by another team.

We were somewhat surprised to find only one other group in Stickle Ghyll today as it is a very popular venue with local outdoor centres and private user groups alike and definitely one of the best ghyll scrambling venues in the Lake District!

In the final shot, two groups pose for the photo with the ghyll behind. Above left can be seen the skyline of Harrison Stickle - one of the Langdale Pikes and scene of some of the best scrambling routes in the area and top right - Tarn Crag - one of Iain's favourite venues for his scrambling skills training courses.

Stickle Ghyll is just one of many fantastic ghyll scrambling (otherwise known as gorge walking) venues in the Lake District and no matter where you are staying in the Lake District Kendal Mountaineering Services know of a venue near to your location so give us a call if you are looking for a session!

Friday 15 October 2010

Canadian Canoe journeys in the Lake District. October 12th 2010.

Iain had a few days off basking in the unusually summerlike conditions that have put in an appearance this October, before working again - this time with Avril & Duncan McCormick and their daughter Hannah and "westy" - Milly.

The family were on holiday from Northern Scotland for part of the October half term holiday; and Avril had contacted Iain at Kendal Mountaineering Services sometime previously asking whether or not it would be possible to do full day Canadian Canoeing river journey. Iain was sure he could find somewhere.

There are some great rivers in the Lake District and Iain was able to guide the family on one such river.

After getting on and covering Canadian Canoeing skills such as forward & backward paddling/stopping, turning using sweep strokes and the stern rudder, forwards & backwards ferry gliding and draw strokes, Iain felt the family were ready to begin the journey along the stretch of river to be travelled.

This particular river trip was, at the level - no more than a good grade two and here - in shot two, Avril and Duncan can be see negotiating one of the more difficult rapids.

Once the halfway point is reached the river slows down and broadens - becoming a "bump & scrape" in some parts. On occasion, this necessitated both Iain & Duncan getting out to push - or pull!

The whole journey was a breeze for Milly - seen here in shot three - sat in the middle of the canoe, although there were several times when she jumped out of the boat and got rather wet.

In shot four, Hannah looks on from the front of Iain's canoe as we approach another short grade two rapid. The day had been idyllic - blue sky, warm sun and no breeze - truly pleasant!

At this particular point, the river bed had changed markedly from Iain's previous trip (done last year - before the infamous November floods) from a broad shallow rapid to a short steep narrow one reminiscent of Blacksboat Rapid on the River Spey in Scotland. Also, downstream from here, a number of previously braided channels had simply disappeared!

Finally, having set off from our get in at 11am, the party reached our get out at 4:45pm. It had been a long day on our Lake District Canadian Canoe river journey, but the whole family were very satisfied with the day in terms of skills learnt and overall distance covered. All that was left to be done was to load up the boats and shuttle the family back to their car.

Iain hopes they enjoyed the rest of their holiday in the area and it is good to know that the weather remained fine during their entire visit.

To find out about our watersports full and half day sessions check out our Canadian Canoeing
and Kayaking courses pages.

We look forward to your joining us on the water - whether it be on one of the lake Districts many lakes or rivers.

Rock climbing skills training courses in the Lake District. October 9th & 10th 2010

Joe Sacco contacted Iain at Kendal Mountaineering Services when he decided to organise a multi-pitch rock climbing skills training course for himself & his partner Ruth - as part of a birthday present for her.

Iain arranged to meet the pair in Langdale in the Lake District. Langdale has many climbing venues suited to the teaching of rock climbing skills and on day one Iain chose to take the pair to Upper Scout Crag which has a couple of multi-pitch gems - Route One and Route Two.

On the way in to the crag, Iain discussed plans with the pair and discovered that not only were they adept at indoor climbing and the belaying techniques associated with that, but also - they had been climbing on Derbyshire Gritstone and had seconded a number of routes with friends.

This helped Iain build up a clear plan for the day. As the pair had seen running belay placements already and had apparently dealt with their removal as "seconders", Iain felt that they needed to learn about building multi-point belays for stances first - before we looked at climbing and runner placements and so we spent an hour practising these before starting up Route One - seen above the pair in the first photograph here.

In the second shot, Joe has climbed the crux pitch of Route One which Ruth is now seconding. Joe had built his belay on the second stance of the route -tying in with his rope into the anchors although Iain had shown the pair how to use slings to bring anchors to a central attachment point as well.

Tying into the anchors with the rope is most commonly used if a pair of climbers are "leading alternate pitches" - ie the second is belayed up to the leader and upon reaching them, collects the rest of the climbing rack and then leads the next pitch.

The method of bringing slings together to form a single attachment point is more commonly used if a leader is leading all pitches and needs to be able to escape the belay easily, or where a Mountaineering Instructor is guiding clients on a multi-pitch route.

On this occasion, Iain was coaching - not guiding; and was working from a separate rope which is anchored in the foreground of shot two. Iain is able to move up or down this rope in order to coach and keep safe - the clients - whilst remaining safe himself.

Shot three shows Ruth carrying out an abseil retreat from Route Two. The pair had gotten on so well during day one that we had climbed halfway up Route Two as well. However, when it got to 3:30pm it was clear that we were not going to have time to finish the route that day, so Iain discussed and set up, an abseil retreat from the crag using a doubled rope and a stacked abseil.

A stacked abseil requires all party members to attach to an anchor point freeing up the climbing rope which is then threaded through the anchor (or some other anchor such as a rope sling) and both ends lowered to the ground - this is essential if a climbing party wants to be able to retrieve their rope after a retreat.

All group members transfer from their anchor to the secured rope - attaching a sling between themselves and their belay plate which has already been attached to the abseil rope. The first person down will use a prussik as a backup to prevent a freefall and once down holds both ropes to prevent the rest of the party losing control during abseiling. This method is particularly useful if working with novices.

Day one of Joe & Ruth's Lake District Multi-pitch rock climbing skills training course had been very successful. Both had climbed well - exhibiting considerable confidence and competence. The sun had shone on us all day in what was to become one of the best weeks of weather Iain has ever seen in October - it has been like Summer again!

The pair had gotten on so well that Iain felt they ought go to a different crag the following day and he decided on Middlefell Buttress (moderate) for their next multi-pitch route.

In shot four, Ruth has reached the top of pitch four on Middlefell Buttress and Joe is seconding this pitch. The pair had alternately led all four pitches on the route - again, in fine sunny conditions. There were a number of other parties on the route behind us and is oft the case - some were exhibiting poor climbing technique as well as good! Adjacent Raven Crag was swarming with climbing parties on this perfect climbing day.

The top of Middlefell Buttress can be extended by an extra pitch - Curtain Wall (mild severe) - this was the hardest pitch the pair had climbed - having only been on two V Diffs and a moderate so far, but they were climbing so well that Iain was sure they would cruise it and despite him pre-placing some runners for them - they did just that!

Joe and Ruth had climbed so well during the course that Iain decided to finish off with a fairly short Hard Severe called Revelation on the east side of Raven Crag. This was significantly harder than any route the pair had already climbed but Iain felt that with a few preplaced runners and some good coaching from him -they would be able to climb it.

Revelation is getting fairly polished these days, but can be well protected apart from the crux which is a slightly overhanging bulge in the middle of the route that no-one hangs around on.

Iain decided that it was wise to split the route into three pitches as there is a stance immediately above the crux (a good place from which to watch and reassure your second!). Iain also decided that the best plan was to top rope the leader up this difficult pitch and as Ruth had led the first pitch the lead was Joe's. Iain rigged an anchor for Joe who was able to clip into this on his arrival at the stance and then belay Ruth up to the stance which is happening here in shot five. Joe had to "lap coil" the dead rope over his attachment to the anchor in order to stop it cluttering up Ruths intended stance or falling back down the route - good skills on a difficult pitch!

Finally, shot six shows Ruth & Joe at the top of Revelation at the end of day two on what had been a truly fantastic and really productive multi-pitch rock climbing skills training course in one of the best venues the Lake District has to offer.
Out of the routes Iain used for coaching - those on day one were 2 and 3 star routes according the the FRCC Guide and both Middlefell Buttress and Revelation on day two both merited 3 stars.
The pair climbed extremely well throughout and the whole picture was complemented by such superb weather for the time of year that it seems like a dream! Both thoroughly enjoyed their rock climbing skills training course with Iain from Kendal Mountaineering Services and Iain sincerely hopes that they get out climbing again as soon as possible.
Well done Joe & Ruth!
To learn how Kendal Mountaineering Services can help you with your aspirations to climb using traditional methods on outdoor rock - see our climbing courses overview here or contact us.
We look forward to working with you.

Scrambling skills training courses in the Lake District. October 4th & 5th 2010

Martin Richards and James Rocks travelled up from Buckinghamshire for a scrambling skills training course in the Lake District with Iain from Kendal Mountaineering services. Iain took the guys to Tarn Crag in Langdale which has a range of good scrambling routes - an ideal place to learn scrambling skills!

After first looking at the technique of spotting - where you physically help each other up or down short steep sections without the use of the rope, Iain demonstrated the technique of short roping where two or more people move together using the rope to safeguard where a slip could turn into something more serious. In this first photo, James & Martin follow Iain as he short ropes them up the easy grade one scramble at the lower end of Tarn crag with Stickle Gill and Langdale in the background.

Moving on, it was time to get the two guys on to the sharp end of the rope and so having demonstrated short roping, Iain tought the guys how to take chest coils and coached them on short roping technique. Following on from that, we then looked at the various methods of belaying when scrambling from indirect or body belays through to direct belays.

In shot two, James uses a direct belay to safeguard Martin down a short steep section. Looking at and practising the various methods of scrambling techniques took us the rest of the afternoon. The day saw us close with a session placing anchors and building belays in preparation for us moving from grade one to grade two scrambling ground, the following day.

Day two found us back at Tarn Crag in rather damp conditions. Rain always makes scrambling or rock climbing that little bit more slippery and today was no exception. Iain figured, however, that East Rib on Tarn Crag - a good little grade two scramble would be fine to work on and it was ok. The guys found it somewhat challenging as there was a fairly strong wind gusting across the crag as well as it being damp and so Iain had to look after them both well - making sure that there was no chance of a slip at any time.

In photo three, Martin has scrambled up the first pitch of the route and has set up a belay consisting of a dyneema sling around a very solid rock spike and has attached himself to this. He is belaying James using a belay plate (semi-direct belay technique) whilst James climbs up and removes the running belays placed by Iain so that Martin didn't have to hang around too long! Whilst Martin climbed up to this stance, he was belayed in the usual fashion by James, but at the same time he also received a top rope from Iain who felt it necessary due to the conditions.

Once James reached Martin, he was secured to the same sling via a Clove Hitch and then the rope was "flaked" so that it would run off the top of the pile towards Jame's belay plate as he, again, belayed Martin up the second pitch. All proper rock climbing stuff and necessary on this grade two scramble today!

Shot four shows the lads at the second stance where Martin had once again belayed James as he has climbed up towards Martin - removing the running belays (runners) along the way.

In the background, the view takes one down Stickle Ghyll - a popular local ghyll scrambling venue, into the valley bottom of Langdale. Langdale is a valley popular for its walks, views and mountains and is also a place regularly used by Kendal Mountaineering Services for ghyll scrambling (gorge walking) sessions, and it's Lake District rock climbing and scrambling skills training courses.

In the final shot, we had reached the top of East Rib and Martin & James were looking relieved! The pair found the step up from grade one to grade two scrambling quite a challenge - particularly given the conditions which, by this time, had improved markedly. Both had enjoyed themselves, but felt that they wanted to go away, practise the skills for: and get comfortable with - scrambling on grade one terrain before returning to Kendal Mountaineering Services to do some further grade two scrambling training.

Iain looks forward to seeing them both again in the New Year.

Friday 1 October 2010

Ghyll scrambling courses in the Lake District. Langdale, 29th September 2010.

Amanda Greig booked a half day ghyll scrambling session for herself & her husband Tom whilst they were on holiday visiting family, here, in the Lake District.

Iain from Kendal Mountaineering Services had arranged to meet the pair at Coniston with the intention of using Church Beck as the venue for their ghyll scrambling & canyoning session.

However, the previous night, we had had heavy rainfall here in the Lake District; and Church beck was in flood - making it an unsuitable & dangerous venue - even for adults!

Iain has contingencies for situations like this and after a short drive - arrived in Langdale where he took the pair into the lower reaches of Redacre Gill.

This is one of those places where it would be no good in low water, but is quite sporting and yet safe, when the typically used local ghyll scrambling/gorge walking venues of Church Beck, Stickle Ghyll and Rydal Beck would be too unsafe to use.

In the first photo, Amanda & Tom are about to enter Redacre Gill at the get in. The flow here is quite strong & challenging for the first 500M, but it is easy to get out of the main current at any time.

In the second photo, we have entered a smaller tributary which is exciting in itself. There are some deep pools and a lot of small waterfalls to be climbed. Eventually as the ghyll gets steeper & the falls get higher, harnesses need to be donned and out comes the rope!

At one point, there is even a little bit of caving to be done!

Finally, the waterfalls become so big that climbing is out of the question - although they are good for taking a shower - as Amanda & Tom demonstrated!

We avoided this fall by climbing up a smaller & shorter waterfall to the left of this picture to rejoin the main stream just above and then climb two more waterfalls (roped) whilst in a thicket of Holly!

After another 75M we reached the very top fall where we exited the ghyll and made our way back down to the footpath leading back to the road and our vehicles.

Amanda & Tom thoroughly enjoyed their alternative ghyll scrambling session with Kendal Mountaineering Services. To book your session contact us here and to view the rest of the pictures from this session click here.

Multi-activity day in the Lake District. Abseiling, canoeing & kayaking. 24th September 2010

Jay Keshur booked this multi-activity day with
Kendal Mountaineering Services for himself and his family & friends whilst on a weekend of training here in the Lake District - before they all head off to Africa to climb Kilimanjaro.

The party had decided to do a half day abseiling session first, followed by some canoeing & kayaking. Since they were travelling from near Kendal, Iain arranged the abseiling session to be at Cathedral Quarry in Langdale and for the canoeing & kayaking to be done on Windermere at Waterhead, Ambleside, where there would be scope for learning both some flatwater & moving water skills.

Iain met the group at Skelwith Bridge and took them to Cathedral Quarry where he rigged the short abseil which even though it is only 40 feet in height can be quite challenging - particularly when some of the party had not abseiled for some time. Here, Raxa descends the abseil first of all and she did really well.

We had six members of the party for the half day abseiling session. Raxa has just done the abseil and waiting to take their turn are (left to right) Jay, Tara, Dhilan, Reena & James.

Everyone had two goes at this shorter abseil before we moved on to the higher more challenging of the two abseils to be found at Cathedral Quarry.

The third shot shows James about to descend the long slab on the big abseil at Cathedral. This abseil is at least 3x higher than the other and is a very popular one - used regularly by all manner of groups seeking an adrenaline rush.

One descends this slab for about 90 feet before dropping over an overhang and finishing the last 40 feet or so free hanging. Eveyone found this more challenging - but thoroughly exhilarating. Whilst each person abseiled at their own speed on the white rope Iain belayed them from above - connected to them by the red rope.

This is essential as, if James had let go of the abseiling rope with his controlling (right) hand, he would have plumetted out of control down the slab. However
by being attached to Iain via the red rope - he was secure at all times; and this must always be the case when abseiling.

Well, after three abseils each, the morning had disappeared and we were into afternoon activity session time.

After a short drive to Waterhead and some lunch, the party were ready to get
on the water and had been joined by Parisa (left) and Kresimir (dark glasses) for the afternoon Canoeing & kayaking session.

As can be seen, everyone was ready & raring to go! They were all properly kitted out for the session - wearing wetsuits, fleeces, cagoules, bouyancy aids and helmets - just in case we got on to moving water. Here at Kendal Mountaineering Services, we always do our best to make sure you are kitted out as appropriately as you can be for any of our full or half day activity sessions - and you can be sure that all of the kit is provided as part of your fee. We don't do hidden extras!

In this final shot, the group relax for a moment whilst on the river flowing into Windermere at Waterhead. It hadn't all been plain sailing due to the fresh northerly wind blowing on to us from the hills in the distance and some of the girls had struggled getting to grips with paddling a canadian canoe together whilst the wind did it's best to push them into the middle of Windermere!

But, with a but of perseverance, everyone had a good time and they all enjoyed their half day abseiling & canoeing/kayaking session here in the Lake District with Kendal mountaineering Services.

It must be mentioned that this weekend away for the group was part of a training plan to climb Kilmanjaro to raise money for the charity Gift of hope trust ltd who are building a school for homeless & orphaned children in India. You can visit their website here for more information and should you wish to sponsor Jay & the rest of his party you can do so via here.

Kendal Mountaineering Services have pledged £20 + £5.64 tax relief to this worthwhile cause and if you read this blog post perhaps you may wish to follow suit. Anyway, Iain wishes the team the very best of luck both with their ascent of Kilimanjaro and the raising of funds.

The rest of the photographs from this multi-activity day can be viewed here.

Ghyll scrambling & canyoning courses in the Lake District. Church Beck, September 23rd 2010

Four days after getting back from Scotland
Iain was back in the thick of it again.

Jenny Weinstock booked a half day ghyll scrambling session with Kendal Mountaineering Services for herself, her sister Michelle and brother Lewey whilst on holiday together in The Lake District.

The party were staying at Grange over Sands, so Iain reckoned that Church Beck at Coniston was as good a place as any to meet them.

As can be seen in this first shot however, water levels were up significantly, so Iain had to be careful how he ran the session to ensure that we all stayed safe yet still had a good time.

The first really big waterfall to be encountered in Church Beck was awesome on this day. We normally climb up between two waterfalls at the right of today's shot but as can be seen it was one massive waterfall and we wouldn't have had a chance, so we climbed up on the left. There is so much spray flying around in this shot that it showed up in the flash photography.

Ghyll scrambling (gorge walking) can be a very hazardous activity in high water and a good guide will know when to call it a day or find an alternative Lake District venue. Iain has a number of smaller ghylls earmarked for use when water levels in all of the best Lake District gorge walking venues are too high, but today it was still ok to be in Church Beck.

However, we werent able to use the top lower in Church beck today as the water was absolutely jetting down the slab making it a dangerous place. Iain also considered that the bottom jumps looked too hazardous as well - so what were the alternatives?

Well, the left hand (more usual) descent route of the Miner's Bridge waterfall was out of the question on this day, but water was running down the right hand side and today this was a relatively straightforward lower & climb with the added value of a bit of water in which to climb up - providing a bit of an adrenalin rush.

So, Iain rigged an abseil/climb and Lewey was the first to try it out as can be seen in shot three.

And shot four shows Jenny getting well and truly rehydrated on her climb back up the waterfall having just been lowered down. The smile says it all!

All three had one go at Abseiling down the waterfall (aquaseiling) and climbing back up again. There was still plenty of time so Iain offered them another go, bit no - they had all had enough and were very happy with their ghyll scrambling session and were ready for the hot chocolate Iain had promised them at the end. More satisfied clients!

Additional pictures from this wetter than average session can be viewed here and if you would like to book a ghyll scrambling or canyoning session with us contact us here.

OM Skye meet, September 2010. Day four, 17th September.

Friday, our final day on the ridge, found us down to three people. Jo had decided to take the day off, so the rest of us returned via Coir An Eich to Sgurr Na Banachdich doing it in a mega-fast 1 hour & 45 minutes from the youth Hostel.

Up to this point, the weather had again been looking promising, a dry start, good views, then the cloud rolled in and the wind got up.

Iain was a little concerned as the knife edge of Sgurr A Greadhaidh is no place to be in bad weather, but whilst we had cloud for a while (as seen in this first shot on the Greadhaidh arete) once again, it cleared out.

And by the time we had descended to An Dorus via The Wart, we were again in warm sunshine and the views were once again, great. Here - in shot two, Chris gets the support of a rope as he back climbs down into the notch in the ridge that is An Dorus. Below, Sean looks on; and in the background is the Cuillin outlier of Sgurr Thuilm.

Sgurr Thuilm is a good peak in it's own right - being a most imposing looking peak right opposite as you descend in to the head of Glen Brittle. The ridge connecting it to Sgurr Mhadaidh (the west ridge) is a great grade 3 scramble too.

An Dorus is considered to be at the mid point of the Cuillin Ridge traverse and is often used as an place to leave or join the ridge. An Dorus is a basalt dyke as are many of the gaps or notches cutting through the Cuillin Ridge. Another famous one is the Thearlaich Dubh Gap and there are many others causing would be ridge traversers problems - such as the three splitting Bidean Druim Nan Ramh into three separate summits and the last "sting in the tail" beyond An Caisteal on the way to Sgurr Na Bhairnich!

Usually its Iain taking all of the shots of other people enjoying themselves on their outings with him, but here Sean snapped Iain (red jacket) as he brings Ray to the head of the climb on the second summit of Sgurr Mhadaidh.

Sgurr Mhadaidh has 4 summits and somewhere between each one there are sections where a rope has to be used - unless of course you know about the sneaky little route on to the 3rd summit from the gap between it & the 4th! Again - that's where hiring a well qualified guide with good local knowledge such as Iain can help you get a long way in a day on a Cuillin Ridge traverse!

The final summit of the day. Sgurr Mhadaidh, 1st top. Now all of the difficulties are behind us, Iain can put the rope away and we can all pack up our helmets & harnesses and enjoy the easy descent to the Bealach Na Glaic Moire and from there back to the car at the head of Glen Brittle via Coire A Mhadaidh & Coire Na Creich.

Behind Sean, Chris & Ray - left to right are Sgurr Dearg & the In Pin, Sgurr Greadhaidh with its top just in cloud and Sgurr Mhadaidh's main summit.

Whilst not completing the ridge in it's entirety, Iain had managed to get his party on to every Munro on the ridge
and everyone was delighted with what they had achieved during their four days on the ridge making it, from Iain's point of view, another success.

We had had every type of weather imaginable thrown at us during this week
- sometimes all of it on the same day! We had worked well together on the ridge and gotten on well together at all other times, drunk lots of beer, eaten some great meals and thoroughly enjoyed each other's company whilst having an amazing time. This is what the OM Skye meets are famous for.

Iain will be organising the next OM Skye meet for next May in March and following that there will be another one scheduled for September. If you want to come to Skye with me watch out for the thread on OM or to book your own Cuillin ridge traverse contact us or check out the Kendal Mountaineering Services website viewing the Cuillin Ridge traverse page. If you want to see the rest of our pics from this week on Skye you can view them here.

We look forward to working with you.



OM Skye meet, September 2010. Day three 16th September.

After a successful Tuesday on the northern
end of the ridge, Iain gave the clients the opportunity to choose two more days out of the following three.

As the weather appeared to be forecast to improve, no-one made any move to get Iain up early on the wednesday. Obviously the group had made the decision to use Thursday & Friday as their remaining ridge days.

Iain & Chris took the opportunity for another "full english" in Portree before Iain decided they really should do something; and as Macleod's Tables were beckoning across Loch Bracadale they went & climbed those - two fine wee little hills!

Shot one on the following day shows the view into Coire Lagan towards Sgurr's Mhic Choinnich and Alasdair - at this point looking quite promising. Weather permitting, the plan was going to be to head straight up to the Bealach Mhic Choinnich and traverse Hart's (Collie's) Ledge on to Sgurr Mhic Choinnich and then continue on to Sgurr Dearg to climb the Inaccessible Pinnacle if possible, before continuing on to Sgurr Na Banachdich and Sgurr A Greadhaidh if time & conditions allowed.

Unfortunately, after arriving in Coire Lagan, the cloud rolled in and it began to rain very heavily - no conditions for attempting a traverse of Hart's Ledge! and so the team ascended An Stac Screes to the bealach Coire Lagan.

Here, the wind was gusting and the weather consisted of showers of rain, at times containing hail and some snow.

It was decided to attempt to gain the summit of Mhic Choinnich from the bealach and this is a view from the Bealach Coire Lagan to Mhic Choinnich (left of centre) and Sgurr's Alasdair & Sgumain (right of centre & right) during a break in the weather. The party did succeed in reaching the top of Mhic Choinnich before backtracking to the bealach in, at times, particularly foul and cold conditions, but we made it!

In shot three we were halfway between the Bealach Coire Lagan and the summit of Mhic Choinnich.

Following our return to the Bealach Coire Lagan we ascended the basalt dyke running up under An Stac all the way to the Inaccessible Pinnacle.

Even though it seemed to be drying up, there were still tremendous volumes of water pouring down into the coire below and the In Pin was dripping wet,
unfortunately, it didn't make it ideal for an ascent!

Whilst we were on top of Sgurr Dearg however, the weather again cleared up, the sun came out and once again, the ridge and almost all of Skye put in an appearance for us - another sunny finish to the day!

We made short work of the traverse from here to the summit of Sgurr Na Banachdich from where shot four was taken looking back along the whole of the southern part of the Cuillin Ridge. We lingered here awhile enjoying the views before decending via
Coir An Eich to a waiting car at Glen Brittle Youth Hostel - a satisfying end to another satisfying day.

OM Skye meet, September 2010. Day two, 14th September.

After our enforced day off, we knew that the weather on Tuesday was going to be better - showery, but with a fairly strong south westerly wind.

Iain made the decision to head to the northern end of the Cuillin Ridge where he felt we would be afforded some protection from the wind. As can be seen in shot one from this day - it was much better than the previous day and often, the ridge was clear inbetween showers of heavy rain.

Here, we were walking in from Sligachan to Coire A Bhastier. Our objectives - the west ridge of Sgurr Nan Gillean, the northernmost Munro, followed by an ascent of Am Bhastier and Bruach Na Frithe - both also Munros.

Walking in to Coire A Bhastier, Pinnacle Ridge looms as a fantastic skyline above us. This is a classic grade 3 scramble on to the summit of Sgurr Nan Gillean - starting from the left hand side of the ridge you have pinnacles 1, 2 & 3.
Pinnacle 3 is easiest abseiled into the gap between it & pinnacle 4 (known as Knight's Peak) although if you have nerves of steel it can also be downclimbed on its eastern side.
Getting across Knight's Peak is not quite as bad nor is reaching the top of Sgurr Nan Gillean from there. Kendal Mountaineering Services offer Pinnacle Ridge as one of their classic Cuillin Scrambling routes and it is undoubtedly the best way to get the the top of this peak!
Our route, however, was up the r/h ridge (the west ridge) entailing a lot less ropework to get to the top. Iain's usual route is to rope clients up Tooth Chimney and return via the same route using a stacked abseil. Often, there is also a section higher up - particularly slippery in the wet which requires further ropework as a slip here would see you hurtling down Deep Chimney. On this day the rope was certainly necessary here!

On starting up Tooth Chimney prior to bringing up his clients, Iain found himself in the middle of a hailstorm for some moments followed by some snow.
Before he chose to retreat however, he could see that despite the odd shower, the weather did seem to be improving from the west, so he brought up the others and they continued on to the summit of Gillean which is where shot three was taken. This is a great view with Bla Bheinn in the background and mostly, from here on, the weather just got better & better.
We had one nervous moment though! At the foot of Tooth Gully, having gotten everyone down there was a flash & a bang. Thunder had been forecast, but Iain didn't believe it - how could we get thunder when it was so cold!
Fortunately there were no further rumbles or flashes - only blue sky coming in from the west. The team tackled Am Bhastier well and then made our way around it's base heading for Bruach Na Frithe.

And then the weather just completely cleared out! We could see the whole of the ridge - in fact the whole of Skye and some of the outer Hebrides. The sun was out and the wind died as we reached the summit of Bruach Na Frithe - how lucky!
We then enjoyed a long descent out of Fionn Choire down to the Allt Dearg Mor - back, en route, to the Sligachan Inn where it had been decided we would have evening meal. Shot four is taken from the Allt Dearg Mor looking
up into Fionn Choire with Pinnacle ridge again making up the l/h skyline. Today had been much more like it for a Cuillin Ridge traverse day.
Back at "the Slig" we found the main bar was shut to the public so we went to the Old Inn in Carbost instead. We all agreed it was a much better plan. If you are in the area you must visit this fantastic pub!
Be warned however - don't overdo it with the booze and assume that the local bobbies will be sat in the police station in Portree some 20 miles distant - they are often to be found sitting in wait outside of the Old Inn for unsuspecting pubgoers - ready to breathalyse you as part of that "routine check". You have been warned!

OM Skye meet, September 2010. Day one 12th September

Well, its been a busy couple of weeks for us here at Kendal Mountaineering Services as you'll see from all the following blog posts. Iain's been so busy with work that he hasn't had time to catch up. So - sorry to all of those eagerly waiting to read about your recent adventures with us. Anyway - here they are!

After the success of the Outdoors Magic May 2010 Skye meet, Iain offered a second Skye meet and was able to do so in September. Rumour had it that the weather in September was likely to be as settled as that in May making it ideal for a Cuillin Ridge Traverse and/or any of the other suitable scrambles on the Cuillin Ridge of Skye. In reality though, all of the delegates knew it was going to be somewhat different!

The first shot of this post shows Iain's four clients for the week, left to right - Jo, Ray, Chris & Sean - the latter two being returning clients. Chris has been twice to Skye already with Iain - having attended previous Cuillin Ridge traverses and both Chris & Sean have been on our famous winter skills courses
and also our Lakes based Learning to lead scrambling courses. Anyway, day one saw us depart Glen Brittle and head up into Coir A Grhunnda to start the ridge with Sgurr Nan Eag - the southerly-most Munro on the Cuillin Ridge.

The weather was mixed, cloudy with the occasional shower, but dry for the time being. We knew from the forecast that it was going to rain later - and it did!

Shot two shows the team on the traverse under Sgurr Dubh an Da Bheinn with the Caisteal An Gharb Choire behind us. People who don't know this way climb up on to the summit of Sgurr Dubh an Da Bheinn before having to descend the ridge to get to Sgurr Dubh Mor - the second Munro on the ridge only to then have to backtrack to Dubh an Da Bheinn to continue the traverse of the main ridge.

Finding the shortcut to Sgurr Dubh Mor requires careful route finding and knowledge such as you'll get with Iain at Kendal Mountaineering Services!

Having completed the traverse of "the Dubhs" it started to rain as forecast; and everyone agreed that a traverse of the famous Thearlaich/Dubh Gap would be a bad idea - very slow going in rain and a strengthening wind which would only have left everyone feeling very cold indeed.

It was the right decision therefore, to head for the easy chimney under Sgurr Alasdair to get us on to that summit. Iain roped the group up in pairs and this shot shows Ray topping out closely followed by Chris. Chris was quite happy to come this way having done the TD Gap with Iain (in glorious hot sunny weather!) in May 08.

Once everyone was up, it was a quick & easy scramble to the summit of Sgurr Alasdair - the highest summit (and a Munro) on the Cuillin Ridge.

We descended almost as fast to the head of the great stone chute of Coire Lagan and by now the weather was most foul - heavy rain & strong winds making the thought of traversing on to Sgurr Thearlaich and Sgurr Mhic Choinnich (the next Munro) completely out of the question.

We descended the stone chute into Coire Lagan and followed the path back out to Glen Brittle. Everyone was happy with what we had achieved despite the weather - as normally we would have continued along the ridge getting at least as far as the Bealach Coire Lagan on day one. However, as can be seen from the final shot of the day, everyone was looking like drowned rats and the thought of a nice dry cottage/hot shower was uppermost in everyone's minds. We were back at the vehicles at Glen Brittle just after 5pm and Iain was heard to remark that this was one of the earliest finishes he had ever had to a Cuillin Ridge day!

We all knew that the forecast for the next day was worse than ever so going on to the ridge was not a plan. We all awoke to horizontal rain and low cloud. Ray went off though to climb the Quirang whilst Iain & Chris headed into Portree for a full english before going off to find Chris some waterproof pants. Jo & Sean also spent most of the day in Portree.