Friday 15 October 2010

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.

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