Thursday 28 April 2011

Half day Canadian canoeing session in the Lake District. Windermere, April 27th 2011.

Gary Fullbrook had initially booked a multi-activity day out for himself and his wife Louise some months back, but changed the date and the itinery when they realised that they would soon be joined by a new family member. So a change was made from ghyll scrambling and climbing to a half day of Canadian canoeing.

Then numbers changed from two to six when they decided to bring family & friends along on the session. Pictured left to right are Callum & Chloe, Gary & Louise and Sophie & Lewis on the River Rothay at Ambleside.

Iain met the family at Waterhead at Ambleside as he thought it would be an ideal place to run their Canadian canoeing session. First of all, we got everyone on the water and allowed them to go mad for a while before bringing them together for a basic skills training session. Then, in photo two, we set off to explore the nearby river.

After the previous cooler day, Wednesday was warm and sunny with a light onshore breeze - ideal for an introductory Canadian canoeing session.

We took a journey up both rivers as far as we could given the low water levels - which were fine for this group The worst that could happen was that people would fall in and get wet, but that would be all! Fine on a hot a sunny day such as this, although Iain had spare warm and waterproof equipment should it have been needed.

In photo three the family learn to deal with a shallow rapid on the Rothay - first by paddling up it and then by getting out and dragging the boats upstream - the only way on this occasion.

And finally, of course, the young people just had to jump in and get wet. All four went into the river before we tried the challenge in photo four.

In this one, two people turn & face each other in the Canadian canoe, move to the middle of the boat; and then manoevre themselves into a position where they are sitting opposite each other on the gunwhales (sides) of the canoe. With legs straight and - holding on to the sides, both people lean outwards in balance (the idea is to get one's head in the water) and then sit up again.

The whole thing has to be done slowly and with synchronisation between the pair - otherwise you will fall in! Callum & Sophie worked well together and succeeded in doing it without getting wet.

The whole group enjoyed their Canadian Canoeing Session with Kendal Mountaineering Services. It's that time of year when we get enquiries for all sorts of wet sessions including canoeing & kayaking but don't forget our ghyll scrambling & canyoning sessions too! Get in touch to book your session with us, we look forward to working with you.

Additional photo's fronm the family's session can be viewed here.

Canoeing & kayaking half day session. Windermere, The Lake District. April 26th 2011.

Iain had a day off after his weekend of guided Lake District Mountain walking, but got a call that day asking if he could run a half day kayaking session for a family the next day.

Jenny Haworth & her Partner George and daughter Bethany were taking a week's holiday at Hawkshead. They had already done some scrambling, had been to Goape in Grizedale Forest and had hired some canoes from u-cando at Ambleside.

The trio fancied getting some more time on the water so Adrian from u-cando had suggested getting in contact with Iain at Kendal Mountaineering Services to see if he could help out. Of course - we were happy to!

The first photo in this post shows Jenny in Iain's vintage 1994 Pyranha Magic Bat (red kayak) and Bethany in a more recent Pyranha G3. Kayak designs keep changing but not necessarily for the better. Jenny thought the Magic Bat a responsive boat and it is definitely the better looking of the two craft.

Jenny wanted some kayaking for herself and Bethany. George, however, was not keen to get wet so Iain arranged to provide two kayaks for the ladies whilst himself and George paddled Iain's Canadian canoe.

At least this way the whole family got to be out on the water together and George was able to video his daughter's first kayaking session - as seen here in photo two.

Jenny has kayaked in the past - having done a great deal of stuff in the outdoors over the years. This was Bethany's first time in a kayak and she did very well despite the rather cool and breezy conditions.

As part of all of our canoeing & kayaking sessions, we will teach you all of the basic skills to handle the various craft on flat water - so that if you decide to take up the sport, you'll have some idea of what to do.

In photo three, Jenny hangs on to Bethany who is enthusiastically attempting a draw stroke to move sideways - despite not being aware the other paddle blade was getting rather close to Jenny! She did very well though.

Finally, Jenny just had to get wet by doing capsize drill - apparently something she has done every time in the past and usually at the start of the session.

Iain thought she was a brave lass though - as the day was noticably less warm than the preceeding one.

Iain thinks Jenny felt refreshed by the experience although she didn't enjoy getting a noseful of Windermere. Ugh!

Just for a change; and at the family's request, we ran this session from Fellfoot at the southern end of Windermere - one of many locations throughout the Lake District we use for our kayaking & Canadian canoeing sessions. The family thoroughly enjoyed themselves and Jenny is thinking of joining a canoeing club when they get back home to the North East. Good idea Jenny! The rest of the photos from this session can be viewed here.

If you would like to book your Lake District based canoeing or kayaking session with us, then contact us here.

Monday 25 April 2011

Guided hillwalking, The Lake District. Easter weekend 2011.

Susanna Freeman and her partner Martin, travelled to the Lake District for the Easter weekend having booked in to one of the area's many hotels.

They decided that they wanted to climb some of the area's many mountains. Scafell Pike was on their tick list and Sharp Edge on Blencathra sounded good.

They had arrived by train and hence had no transport with which to get about; and they needed someone to help them achieve their objectives.

Fortunately, someone recommended Kendal Mountaineering services to them; and they contacted Iain to discuss their requirements.

As usual, we were happy to help. We don't do set courses here at KMS - you tell us what you want and we will do
our best to make sure you get it.

As it happens, Iain is one of the best mountainwalking guides in the Lake District. He can say that with confidence - having completed his first round of the Wainwrights (as the hills are often known) by the age of 19 and having reascended many of the Lake District's fells many times since - with or without walking or scrambling parties. You won't find anyone who knows these mountains better!

Anyway, Iain was happy to collect Susanna and Martin from their hotel, give them a guided mountainwalking experience and return them to their accommodation each day. On Saturday, we ascended Scafell Pike from Seathwaite in Borrowdale (first photo) doing a round robin - ascending via Grains Gill (photo two) to Esk Hause and from there on to Great End and then on to the summit via Broad & Ill Crags. As can be seen, it was cloudy and Iain was a little wary of the MWIS weather forecast which said thunderstorms were a possibility in the afternoon. Mountain tops are not the place to be in such weather!

However, it remained dry until the early afternoon and we even got views! Iain was not expecting this, but as we crested Great End, the clouds parted and there was our destination in the distance. There was cloud all around - above and below, but for an hour Scafell Pike's summit was clear.

As we descended north to pick up the Corridoor Route we were soon back in cloud and were not to get any further views until we got to Styhead Tarn by which time it had started spitting. On the return drive to Bowness on Windermere it started raining quite heavily and we had the ususal Bank Holiday Weekend travel problems.

Sunday, as forecast, was a glorious sunny day for day two of the pair's Lake District Guided Mountainwalking experience - we could see everywhere!

The day was warm, dry & sunny and there was a light breeze all day which was just enough to keep us cool. Photo four shows Martin & Susanna having just reached the col above Mousthwaite Combe. Behind them is our destination - Blencathra (also known as Saddleback due to the shape of the summit) and sharp Edge - our point of interest.

A little over an hour later, after a brief lunch stop at Scales tarn, we were heading up on to Sharp Edge accompanied by many other Easter weekend hillgoers.

Photo five shows Martin & Susanna enjoying the exhilaration of Sharp Edge's crest. Iain made a point of having the pair helmeted & harnessed up in case we needed to make the transition to short roping - a scrambling technique and Sharp Edge is a classic Lake District Grade one scramble!

Given the pairs previous experience (they have ascended Kilimanjario, Toubkal and Aconcagua - to mention a few "holiday trips") Iain was quite confident the rope wouldn't be needed - they both happily breezed across the ridge and thoroughly enjoyed it. Hard hats & harnesses off, we soon arrived at the summit of Blencathra where the views all around were stunning!

The final photograph here was taken at the western end of Blencathra's main ridge looking east - back towards the summit. Iain had given Susanna & Martin the options of 4 possible descents back to the car at Scales and they had chosen this one.

From here we descended Blease Fell to the intake wall at the foot of the mountain and then walked back, along it's foot crossing the deeply cut ravines of Blease Gill, Gate Gill, Doddick Gill and finally, Scaley Beck before arriving at the back at the car at Scales.

Susanna and Martin thoroughly enjoyed their weekend of guided Lake District mountain walking with Iain and hope to return another time - Helvellyn, with its famous edges could be on the agenda.

If you are interested in having a guided Lake District Mountain walking experience then contact us at Kendal Mountaineering services and remember - if you need transport, we are happy to arrange this for you. Additional pictures from Susanna & Martin's weekend can be viewed here.

ML Refresher day, Shap Fells, The Lake District. Thursday April 21st 2011.

Kendal Mountaineering Services offer ML Refresher days amongst everything else that we do. Basically, if you have a Mountainwalking Leader Assessment or re-assessment looming and want some coaching in a particular aspect of the Mountainwalking Leader Syllabus - whether it be for the Summer Mountainwalking or Winter Mountainwalking Leader Awards - then we can help you. This will be done on a daily basis and you will be coached by a qualified and experienced Mountain Walking Leader or Mountaineering Instructor.

Shaun Barbar, pictured right, contacted Iain with a view to improving his navigation techniques. A local chap working for a very successful outdoors business, he has his Summer ML Assessment starting tomorow and wanted some coaching to brush up on the various techniques required to successfully pass the Summer Mountainwalking Leader Assessment.

For his ML Refresher day, Iain took Shaun to the Shap Fells
area - just north of Kendal.

This bit of ground - sandwiched between Borrowdale to the South and Wet Sleddale and Mosedale/Swindale to the north, is remote and relatively featureless - certainly in terms of man made objects. There was, however, plenty for an ML candidate to work at.

Photo two shows Shaun descending into the head of Crookdale which really was the remotest part of the area.

Iain kept Shaun hard at work all day finding features on the ground which could be anything from a small stream junction to a re-entrant (a hollow or small valley). Along the way we discussed and looked techniques such as pacing, timing (Naithsmiths rule), walking on a bearing, back bearings, resections, boxing, 4, 6, & 8 figure grid references and orientating the map. Shaun performed at the required standard to Iain's mind and he thinks Shaun will do well at assessment. Best of luck Shaun.

If you would like to know more about our ML Refresher days or our navigation skills training courses contact us here, we will be happy to help improve your proficiency in any aspect of the Mountainwalking Leader Syllabus - whether it be Summer or Winter. Additional pictures from Shaun' s day out with Iain can be viewed here.

Friday 22 April 2011

Learning to lead multi-pitch rock climbing skills training course. Langdale, The Lake District, April 16th & 17th 2011

After his scrambling day on Friday, Iain was out over the weekend in the sunshine on one of our popular rock climbing skills training courses with two local lads Alastair & Jon - both from the South Lakes area.

The pair work together and had taken up indoor climbing at the Kendal Climbing Wall during the winter. By the time Iain came to work with the pair, they had already been out on to proper rock a number of times in the warmer spring weather; and between them, had built up a very substantial rack - in fact they had everything they needed - plus more!

What they wanted from Iain was an appraisal of their skills and some coaching as to how to improve their climbing techniques.

On day one, we went to Upper Scout Crag in Langdale - one of Iain's favourite multi-pitch venues and Iain got the guys straight on to climbing to see where they were at. There was plenty to work at - mainly simple things such as always placing karabiners with their gates away from the rock, good anchor placement technique and how to equalise and attach to anchors when setting up a belay at a stance. As can be seen in photo 1, Alastair has equalised his anchors well using the rope and is belaying Jon - in the process of climbing the crux on route 1.

Iain got the guys to lead the same route twice . On a multipitch rock climbing course we always look at the method of equalising anchors with ropes (the usual way if alternately leading the pitches on a multi-pitch route) and also bringing slings together to a single attachment point (frequently used by us Mountaineering Instructors when guiding on climbs - or, if the same person is leading all of the pitches!)

During the first climb, the guys equalised anchors at stances with ropes only. During the second climb, they did this with slings only.

Both Alastair & Jon picked up these techniques well although, as there was a lot of coaching during both climbs, the day had slipped away (as it always does) leaving us a bit of time to have a look at an abseil retreat from a different climb. In photo two, Jon holds the dead rope whilst Alastair makes his descent from the 2nd stance on route 2 during an abseil retreat.

For the second day of Alastair & Jon's multi-pitch rock climbing skills training course Iain decided to change venue by driving further up Langdale and getting the guys climbing on Middlefell Buttress - a popular multi-pitch Diff - having some 5 pitches before one arrives at the top of the route.

In photo 3 Jon, resplendant in 1980's Johnny Dawes style "Wendy Lawrence" sweater, belays Alastair up the 4 the pitch of the route and another party follows on behind. It was a busy climb on this day, but people were polite and conscientious and no-one got in each other's way. There were a great many parties climbing on nearby Raven Crag too.

Iain always likes to "up the ante" wherever possible if he thinks that the climbing team are up for it and able. Jon & Alastair had already shown themselves to be very competent climbing and arranging themselves on Diff and VDiff routes. Photo four shows Jon leading the "extra" pitch on Middlefell Buttress - Curtain Wall and at Mild Severe, he cruised it - not knowing it was of that grade.

Alastair looks on - helmet-less, tut tut! Iain made sure that he had it on his head before he followed Jon up the pitch.

We did see a number of climbers out during the weekend climbing without helmets and there really is no sense in it at all. You only need a pebble to freefall a hundred feet and if it lands on your head, it will injure you - possibly seriously! Whilst rock climbing, if you are unfortunate enough to dislodge something you must shout "Below" and if you happen to be below never look up!

Finally, having cruised Middlefell Buttress in the sun, Iain decided to push the boys up one further notch and coach them on Revelation.

This great little 3 pitch rock climb on the right hand side of Raven Crag has seen much traffic over the years, is steep; and very polished. It will hopefully merit a technical grade in the new FRCC guide to be published soon and should get at least 4b - if it doesn't get upgraded to VS4c!

Iain felt it would be a good finale to their multi-pitch rock climbing skill training course and once again, the pair climbed it in fine style. The crux on Revelation is however, very steep and polished and there are few anchor placements, so Iain Gave Jon a top rope so he could climb it without the fear of falling off as it was the hardest climb he had done to date outdoors. This final photo shows Alastair, once again, cruising up the crux with a smile on his face, belayed by Jon.

Both Alastair & Jon thoroughly enjoyed their learning to lead multi-pitch rock climbing skills training course with Iain from Kendal Mountaineering Services and if you have aspirations to learn to rock climb traditionally in The Lake District this Summer season then let us be the ones to teach you! Contact us here to make your booking.

All of this photos from this superb rock climbing skills training course can be viewed here and you are invited to look.

Wednesday 20 April 2011

Scrambling courses in The Lake District. Langdale, April 15th 2011

At the end of last week we saw a fair amount of activity here at Kendal Mountaineering Services. Friday saw the return of Martin Richards & James Rocks with Iain to go scrambling in Langdale. However, on this occasion they brought two mates along as well.

Martin & James particularly wanted to return to the East Rib of Tarn Crag to have another go at this great little grade two scramble. Last October Iain & the pair had been here on day two of their scrambling weekend unfortunately, on that occasion, the weather had not been great and both Martin & James had decided that the step from grade one scrambling to grade two was a step too far.

This time however, the guys tackled the East Rib of Tarn Crag in fine style with plenty of confidence. However, they had been out in mountaineering terrain a number of times since both in North Wales & the Lakes -and it showed! Photos 1 & 2 show the chaps revisiting scrambling ropework on the East Rib and it was good to see they had remembered so many of the techniques Iain had shown them the previous October.

Once at the top of the East Rib Martin & James decided it was time for a spot of lunch and these Thames Valley Police boys don't do things by halves! Out came the Jetboil and the boil in the bag Chicken Tikka Masala followed by Chocolate Sponge pudding c/w chocolate sauce. The only things missing were the bottle of wine and the naan breads! Anyway, the pair wanted to celebrate their success and why not. Photo 3 shows them en route to our next scramble - Pavey far east - another grade two scramble. In the background here can be seen Stickle Tarn and the south face of Harrison Stickle where there are a number of good scrambling routes and a place where the others were having fun.

The final shot of this post shows the lads in improving weather with blue sky and summit of Sergeant Man in the background. It had been a bit of a grey day pretty much all day and we had been drizzled on a number of times on East Rib. We didn't go far on Pavey Far East before the lads decided they were satisfied and ready to call it a day.

Whilst we had been out on these two scrambles, one of our associates an MIA by the name of Kieran had taken Martin & James's two mates Wayne & John up two scrambles on the l/h side of Stickle Ghyll - Piked Howe and then followed this with the South West Face of Harrison Stickle - both grade two routes. All four thoroughly enjoyed their day out with us and will definitely be returning another time. Additional photos from the pairs day out can be viewed here.

If you would like to attend one of our scrambling skills training courses with Iain or would like to be guided up some classic Lake District Scrambles then get in touch and we will be happy to organise a day for you.

We look forward to seeing you soon.

Sunday 10 April 2011

D of E Gold, practice expedition, The Lake District. Sunday 3rd - Wednesday 6th April 2011.

After the previous weekend's Lake District multi-activity weekend, Iain had been asked to work with one of a number of groups from London's prestigious Harrow School, who, as part of a great many other things that they do, offer their pupils the opportunity to gain the various awards unde the Duke of Edinburgh's Award Scheme. Harrow School brought some 12 groups to The Lake District and Iain was one of a number of instructors contracted in to work with them. The Gold expedition is the longest and hardest of the expeditions with some 80 km or 50 miles needing to be covered over three days including overnight camps. Here, in the first shot, after a long day's walk all the way from Ambleside Youth Hostel, the team of lads were almost at their first campsite. Glad we were to be there too! Shot two shows the location of our one & only wild camp during this expedition before the weather broke. The photo was taken in the hanging valley of Sticks Gill (East) on the Helvellyn range of The Lake District. The walk from Ambleside YHA to here had been over 20km and it was a tired party that assembled their tents and ate before crashing out for the night. There was not a sound from the lads by 8pm! The third photo was taken well over 36 hours later outside of the Stonethwaite YHA in Borrowdale as we prepared to set off for our 3rd day on the fells. Shortly after leaving our campsite the previous day, the weather had broken big style with strong winds and torrential rain. The team's route had taken them over Sticks Pass & down to Legburthwaite in the Thirlmere valley. We then walked around the northern end of Thirlmere to Armboth and then over High Tove and down to Watendlath. During this leg, we passed five parties walking the other way all looking similarly drenched and miserable and by the time we got to Watendlath (to find no cafe open) it was clear to Iain that a second night of camping out in wet equipment was not acceptable. We were fortunate that there was room at Stonethwaite and we were there in the company of another Harrow group who had been driven indoors by the weather as well as another large party from a different Senior Independant School who, fortunately for them, had all just finished; and passed, their silver expedition.
The final photo shows the group near Stockley Bridge in upper Borrowdale. Whilst it appeared to have been dry overnight, shortly after setting off from Stonethwaite it began raining heavily again. The plan for the previous night had been to camp above Honister and then descend to Buttermere village and then go to Styhead via Buttermere, Haystacks and Brandreth - an ambitious plan cut short by the foul weather.

Instead, after a night in Stonethwaite, we headed straight up Borrowdale and up Grains Gill to rejoin the route near Esk Hause. By this time we were again soaked, the cloud was down and the wind was gusting strongly. The plan for the third night's camp was to stay in Mickleden at the head of Langdale, but conditions here were no different from higher up and once again, everything & everyone was soaked. Iain felt we had no option but to call up the school staff at Ambleside YHA and have the lads returned there - something which the staff were only too willing to do.

Wednesday saw a return to reasonable conditions as high pressure moved in again. This Harrow School D of E gold expedition had been severely compromised by the conditions experienced but Iain's team had remained positive and committed to achieving the goal throughout and despite three overnight camps not being undertaken and the route shortened it was felt that the lads had shown considerable perseverance and endeavour, had successfully navigated the whole route and had shown a competent approach to campcraft on the one night we managed it!

Iain is pleased to say they all passed. At Kendal Mountaineering Services we are pleased to be able to offer our services to groups undertaking Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme expeditions. Iain has worked on some half dozen similar such expeditions and knows the Lake District extremely well having completed the Wainwrights (as the tops here are known) by the age of 19 and has continued to return to these fells ever since. Our Mountaincraft courses are similar to the type of expedition undertaken by the Harrow boys and encompass such skills as mountain navigation and campcraft so if you fancy a wilderness experience in The Lake District - contact us.

The rest of the photos from the Harrow School are here - enjoy!