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.

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