Monday 18 July 2011

Guided Cuillin Ridge Traverse. Isle of Skye. September 10th - 17th 2011.

Kendal Mountaineering Services is offering the opportunity to partake in one of our bi-annual guided Cuillin Ridge traverse trips taking place between Saturday 10th and Saturday 17th September 2011.

The Cuillin Ridge is over 12km long and has twenty two summits along its length of which 11 gain Munro status.

The Cuillin Ridge traverse is one of the finest and longest rock climbing & scrambling routes in Europe with over 4000m (13'000 feet) of ascent & descent. The entire ridge is a scramblers & mountaineers paradise largely being composed of grade one ground, but with some grade two, three & four ground as well as rock climbing to severe standard and a number of abseils to undertake en route.

Iain Gallagher from Kendal Mountaineering services
has been running annual guided Cuillin Ridge Traverses since 2006. He has completed some 12 traverses of the Cuillin Ridge altogether; and has successfully guided seven parties along this supurb mountaineering challenge - the most recent being during May 2011.

For £375 the package we offer you includes 7 nights self catering accommodation in our comfortable cottage near Carbost on the Isle of Skye plus the opportunity of four days of guiding on the Cuillin Ridge Traverse making this an unbeatable opportunity to take part in a traverse of The Ridge.

Iain, a Mountaineering Instructor, has, considerable experience of guiding on the Cuillin Ridge. A successful complete traverse is dependant on good weather conditions and whilst we cannot guarantee your successfully completing the whole traverse, our plan of tackling sections of the ridge over four days out of six means that you will have a great experience and every opportunity of completing a significant part, if not all of the Cuillin Ridge Traverse.

Unlike many packages on offer with regards to the Cuillin Ridge Traverse, Iain prefers to keep the itinery totally flexible. Depending on conditions and wind direction - we may go to opposite ends of the ridge from one day to the next; or if the weather is bad, we will take a rest day when party members can go and check out all that the rest of the Isle of Skye has to offer.

Each day on the ridge will see us aim to depart the cottage by 08:30 or earlier if the weather dictates and arrive back at the cottage by early evening to enjoy a meal cooked by others and a well earned rest in a comfortable bed.

Iain will work with up to six people during our guided Cullin Ridge traverse. As a member of the guided party it is expected that you are already an experienced mountaineer with some experience of scrambling and ropework and comfortable with a degree of exposure which is present on a number of sections of the ridge.

You will also need to be fit and healthy for what is a strenuous and demanding challenge and you must also be prepared to work as part of a team - all working together to help Iain make the possibility of a successful traverse reality.

Whilst at the cottage, everyone attending is expected to provide one communal evening meal for all other members of the team during our stay. Breakfasts and packed lunches are your own responsibility.

Regarding equipment - you will need to bring your own foul weather equipment, a rucksac of at least 45 litres and a stout pair of walking boots with a good cleated (Vibram type) sole and good ankle support. Approach shoes are wholly unacceptable for the ground encountered on the Cuillin Ridge.

Helmets & harnesses can be provided by us for a small fee.

There are many exciting parts to a guided Cuillin Ridge Traverse with Kendal Mountaineering services - The famous Thearlaich Dubh Gap, The Inaccessable Pinnacle, the airey traverse of the summits of Sgurr A Greadaidh and Sgurr A Mhadaidh, the ascent of Am Bastier and the West Ridge of Sguur Nan Gillean. Some or all of the objectives will be achieved as part of your guided Cuillin Ridge Traverse.

Whatever we manage to acheive during the Kendal Mountaineering Services guided Cuillin Ridge traverse, you will have a great experience in this breathtaking environment with a guide who knows the ridge extremely well.

To read reports from previous trips go to the Kendal Mountaineering Services Blog where reports from May 2009, 2010 & 2011 can be found along with a report from our trip in September 2010.

To book your place contact us here or call Iain on 07761 483364

Monday 11 July 2011

Ghyll Scrambling sessions in The Lake District. Wren Gill, Longsleddale, July 11th 2011

Lindsi & David Missen booked a half day ghyll
scrambling session
with Iain from Kendal Mountaineering Services, whilst on Holiday in the area from Reading.

For a change, Iain decided to take the pair to a different Lake District ghyll scrambling venue - that of Wren Gill at the head of Longsleddale in the south east corner of the Lake district National Park.

Wren Gill is a little known and hence little used venue at the head of the peaceful and unspoilt valley of Longsleddale due north of Kendal. As is often the case here, we saw no other people in the ghyll at all.

The first photo shows the pair cooling off in the first deep pool we encountered - the refreshment was necessary as we had just walked a mile up the Gatesgarth Pass Road from Sadgill on this hot and sunny day!

The rock behind David us an ideal place to jump off in to this deep pool and we were all very keen to have a go!

Heading up Wren Gill beyond the first deep pool, the valley narrows & deepens. More deep pools & small waterfalls follow until one turns a corner in to a narrow slot and the way ahead is blocked by a deep pool beyond which there is an impassable 10m waterfall.

Here, one backtracks to the corner in the ghyll and climbs out above the left hand side of the ravine and walks up for 200m before being able to descend back to the bed of the ghyll and continue the ascent.

Photo two was taken just before we took the left hand bend in the ravine and arrived at the waterfall.

On returning to the bed of Wren Gill, we discovered a rope sling around a block at the top of a waterfall where someone else has clearly been using this part of the ghyll as a canyoning descent. Today, Iain judged the waterfall to be too slippery - indeed, a lot of the rock everywhere in the ghyll was coated in a green slime and care needed to be taken at all times!
A little further on, the water comes down a long narrow slot which can be very hard work in moderate to high water conditions. On all previous trips Iain has always exited on to the Gatesgarth Road just above here.

However, today, we still had plenty of time to continue upstream to a distant waterfall and in the process, check out a new part of the ghyll (well - a new part for Iain anyway!)

Lindsi started out by checking out the first new bit - a small but deceptive pool under a small waterfall - despite being 5' 1" - she went in up to her neck as seen in photo three.

A little futher on, we came to this fine little waterfall (photo four) where Iain roped Lindsi & David up the left hand flow. It was slippery, but both managed fine with the use of a top rope by Iain.

Another 50m upstream found us at the waterfall we had seen from the usual get out lower down. Iain had predicted that it would be unclimbable and it was. However, it was a good place for a high pressure shower - enjoyed by Lindsi & David before we exited up the bank on to the Gatesgarth Road just above.

The pair thoroughly enjoyed their afternoon ghyll scrambling session with Iain from Kendal Mountaineering Services and for Iain, it was nice to have a break from Church Beck which is the place where we run most of our ghyll scrambling & canyoning sessions in The Lake District .

The rest of the photos from todays ghyll scrambling session can be viewed here. To book your ghyll scrambling or canyoning session with Kendal Mountaineering Services in any corner of The Lake District National Park - contact us here.

Caving and rock climbing activity sessions in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. July 10th 2011.

Jamie Windows & his girlfriend Katie, booked a Level Two caving session and a Beginners Rock Climbing Session in the Yorkshire Dales National park, with Iain from Kendal Mountaineering services.

The pair were over in The Lake District on holiday with family; and had contacted Iain to see if he could put this package together for them - caving for Jamie & climbing for Katie.

Iain has a wealth of knowledge about venues for activities all over the northwest of England. Caving cannot be done in the Lake District National Park and some might think there isn't that much climbing in the Yorkshire Dale National Park either - but there are venues where it is possible to run both a half day caving session and a half day climbing session in The Yorkshire Dales National Park.

Anyway, the pair booked their day out with Iain and another reason for that was that Iain was prepared to work with just the two of them. Apparently, another business had said no to working with the pair as it was "too small a group size". Well, don't forget, at Kendal Mountaineering services we pride ourselves on putting together a bespoke package to fit your requirements - provided you are prepared to pay a little more for the experience!

Iain thinks that the good thing about working with individuals or pairs is the speed with which you can get things done. Caving can be potentially wet and/or cold so you won't want to be hanging around.

Fortunately, last Sunday was a hot & sunny day, so we had no such worries. Iain took the pair to Birkwith to do the Calf Holes/Browgill Cave level Two Caving Trip; and in photo two, Katie is being lowered down the pitch in Calf Holes.

A Level Two Caving Trip differs from a level one trip in so much that one may be required to descend/ascend pitches of up to 18m (60 feet) in height and so harnesses, cows tails and a whole range of other equipment come in to play. Clients can be lowered down pitches using a Petzl Stop as seen here in photo two. A lever two cave leader is skilled in using this sort of equipment as he may have to revert from a lower to a hoist - mid pitch if necessary!

Once Iain had lowered Katie & Jamie down the Calf Holes Pitch, we set about completing the Browgill through trip which is essentially, a level one caving trip. The first part of the trip is a walk along the active stream passage, but then the water sinks away through the floor and the passage lowers to a crawl ending in a squeeze to get in to the lower part of the Browgill system.

The way between is known as Hainsworth's Passage and in some places this is no wider than one's body.

Photo three shows Katie and Jamie who has just entered the lower cave system from Hainsworth's Passage via "The Slot".

After this challenging crawl, the way on rapidly gets higher. In actually fact what really happens is that the stream cuts down rapidly to the top of an 8m high waterfall in to the chamber below. As with the Calf Holes Pitch Head, there are resin bolts here - so one could set up a second lower and climb beside the waterfall. This would have taken quite a bit of time and as we were only on a half day level two caving session, Iain decided to give it a miss although he did take Katie and Jamie to the pitch head.

Instead, to get down to the foot of the waterfall, one climbs back up and over into a series of fossil passages that lead to a climb down with a fixed rope.

In photo four Katie & Jamie are descending that climb which is easy as long as one takes their time - the rocks have been polished smooth by thousands of visiting cavers!

After the down climb, one enters a high & narrow fissure (known in caving terms as a joint) although this one is wider than most due to the fact that it has been enlarged by the erosive action of Browgill Beck which has been flowing through the cave since the end of the last ice age 15,000 years ago.

After a short distance the joint widens dramatically and the floor becomes littered with large blocks of limestone that have fallen out of the roof. The way on finishes with a short "bedding crawl" beside the stream before one exits at the Browgill Cave entrance seen here in photo five behind Jamie & Katie.

Many people are satisfied to call it a day here and walk back over the fields to Calf Holes. Jamie & Katie both wanted to reverse the trip and climb out at Calf Holes - so off we went back in again!

On the return trip, after a quick visit to the foot of the waterfall, we climbed back up and then reached the challenging part of the trip through Hainsworth's passage. There are two ways through this - the slot which we did on the downward descent; and the letterbox which we did on the way back out. Both are fairly tight but Jamie & Katie managed them with out any problems.

In photo six Katie finishes off the crawl through Hainsworth's with Jamie following behind.

The final photograph from this half day level two caving session in the Yorkshire Dales National Park looks down on Jamie & Katie - who is about to climb the caving ladder (also known as an electron ladder) back up the Calf Holes pitch to Iain who is belaying with a safety rope and using a device called a "Pro-traxion" - basically a pully-jammer, also made by Petzl.

Prior to bringing up Jamie & Katie, Iain ascended a single rope using a system of chest and foot jammers (Jumars) to get up to the pitch head
and rig the ladder. The technique of ascending a single rope in this way is known as SRT (Single Rope Technique) and is used by experienced cavers, Level Two Cave Leaders and people holding the Caving Instructors Certificate (CIC).

The afternoon beginners rock climbing session was easy for Iain by comparison.

Iain took the pair to Twistleton Scar in Chapel Le Dale near Ingleton which has a wealth of climbs suitable for the novice climber. The weather was perfect as can be seen in photo eight, dry, hot and sunny - just as well really because this was limestone climbing and it's not great climbing in the wet at all.

Iain rigged up a top rope/bottom belay system for the pair, taught them how to tie in and belay and then coached them on good climbing technique.

In the background is Ingleborough Hill - one of the Yorkshire Dales "Three Peaks". The other two are Penyghent and Whernside.

When we arrived at Twistleton for our beginners rock climbing session in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, we were in the company of a group of Army Cadets who soon disappeared and save for a few small groups, we had the place to ourselves and in this final photo, we have moved to a different part of the crag.

Here, Katie belays Jamie up one last climb before we called it a day

To see more photos from this great day out you can view them here.

Did Katie & Jamie enjoy their day out with Iain from Kendal Mountaineering Services? See their comment left in the "post a comment" section at the foot of this post.

It would be easy to add a "what the customers say" page to the Kendal Mountaineering services website and make up loads of comments about the good standard of service we provide - but one thing we like about our blog is that the comments added are added by real clients - like Jamie & Katie!

So if you want to know real people think about what we offer - check out our blog and see what people really do have to say about us!

To book your caving and rock climbing session in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, contact us here. We look forward to working with you.

Ghyll scrambling & canyoning courses in The Lake District. Church Beck, Coniston. July 9th 2011.

Iain from Kendal Mountaineering services organised another Ghyll Scrambling & Canyoning Session in The Lake District for Nucleargraduates on behalf of GEN II Engineering.

This time we had eleven participants for this event and again - split them in to two groups. Water levels in Church Beck were much lower than last time meaning that there would be a real possibility that this group would be able to complete the whole Church Beck Ghyll scrambling & canyoning trip as run by us.

GEN II's rationale for undertaking a ghyll scrambling & canyoning session with Kendal Mountaineering Services is that it was to be part of an induction weekend based in Kendal giving graduate applicants whom have been successful in joining the Nucleargradute Scheme, the opportunity to meet each other and the GEN II staff for the first time.

Our ghyll scrambling & canyoning session was planned to further reinforce the rationale behind this induction weekend - by placing these apprentices in a challenging situation where they would have to work together to achieve a goal. This would allow those people taking part to form relationships that will last the entirety of their two year apprenticeship and beyond - as they leave GEN II to take up positions in the nuclear industry around the country.

Ghyll scrambling, also known as gorge walking, involves walking up a mountain stream, swimming across pools and climbing waterfalls. It can be a great opportunity for people to get to know each other as they help each other to deal with obstacles encountered along the journey. In photo two, the first group are just finishing climbing such an obstacle, whilst the second group cool off in the pool below.

In photo three, two members of Iain's group have slid down a waterfall at the start of the canyoning descent of Church Beck. Below here, we have another six waterfalls to pass and three of those involve being lowered or belayed on a rope for safety. Some of the apprentices found this the most challenging part of the ghyll scrambling & canyoning descent organised by us.

Finally, the canyoning descent was behind us as seen in photo four. Everyone had thoroughly enjoyed themselves and had formed and/or strengthened bonds with other members of the group during the experience.

As well as feeling exhilarated by the whole experience, we would hope that people will have left with increased self confidence and self esteem - having discovered that they are capable of achieving more than they previously thought possible and having realised that considerably more can be achieved when working together as part of a team.

All of the various activities provided by Kendal Mountaineering Services can be incorporated in to one of our team building packages Activities can be devised as part of a strategy or exercise used to achieve a common goal, aim or objective.

Additional photos from this session can be viewed here. To book your Ghyll Scrambling & canyoning session in The Lake District - contact us here.

Monday 4 July 2011

Introductory caving session in The Yorkshire Dales National Park. July 3rd 2011

Darren & Becky booked an introductory caving session in the Yorkshire Dales National Park with Iain from Kendal Mountaineering services, whilst on a long weekend break from their home in Teeside to The Lake District National Park.

The starting point for most of Kendal Mountaineering services introductory or advanced level caving sessions is to meet at Inglesport Shop & Cafe in Ingleton - an excellent place to buy caving equipment for your session or indeed any other outdoor pursuit in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. The Inglesport cafe is renowned for its food - there is no better way to start your caving session with a pint of tea and a bacon butty first!

Iain met Darren & Becky at Inglesport and then we all travelled up into the Yorkshire Dales National park area of Ribblehead and on to the cave system of Long Churns. The first photo shows Darren & Beck at Alum Pot, very close to the Long Churns Cave System - there is a 340 foot drop just over the wall behind them!

As it was a Sunday, there were very few other user groups in the cave system. Long Churns is an excellent venue for an introductory caving session which makes it very popular with many outdoor centres and this can cause queuing at various points underground. However, today, Iain, Darren & Becky were able to keep moving without any holdups and due to the recent dry weather, the water levels in the cave were very low and after the heat of outside, underground was a pleasant & cool place to be.

We made our way in to the system via Middle Entrance and travelled down lower Long Churns to the famous "Cheese Press" and this is where photo two was taken as Becky squeezes easily through this foot high horizontal gap. Unfortunately, the Cheese Press was just a bit too tight for Iain & Darren,
but of course there are other ways around this part of the system.

Having done the round of lower Long Churns including taking a peek at the daylight entering from Alum Pot, Iain took the pair back out to daylight via Diccan Entrance and in photo three Darren slides through the narrowest part of that route.

Here, Alum Pot Beck disappears underground for the last time before plunging in to Alum Pot via Diccan pot - but that is no place to go with novice cavers - being a fairly serious SRT trip.

Once at the surface at Diccan Entrance, we did a short wet crawl to keep us cool before heading back underground, upstream in to Middle Long Churns.

Photo four shows Darren & Becky in the stream passage of Upper long Churns and here, we were en route for Doctor Bannister's Wash Basin - having done the Babtistry Crawl trip along the way. Babsistry Crawl is a fossil passageway famous for its calcite formations and "The Font" - a crawl through a pool with a calcite formation overhead.

Having exited Babtistry Crawl, Iain took the pair downstream in the main cave passageway back out to Middle Entrance and then we returned upstream by way of the entrance waterfall and back to Babtistry top entrance - thus having completed everything to be done in the Long Churns cave system to that point.

Iain allowed Darren & Becky to lead on upstream from here towards Doctor Bannister's Wash Basin. One of the great things about using Long Churns for introductory caving sessions is that it is a safe cave system without many hazards such as loose rocks and bigs drops and in many places novices can be allowed to self lead. This doesn't mean that as a cave leader you leave people to get on with it themselves everywhere in the system. Areas such as Lower Long Churns and Doctor Bannister's Washbasin are places where clients need to be managed carefully!

Photo five shows Becky ascending the waterfall at Doctor Bannister's Washbasin. Just above here, Alum Pot Beck enters the Upper Long Churns Cave System having exited the Borrin's Moor Cave System only some 75m upstream.

At Doctor Bannister's Washbasin, the beck plunges 5m down a chute in to the washbasin - a 10m wide pool 1.5m deep. Whilst the climb up or down is an easy prospect for an experienced caver, it is a place where a slip could turn into something more serious; and so it should be roped for novice cavers.

There is a resin bolt and a backup thread for use at the top of the pitch; and it was an easy job for Iain to set up an assisted hoist and bring the pair up one at a time. After this, only a short walk remained back out to the sunlight.

The final photograph from this introductory caving session in the Yorkshire Dales National Park shows Darren & Becky standing on the limestone pavement above the Upper Long Churns Cave System with distant Penyghent - one of the Yorkshire Dales National Park's famous "three peaks" behind.

Both thoroughly enjoyed their introductory caving session in the Yorkshire Dales National Park with Iain from Kendal Mountaineering Services. Additional photographs from this session can be viewed here.

For £45 per person you can book your own session and you get all of the equipment the pair are wearing as part of the fee - making it fantastic value for money. Larger groups get discounts so contact us if you want to book your own caving session in the Yorkshire Dales National park with Iain

Sunday 3 July 2011

Ghyll scrambling & canyoning day in the Lake District. June 2nd 2011.

At Kendal Mountaineering Services, it's been a busy week for Iain who has, since a week Saturday, spent four days doing ghyll scrambling & canyoning sessions. Mind you - with this current spell of summer weather, it's no surprise that the general public want to cool off and there really is no better way than to do so than a ghyll scrambling and/or canyoning session with us!

It is not often, however, that we get asked to provide a full day of ghyll scrambling & canyoning - unless we are doing the Esk Gorge Descent.

Yesterday, Iain worked with Torben Schneider and Chrystele Scariot who had chosen to come to The Lake District from London to celebrate Chrystele's birthday and she had chosen to spend it by a whole day of getting wet!

It was a good call though. Saturday was a fantastic warm day with blue skies & hot sunshine meaning that even if you got soaked in the ghyll, you weren't chilled when you were not immersed.

For the all day ghyll scrambling & canyoning session, Iain took the pair first to Stickle Ghyll in Great Langdale - a popular ghyll scrambling venue. This ghyll starts immediately behind the New Dungeon Ghyll hotel and finishes at Stickle Tarn. Generally an easy scramble, there are a few deep pools and a number of roped waterfall climbs before the ghyll peters out above a steep and often slimey rock slope. Both photographs one & two were taken in Stickle Ghyll and show the pair enjoying themselves.

After doing what we could in Stickle Ghyll, Iain and the pair got changed, had some lunch and then drove over to Coniston for their second and more challenging ghyll scramble - Church Beck.

Conditions were perfect and we rapidly made progress up the ghyll and then headed to the top to do the canyoning descent.

With reference to the previous post on which Iain mentions the upper part of Church Beck being often avoided by other user groups, photo three shows Chrystele being lowered down the first waterfall.

Doing this shorter lower first, is good preparation for what is to come further down the ghyll beyond Miner's bridge. However, it must be stressed that this lower should not be attempted in high water conditions and care must be taken as the slab upon which Chrystele is stood can oftern be slippery.

This final shot - taken in the upper part of Church Beck is the waterfall immediately below the first lower.

Jumping in to the pool at the waterfall end must be avoided - there are large rocks at the base of the fall and getting in to the pool should only be attempted immediately below where the party are in the photo.

The water is surprisingly deep at the get in to this pool - you will go in over your head, so it is a good way to cool off after the walk up from below Miner's Bridge.

Below here it is an easy walk downstream to Miner's Bridge where the next waterfall awaits and the session gets much more exciting.

Torben & Chrystele thoroughly enjoyed their full day of ghyll scrambling & canyoning with Iain from Kendal Mountaineering Services. All of the photographs taken on their session with us can be viewed here. To book your ghyll scrambling & canyoning session in The Lake District - contact us.

Iain's next post will be about today's caving trip in The Yorkshire Dales National Park!