Tuesday 2 August 2011

Multi-pitch Rock Multi-pitch Rock Climbing skills training day. Langdale, July 29th 2011.

After Iain's four days with the Giggleswick Summer School programme, he was straight back out again the next day, on rock, with private client, Chris Jackson.

Chris is a keen climber - when he has a chance to get away from his position as a lecturer in London! He has previously climbed on the Derbyshire gritstone edges and claimed to be able to climb up to E2.

It was clear that he had good rock climbing ability but he felt that he wanted to improve his knowledge of climbing rope work and in particular, focus on building belays at stances and stance management for multi-pitch climbing.

With this in mind, Iain decided to take him to Upper Scout Crag in Langdale where Routes One & Two would allow us ample opportunity to look at these areas for development. Photo one shows Chris climbing the crux pitch of Route One which is a fine multi-pitch VDiff+ rock climb.

Iain decided that the best way for chris to get some idea of how to rig anchors at stances and build safe and equalised belays would be for Iain to lead the first multi-pitch rock climb and show Chris the various ways of tying in to anchors and stance management.

Photo two shows the method of equalising anchor points to a single attachment point using slings.

Three "wires" have been placed in to cracks in the rock and connected to dyneema slings with screwgate karabiners. The "wire" anchors have been brought to a central attachment point (the karabiner in the foreground) by knotting the slings with simple overhand knots in the appropriate positions allowing all three anchors to be equally loaded in the event of a shock load.

The lead climber will have attached themself to the central attachment point using a clove hitch on the rope attached to them. Having gotten themselves in an appropriate position on the stance, the climber would now shout "safe" to the second who would know to take them off belay.

The above system of equalising anchors and bringing them to a central attachment point, will normally be used when one climber or instructor is guiding another person ie leading all rock climbing pitches and leaving the second at the stance each time

In photo three, Iain demonstrates the method generally used by "trad" climbers when each person is alternately "leading through" on a multi-pitch climb.

The lead climber will, once reaching a stance, set up a minimum of two anchors (three or more if any of the others are considered marginal placements) and then connect to all of them using the climbing rope. The best way to do this is to run the rope through each anchor krab individually and then return it back to the rope tie in loop on the climbers harness. Two methods can be used for tying the rope back to the rope tie in loop - either rethreaded figure of eight knots on the bight (a bight being a loop of rope) or, as Iain has done in this photo, clipping the rope in to a single HMS karabiner using a clove hitch.

This is a simple belay system - useful for setting up quickly and then being easily adjustable for equalisation purposes - particularly where the anchor points are out of reach of the climber. Its main drawback is that one cannot easily escape the system should the leader need to get help or rescue the second. However, if you come on one of our improvised rescue skills courses, we will show you all that you need to know in order to be able to deal with any scenario encountered in a multi-pitch rock climbing situation.

So, with Iain having lead Route one and Chris having observed the different methods of setting up a belay at stances, it was then time for Chris to have a go.

The final photo shows Chris at the third stance on route two having set up an elaborate, but safe belay system with which to protect Iain. Chris is also demonstrating good rope management technique by draping the dead rope over his attachment - this is better than having lying it all over the stance and possibly falling back down the pitch below - leading to all sorts of potential problems.

Chris's ropework techniques improved significantly as a result of his one day multi-pitch climbing workshop with Iain in The Lake district. All he needs to do now is get out and practice the skills learnt. Kendal Mountaineering Services run a number of skills training courses here in the Lake District apart from Rock Climbing Skills Training courses. We also run Navigation Skills Training courses, scrambling skills training courses; and if you join us in Scotland in winter, you can attend one of our Winter Skills courses or our winter climbing courses. Contact us for more information.

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