Wednesday 19 December 2012

Mountain Navigation Skills Training courses in The Lake District. December 1st & 2nd 2012 and beyond.

At the beginning of December, Iain from Kendal Mountaineering Services ran another bespoke Mountain Navigation Skills Training Course in the same fashion as the course the previous month.

Despite offering our courses out at the bargain price of £80 per person for a weekend Navigation Skills Training Course in The Lake District, we failed to meet the minimum group size of four persons. This is puzzling indeed, but once again, we had one person keen to secure Iains services to run the Navigation Skills training course for themselves.

Adam Murfitt travelled up from Lancashire to attend this course with Iain. Photo one was taken during day one late in the afternoon on Green Quarter Fell. Despite a poor start to the day in which rain hitting frozen ground had made driving to the venue a real hazard - it went on to become a lovely still, dry and sunny afternoon - even if temperatures in the shade did not rise above freezing!

Adams bespoke Mountain Navigation Skills Training Course in The Lake District took the usual format with Iain assessing the candidates initial ability and developing their navigation techniques in a progressive style from there on. Adam was a fast learner so it was not too long before were were using the compass more & more to find our way from point to point and to identify what we were looking at.

In photo two taken on day two, we had moved on to Shipman Knotts - part of the Kentmere Horseshoe and here Adam is comparing the amount of information available on a 1:50,000 scale map in his left hand as opposed to that available on a 1:25,000 scale map (in his right hand!) - basically covering half the distance but offering twice the information of the 1:50 map.

What was more important was that Adam had been asked to identify the white building visible in the top left hand distance which was off the 1:25k map but on the 1:50. Adam successfully located his position on the 1:50 map and, using his compass, was able to identify the building in the distance - no easy task, well done Adam.

Photo three was taken on The Knowe - a shoulder on the ridge between Kentmere Pike & Harter Fell. Here we had great views across to High Street - the highest mountain in the area.

To get to this point Adam had "handrailed" a number of linear features including a track and a boundary wall - successfully identifying and locating "tick off features" along the way. Also, we had included a couple of legs which involved walking on a bearing and pacing and at this point Iain had introduced Adam to Naithsmiths rule for timing as well.

Mr Naismith devised a formula in which he reckoned the average hillwalker could cover ground at the rate of 3 kilometres per hour (Iain reckons it's nearer five for most people) and that one should add 1 minute for every 10 metre contour crossed en route. So, on that basis - say you had to walk one kilometer and had a hieght gain of 100m over this distance then the time for distance shoud be 60 minutes/3 kilometres = 20 minutes + 100metres hieght gain/1minute per 10m contour = 10 minutes............20+10= half an hour. When you have to break it down to 375m distance - covering ground at the rate of 5 kilometres per hour it gets a lot harder! Can you work it out?

Having reached the top of Harter Fell and enjoyed the views in what was very much a winter environment, Iain asked Adam to take him to the head of Drygrove Gill - a conspicuous ravine on the western flank of Harter Fell. Adams choice was to pace & "handrail" the boundary fence to an attack point - in this case an obvious change of direction of the fence that put him a mere 150m from his destination to pace & walk on a bearing.

This was a very good plan and in the final photo of the day Adam can be seen walking towards the head of Drygrove Gill (not visible at this point) with a cold looking Kentmere Reservoir nestling under a snowy Ill Bell in the distance. Adam was bang on with his bearing - having used a feature on the opposite side of the valley as a line of sight. We finished off by continuing to the Ull Stone before heading back to the car.

Adam performed well during his bespoke Mountain Navigation Skills Training Course in The Lake District and whilst this was the final course for 2012, dates for our 2013 courses are now up on the website here and bookings are already coming in. If you would like to learn how to map read and navigate in the mountains with confidence - then have a look at the dates and contact us to make your reservation. £80 for a two day course is a bargain price and we look forward to your joining us on the hill in 2013. Further photos taken during this weekend Navigation Skills Training Course in The Lake District can be viewed here.

Tuesday 18 December 2012

Kendal Film Festival 2012. November 15th - 18th.

The Kendal Mountain Festival has become something of an annual ritual for us at Kendal Mountaineering Services - just as it has for scores of climbers, hillwalkers, paddlers, expeditioners and other enthusiastic outdoor folks.

Undoubtedly the best of its kind in the UK, the KMF is an ideal opportunity to see some of the best known speakers and adventurers at the top of their game present some truly inspirational lectures, talks and films as well as just generally meeting likeminded people.

It is also a great opportunity to come together and socialise and that is exactly what we did again this year. Since 2009 we have been joined by past clients of ours - Chris Upton & Adam Dawson, descending on us from opposite ends of the country. Unfortunately this year Adam couldn't make it, but instead we were joined by Dave Mycroft from Myoutdoors who was covering the festival from a journalistic point of view. Dave has been involved with Kendal Mountaineering Services from its beginnings in 2005.

During previous Mountain Festivals, we have made it an interesting mix of both hillwalking and attending various KMF events and this year was no exception. Chris (orange jacket in photo two) was, as always, keen to bag a few wainwrights, so we took a walk on Thursday around the Coniston fells (photo one) taking in Wetherlam, Swirl How and the Old Man. As you can see, it was a truly atmospheric, but pleasant day out.

By contrast, Friday was nowhere near as nice. Photo two is taken near to Red Tarn as we attempted to traverse Crinkle Crags and Bowfell from Oxendale with the cloudbase at around 200m and it was to remain at this level all day.

Chris had bought his bright orange Arcteryx jacket the previous evening at the Planet Fear sale in the Basecamp tent at the Brewery Arts Centre. Iain, on the other hand was wearing the new Berghaus Ilam hydrodown jacket - on test via Myoutdoors. The latter part of the day was miserably damp but this down jacket performed really well - largely keeping Iain dry, but more importantly - comfortably warm despite the conditions. Iain reckons Berghaus are on to a winner with this product and looks forward to testing it out as a belay jacket in Scotland in the new year. You can read his test report on the Ilam jacket here.

Thursday evening found us at Kendal Town Hall for the Boardman Tasker 30th Anniversary Commemorative Event (photo three) To celebrate this event were well known authors of mountain literature such as Doug Scott, Chris Bonnington, Andy Cave, Roger Hubank & Stephen Venables who talked about their experiences and achievements over the last 30 years and for us it was an excellent start to the KMF.

As already mentioned, Friday was a rather wet day out on the hill. Friday evening found us all in the Malt Room at The Brewery Arts Centre for the Mountain Equipment pub Quiz hosted by Andy Kirkpatrick. Well, with Andy doing it - it was bound to be fun and it was. Our team won second prize and for that we each got an ME T shirt and a DVD of Dave Macleod and Andy Turners ascent of the Long Hope on the Island of Hoy last year. The long hope was featured at the KMF 2011where it received the peoples choice award. We saw it then - an excellent film indeed!

So that was Friday. Saturday morning found us in Screen One,The Brewery, for Andy Caves Alpine Extremes Lecture in which he told us of his inspiring journey of climbing exploration - from Bridlington to Pakistan, from Shetland to China in which he relived some of his greatest climbs & travels. There was also some great film footage of a hard new route he recently climbed in the Alps with Twid Turner who, along with fellow British Mountain Guides Owain Jones & Andy Nelson was also presenting at the film festival.

At some point during Saturday we were once again in the basecamp tent looking for bargains. Dave Mycroft snapped Iain trying out the new Petzl Sirocco helmet - made from expanded polypropelene. You can have it in any colour - so long as it's orange!

The Afternoon saw us back in the Town Hall where Will Gadd presented his lecture Survival Strategies for high risk situations and talked about his adventures, achievements and tools for survival in the mountains & life that he has learned "both the fun & the hard way".

After a short pause we were back at the Brewery for Karen Darkes presentation in the Theatre. A runner, climber & allround outdoor addict Karen was paralysed from the chest down following a climbing accident at age 21 but this hasn't stopped her from continuing to have great adventures in the outdoors. Pictured in photo five talking to Iain's partner Kirstin - she is a hugely motivated and inspirational person and her lecture was just great!

The rest of the evening was spent not at the Rab Party but upstairs in The Vats Bar in The Brewery where we enjoyed pizza, beer and a good crack and catch up with the many people around that we knew.

After a liesurely start on Sunday Iain & Chris returned to The Brewery Arts Centre to watch the Climbing 2 film presentations in Screen 2. Here we saw six films by people such as Nick Bullock who turned from being a prison officer to a leading mountaineer, A documentary about Cockermouth Mountain Rescue Team, The Gimp Monkeys - a film about the first all disabled ascent of El Capitan, Dave Macleod on a recent bouldering project in Switzerland, a film about three climbers trip to Namibya for a true climbing adventure and finally a film by Alex Honnold - recently described as the boldest soloist of his generation which finished with his solo climb of Mount Watkins, El Capitan and Half Dome - all done one after the other in under 19 hours and some of it in the dark by headtorch. Truly gripping stuff!

And after that.......that was it for us. Another Mountain Festival over. Chris departed for Scotland and Iain retired to the Vats Bar for another pizza & pint before heading home, well satisfied with another fantastic Kendal Mountain Festival.

The next Kendal Film Festival is taking place during  November 14th - 17th 2013 We hope to be there again and maybe you'll join us. Maybe we ought to get more involved? Kendal Mountain Festival, Kendal Mountaineering services.......there is definitely a connection, in fact - there are lots!

Monday 10 December 2012

Winter Skills, Winter Scrambling & Winter climbing courses 2012/13.

The winter season continues here in the uk with many people getting some great climbs done on Scottish winter routes or enjoying winter walking both here in The Lake District and in Scotland.

Kendal Mountaineering Services is here to help you make the most of winter in the mountains. For budding newbies to winter in the mountains - why not try one of our Winter Skills Courses (photo one). Here you can learn how to use an ice axe & crampons under the supervision of one of our instructors and be taught how to interpret snow conditions as well as building an emergency shelter or snowhole for a night out in the mountains. We are offering our winter courses in The Lake District as well as Scotland and you can join a basic 2 day winter skills course for only £110 per person. You can read about about a previous Scottish based course here.

Not everyone wants to join a group to learn winter skills, winter scrambling or winter climbing - indeed our winter scrambling & winter climbing courses are run on the ratio of one instructor to no more than two clients. However, on occasion people want to learn skills on a one to one basis where you can pick as many or as few days as you like with one of our qualified staff. Of course the answer is yes and instruction doesn't come any better than this!

Do contact us if you wish to to enquire about our bespoke winter mountaineering or climbing experiences. Benn Berkeley did (photo two) and in early 2012 enjoyed a great 12 day course learning all of the skills required to be able to lead winter routes up grade II in standard having started from a fairly basic background. During his course we visited many of the main winter climbing areas including Glen Coe, Ben Nevis, Creag Meagaidh and the northern corries of The Cairngorms. You can read all of the reports from Benns great winter mountaineering & climbing experience by refering to our blog here.

We have recently run a bespoke winter mountain Training course in the Ben Nevis area for Everest Summiteer Paul Quinn from High Altitude Ireland. Paul plans to ascend Gasherbrum I & II in the Summer to raise money for charity and you can visit his website here.

If you would prefer to be guided on some winter climbs or winter scrambles then contact us to discuss your requirements.

There are currently great winter climbs and scrambles to be done both in The Lake District and in Scotland. If you are interested in trying a classic winter climb in The Lake District then contact us to discuss your requirements. If you are interested in climbing or scrambling in Scotland then Glen Coe, Ben Nevis, Aonach Mor, Creag Meagaidh and the Cairngorms are areas where many great routes are to be found. These include routes such as The Zig Zags, the Aonach Eagach or Sron Na Lairig in Glen Coe, Ledge Route or Tower Ridge on Ben Nevis or Daim Buttress on Aonach Mor to name a few if you fancy trying a classic winter climb.

Photo three shows two of our clients about to top out on Green Gully - a great introduction to grade IV ice on Ben Nevis where of course there are many other fantastic winter climbs of all grades. Let us know your climbing aspirations both in terms of grade and location and we will choose a route to suit your ability.

By checking out our blog you can read about all of our winter courses from 2009 until the present time by browsing from January through to March each year - enjoy reading! Prices for our winter courses are listed here on the website. If you have any specific questions or bespoke requirements then please do not hesitate to contact us. We look forward to working with you.

Wednesday 21 November 2012

Navigation Skills Training Courses in The Lake District. November 10th & 11th 2012.

During the weekend of November 10th & 11th 2012, Iain Gallagher of Kendal Mountaineering services ran a bespoke one on one course for Grant Geddes (photo one) who was the only person booked on to that particular weekend Navigation Skills Training Course in The Lake District.

During this Autumn, we have offered 1 weekend Navigation Skills Training Course per month although not all have run due to a lack of interest. This is surprising when you consider that our offer provides the opportunity to gain life saving skills for going walking in the mountains for only £40 per day from a qualified & experienced Mountaineering Instructor.

Being able to accurately navigate in the mountains is a really important skill to have. A lack of navigational ability can result in the inconvenience of getting lost in the mountains and ending up miles away from where you wanted to be, being benighted, having the embarrassment of having to call out Mountain Rescue or worse still - a combination of all of the above ending in something much more serious.

By contrast, good navigational skills allow you to venture into the UKs mountains with more confidence - knowing where you are going, identifying what you will see along your route and the satisfaction of being able to accurately pinpoint your location from map to ground.

It is also reassuring to have the knowledge to be able to use a compass when the cloud comes down, to be able to identify an unknown feature from a known location or have confidence in measuring the distance you have walked as well being able to estimate how long a route will take you - enabling you to arrive back at your vehicle, bunkhouse or pub on time, well satisfied after a great day out in the mountains!

Grant was very pleased with his two day bespoke Mountain Navigation Skills Training Course in The Lake District with Iain. As we got stuck into the first day of his course it became apparent to Iain that Grant knew many of the techniques required not just for basic map reading but also more advanced techniques such as using a compass to identify an unknown feature from a known location (photo two). So, for Iain, it was just a case of polishing up Grants navigational techniques and helping him gain confidence in using them.

Day one saw us working on those skills on the Green Quarter Fell area of Kentmere and as per Grants request, we spent several hours practising night navigation. Night nav is an advanced navigational technique. You have to walk on a bearing whilst concentrating on pacing & timing - all done whilst being able to see only by headtorch. By the end of day one, Grants ability & confidence had come on in leaps & bounds - good effort!

Photos three & four are both from day two of Grants bespoke Navigation Skills Training course. On this day, we drove further up the Kentmere Valley and walked up on to the east side of the Kentmere Horseshoe eventually arriving at Harter Fell via Kentmere Pike.

In photo three, Grant had navigated to the head of Drygrove Gill - an obvious gully on the west side of Harter Fell from the summit using several navigation techniques. Our final photo is looking down on the Ull Stone - a relic of the last ice age having been dumped at its location by glacial ice. Grant again navigated accurately to this point - in the previous photo he is working out a bearing & distance to walk directly to the Ull Stone and as you can see - he found it! More photos from this two day course can be viewed here.

Our Mountain Navigation Skills Training Courses in The Lake District are fun and really good value for money. Our next course is running during December 1st & 2nd - another weekend date. Contact us to book your place. You can read about some of our previous 2012 Mountain Navigation Skills Training courses here & here. We look forward to working with you.

Tuesday 20 November 2012

Mountaincraft day in The Lake District. November 9th 2012.

A few days after working with Ian Durrant & Anna Lenartowska during their caving & climbing day, Iain from Kendal Mountaineering Services was outdoors in Langdale running a Mountaincraft Day for returning client Andrew Tranter.

Andrew has featured on our Blog before having attended a Navigation Skills Training Course in The Lake District at the end of March. Back in The Lake District on a short notice break from work, he fancied learning some more skills to be self sufficient in the mountains and in particular, was interested in looking at aspects of mountaincraft in the form of river crossing techniques and security on steep ground.

Photo one shows Andrew in a rising Langdale Beck where he was using a ski pole to brace on as he moved sideways across the considerable flow of water.

We looked at the various methods that one or two persons would use to cross a fast flowing stream or river with or without a ski pole. You can always fashion a branch if you have no pole. Iain would recommend avoiding river crossings where possible although it is not always unavoidable - in which case it is useful to know the techniques.

After getting changed and getting as dry as we could on what was a foul weather day next Iain asked Andrew to navigate to an area of steep ground so that we could look at basic ropework.

Often, people who are lacking confidence in moving on steeper terrain can be helped merely by the use of a confidence rope and in photo two Andrew is using a confidence rope on Iain as he leads him up the shallow gully that is the descent route for climbs on Upper Scout Crag. As only a short length of rope is required one flakes out the rope in the top of their rucksack and attaches a simple figure of eight knot on the bight to the person requiring the confidence rope.

Having done this the only thing that needs to be done is to keep the rope tensioned to provide the person some support. The person administering the confidence rope will often have an overhand knot on the bight on the rope to improve their grip, will be braced away from and always uphill of the person requiring the confidence rope and will have their controlling forearm bent towards them to provide some "shock absorption" should the other person slip.

Andrew mastered this technique well on an ascent & descent of the gully before we moved on to slightly more complex belaying systems.

In photo three we are looking at further techniques of security on steep ground ie what to do when one has found ones-self in a situation where a rope must be used to prevent a slip becoming something more serious. On some occasions a body belay (indirect belay) may well suffice for preventing a fall during a climb up or lower down steep ground.

Body belays involve the belayer running the rope around their back and using a technique very similar to taking in the rope through a belay plate when belaying. The belayer will be seated well down with legs braced with heels dug into the ground or pressing against a solid rock.

As well as looking at the basical body belay we also looked at how to attach to a solid anchor such as a rock spike, thread or tree using when the security offered by a basic braced stance is unavailable or unsuitable. In either case one would attach the rope to one of the above anchors using a loop secured with an overhand, figure of eight or Bowline knot and using the same to secure themselves to the anchor. Interesting techniques which Andrew demonstrated well.

Having completed security on steep ground techniques Andrew was keen to use the remaining few hours to further practise skills learnt during his Navigation Skills Training Course in March.

Iain set Andrew the task of locating a ring contour (hill top) some distance away from our steep ground venue at Scout Crags. There were two distinct options - to walk on a bearing through extremely difficult terrain or "handrail" using nearby White Gill to an attack point at its source before taking a bearing and pacing a much shorter distance over much less difficult terrain to find the feature.

Photo four shows Andrew nearing the head of White Gill which is in spate. You can see how wet it was today, the blurring is water droplets on the camera lense and water droplets can be seen reflecting the camera flash. A truly grim day and as you might imagine - there were no people climbing on White Gill Crag!

After locating the hill top we were looking for Andrew decided he was happy with what had been covered during the day, so we decided to descend under Tarn Crag (one of our favourite scrambling skills training course venues) and out via Stickle Ghyll.

At this point (photo five) the tops cleared briefly and we were able to look up to the summit of Harrison Stickle - one of the Langdale Pikes.

As can be seen, Stickle Ghyll was approaching full spate and a river crossing at our earlier venue on the valley floor would have now been impossible without being swept away. Andrew enjoyed his Mountaincraft day out with Iain and leaves with more skills in his toolbox which we hope will help him have many more safe adventures in the mountains. See more photos from this day here.

Our mountaincraft courses can give you all of the skills to be a confident & competent hillgoer in both summer and winter conditions. Check out details of our Mountaincraft courses here and our winter skills courses here. We look forward to working with you.

Caving & Climbing days in The Yorkshire Dales National Park. November 6th 2012.

The first part of November has been fairly busy for us here at Kendal Mountaineering Services. Iain had a weekend of activity sessions with a group at the Lakeland Adventure Centre at Water Park in wintry conditions. Amongst other things that weekend, we went open canoeing and incredibly - Ghyll Scrambling in Church Beck.

Two days later Iain was working in The Yorkshire Dales National Park with Ian Durrant and his partner Anna Lenartowska. Ian & Anna had travelled all the way from Portsmouth to visit the Lake District for a break.

Ian had contacted Kendal Mountaineering Services to book a two session day, caving for himself and rock climbing for Anna as part of a birthday present for her.

Iain met the pair at Inglesport and then off we went to Long Churns for our caving adventure. Photo one shows Ian being lowered down the pitch to Double Shuffle Pool in Long Churns.

On this particular day, conditions were better underground than on the surface where a cold south westerly wind was blowing accompanied by a heavy drizzle - fine for caving but not great for climbing out of doors. Iain had already forwarned the pair that due to the forecast that it might have to be indoor climbing instead!

Water levels were low in Long Churns so we were able to have a good introductory caving session. We started off by heading downstream from Middle Entrance into Lower Long Churns and eventually arrived at The Cheese Press (photo two) where Anna successfully squeezed through before we all went to check out the daylight entering from nearby Alum Pot.

After visiting out Lower Long Churns, Iain took the pair out via Diccan Entrance (photo three) and then back underground via Middle Entrance to the downstream entrance to Baptistry Crawl which leads to Upper Long Churns.

On arrival at Upper Long Churns, we went downstream to Middle Entrance again and on to climb the Entrance Waterfall in Alum Pot Beck before heading back upstream and on to Doctor Bannisters Washbasin where the pair found the climb up to the upstream exit a sporting challenge. Back out at daylight there was no reason to hang around - the weather had improved none, so indoor climbing it was going to have to be.

Both Ian & Anna had thoroughly enjoyed their introductory caving session in Long Churns with Iain and are now talking about returning for one of our Level Two Caving Sessions in 2013!

Next, after getting changed and finding Anna some warm pants for climbing, it was off to Inglesport Climbing Wall for an introductory climbing session which whilst not done outdoors was done indoors in relative comfort with a much better outcome.

Inglesport run a great climbing wall in Ingleton village where there are artificial climbing routes of all grades in a purpose built building.

There are two climbing areas and a bouldering area and the main lead wall is approximately 15m in hieght. Routes are graded using the french system and there are routes to be found for people of all abilities.

Photo four shows Anna climbing in the main wall area belayed by Ian.

Iain showed the pair how to tie into the rope, attach a belay plate and how belay to protect the leader whilst they are climbing.

Our final photograph from our caving & climbing day shows Ian about to take his turn at climbing on the wall whilst Anna belays - backed up by the equivalent of a ground anchor, in this case a sand filled bag attached via a sling to the belay plate karabiner.

It is not uncommon for a belayer to become airborne whilst lowering a heavier climber and on occasion, this has led to surprise & shock for the belayer who has subsequently let go of the person they are lowering resulting in that person "decking out" and suffering an injury.

The pair enjoyed their session in the Inglesport Climbing Wall but were unused to the strenuous nature of climbing at an indoor climbing gym and were happy to call it a day after a few hours in here. They both thoroughly enjoyed their day with Iain and hope to return in 2013 for more caving and hopefully some outdoor climbing. We look forward to seeing them then.

More photos from Iain & Annas Introductory Caving and Climbing sessions can be viewed here. An ideal package for this time of year - if you would like us to arrange your own caving & climbing day then contact Iain here. We look forward to working with you.

Ghyll Scrambling & Canyoning sessions in The Lake District. October 20th 2012.

It's been a while since we posted any new reports on the Kendal Mountaineering Services Blog although that doesn't mean we haven't been doing any fantastic activity or skills training sessions in The Lake District - so, time for a catch up!

This first post concerns returning client Sunil Singh who attented one of our Ghyll Scrambling & Canyoning Sessions in Church Beck in the Summer with two mates. He enjoyed it so much that he booked it again for himself, his partner Nicky and three of his work colleagues - Nokutula, Stuart & Linda (photo one).

October really is getting to the end of the season for this great buzz activity but the five were keen to give it a go. It was a pleasant afternoon although not particularly warm as we made our way up Church Beck tackling such things as the crawl under the log (through water of course!) and the "tricky traverse" as Iain likes to call it.

Photo two is taken at the first big waterfall as we made our way upstream and as you can see, the water level is quite low - quite a good thing given the temperature. Of course, the five were well kitted out in wetsuits, cagoules, and walking boots - all standard issue equipment on any ghyll Scrambling & Canyoning session undertaken with Kendal Mountaineering Services.
Photo Three shows four of the team below the Miners Bridge Waterfall down which they had all been lowered by Iain.

We had gone to the head of the upper gorge as we always do to discover that another large group were doing the top lower and were going to be quite some time. One great thing about Church Beck is the ease of access and so we were able to go and do the Miners Bridge Fall lower followed by the "top jumps" instead and hopefully finish off with the top lower later.

Abseiling down this waterfall was new to this party and some of the team found it a real challenge indeed. However, with a little encouragement everyone managed to do it and were all really pleased. Sunil had left the group to go & get dry having suffered a re-occurrence of an old injury, but by the time we were heading for the top jumps he had returned to offer his mates some moral support!
The top jumps are not a the head of the gorge as many reading our previous reports of Ghyll Scrambling & Canyoning sessions here will be aware - they are in fact below the Miners Bridge Waterfall.

The first jump is into a narrow slot and deep pool although many get put off by the seriousness of the challenge and often those who aren't can bash elbows, arms or feet on the way down. We avoid these risks by doing a part lower on a rope followed by a six foot jump into the same pool from a much safer location.

The middle jump is generally avoided as well due to one having to jump out a long way to avoid a rock in the bottom of the waterfall so we climb down & swim across the pool to the top of the final "slide" known as the chockstone pitch.

Here in photo four, Linda is about to slide straight down the front of the chockstone into the pool below - challenging stuff indeed!

Our final photo from this Autumn Ghyll Scrambling & Canyoning session sees Stuart, Nicky & Linda at the foot of the chockstone pitch with another group following on behind.

At the top jump, Nokutula had decided this particular challenge was not for her so had exited the ghyll with Sunil and had gone back with him to get changed.

Whilst we had seen two of our party withdraw during this Ghyll Scrambling & Canyoning session, the remaining three had found it a thoroughly exhilarating challenge and had thoroughly enjoyed themselves.

We may not be seeing Nokutula, Stuart or Linda again for a similar session, but both Sunil & Nicky are adamant that they will be back next Summer to attend one of our Esk Gorge Trips which are about as good as this sort of session gets in The Lake District. Further photos taken during this session can be viewed here. To book your session, contact us here, we look forward to working with you.

Sunday 7 October 2012

Guided Rock Climbing days in The Lake District. October 6th 2012.

On Saturday, Iain met up with John Renshaw for a planned day of guided rock climbing in The Lake District.

Johns wife - Jane had originally booked this rock climbing day with Kendal Mountaineering Services at the end of 2011 as a christmas present for John. We had originally intended to run Johns rock climbing day in early May, but on the day the weather was wet and as rock climbing in the rain is not a great deal of fun we decided to postpone until better weather arrvived.

Since then, the year has fairly flown by at Kendal Mountaineering Services with us having run all sorts of great outdoor activity sessions and skills training courses for many different groups, families & individuals. However, as many will know, it has not been a good Summer for rock climbing and it took Iain & John a while before they could get together again, but this time - it was definitely worth it!

Photo one shows John at the 3rd stance on Route 1, Upper Scout Crag. Iain had originally planned to take John rock climbing at Raven Crag, but owing to a later than usual start - Langdale was already heaving with people and we arrived to find a jam packed ODG car park. This meant we had to park at the National Trust park at the Stickle Barn instead.

From here it is a fair walk in to get back to Raven Crag. John wasn't looking for a day of hard rock climbing so Iain decided Upper Scout would work well instead and we could get there and start climbing, sooner.

The main climbs on Upper Scout are great. Good holds, good rock and plenty of anchor placements make them a popular choice with novices. Hence we hadn't been there long before other climbers started to arrive - time to get climbing! We put route 1 behind us by midday and started off up Route 2 behind another party who were a little slower than us. After the crux Iain broke out left on to a rib to avoid the other pair and John is climbing this rib in photo two.

By half past two we had  finished Route 2 as well and had really done all the worthwhile climbing here - we still had two & a half hours to go, so what now?

White Ghyll Crag is just around the corner and whilst there are few easy routes there - John had climbed the routes on Upper Scout with ease. So, Iain suggested tackling a slightly harder climbing route at Severe grade as a progression; and John was keen to give it a try.
The Slabs, Route 1 is an excellent climb. One feels as though you are on a big wall and compared with Upper Scout, the rock is certainly steeper, but the holds are good and the gear placements adequate. It was a fantastic place to be in the afternoon sun and unlike at Upper Scout, we saw hardly anyone else and had the route to ourselves.

In photo Three, John climbs up to Iain at stance 3 with the hardest part of the climbing behind him. The view beyond is looking down White Gill to the National Trust car park at Stickle Barn on the floor of Langdale.

John thoroughly enjoyed his guided rock climbing day in the Lake District with Iain who had provided him with a progressive climbing experience and had taught him some tricks of the trade as well as explaining what he was doing throughout the day. John leaves enthused and looking forward to his next outdoor climbing experience - most likely next year.

Other photos taken during this guided rock climbing day can be viewed here.

Wednesday 3 October 2012

Ghyll Scrambling & Canyoning Sessions in The Lake District. Saturday 22nd September 2012.

On Iains return to The Lake District from his Cuillin Ridge Traverse Trip he was immediately back into work at Church Beck, Coniston with Myles Holdsworth, family & friends who had come together for the weekend to celebrate Myles 40th birthday

Myles had booked a half day ghyll Scrambling & Canyoning session with Kendal Mountaineering Services as part of his birthday celebration. Photo one shows the group as we headed off into the ghyll at the later time of around 4pm.
We decided to spilt the group into two teams as with a group size of 13 Iain had brought in another instructor to assist. So it was decided that Scott would work with the mums & childrens party and Iain with the blokes group.

Some of the children in the group were as young as six and whilst our experience is that this age group love ghyll scrambling & generally getting wet (photo two) they also need to be looked after more as they get chilly a lot quicker than adults.

To this end it was decided that Scott would take the children & mums on the ghyll scrambling ascent as far as the chockstone pitch and rope them up that with a view to them having a go at the chockstone slide and they did achieve this before exiting the ghyll.
Iains party of blokes were obviously faster than the childrens group and wanted of course, to get more done - in particular a bit of canyoning.

So Iain did the usual get out below the chockstone pitch and took his team to Miners Bridge where we all harnessed up and decided to go straight to the jumps with the option of possibly doing the Miners Bridge fall lower if time permitted.

Everyone completed the top jump and slid down the chockstone pitch, by now the light was fading and it was certainly starting to feel colder.

Photo three sees the blokes party at the foot of the chockstone pitch all thoroughly drenched but also thoroughly exhilarated.

As it happened Scott had also just finished the session with the children & mums and the blokes were happy to call time at this point as well. Everyone had enjoyed their half day ghyll scrambling & canyoning session and we hope that the rest of Myles's weekend in The Lake District went just as well.

This particular session had been deliberately booked for a much alter start than usual. Our advertised half day sessions start at 09:00 in the morning and at 13:00 in the afternoon - however, work is work and we aim to be flexible to your needs. Remember our motto is Kendal Mountaineering Services - giving you what you want and we really do pride ourselves in our ability to provide bespoke outdoor activity & skills training courses.

We have plenty of availablilty in the coming months to provide your outdoor activity sessions in The Lake District. The days are getting shorter and a little colder but activities such as caving, canoeing & kayaking can still be done comfortably or how about a guided hillwalking day for your party? Contact us to discuss your requirements.

We look forward to working with you.

Tuesday 2 October 2012

Cuillin Ridge Traverse Trip. September 15th - 22nd 2012. Day four.

And so to our final day of our guided Cuillin Ridge Traverse. After our fantastic & long day out the previous day, Iains team were really quite satisfied already with what had been achieved so far during the week.

The plan had initally been to reascend to Sgurr na Banachdich and then traverse the knife edge arete via Sgurr Thormaid on to Sgurr a' Ghreadaidh  via the South Ridge (grade III) to the Summit of Sgurr a' Ghreadaidh, descend to An Dorus and then scramble up to the top of Sgurr a' Mhadaidh - possibly continuing on over the other three tops to the Bealach na Glaic Mhoir. However, the team wanted an easier day to include the two remaining Munros, so Iain suggested walking in to Coire a' Ghreadaidh and bagging both tops from An Dorus which is what we did.

Photo one shows both Sgurr a' Mhadaidh and Sgurr a' Ghreadaidh in cloud at the back of Coire a'Ghreadaidh. Photo two shows Les, Carl & Zoe at the summit of Sgurr a' Ghreadaidh which we reached after a long walk in and a scramble up from An Dorus.

Today was rather colder than previous days but we still got some sunshine through the gaps in the clouds and also some great views as well. On occasion we were also pelted with hail.

With hindsight, it was as well we had not attempted the traverse of the South Ridge of Sgurr a' Ghreadaidh as the rocks were being wetted from time to time by occasional showers - making a traverse of that ridge a slippery proposition.

Photo three shows Les, Carl & Zoe at the head of the Eag Dubh (Gaelic for black cleft) during our return descent to An Dorus.

We had avoided the tricky downclimb just above this section by moving to the west side of the ridge and returning via an easy ledge above the Eag Dubh - benefitting once again from Iains local knowledge of the ridge.

Beyond the team is a view down into the expanse of Coire Uisg beyond Loch Coruisk. Rising up to the right of the loch can be seen the outline of the famous Dubh Slabs and Sgurr Dubh Beag where one can scramble & climb for over 1000 metres - it is commonly regarded as one of the finest scrambling routes in the country.

Our final photo from this last day of our guided Cuillin Ridge Traverse Trip was taken as we descended out of Coire An Dorus into Coire a' Ghreadaidh.                                             We arrived back at Glenbrittle Youth Hostel shortly after 3pm - an early finish indeed for a day on the Cuillin Ridge but everyone was very happy once again with what we had achieved.

Further photos taken during this final day can be viewed here.

Whilst over the course of our four days we had not succeeded in completeing a whole traverse of the ridge, however, we had succeeded in reaching the summits of all eleven Munros by some exhilarating and interesting routes including scrambling from grades I to III and rock climbing to Diff standard as well as a number of abseils.

Probably a high point for everyone had been being able to do the famous In Pinn traverse, but just being able to spend a week in these awe inspiring mountains guided by a knowledgeable and experienced Mountaineering Instructor had been a truly great experience for all concerned.

Kendal Mountaineering Services hopes to be able to offer our bi-annual guided Cuillin Ridge Traverse Trips again in 2013. The cottage is already booked for May 11th - 18th and September 7th - 14th. The price for May will certainly be £425 per person so you have time to start saving & planning if you would like to join Iain on either of those weeks. We are taking bookings now for these course dates so if you would like to book a place on one of our 2013 guided Cuillin Ridge Traverse Trips contact Iain here.

We look forward to working with you.

Cuillin Ridge Traverse Trip. September 15th - 22nd 2012. Day three.

Day three of our guided Cuillin Ridge Traverse commenced on Thursday. After our day on the northern part of the Cuillin Ridge on Sunday and our day on the Southern end on Monday it was decided to take Tuesday & Wednesday as rest days.

The MWIS Forecast indicated that the weather would be better for Thursday & Friday. However, on Tuesday & Wednesday we didn't sit in the cottage & do nothing - you can read about that here.

Thursday morning found us climbing back into Coire Lagan to continue our guided Cuillin Ridge Traverse. Iain initially hoped that it would be dry enough to ascend to the Bealach Mhic Chionnich to traverse Harts Ledge, but whilst we started with cloud above the summits, we also had a constant drizzle which was wetting everything.

Photo one shows some of the team as we ascended the An Stac Screes towards the Bealach Coire Lagan with all thoughts of traversing Harts Ledge banished. Harts ledge consists of basalt which is particularly slippery in the wet and it just wouldn't have been safe.

Once again, the day improved. We had a wet & cloudy traverse to the summit of Sgurr Mhic Choinnich from the Bealach, but on the return trip the cloud lifted, the Cuillin Ridge appeared and the sun started to shine. Also, there was virtually no wind only a light breeze - everywhere started to dry out rapidly.

Members of the team had been wondering if an ascent of the Inaccessible Pinnacle would be a possibility today but now there was no doubt in Iains mind that we would all get to do it.

Photo three shows Martin & Les as they approach Iain at the very top of the In Pinn having done a two pitch moderate climb up the exposed arete - but on dry rock with only a light breeze.

To get down we would follow the ascent with a stacked abseil from the chain at the base of the Bolster Stone - a distance of only 20m on to the sloping summit of Sgurr Dearg.

Having completed a traverse of the In Pinn with Martin & Les, Iain then got to repeat the whole thing a second time with Carl & Zoe.

Photo three shows a fairly ecstatic team at the foot of the climb up the east ridge of the Inaccessible Pinnacle with part of the southern end of the Cuillin Ridge behind them.

From left to right we can see An Stac summit - only about 100m beyond the party. Right of this the rather dark summit is Sgurr Dubh Mor then Sgurr Mhic Choinnich (our first Munro of the day) and then Sgurr Thearlaich leading up to the notch at the head of the Great Stone Chute. Right of the Great Stone Chute is the summit of Sgurr Alasdair - at 993m the highest top on the Cuillin Ridge. Below Alasdair, the Great Stone Chute drops into Coire Lagan.

Our final photo from day three of our guided Cuillin Ridge Traverse Trip sees everyone at the summit of Sgurr na Banachdich - our third Munro of the day and final destination before we descended back to Glen Brittle.  

Behind the team we can see Loch Coruisk to the left and above them the whole of the Coire Lagan face is in Sunlight with Sgurr Dearg & the In Pinn to the right.                                                         

By now it was another one of those perfect afternoons. Again, we had started out in the wet and this had meant that we were unable to achieve our initial objective of a traverse of Harts Ledge. However, being able to do the In Pinn in perfect conditions more than made up for this and the team were very happy as we made the easy traverse from Sgurr Dearg to Sgurr na Banachdich - enjoying the afternoon sunlight and views which stretched as far west as St Kilda.

It only remained to descend via Coire an Eich to the Youth Hostel at Glen Brittle - an easy but long descent and the end to another fantastic day on The Cuillin Ridge - photos from which can be viewed here.

Cuillin Ridge Traverse Trip September 15th - 22nd 2012. Day two.

The MWIS weather forecast for day two of our Cuillin Ridge traverse trip was to be broadly the same as day one although less windy.

As both the Southern & Northern ends of the Cuillin Ridge are technically easier sections, Iain decided that we should go south today. Here we would start with Sgurr nan Eag - the southernmost Munro and aim to traverse via Sgurr Dubh Mor on to Sgurr Alasdair. With the weather being wet, it was considered too difficult and too hazardous to traverse the famous Thearlaich Dubh Gap so, instead, we would use the easier climb on to Sgurr Alasdair via a chimney on its south east side.

The route we used to get to Sgurr nan Eag was via Coire a' Ghrunnda. Photo one is taken at the foot of the long climb up into that coire. The view is south with the island of Soay in the distance.Unfortunately, at this point one of our party decided to turn back so Iain was left with only three. We made our way up into Coire a' Ghrunnda into the mist - not knowing if we would see a view again today.

However, as we scrambled up on to Sgurr nan Eag, more breaks in the cloud appeared and despite a few heavy showers Iain got the impression that the weather was generally improving.

After climbing Sgurr nan Eag, we returned to where we had stashed our rucksacs during our climb and then traversed right cutting through a little known gap which brings one out below a tricky section of ridge between Sgurr nan Eag and the Caisteal a' Garbh Choire. By using this route we saved ourselves time having to get the rope out and abseil at the very least and by cutting around the east side of the Caisteal a' Garbh Coire we saved ourselves having to do yet another abseil!

Photo two shows Zoe, Carl & Les as we approached the top of Sgurr Alasdair having done a roped climb up the Diff chimney as opposed to a stacked abseil followed by a polished Severe climb if we had gone via the TD Gap. However, there is one short exposed move above this chimney which also needs protecting using either a short rope, or if you have them - two larksfooted 480cm slings will suffice.

Photo three is taken from the summit of Sgurr Alasdair looking South East towards Coire a' Ghrunnda and then through the lower part of the coire out towards the island of Soay. The island of Rhum can also now be seen clearly, in the distance.

This trend of a wet & cloudy start to the day followed by improving weather from the west would be a theme that would continue throughout the following two days during our Cuillin Ridge Traverse Trip.

To get to the Summit of Sgurr Alasdair had taken us at least 7 hours after starting out from Glen Brittle. After Sgurr nan Eag, we had traversed under the east side of the Caisteal a' Garbh Choire and across the south side of Sgurr Dubh an Da Bheinn to get to Sgurr Dubh Mor before traversing on to the summit of Sgurr Dubh an Da Bheinn. From here we had scrambled down into the north side of Coire a' Chrunnda in order to reach the summit of Sgurr Alasdair via the easier chimney. All of this route finding is tricky and inevitably leads to lots of backtracking and unneccessary delays for unfamilair parties. This can lead to some very long days out and the odd epic! there is no doubt that hiring an experienced guide is well worth it!

Once on the summit of Sgurr Alasdair there are two options for continuing, both involve returning to the head of the Great Stone Chute and either traversing on via Sgurr Thearlaich - a serious proposition in the wet, or descending into Coire Lagan via the Great Stone Chute.

Bearing in mind that the time was now approaching 5pm, Iain decided it was time to bale off the ridge via this route and descend from Coire Lagan back to Glen Brittle. Photo four shows Les, Zoe & Carl on the walkout not actually too far from Glen Brittle, with behind (from L- R) The South West ridge of Sgurr Dearg, Sgurr Mhic Chionnich, Sgurr Alasdair, Sgurr Sgumain and the Cioch face of Sron na Ciche.

So, on day two of our Cuillin Ridge Traverse Trip, we had, again, achieved what we had set out to do. Three more Munros for the peak baggers - one of them the ridges highest summit; and some more climbing & scrambling in a stunning backdrop with fantastic views extending from mid afternoon right across to the Outer Hebrides.

Another great day - further photos with captions from this day on the ridge can be viewed here.

Monday 1 October 2012

Cuillin Ridge Traverse Trip. September 15th - 22nd. Day one.

Well, it was excellent that we have been able to return to the fantastic Cuillin Ridge on the Isle of Skye this year. Kendal Mountaineering Services offer bi-yearly trips to attempt a traverse of the ridge each May and September. Unfortunately the planned visit in May did not come off due to a lack of interest but Iain did find enough people to make the September trip viable.

In photo one we have (left to right) Martin, Zoe, Carl & Les who had all come together to attend this week long course offered by Iain. Martin & Carl had found our Cuillin Ridge Traverse Trip by searching on the internet, Zoe through a mailshot and Les via our thread on the Outdoorsmagic website.
The weather for day one was looking somewhat iffy - a westerly wind  gusting up to 55mph, cloud and showers - all making for a not great package of conditions for being at up to 3000 feet up on a precipitous ridge.

The great thing about the package offered by Kendal Mountaineering services is the flexibility offered through guiding for only for out of the six days available - meaning that we can make use of the four best days and with Iains extensive knowledge of the ridge he can pick the most suitable section to do depending on the weather.
So, as everyone was keen to get stuck in to some Cuillin Ridge action, Iain decided that we should tackle the north end of the ridge with it being possible on a decent day to get from Sgurr nan Gillean to Bruach na Frithe without too many problems. As it turned out, the weather was very much better than forecast.

The whole of the north section was free of cloud as we walked in from Sligachan (photo one) to Coire a' Bhastier and once on the west ridge of Sgurr nan Gillean, the anticipated wind never appeared. Sgurr nan Gilleans West Ridge from the Bealach a' Bhastier is pretty much a grade two scramble although the start up Tooth Chimney is a Diff climb made more interesting in the wet. This route to the summit is also relatively short.

Photo two shows the team at the summit of Sgurr nan Gillean with, incredibly, a clear view to Bla Bheinn beyond! What a good omen! Photo three shows the team "stacked" at the top of Tooth chimney ready to abseil down one by one to join Iain at the easier ground below.

Having left the vehicles at the Sligachan Hotel at 08:45, it was around 14;30 before we had put Sgurr nan Gillean behind us and were back at the Bealach a' Bastier. Am Bastier is easily done from the bealach via the East Ridge (grade II) but is largely composed of layers of basalt all sloping down into Lota Coire so care has to be taken and good route finding essential. There is one "Bad Step" on the crest of the ridge not easily avoided but easily dealt with in terms of safety by a short rope or long sling. Anyway, Iain got the team to the summit and back down without difficulties despite a few heavy hail showers.

Back at the bealach, there is a short descent back into Coire a' Bhastier before one ascends to the Bealach nan Lice under the imposing north face of Am Bastier passing the Bastier Tooth en route. Passing under Sgurr a' Fionn Coire soon brought us to the trig point at the summit of Bruach na Frithe - our final top of the day and third Cuillin Munro. Cloud prevented us from getting much of a view down into Coire Na Creiche at the head of Glen Brittle, but here it was obvious that Iains plan for the day had been a good one as there was a strong westerly roaring across the NW ridge of Bruach na Frithe - clearly, through our plan, we had been sheltered from this wind for most of the day.

Our way out was to descend into Fionn Choire (photo four) and having crossed the Allt Dearg Mor about a kilometre below the Bealach a' Mhaim follow the footpath back to Sligachan. During this walk out we had sunshine and showers and a lovely rainbow before all enjoying a beer in the "Slig". It had been a successful start to our Cuillin Ridge Traverse Trip with better weather than we though we would get and for Martin - his first ever climb & abseil.

You can view the rest of the photos from our first day on the Cuillin Ridge traverse here - enjoy!

Reports from days two, three & four to follow.