Thursday 21 June 2012

Canoeing, Mountain walking, gorge walking, and climbing in The Lake District. June 10th - 14th 2012.

Last week was an interesting & varied week for Iain for Iain from Kendal Mountaineering Services.

He was, for a change, largely working for someone else on a contracted basis. Sunday June 10th saw Iain in the beautiful Ullswater valley helping to cover 24 people from a number of local businesses who were fundraising for The Oaklea Trust in Kendal.

All of these businesses were involved in a race event which started at Pooley Bridge on Ullswater and finished in Glenridding. The water based part of the challenge was carried out in rafted Canadian canoes and photo one shows the strongest team paddling along a flat calm & mirror-like lake. The weather could not have been better!

After a rapid journey from one end of Ullswater to the other, all teams got changed and ready for the mountain walking phase of the challenge which was.

The 2nd part of the teams challenge was to make an ascent of Helvellyn planned by themselves but to take in a traverse of Striding Edge. They were of course to be accompanied by us instructors.

Photo two shows Iains team getting close to Striding Edge and all looking rather damp as it had rained rather heavily on the ascent. This team was also the one that had completed the journey of Ullswater in the fastest time - and they went on to be the first to complete an ascent and descent of Helvellyn too. The guys were all from Armstrong Watson & Co in Kendal. Well done guys! Further photos from this challenge event can be viewed here.

After a day off, Iain was back working for the same client again - different venue, different group. This time it was primary school pupils from Walsall and the venue was Borrowdale and Derwentwater where there were a range of outdoor activities going on for these young people.

Photo three shows a party of these pupils and fellow instructor Neil Mackay enjoying a top-rope bottom belay climbing session at Brown Slabs on Shepherds Crag in Borrowdale. This is what we would normally offer as an intro to rock climbing half day session and it is ideal for anyone wanting to make the move on to outdoor rock climbing for the first time.

Introductory rock climbing sessions are a good challenge and require teamwork in order for individuals to succeed, hence they are often popular with stag & hen parties looking for an event with a difference.

Both Iain & Neil stayed in Borrowdale for the duration of this work as it provided the opportunity to take in some of areas excellent rock climbing after work.

On the first evening we took a walk up to Black Crag probably best famed for its route "Troutdale Pinnacle" however, Iain was after something a little harder.

Photo four shows Neil heading off up the first pitch of The Mortician (HVS5a). The pinnacle can be seen on the skyline and there are a number of famous rock climbs converging on this famous landmark.

Our route stayed to the left of the pinnacle first climbing a steep ramp before one needed to step up into a very steep & sustained groove followed by a steep crack line.

The final pitch saw us take a sustained traverse on to the pinnacle before finishing up the polished wall above to the top of the crag. It really was an excellent climb and the weather was perfect although a breeze would have been good to keep the midges away.

The next day Neil returned to work at Brown Slabs whilst Iain went for a walk with one of the groups.

All of the children were staying at Borrowdale Youth Hostel so a walk was chosen that would take a morning as we had other things planned for the afternoon.

Photo five shows Iains team on top of Castle Crag in Borrowdale with a view beyond to distant Derwentwater and Skiddaw. The walk was  around 5 miles or so in total, but it gave the children a chance to sample the special place that is Borrowdale.

After the walk and a bit of lunch we all set off from the Hostel to Seatoller and Hause Gill for our afternoon ghyll scrambling session.

Hause gill descends the eastern side of Honister Pass and is a great introductory venue for this fun wet sport. Photo six is taken from half way up the gill where Iain spotted an appropriate photo opportunity.

We were the first group in the ghyll that afternoon and covered a considerable distance wading through pools (swimming through some) and scrambling up waterfalls. The children all loved it. All photographs from this two day mutli-activity course can be viewed here.

Work finished, Iain & Neil decided to stick around for one more night on the premise of the possibility of some further rock climbing in the valley the following day. It was wet overnight and started off cloudy the next day but the walk in to Sergeant Crag Slabs in langstrath saw the weather improve and we enjoyed four climbs on what proved to be a popular venue.

Photo seven shows Neil at the crux on the popular "Lakeland Cragsman" (HVS5a). All of the rock climbs at Sergeant Crg Slabs are long singe pitch route of up to 45m in length and there is a convenient abseil station at the top of the crag. So, if you are climbing with double ropes you can abseil back down rapidly and start on another route within minutes!

After four climbs Iain & Neil drove back to Kendal. Neil headed south to Wales the following day where he will work and rock climb for a month before undertaking the summer part of his BMG guides assessment. best of luck Neil, but you climb so well - it shouldn't be a problem! All other photos from our climbing sessions can be viewed here.

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