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.