Sunday 30 June 2013

Lake District based Ghyll Scrambling & Canyoning Sessions. June 23rd 2013.

On the morning that Iain was due to be running Clare McGenity's Lake District based Ghyll Scrambling & Canyoning session he also received a phonecall from Pete Burbidge.

Petes opening line was "Remember me? You offered me a half price Ghyll Scrambling Session if I got in touch again!" obviously, Iain had to think about this for a moment but then Pete refreshed his memory.

Unfortunately, when heading to Coniston to join  Iain for a prebooked Ghyll Scrambling & Canyoning Session last September, Pete & his daughter Kiera (photo one) had suffered an irreparable puncture and were recovered to Kendal from Kirkstone Pass by the AA. Whilst Iain waited  around it was getting pretty late by the time the car had been fixed and, as it was not their fault, Iain had indeed agreed to offer them a half price session should they return to the area again.

Return they had and this time they were staying at Kirkby Lonsdale. So, for a mere £45 (plus a little for diesel) Iain gave the two a lift from Kendal & back and provided them with a half day ghyll scrambling & canyoning session which they thoroughly enjoyed.

Last weekend was somewhat chilly & a bit damp - not that the damp matters but the cold can make all the difference between a fun Lake District Ghyll Scrambling & Canyoning Session and one where you just want to get it over with as soon as you can - we try to avoid those however by making sure all of our clients are kitted out in wetsuits, walking boots, a cagoule and bouyancy aid - just as Kiera is in photo two!

Different people like a different level of challenge and in this particular Ghyll Scrambling & Canyoning Session it was decided that as well as doing the ghyll scrambling ascent, we might just also do the Top Jumps too. However, Kiera was not too sure about this.

Before attempting the top jumps, Iain decided that the pair should try the Miners Bridge Waterfall Abseil and if they were happy with that, then we would attempt the Top Jumps as well.

In photo three, Pete approaches the top of the Miners Bridge Waterfall.

Having managed this successfully, Kiera, encouraged by both her Dad and Iain successfully managed to complete the challenging Top Jumps section of Church Beck and photo four shows the pair at the foot of the bottom Chockstone Pitch and very happy with what they had achieved.

Despite previous disappointment, Iain had still made sure that the pair still got their session, received good customer service and value for money; and this is what we pride ourselves on giving all of our customers.

Pete & Kiera had a great time on their Lake District based Ghyll Scrambling & Canyoning Session and you can too by contacting us here to book yours. Other photos taken during Pete & Kieras session with us can be viewed here.

Ghyll Scrambling & Canyoning Sessions with Kendal Mountaineering Services - so what do you get for your money?

In the current economic climate things are tough. Everyone is finding themselves with less money with which to enjoy that odd treat, weekend away or that exciting & challenging activity session that they would love to try out.

Obviously as a result, people are going to try & get a better deal when booking and paying for anything, but people need to be aware that a cheaper deal is not necessarily a better deal overall.

In photo one, we see two persons who are attending one of our Lake District based Ghyll Scrambling & Canyoning sessions - only two persons!! We recognise that not everyone wants to come as part of a crowd and as such we are happy to work with as little as two persons on these sessions. On this basis £45 might sound really expensive - but is it - considering for that you will have your very own instructor working with only you! This means more time moving, keeping warmer and less time hanging around getting chilly whilst you have to wait for others. The people in this photo selected our business for these very reasons!

A Ghyll Scrambling & Canyoning Session in The Lake District with us might sound expensive at £45 per person but we do apply discounts as group size increases.For example bring a group of six and the price drops to £40 per person, for 11 - 15 persons we charge £35 per head and over 15 persons the price drops to £30 each and you still get all of the equipment you see people wearing in photo two!

So what equipment do you get on our sessions? Walking boots for your feet to provide good grip, ankle support and crush protection, a wetsuit each to provide insulation and abrasion resistance, a cagoule (pullover top with neoprene cuffs & neck seal), a bouyancy aid to keep you afloat in deep pools and provide protection if you fall over, a helmet to protect your head and a harness - required if you wish to abseil any sections where an abseil down a waterfall is possible.

All of this equipment costs in the region of £250 per person and has to be replaced regularly.

Also, we are covered for £10,000,000 of Public Liability Insurance in the event of an accident where we are at fault and all of our instructors are experienced & qualified professionals who take pride in providing you with a top quality Ghyll Scrambling & Canyoning Session in The Lake District.

We also give you a free copy of all photographs that we make a point of taking during your session with us.

As well as all of the equipment provided, we try to make sure you get value for money in other ways. Take the chap in photo three for example who is getting to try part of a gorge that many other users avoid - not for reasons that it is dangerous but for the fact that it makes for a longer session.

Here, there is a waterfall lower and pool jump that many customers don't get to know about; and many customers don't get to do the 30 foot lower at the next waterfall 100m downstream either! Indeed we know that some of our cheaper competitors actually add £5 each on to the price if you wish to abseil this fall!

As part of your fee per person with us you will get to do everything possible at any given venue - unless you choose not to do so or conditions render such a plan unsafe. We like to - wherever possible, add value to your experience and exceed your expectations!

We recently had an enquiry from a person interested in booking one of our Ghyll Scrambling & Canyoning Sessions for a Hen Event and for eight persons we quoted £40 each. 

After a few days the person got back to us and asked why there was such a big difference between providers, as some had offered her the session at £20 per head.

We outlined what we offered and asked her to go back to the cheaper providers and ask

What equipment was provided as part of the session and what were the clients expected to provide themselves?

Was the business appropriately insured? If you are working with the general public at any time then you must, by law, have appropriate Public Liability Insurance in place .

How experienced were the instructional staff?

Would her party be expected to join a larger group to get the cheaper price.

What was included in the session for the price?

Several days later, the enquirer contacted us again to ask us to arrange the Ghyll Scrambling & Canyoning Session for her Hen Party.

If after reading this you still want to pay less for your session then contact us and we will do what we can. However, we will not compromise on your safety & comfort.

Photo four is from one of our Esk Gorge full day trips - a bargain for two persons at only £75 each!

Lake District Ghyll Scrambling & Canyoning Sessions. June 22nd 2013.

During last weekend, we ran two half day Ghyll Scrambling & Canyoning Sessions in The Lake District at Church Beck near Coniston.

Clare Mc Genity had booked this session some time ago as part of a holiday in The Lake District with boyfriend Dan.

We were one of a number of companies contacted with regards to providing this activity session. What is interesting is the fact that Clare chose to book with us because we were prepared to work with a party of two persons. Apparently the other providers Clare contacted stated that they wanted a minimum of four to six persons before they would consider accepting the booking!

Iain offered the pair our ususal Church Beck Ghyll Scrambling & Canyoning Session. This starts by walking upstream from the Hydro-electric power plant scrambing & swimming through pools, doing the odd little jump in to deeper water and climbing up small  waterfalls. This is known as Gorge Walking as well as Ghyll Scrambling and is a popular Summer activity in The Lake District.

However, after about 1500m of this activity in which the gorge becomes deeper & narrower and the waterfalls become bigger & the pools deeper one arrives at an area known as "The Top Jumps" (photo two).

The top jumps are best done in descent. Some companies merely allow their clients to jump in at the top one of three waterfalls which is narrow, hazardous & challenging whereas we rope our clients down past the hazardous section before allowing them to jump in to the pool. After climbing past the second fall, we arrive at the top of the 3rd fall which is a slide down the slab in to the pool below. In photo two Clare has just completed that slide and Dan is about to follow.

It would appear that very few of our competitors offer more than the walk up the lower gorge and the "Top Jumps" and do not make clients aware that there is actually quite a bit more that can be done in this fantastic ghyll.

In photo three Clare can be seen as she is lowered down the very top fall in the gorge which is part of an additional 200m which can be done above the packhorse bridge (Miners Bridge) Below this, there is a scramble down past a waterfall and a short jump into another pool - all exhilarating fun in our canyoning descent downstream towards Miners Bridge and the next challenge.

The final Challenge that we offered Clare & Dan on their half day Lake District Ghyll Scrambling & Canyoning Session was a chance to be lowered down the Miners bridge Waterfall and here Dan is heading towards the top of the 30 foot fall whilst Clare looks on.
With all of our Lake District Ghyll Scrambling & Canyoning half day sessions at Church Beck for the starting price of £45 you get the ghyll scrambling ascent of the gorge and the full canyoning descent which includes the top 200m above Miners Bridge, a lower down the Miners Bridge Waterfall and also The Top Jumps as aready mentioned.

Also, you get a free copy of every photograph taken during your groups session included as part of the fee!
If you want to pay less then bring more people as we do apply discounts for bigger group sizes and many people have done the church Beck experience with us for as little as £30 each. Many of our competitors are quoting less but you will get less of an experience and also less equipment with which to keep you warm & safe whilst soaked. If you want to pay less then let us know, but we won't compromise on your comfort or safety.
The rest of the photos taken during Clare & Dans session can be viewed here and you can contact us here if you would like to book your own Ghyll Scrambling & Canyoning session in The Lake District.

Learning to Lead Multi-pitch Climbing Courses in The Lake District. June 20th & 24th 2013.

After a few days, Iain was back out again running another Learning to lead Rock Climbing Skills Training course - this time for David Greer from Durham. As with many other aspiring climbers, David had already spent some time at indoor climbing walls nearer home with his two sons and was keen to make the transition to outdoor rock climbing in The Lake District.

The only thing with teaching skills for multi-pitch rock climbing is that from a coaching perspective, it is better for a pair to learn together as a climbing instructor can then "self line" ie be attached to a separate climbing rope upon which they can descend/ascend to be able to keep safe and coach the climbing pair otherwise a single person can only be guided by a Mountaineering Instructor - for reasons of safety! On that note, David had arrived on his own, so therefore considering his objectives, Iain felt it necessary to find him a climbing partner who, if nothing else, would at least act as a second.

Iain was fortunate indeed that Becki Vale, a local outdoor Instructor with an upcoming Single Pitch Award Assessment was keen to come along and help; and at the same time, pick up any handy hints/top tips for her forthcoming assessment from Iain.

Once again, we went to Upper Scout Crag where we spent the morning on Route 1 (photo one) Here we looked at all aspects of ropework, selecting & placing anchors, setting up running belays and belays at stances/stance management. Methods of using slings or the climbing rope to tie in at stances and where/why you would use each system. David led pitch one and was happy to let Becki lead pitch two so that Iain could assess her climbing and belaying skills. In the afternoon, we made it as far as the top of pitch 2 on route 2 before setting up for an abseil retreat from the Oak tree as discussed in the last rock climbing skills training course Blog report.

Having successfully managed a stacked abseil retreat, we were happy to call it a day and in any case, the midges were getting rather bad! Becki went on to successfully pass her SPA Assessment run over the following two days with ease. Iain would like to thank her for her assistance with David and also say well done!

Iain was unable to work the next day with David as originally planned but David was keen to come back & have a further day consolidating his rock climbing skills so, we arrange to continue on the following Monday.

This time, David brought along his son Alex so that he could practise his multi-pitch rock climbing skills and Alex could learn a few as well. This time we returned to Route 2 on Upper Scout Crag to continue on from where we had abseiled  the previous Thursday a further two pitches to this stance in photo three from where it is possible to scramble off on to the grassy rake that is the descent route from the crag top.

At this point Iain got Alex to belay his dad from the final stance up to the rake using the rope around a spike as a direct belay - another useful skill to know if your route is going from being a rock climb to a scramble - but the anchor has to be a solid piece of the hillside and must not move!

After completing Route 2, Alex decided that he would like to have a go at some of the top rop/bottom belay climbs to be found at nearby Lower Scout Crag. David now had the skills in order to be able to set up top rope systems for bottom roping sessions - so Iain invited him to set up the climbs for Alex.

Alex enjoyed having a go at three of the popular single pitch climbs at this venue - Cubs Wall, Cubs Crack and Cubs Groove (photo four) before we decided to call it a day.

Climbing at Lower Scout Crag is very like climbing on a indoor climbing wall and is a popular venue for our introductory rock climbing sessions in The Lake District. You won't find any multicoloured climbing holds here but at least you will get the opportunity to climb on real rock and the activity is ideal for one of our half day (four hour) sessions. At only £45 for a half day session (less if you bring more people) this is an excellent activity for some family fun or ideal for a stag event or teambuilding session.

Other photos from Davids two day Learning to Lead Multi-pitch Rock Climbing Course in The Lake District can be viwed here and if you would like to know about this or any of the other rock climbing options we offer then contact us here.

Rock Climbing Skills Training Courses in The Lake District. June 14th 2013.

Compared with this time last year, June 2013 has seen much better conditions for rock climbing in The Lake District and as a result, we have had a number of bookings come in from aspiring rock climbers.

People mainly come to us for a Learning To Lead Multi-Pitch Rock Climbing course having already spent some time at an indoor wall where they have learned to climb using a "top rope bottom belay" system and as such, they have also learnt to belay one another - good skills for making that next step on to outdoor rock here in The Lake District!

Steve & Chris King seen here in photo one have been down that route of indoor climbing but this is, in fact, their second time out on proper rock with Iain from Kendal Mountaineering Services. The pair attended a one day guided climbing course with Iain last Summer and then - it was slightly wetter than this time!!
Father & son had booked this rock climbing course with us some time previously. The idea was that having already attended a guided multi - pitch climbing day with Iain, this time they would have a day of Multi-pitch Rock Climbing Tuition before spending the weekend rock climbing together on some of the Lake Districts easier rock routes - good plan.

So, Iain wasn't exactly starting from scratch with this pair who had spent the winter at the local indoor climbing wall in Norwich, but had also invested in a considerable amount of shiny new DMM Climbing hardwear and a rope. They at least wanted to get to grips with using the hardware. Once started, it became obvious that they had done a considerable amount of reading around the subject of rock climbing technique too.

As well as teaching them new climbing skills and revisiting others such "runner placements" Iain also threw in the odd scenario - just to see what they would do. Having placed this camming device for Chris, Iain then asked Chris if he would clip his extender (the short sling & two snaplinks in photo two) into the snaplink already attached to the cam or in to the sling beside the other snaplink - Chris correctly chose not to clip one snaplink in to the other. Why not? Well, if two snaplinks (or screwgates for that matter) are clipped together and left in a situation where they could receive a shock load from a leader fall then they could do exactly that - snap! and this is why you must never clip karabiners together where a shock load is possible.

The intended rock climb for Steve & Chris's imtended day out with Iain was to have been Middlefell buttress - one of The Lake Districts classic Diff standard climbs but as today was damp and Middlefell Buttress is fairly well polished through constant use we chose to return to Route 1 on Upper Scout Crag. Chris led the first pitch followed by Steve who led pitch two and is seen here in photo three having used the rope to tie in to his anchors - as one should when alternately climbing pitches on a Multi-pitch Rock Climbing route.

In this photo, Steve has found two good anchor placements and has taken the rope from his tie in loop, through both screwgate karabiners and then formed a "V" in the rope between the two anchors. At the centre of the V is a clove hitch knot - attached to his rope tie in loop with an HMS karabiner. The rope returning from the second anchor placement has also been clove hitched in to the same karabiner but as the anchors are in reach Steve could have just as easily attached the clove hitch to the karabiner at the anchor end. Steve is belaying correctly with the belay plate attached to the bottom of his rope tie in loop, live rope in his left hand and dead rope in the right - correctly orientated for holding a fall from a climbing second.

Our final photograph from this Learning To Lead Multi-pitch Rock Climbing Course in The Lake District was taken at the top of pitch two on Route 2 which is an ideal place to discuss an abseil retreat from the crag as there is a handy & stout Oak tree that can be used for the purpose.

Once both Chris & Steve had arrived at the stance, Iain instructed them to attach themselves to the Oak with cowstails (a sling larksfooted through the abseil loops on their harnesses) before untying from the climbing rope. With the rope untied, looped around the tree at the mid point, either end has an overhand knot tied 1m from the end of the rope - (this is to prevent one from accidentally abseiling off the end of the rope) the rope was then thrown down the crag and 25m of doubled rope was ample to reach the foot. Both guys then attached their belay plates (extended from their harnesses with short slings) to both sides of the doubled rope and then abseiled in order (this was, effectively, a "stacked abseil") while Iain held the rope at the bottom. Prussiks were discussed and demonstrated as to how they work as an autobloc whilst abseiling.

Following this, it was time to call a close to this Rock Climbing Skills Training Course in The Lake District and we hope that Steve & Chris enjoyed their subsequent climbing weekend in the area -particularly as the poor forecast turned out to be not so bad! Other photos from this session can be viewed here and if you would like to learn to lead on climbing routes outdoors then contact us here. We look forward to working with you.

Tuesday 11 June 2013

Lake District based Rock Climbing Skills Training Courses. June 8th & 9th 2013.

The weather in the Lake District of late has been very good indeed! Dry sunny weather has meant that many people have been taking advantage of the ideal conditions to get out rock climbing. For anyone who has been booked on to any sort of lake District based Rock Climbing Skills Training Course then this has been the time to do it!

Returning client Simon Hatfield booked on to one of our Learning to Lead Rock Climbing Courses a few months back as a way to unwind after a busy academic year and he brought his wife Annika who had no idea what had been planned for her.

The pair have previously spent a considerable amount of time indoor climbing at a climbing wall near to where they live; although they also love visiting The Lake District and considered it the best place to learn to rock climb.

On day one of their two day Lake District based Rock climbing course, the pair met Iain from Kendal Mountaineering Services at the New Dungeon Ghyll Hotel and spent the day learning multi-pitch climbing techniques on Upper Scout Crag. Photo one was taken on Route 1 and shows the pair at the second stance of the route.

Prior to starting climbing, Simon & Annika looked at anchor placements and constructing running belays with Iain as well as learning how to remove and stow running belays. Iain was keen to get climbing as due to the hot sunny weather he was expecting the venue to get busy although surprisingly only one other pair turned up to climb here today.

We made our way up Route 1 with both Annika and Simon getting a chance to lead placing running belays, build multi-point attachments at stances and of course, belay each other up the climb. By the time we finished on route one, as usual, it was early afternoon.

After some lunch we started up Route 2 with Simon climbing the first pitch and Annika the second via the slightly harder Severe graded overhang. By the time we reached the oak tree at the top of pitch two, it was time to abseil off the route so, Iain showed the pair how to rig a stacked abseil retreat. In photo two Simon holds the dead rope whist Annika abseils - the idea being that if Annika let go of the dead rope Simon would immediately be able to hold her by locking off the rope. And that was day one of their Learning to Lead Climbing Course in The Lake District!

On day two of these climbing courses we always go to a different crag and so moved slightly further up valley meeting at the Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel and heading to Middlefell Buttress for our next climb.

We had heard that there had been a recent rockfall at the foot of the climb we had come to do and so avoided this area by taking one of the alternative starts to the climb - a steep & polished (what isn't polished on Middlefell Buttress!) crack line graded at VS. Simon climbed this well on a top rope provided by Iain and followed by setting up a belay with which to protect Annika whilst she had a go.

Following success on this first pitch, Annika led the next two pitches before Simon led the last official pitch of the route (photo three). However, we think it is always worth having a go at the otional extra pitch of Curtain Wall (Severe) and the pair were keen to rise to the challenge and Annika to lead - it which she did well.

After lunch we headed over to the foot of another climb - Revelation (HS4b) to give the pair another three pitches of climbing. However, after the first pitch both were satisfied with what they had done during the day. Annika in particular, wanted to revisit the various techniques used to bring together two anchor placements to a central attachment point and she can be seen in photo four using the climbing rope for this purpose.

When leading alternately as a climbing pair you should consider using the climbing rope as in the manner in this photograph. However, doing so makes escaping the system more difficult than the other option of using slings to bring two anchor points together to a central attachment points. At Kendal Mountaineering Services we teach you both options as part of our Learning to Lead climbing Courses syllabus.

Our Lake District based climbing courses cost £160 per day for two persons to learn rock climbing techniques. As well as the provision of qualified & experienced instructors, helmets, harnesses and ropes & rack are included as part of the fee making these courses excellent value for money.To view other photographs taken as part of this Rock Climbing Skills Training Course click here. To book your own rock climbing course in The Lake District contact us here. We look forward to working with you.