Sunday 30 June 2013

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.

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