Thursday 18 July 2013

Outdoor activities in The Lake District with Kendal Mountaineering Services, Summer 2013.

Last weekend, Iain was once again working for another provider of Lake District based activity sessions with a school group from Cheshire who were staying at one of the areas residential centres.

The weather was sunny and very hot and as this was an older group it was decided to leave the residential centre and go mobile for the day. We decided to take the group to Langdale for an Introductory Rock Climbing Session followed by a ghyll scrambling session in Stickle Ghyll and for this, we based ourselves in the National Trust car park near the Sticklebarn Tavern.

Photo one shows the group enjoying an introductory rock climbing session in the sun at Sticklebarn Crag. Ropes are anchored at the top of the climb and the climber is attached to one end whilst safeguarded by persons at the other end keeping the rope tight. These introductory climbing sessions really are a great way to get people working together and are ideal for people wanting to try out rock climbing for the first time. We offer introductory Lake District climbing sessions & courses for as little as £30 per person for a four hour (half day) session depending on your group size.
Sunday found us enjoying a kayaking session on the Lake near to the centre. Kayaking is a great way to explore the Lake Districts many lakes & rivers - you get your own kayak and a paddle - and off you go! It is however, best to get some instruction in how to use these craft before you do so and we can can provide you with the opportunity to do this for as little as £30 per person for a half day (four hour) session depending on your group size.

In photo two, the guys had been attempting to run around their rafted kayaks (well - two persons attempting to walk around the raft whilst everyone else clung on tightly!) As is often the case people fell in and as can be seen here, one kayaker had his boat sunk! All good fun and despite what you might think - safe too! It was just as well the water was warm though!

As part of this Lake District Kayaking Session, we took a journey up the Lake to a nearby island which is a popular summer spot for canoeing, kayaking, swimming and.......trying a challenge by jumping off rocks in to the water!

As can be seen in photo three our group took to this idea like fishes to water and many different ways of jumping were tried out. What a blast!
Finally, we returned to the centre and  grabbed a bite of lunch before heading down to the beach to build a couple of improvised rafts. All that is supplied for these improvised rafting sessions in The Lake District are plastic barrels,wooden spars and short lengths of climbing rope. The group were expected (with assistance from Iain) to come up with a design for a raft that would work and then build it.                                                              After both rafts were completed to a satisfactory standard ( we always ensure that your raft will not disintegrate in the middle of the lake!) it was off on the lake to test them out with a few competitive tasks thrown in to the mix to add a bit more fun. As always, the session degenerated into the usual waterfight before the group destroyed each others rafts. Boys will be boys!

The group thoroughly enjoyed their weekend activity break in The Lake District and we can provide the same sort of activity weekend for you and your family, your Stag or Hen Party or your corporate event. Contact us to arrange a bespoke package of activities to suit your needs. We look forward to working with you.

Lake District based Scrambling Skills Training courses. July 12th 2013.

A few days after working in Yorkshire, Iain was back in The Lake District mountains with private clients Heath & Alison Ralphson who had arrived in the area for a weekend of hill walking.

Heath & Alison are keen to spend more time in the outdoors and particularly enjoy hillwalking. They were also keen to learn the basics of scrambling to allow them to enjoy some of the more adventurous routes to the top of some of the Lake District peaks. Striding Edge on Helvellyn was mentioned as one future objective.
The pair only had one day available for their Lake District based Scrambling Course and as they were only intending to be attempting  grade 1 or 2 scrambles at the outset, Iain felt that he ought to be able to give them the basics skills for these grades in one day.

We started our scrambling day with Iain showing the pair the techniques of spotting (photo one) So what is scrambling anyway? Well, it can be described as a technique used midway between walking and rock climbing where one is moving largely on rock of an easy angle and requiring the use of one or more hands. On easy ground, one can often make good progress merely by the hands on action of assisting each other purely by holding each others feet in place or using hands & a braced stance to prevent the person climbing (or descending) from slipping & falling.

Photo two shows Iain demonstrating the technique of short roping to Heath & Alison. As a rule of thumb, once there is the chance of a slip turning in to something more serious one should consider using a rope to provide security and scramblers use a climbing rope shortened by taking coils around their body to reduce the length of the rope between them and any seconds - the shorter the rope, the less likelihood of a slip turning in to a fall!
Having coached the pair with regards to spotting and having demonstrated short roping and basic belaying techniques - it was now time to get the rope on them so that they could put all of what had been shown already, into practise.

In photo three, Heath uses a Direct Belay (rock anchor) to safeguard Alison who could be either climbing up or down the short steep step below. The rope is kept tight by means of using the rock spike (around which the rope is run) to provide friction & security and this was only one of a number of belay techniques that Iain showed the pair how to use on their Lake District Scrambling Course.

The importance with any direct belay employed is that the rock used must be of high integrity, ie a solid part of the surrounding rock. it must not be loose otherwise there is a danger of it failing when loaded with a persons weight and also, there must be no chance of the rope being able to come off the anchor. The rock spike used in photo three satisfied all of these essential criteria and Heath was able to maintain the rope around the rock by holding it down on both sides of the anchor.
As with all of our skills training courses, it is crucial  to get plenty of practise an there is nothing to beat a " hands on" approach. Having given Heath & Alison the skills to move together on ground of up to Grade 2, it was only right that Iain gave the pair the opportunity to put it all together on on appropriate scramble and we chose to do this on The Spur - a great little scramble on Tarn Crag. Details of this route can be found in the Cicerone Guide Scrambles Lake District South by R Brian Evans
On this route heath had to employ a number of belaying techniques and the final photo of the day shows him using an indirect or body belay to safeguard Alison up what would be the second to last pitch of the scramble. The pairs plans the following day were to climb Scafell Pike which we hope thay achieved although once again, it was going to be a scorching day and as such the pair were advised to set off very early. Both heath & Alison enjoyed their scrambling course in The Lake District with Iain and plan to return in the future to gain the skills to progress to grade 3 routes. Other photos from this day can be viewed here.

Scrambling as a great way to get the the top of any mountain. If you would like to learn the skills for yourself then contact Iain here. The cost is only £75 per person for an eight hour day such as the one that Heath & Alison enjoyed with us.

Recent activity at Kendal Mountaineering Services, July 2013.

As well as offering activity sessions and skills training courses to the general public, on occasion, Iain is asked to assist other providers with running courses.

Recently, Iain was asked to assist with the running of a National 3 peaks challenge. These challenges are often done by organisations attempting to raise money for charity and that was the case with this group (photo one) from Acer UK who were raising money for the Mountain Rescue Committee of England & Wales.
So what is a National 3 Peaks Challenge? These events consist of climbing the highest mountains in England, Wales & Scotland, these are Scafell Pike 3210 feet, Snowdon 3616 feet and Ben Nevis 4406 feet.

Often these 3 peaks challenges are done over 24 hours but Acer UK chose to do the event over 3 days which made it a much more relaxed affair and in the process thay raised over £4,000 for the MRC - well done.

Photo one is taken from the groups final day - an absolute scorcher, with the summit of Snowdon and Glaslyn behind.

A few days later, Iain was off on what has become an annual pilgrimage to North Yorkshire to assist with providing activities for children on a visit to the area with Village Camps.

Photo two  shows Iains team during our morning session at Brimham Rocks near Nidderdale.

At Brimham, a ridge of gritstone runs from north to south and the exposed rocks have been weathered over the years into giant monoliths - an ideal place to try bouldering.

We spent an hour weaving inbetween rock outcrops, climbing up and down them, squeezing through cracks and holes - all great fun!

Following bouldering, we spent a further hour rock climbing at a short cliff close to the main boulders where a number of ropes had been set up. Here, the students were able to work together in teams of three or four climbing on what we would call an introductory Rock Climbing Session.
Following our climbing session at Brimham in the morning, we moved base to the fantastic Howstean Gorge in Nidderdale for our afternoon session consisting of Abseiling in to the gorge followed by a Gorge Walking Session (photo three).

The howstean Gorge is set in Limestone and is surrounded by trees which, at the height of Summer, allow very little light to get in to the bottom of the gorge - at times it felt more like caving than gorge walking! We enjoyed a 2 hour session in here after our exhilarating abseil in to the bottom of the gorge, we made our way upstream clambering up many small waterfalls, wading through many pools and swimming through the one in the photo.

Following this session, the children prepared for an evening barbeque on the campsite where they would be staying overnight, it really had been a truly glorious day.

Iain offers rock climbing & abseiling, caving and gorge walking sessions in The Lake District through the Kendal Mountaineering Services website. Prices start at £45 per person for a half day session - less if you bring more people! These activities are great family fun so if visiting The Lake District - give us a call and see what great activity package we can put together for you!