Tuesday 24 September 2013

Rock Climbing Courses in The Lake District. Friday 20th 2013.

Natasha  Tyler booked a one day Rock Climbing Skills Training Course in The Lake District with us for herself and boyfriend Jason.

The pair were on holiday in the area from Essex and enjoy various outdoor pursuits having snowboarded around the globe amongst other things! During their visit to the Lake District on this occasion they had enjoyed Mountain Biking and Wake Boarding and had attempted to climb Scafell Pike although they had given up due to low cloud & rain. Certainly - prior to today, the weather had not been ideal for rock climbing, having been wet since the previous Sunday.

Despite the view of wet rock in photo one, after a slightly damp start the day improved. Both wanted to learn the skills of rock climbing and here Iain had coached Jason as far as the first stance on the route and then returned to the foot of the climb to help Natasha extricate a well placed anchor.

Photo two sees Natasha two pitches up at the second stance on this popular Lake District climbing route - having built a belay consisting of two anchors equalised to a central attachment point using a sling and screwgate karabiners.

In the photo, Jason is just above the crux (the hardest part of the climb) and is moving towards Natasha who is keeping him on a tight rope.

The method of using slings to attach to anchors should only be employed if you are leading all of the pitches on a rock climb or, as a Mountaineering Instructor, are guiding clients (in effect, again, - doing all of the leading!)

Best practice indicates that where a pair of climbers are alternately leading each pitch then one should "tie in" at stances using the climbing rope. Alternate leading also negates the need to reflake the climbing rope at stances.

In photo three, Natasha, now on a different climb, demonstrates attaching to anchors using the climbing rope.

Her climbing rope is attached to both anchors using screwgate karabiners and she is independently attached to each anchor with a loop of rope that is secured to her rope tie in loop with a knot called a Clove Hitch via an HMS (pear shaped) karabiner.

The use of this method allows for easy equalisation (loading of both anchors which is important to reduce shock loading on the climbing system. A shock load occurs when a fall (or load ie falling climber) is arrested (stopped) by a belayer (such as Natasha in this photo). A shock load can occur at any time when there is slack in the climbing system and a fall or slip takes place, the shock load occurring when the fall or slip is arrested. Minimising any slack in the system from the anchor system right through the belay to the climber reduces shock loading. The only time it cannot be avoided  is when a lead climber takes a fall on to a running belay (runner).

The final photo from this post about a one day climbing course in The Lake District sees Natasha protecting Jason as he abseils towards her from the second stance of our second climbing route.

The scenario was that for whatever reason, we had felt it necessary to arrange an abseil retreat from the route and on this occasion, there was a handy tree to help facilitate this.

Jason had climbed pitch two of the route and created an anchor consisting of a sling around the tree from which he belayed Natasha. When Natasha arrived at the stance, both clipped in to the sling using cowstails  (a sling larksfooted through the abseil loop on the harness and attached to the anchor with a screwgate karabiner). This allowed them to be protected whilst they untied from the climbing rope, arranged it's mid point around the tree and threw either side down the crag - conveniently reaching the base!

The pair then attached themselves to both sides of the climbing rope with their belay plates extended away from their harnesses with another sling each and then abseiled to the base. Iain, going first, demonstrated a prussik to protect against losing control during abseiling and then protected Natasha by holding the "dead" rope below her - ready to pull it tight if she let go and thus preventing a fall.

The pair enjoyed their Rock Climbing Course in The Lake District with Iain and hope to return to the area again to have another go at outdoor climbing - so we may see them again! To book your guided climbing session or Rock Climbing Skills Training Course in the Lake District - contact us here.

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