Thursday 26 September 2013

Scrambling in The Lake District, September 20th 2013.

After running a one day Lake District Climbing Course for Natasha Tyler and Jason, Iain was back out in Langdale the following day for another one day Skills Training Course with Elena & Alex from London.

The pair were visiting the area for the weekend and wanted to gain more confidence in moving on scrambling grade terrain having done many trips in to mountainous areas in recent time.

For our one day Scrambling Skills Training Course in The Lake District, we started out by practicing the technique of "spotting", This is where two people move together on easy grade scrambling ground, supporting each other by pressing on to feet, backs & bums (photo one) to prevent a slip or fall. The more confident & competent scrambler generally takes up the rear.
However, as one moves up the grades the angle of the rock gets steeper and a point is reached where spotting is no longer safe. As a rule of thumb, when a slip could turn in to something more serious, then one should get the rope out and use that! True, the use of a rope slows up proceedings, but if you want to stay alive longer, then it is a worthy consideration!

Most ropes used for scrambling are around 10.2mm in diameter and up to 50m in length - however you won't need that much rope for moving together on graded scrambling ground - unless you have to climb (pitch) a section.

Iain short roped the pair up and down the buttress being used for their Scrambling Skills Training Course so that they could experience and see what is required when short roping & moving together before letting the pair have a go for themselves. In photo two, both have tied on to the rope and  Alex has taken chest coils to shorten the rope. Having locked off his chest coils Elena was  keen to see if she could strangle him - fortunately Alex had locked off his coils properly!

In photo three, the pair are looking at the use of belays as a means to protect each other whilst moving up or down a section where a slip could have serious consequences.

Belays fall into three categories - an Indirect or body belay used to protect a second on relatively easy ground, Semi Direct - almost always used in climbing where a leader attaches to the rock with anchors and belays from their climbing harness or Direct belays where the rock is used directly to protect a second as in photo three.

In photo three, Alex is using a rock spike (well, the remains of it anyway after Iain had kicked it!) and is taking in the rope around it to safeguard Elena. ANY Direct belay must be checked to ensure it's integrity so must be pulled/pushed/kicked to ensure it is solid - if it isn't, don't use it!

Following our skills training session on the Lower Buttress of Tarn Crag, Langdale. Iain decided to take the pair to a route called The Spur on the south west side of of that hill. Described in the Cicerone Lake District Scrambles South Guide as grade 2, the route follows the line of a rocky rib before finishing off  by ascending two rock bands to the summit.

Exposure is reasonable starting with a tricky traverse rightwards across, on what was on this occasion a damp slab. Above this, a grassy gully is ascended to a block belay and then the route climbs up rock leftwards (photo four) to regain the crest of the rib and grassy slopes before reaching the rock bands.

Elena & Alex had decided that they would prefer to be guided by Iain on The Spur considering that for them, at this stage, grade 2 was perhaps just a step too far for them to lead. For Iain, as a Mountaineering Instructor, it was a great opportunity to be able to guide and with his guidance and support, the pair enjoyed this rather damp scramble in the mist and drizzle which never left us all day.

Scrambling is great fun and a great way to get to the top of a mountain if you want some exilaration and some interest. Book a day out with us to have a great experience.

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