Friday 25 October 2013

Guided Rock Climbing days in The Lake District. October 17th 2013

Matthew Carroll and his girlfriend Marissa were indeed fortunate that the day which had been chosen for their Lake District Rock Climbing Course was one of only two perfect days we have had in the last fortnight.

As you can see in photo one, the weather was spot on - wall to wall blue sky & sunshine and as can happen in October, still warm enough to have a pleasant day out without needing to wrap up. Most important of all, the rock was dry!

Matthew had booked this rock climbing day with us as a birthday present for Marissa who didn't know what to expect when the couple met Iain at the Sticklebarn Car Park in Langdale.

Having discussed the pairs aspirations for the day and that they would like to be "guided" on a climb, Iain decided that Middlefell Buttress  (Diff) behind the Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel would be a good place to start. Photo one is taken at the top of the first pitch of the route which has several start points and for a "Diff" climb - none of them are easy! You can read all about this route on Page 45 of the  FRCC Guide -  Lake District Rock.

Above the first pitch of Middlefell Buttress, the rock climbing feels easier; although as the climbing route is very popular with beginners wishing to make those steps from indoor climbing on a wall to learning traditional techniques (trad climbing) out of doors - parts of it are quite polished through a lot of use!

Photo two sees Matthew & Marissa approaching Iains stance on pitch three of the climb which is where the "crux" can be found. The crux refers to the hardest part of a climbing route - in this case an exposed move up a polished slab on to a ledge before moving left in to an easier and well protected chimney.

In photo two, Matthew is climbing the Chimney as Marissa makes the moves over the crux below. The rope work employed on this occasion was two climbers climbing in parallel - each on a separate rope thus allowing freedom of movement for each. Whilst Iain "took in" on both ropes as the pair climbed - Marissa had been asked to stay well back from Matthew to avoid injury if he slipped and landed on her. This was the pairs first day climbing outdoors and Iain didn't want to put them off!

Photo three is taken at the stance above pitch three. Both Marissa and Matthew found the position exhilarating to say the least - as they put it - hanging on a steep cliff!

The stance atop pitch three is good though - a big block to sit on, somewhere to put your feet and the ropes and a couple of good anchors with which to protect everyone so the couple were perfectly safe; and were so at all times.

As Iain was leading all pitches, it was essential that each climbers rope was reflaked so that the rope attached to Iain was coming off the top of the piles of rope between him and Matthew & Marissa. Having coached the pair in how to do this from the outset. Iain was about to head off up the next pitch.

That next pitch on Middlefell Buttess is more of a scramble than a climb so Iain had the pair up reasonably quickly; although having gotten them both to the broad grassy ledge at the top he had to return to the previous stance to extricate an anchor that had been a little two well placed for Marissa to remove. We could have done one final pitch but it was already approaching 2pm and the pair wanted to get some lunch.

There is a scrambling descent from the grassy ledge in to the gully that bounds the western side of Middlefell Buttress leading to the descent path. A convenient Rowan Tree around which is attached a large loop of abseil tat and a Maillon (karabiner) makes an ideal abseil descent which Iain considered a much safer option for the pair rather than back climbing, unprotected, down the steepest section.

In photo four, Marissa abseils towards Iains stance at the foot of the steepest section. After Matthew had abseiled down to join us, we scrambled down to the foot of the route for a late lunch and then called it a day.

Matthew & Marissa enjoyed their Introductory Rock Climbing Day in The Lake District and are keen to try a harder route next time. So we look forward to seeing them again in 2014.

If you would like to find out more information about the range of Lake District Rock Climbing Courses on offer to you by Kendal Mountaineering Services then contact us here, we look forward to working with you.

No comments: