Friday 25 October 2013

Scrambling Skills Training Courses in The Lake District. Saturday, October 19th 2013.

A couple of days after enjoying a glorious day of Climbing with Matthew Carroll and Marissa, Iain was back out again with another couple - Ioan and Charlotte who had travelled over from Yorkshire for a few days.

As the pair enjoy hill walking and are planning to attend an introductory Alpine Course next Summer they decided to look into the possibility of getting some scrambling skills training in The Lake District and found the Kendal Mountaineering Services website. Photo one shows the pair at our venue for the day (Tarn Crag, Langdale) during the initial stages of their one day Lake District Scrambling Course when we were practising the skills of "spotting" which is generally all that confident scramblers will need to use on grade 1 scrambling terrain.

Spotting involves moving together, unroped, with the most confident person bringing up the rear and holding the feet of the person in front on poor foot placements or pressing into their back etc. The idea is to stop the front person from slipping off or falling off backwards and is an efficient & fast way of moving toegther on easy scrambles.

However, in wet conditions such as those we experienced today, the rain can make even a grade 1 scramble a tricky & questionable proposition and the rule of thumb is that if it is likely that a slip could turn into something more serious such as a fall. If this is deemed possible, then the rope most be employed so that safety can be maintained when moving together on more serious ground.

Photo two  shows the pair who are being "short roped" by Iain so that they can experience what is required when executing this scrambling skill. The idea is that the lead scrambler keeps any "second/s" as close to them as possible on a tight rope to prevent any slips. On easy terrain two or three people can "move together" without too much stopping, however, as soon as the leader is unable to maintain their own personal safety whilst doing this then a different approach must be adopted.

This different approach will see the leader "pitch" more difficult sections to get to a safe stance before "bringing up" the seconds. The "pitching" may be short steep steeps of no more than a metre or two in which case the leader will employ the use of a reservoir or hand coils to allow them to shorten or lengthen the distance between themselves and their seconds; or it may well be that some of the "chest coils" will be dropped in order to allow a long pitch to be ascended. If there is an risk of the leader falling - then techniques applicable to climbing must be used instead!

In the time that we had during this one day Scrambling Skills Training course in The Lake District, there was no way that Iain intended to allow the pair to get on to grade three terrain where climbing techniques might be needed.

After demonstrating "short roping" Iain coached Ioan and Charlotte in the techniques they would need to be able to effectively employ short roping themselves. We also looked at the various belaying techniques that would be used on steeper ground up to grade 2 in standard and these included indirect or body belays such as Ioan is using here in photo three to protect Charlotte during their ascent of East Rib on Tarn Crag in Langdale.

An indirect belay should be used where a braced "standing"stance would not provide suitable protection for either the leader or second in event of the second slipping; or in a situation where the leader is unable to arrange a more secure belay.

Where possible, scramblers should use the most secure belay possible in any situation and also one that can be arranged quickly. In photo four, Ioan uses such a belay to protect Charlotte on a short steep step toward the top of East Rib and this consisted of arranging the rope to run behind an upward projecting rock spike in a situation known as a direct belay.

Direct belays should be used on sound, solid rock; and therefore need a thorough inspection before being used - by means of kicking, pushing and pulling! If they make a noise or move - don't use them! Also, there most be no possibility of the rope coming off whilst loaded or being cut by the rock when in use.

Having topped out on Tarn Crag in a brief spell of clearer, sunnier weather, we spent some time practising the knots the pair will be likely to use when scrambling,also - how to arrange a counterbalanced abseil for retreat and how to properly coil a climbing rope before heading back down to the cars at the Sticklebarn Tavern - just as the heavens opened once again.

Both Ioan & Charlotte enjoyed their Scrambling Course in The Lake District with Iain and go away with some new skills to use in the mountains. They hope to return at some point to gain some experience of grade 3 ground with Iain who looks forward to seeing them again.

Autumn is a time of year when you can still enjoy scrambling as a great way to get to the top of a mountain so if you would like to book a day of guided scrambling with Iain or would like to learn the skills to go and scramble yourself then contact us here. We look forward to working with you.

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