Wednesday 30 April 2014

Stag Events in Yorkshire. Caving in The Yorkshire Dales National Park. 26th April 2014.

At Kendal Mountaineering Services, we work with a team of hand picked associate instructors. These individuals have been selected for their experience, qualifications and people skills. On occasion, Iain finds his services being called upon by one of our associate businesses and this was the case last Saturday when Iain was asked by Live For Today Adventures to deliver a half day Caving Session in The Yorkshire Dales National Park.

David Anderson had booked a half day Caving and a half day Quad Biking with Live For Today. We arranged to meet the Group at Inglesport in Ingleton before heading off to Long Churns near Ribblehead. Photo one sees the lads dressed up & ready to go - guess which one is the Stag!

For a change - rather than heading straight off to do The Cheese Press (many a novice cavers often best recollected experience) we headed to the top entrance/exit to the Long Churns cave system - and descended the waterfall to Doctor Bannister's Washbasin.

In photo two, the stag can be seen descending this waterfall - hand over hand on a doubled rope (the water level in Long Churns was low so this was safe to do). Here, the waterfall is not vertical but descends  as a water slide dropping off a small lip into the pool below. Iain's advice to anyone descending the fall was to try to keep their feet out of the water to avoid a drenching at the bottom and Martin, our assistant Cave Leader for the session was on hand to grab people to stop them from falling into the pool. To enter Long Churns this way was an exciting start to the lads caving session with us.
Once down the waterfall at Doctor Bannister's Washbasin, Martin headed off downstream in the cave system of Upper Long Churns whilst Iain de-rigged the rope and then caught the party up. He did so at a point where Martin, a very experienced Cave Leader was showing the lads a point where flood debris (flotsam) had collected on an occasion when a party had been trapped underground - this point was almost 2 metres above the floor of the cave showing that water had risen to that level!

If this puts you off the idea of going caving then don't be - just make sure that you go underground with one of our experienced & knowledgeable Cave leaders who won't take you somewhere you may be at risk if conditions are wet!

Shortly after this point the Stag Party split into two - with Martin taking some of the lads out to Middle Entrance & on whilst Iain took the keener group through the more strenuous Cross Passage (Baptistery Crawl) we then regrouped for the next interesting section - Double Shuffle Pool in Lower Long Churns which David (in photo three) is about to descend.

Shortly after negotiating the tricky down climb at Double Shuffle Pool, one crosses Plank Pool (so called because apparently there was once a plank spanning it!) before arriving at the route to Diccan Entrance - the lowest of the walk in & out entrances to the Long Churns Cave System.

Some of our group were happy to call time on the caving at this point whilst some wanted to go and experience The Cheese Press (photo four).

After this we headed back to surface to join the rest of the lads and pack up as they needed to get on the road to Otley for their afternoon Quad Biking session.

All of David Anderson's Stag Party thoroughly enjoyed their half day Introductory Caving Session in The Yorkshire Dales with Iain & Martin and we hope they enjoyed the rest of their afternoon with the Live for Today Adventures Team. Each member of the group paid just £35 for their half day session with us which included the provision of Caving Over-suits, Wellington Boots, Caving Belts and helmets with lights. Caving is often a popular session with Stag & Hen Parties looking for an event with a difference. Contact us to arrange your Stag or Hen Event here. We look forward to working with you.

Ghyll Scrambling Sessions in the Lake District. Stickle Ghyll, Langdale. Thursday 24th April 2014.

After our busy Easter Weekend, Iain had a few days off before returning to the fray with one of our corporate clients - Nucleargraduates.

Photo one shows the first cohort of 2014 who had all arrived at Kendal for their two day welcome workshop. These young people are all almost at the end of their university courses and have been successful in being selected for the Nucleargraduates Apprenticeship Scheme where they will spend the next two years working within the nuclear industry before being offered full time employment.
So why do they attend a Lake District Ghyll Scrambling Session with Kendal Mountaineering Services as part of their Welcome Workshop? The reason is that in providing this session - we provide an environment where these undergraduates have to work together in a demanding environment which has the effect of bringing them closer together - something which is considered important as they will be working closely with each other during their forthcoming apprentice-ships.

Of course our Lake District Ghyll Scrambling Sessions are meant to be fun (it certainly looks like it in photo two!) and safe! With these two elements in place people can then start to learn about their own abilities and can start to form bonds - working with; and supporting each other.
Different people have a different perception of challenge and also differing perceptions of what Ghyll Scrambling (also known as Gorge Walking) may entail. Well - obviously it involves getting wet - soaked in fact! so, some people might thing it will be cold wet & miserable and hard work. We hope however, that with the provision of wet suits, cagoules and walking boots included as part of your fee that we go some way to ward off the effect of the wetness. Certainly, Ghyll Scrambling or Gorge Walking in The lake District is something that is best done in the Summer months.

For Kath Walker - the Nucleargraduates Business System Lead seen in photo three, ghyll scrambling was, at the outset, something that she would be trying for the first & last time today. However, by the time this photo was taken - half way through the Ghyll Scrambling Session, Kath was clearly starting to enjoy herself through the support and interaction she was enjoying with the rest of the group - and our support too!

The final photograph from this Ghyll Scrambling Session in The lake District was taken just below our get out point about halfway up Stickle Ghyll where there is a big waterfall to be climbed.

At this point of the session, people are roped up one at a time and of courses the challenge is dealing with the fear of heights whilst clambering up slippery rock whilst bucket loads of water pour over your head!

Obviously, this is not a place where the graduate apprentices can operate together although they can give each other support & encouragement before it's their turn; and a pat on the back afterwards. It is a place however, where one has the opportunity to realize that often, we are all capable of achieving more than we think we can and this is a most useful learning point to take back to any work place!

Our Ghyll Scrambling (Gorge Walking) Sessions in The Lake District) are ideal as an icebreaker as used by Nucleargraduates and other corporate clients and are great fun for Stag & Hen Parties, families or for a bunch of mates who are looking for an action packed & exhilarating session. Contact us today to arrange your Ghyll Scrambling Session in The Lake District. Prices start at only £45 per person for a half day (4 hour) session with equipment & instruction included.

Tuesday 22 April 2014

Caving Sessions in The Yorkshire Dales National Park. Sunday, April 20th, 2014

The final post from Iain's varied Easter Weekend concerns Caving in The Yorkshire Dales National Park - still work of course, but completely different work from the previous two days and in a completely different environment.

Rebecca Tayler booked a half day Caving Session in The Yorkshire Dales National Park with us for herself & her mates Gary, Mark & Chris as part of a birthday treat. Rebecca had been to the venue for our Introductory Caving Session - Long Churns, before; and wanted to introduce the lads to this adventurous sport.

Iain met the group at Inglesport as usual where he found them enjoying some lunch in the cafe. Inglesport is a favorite start point for many caving excursions underground in the Yorkshire Dales National Park and as well as having a renown cafe, also has an excellent shop selling all manner of outdoor sports equipment.

Photo one sees the group a few minutes after we had entered Long Churns via Middle Entrance. Conditions were dry and the main stream (also in the photo) was very low - ideal conditions for an introductory caving trip!

Photo two sees Gary "going for it" in The Cheese Press. This is a famous tight horizontal crawl over a distance of only around 18 feet - but a real challenge for anyone vaguely claustrophobic! The Cheese Press is well remembered by all who attempt it - in many cases school children who get introduced to the delights of caving in this very place.

Another part of Long Churns that is often well remembered is Doctor Bannister's Washbasin. For many people this is the last place that they visit during a four hour Introductory Caving Session in Long Churns. It is also the biggest chamber holding a pool of water the size of a small swimming bath.

Alum Pot Beck crashes down into the back of the pool via a water-slide which would be great fun if it were not for the fact that the water at the foot of the fall is only a metre deep. There is however, a ledge running all the way around the pool which allows one to squeeze behind the waterfall without getting wet - although by this point you'll be doing well to still be dry! At least you'll still be enjoying yourself - just like Rebecca in Photo three.

Climbing out of Upper Long Churns via the Water-slide can be tricky if there is any amount of water coming through the cave system and if there is quite a bit then we will rope you up for safety.

However, on this occasion, water levels were so low that it was merely a case of Iain spotting everyone up the foot of the fall and it was easy to scramble up to the top. 50 metres beyond this point you find yourself coming out into daylight again in the canyon where Alum Pot Beck enters the cave system. Take care because it is generally slippery! Our final photo was taken on the Limestone pavement above Upper Long Churns with one of the Yorkshire 3 Peaks - Penyghent, in the background.

Rebecca, Gary, Mark & Chris all thoroughly enjoyed their half day (four hour) Introductory Caving Session in the Yorkshire Dales national Park with Iain and you can too! Prices start at £45 per person but next weekend we are doing the same trip with 12 persons only paying £35 each. Now that has to be good value for money! If you are interested in trying out your very own caving trip then contact us here and we will be happy to make arrangements for you.

Half day Canyoning Sessions in The Lake District. April 19th 2014.

After a strenuous but totally satisfying day out with Rob - Scrambling on Great Gable, Iain was out the following afternoon doing something completely different - Canyoning, with Tom Dobson & his mates at Church Beck, Coniston. Far from being dry, this was a totally wet session, but just as much fun as the previous day!

As you can see from photo one, the weather was just as good too, maybe slightly cooler. But with all of the equipment the guys were wearing (supplied as part of your fee) they were warm enough throughout the session despite the continual soaking they received.

Our half day Canyoning Sessions in The Lake District are by far the most popular activity we do in the Summer months, they are great fun, very exciting, very refreshing on a hot sunny day and totally exhilarating.

We usually run these sessions at Church Beck near Coniston. Canyoning is a downward descent of a mountain stream - usually involving abseiling down waterfalls or jumping down them into deep pools. Another place that we do this is Stoneycroft Gill near Keswick, but Church Beck is by far the better venue.

We start off near to the dam at the top of the gorge and very quickly arrive at the first waterfall as seen in photo two. Everyone gets lowered down this into the pool below and then we climb down the side of the next fall below and jump in to the pool - getting wet over our heads again.
Photo three is a view looking back up at that first waterfall which is one of a number we have to descend. Further on, just on the other side of Miners Bridge we have a longer lower down an even bigger waterfall (photo four) before we arrive at an area known as the "Top Jumps".

At the Top Jumps, the gorge narrows in to a mere slot some 5 feet wide with a 15 foot drop down into the next pool. Many of our competitors still choose to allow their clients to jump this, the most hazardous part of the ghyll and it is a place where people all too often bash arms or ankles on the way down! There have also been incidences of broken ankles/legs on landing in the pool at the bottom which is clearly a bit too shallow when water levels in the ghyll are low. Doesn't sound great - but please read on!

We avoid injury here by safeguarding our clients down to a lower ledge from where they can jump into a slightly wider & deeper part of the pool by the use of harnesses & a climbing rope. As well as avoiding any injury, this method also encourages more people to give it a go!

Below the top jump is a chock-stone and, depending on how confident you are - either a climb down & swim across the deep pool below; or an almighty 10 foot leap into the pool, then there is a final 16 foot slide down another chock-stone into the next pool below.

Downstream of here is another pool that can be jumped into, one other where you can climb along the back wall (the idea is to get across without falling in!) and a final slabby waterfall that can be climbed down.

We finish off our Canyoning Session in The Lake District by turning around and going back upstream to a point 50 metres short of our final slide. Here, we exit up the left bank and walk up the edge of the gorge to a point where a path leads down to a 20 foot jump into the middle pool in the Top Jumps section. This is a most exciting finale to our Canyoning Session and of course once down - you then have to do the final slide a second time to get out of the gorge.

A half day (four hour) canyoning session with us starts at £45 per person. Does this sound expensive? Then see all the equipment you'll get - by looking the group in photo one. All of this equipment is designed to give you the maximum protection and insulation so that you can really concentrate on enjoying your session in comfort, but of course it all costs a lot of money! Also, we make sure you get to do all of the best bits in the gorge in the safest possible manner by putting you into harnesses and roping you down the sections that many of our competitors avoid or, as outlined earlier, choose to take bigger risks - with you.

Certainly you can find many businesses in The Lake District offering Canyoning for less - but you'll be given less equipment, will be less comfortable and will be, in all probability, less safe too. But, you pay your money and take your choice. If, after reading this, you would like to discuss booking your Canyoning Session in The lake District with us - then contact us here. We'll be happy to help!

Guided Scrambling Days in the Lake District. Great Gable, April 18th 2014.

Well, the Easter Weekend has been a busy one for Iain, great weather and such a variety in what he did over the weekend too; and it really couldn't have started off in a better place!

Iain was contacted at short notice last week by Rob Harper who wanted to get out either Rock Climbing or Scrambling on Great Gable - one of The Lake District's most famous mountains at the head of the remote but extremely scenic Wasdale Valley.

Iain suggested heading to an area known as The Napes on the south west side of Great Gable where there are a number of great scrambles and rock climbs - it's a bit of a walk up from Wasdale Head, but well worth it!

The walk takes you up towards Styhead Pass which connects between Borrowdale and Wasdale. Three quarters of the way up this - one heads off up left under Lower Kern Knotts Crag on The Climbers Traverse path leading towards the southern end of buttresses of The Napes and Tophet Wall. It is only when you arrive under this buttress that the famous pinnacle - Napes Needle becomes apparent. Rob fancied a go at climbing this 20 m high pinnacle, but first we decided to scramble up the polished cleft between it and Needle Ridge in an act known as "Threading the Needle" - photo one sees Rob climbing the cleft to join Iain.

The first time Iain climbed Napes Needle in the late 1980's, it was a slightly polished V Diff route. Both he & a mate literally scampered up & down it in rock shoes soloing all the way - put it this way, he doesn't remember abseiling it!

However, twenty five years on things have changed markedly and the route is very polished and now graded Hard Severe. Certainly, the classic route via the Wasdale Crack which we climbed on this occasion felt tricky because of the polish and in big boots too!

Iain left Rob at the foot of the climb and was able to place a few running belays as he climbed up to the foot of the main crack splitting the face. Above this point, only massive Camming Devices would have afforded any protection and Iain didn't have any of those. It was a case of jamming a boot in the crack and trying to move up holding the r/h edge of the crack without falling out before moving right on to the upper face where there were a few better footholds to be found. Falling out of the crack would have probably resulted in hitting the ground and/or Rob who was belaying! Not ideal!

Photo two shows Rob attached to a Stacked Abseil system - ready to follow Iain on the descent from the abseil tat just below the final pedestal. Unfortunately we didn't climb this - the final ten feet of the route - as it was just too tricky & polished and Iain had Rob's safety to put first.

Still, Rob enjoyed the climb up on to the shoulder of Napes Needle; and the abseil technique all the way down into the gully on the west side of the pinnacle was new to him, so, it was still worth the effort!

We climbed across the foot of the next buttress - Eagles Nest Ridge, to a nice grassy patch underneath Spinx Ridge where we enjoyed Lunch and a chat with a fellow scrambler who was scouting out the Climbers Traverse path.

Above us were the options of a number of routes leading to the summit of Great Gable - Arrowhead Ridge - a 3 star Grade 2 Scramble or Sphinx Ridge, 2 star, grade 2. Rob liked the sound of the 3 star route and Iain guided him up the climbing part of this which, after some climbing that would be quite serious in wet conditions, culminated in a very fine exposed traverse along the crest of the ridge to where it widens (photo three) Truly exhilarating stuff!

Whilst we were on the final section of Arrowhead Ridge, four Para-gliders appeared around The Napes - it really looked like great fun as they gracefully soared & swooped above us encased in what looked like sleeping bags (photo four) All of the photos give an indication of what a lovely day it was - hot sun, no wind and dry rock! Rob couldn't have picked a better day for some guided Climbing & Scrambling in The Lake District!

From here, we made our way over to Pinnacle Ridge - a final and pleasant Grade 2 scramble leading to the top of Westmorland's Crag which is only some 100 m from Great Gable's summit. After a brief stop there, we made our way back via Styhead Pass to Wasdale whilst thoroughly enjoying the great views in all directions.

Rob paid £160 for his guided Scrambling Day in The Lake District with Iain on some of the areas most famous climbing & scrambling routes. The price includes the provision of helmets & harnesses and well as instruction by an experienced Mountaineering Instructor. The price is £160 for one or two persons - so well worth it if you want to have a challenging & exhilarating day out with a partner or friend. Contact us here to book your guided Scrambling or Scrambling Skills Training Course in The Lake District. We look forward to working with you.

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Rock Climbing Courses in The Lake District. Langdale, April 14th 2014

Yesterday, Iain was at work with the Bacon family who, whilst on a visit to The Lake District, had booked our services to provide them with a multi-pitch Rock Climbing Day.

The family already have a considerable amount of experience of indoor climbing and have done outdoor climbing on a number of visits to North Wales. Father - Paul, was keen that his son Liam should get some experience of "trad" rock climbing techniques and Liam, himself, is keen to gain the Single Pitch Award (SPA). The youngest son Adam - was just keen to get on to outdoor rock - and who could blame him as the conditions were looking spot on for a Rock Climbing Day in The Lake District!

Photo one sees (left to right) Liam, Adam & Paul at the foot of Route 1, Upper Scout Crag - ready to climb. Iain had arrived early at the Sticklebarn Car Park today with rucksacks ready packed for the family as he was expecting the area to be heaving with Rock Climbers. The family were also there early; and the decision was made to get straight on to the rock - before someone else beat us to it! Strangely enough, we had the crag to ourselves almost until the end of the day!

 By 10am, we were starting to climb on what was to be a perfect day, virtually no breeze, clear blue skies and warm sunshine. For Mum - Debbie, the sheltered bay at the foot of Upper Scout Crag was a great place to sit, soak up the sun and enjoy the fantastic views that surrounded us. For Iain & the guys, this was Lake District Rock at its very best and Upper Scout Crag really felt like a warm welcoming place in complete contrast to Iain's previous day there almost a week ago!

Route 1 at Upper Scout Crag consists of three pitches. The first was led by Liam whilst coached by Iain with respect to anchor placement techniques, placing running belays and equalizing anchors at and belaying from the first stance. Adam was first up to Join Liam followed by Paul who was then coached by Iain in the techniques of running belay removal.

Paul then led off up the second pitch (photo two)

Photo three sees Paul at the crux of the route - somewhat polished these days, but on a day like this - still a most pleasant & exhilarating place to be. He certainly looked like he was enjoying the climb anyway!

Not far above here, Paul arrived at the next stance where, with Iain's guidance, he placed two anchors and then tied in with the rope which is what normally happens when a climbing pair (or in this case climbing trio) lead alternate pitches.

Next to join us at the second stance was Adam, who merely had to clip through the runners leaving them attached to Liam's rope as he climbed upwards. Iain descended to coach Liam with respect to removing runner placements, but he already seemed to have the hang of this. Once at the stance, Liam collected all of the bits of climbing hardware from Dad and then proceeded to climb the final easy pitch - setting up at the top by tying the ropes into the anchors and then bringing up the others - their first ever "trad" rock climb completed, Bravo!

The final photo from this Rock Climbing Skills Training Course in The lake District sees all three attached to two ropes looped around the oak tree at the top of the second pitch of Route 2 at Upper Scout Crag.

The scenario was that we need to escape the route by means of an abseil and that two 50 metre ropes would reach the bottom.

Before untying from the rope, we first needed to transfer to the anchor using cowstails larksfooted into our abseil loops. We also tied an overhand knot into these with which to attach our belay plates to the ropes. Photo four sees everyone attached to the abseil rope ready to descend in a method known as a "Stacked" Abseil. Want to know more? then look at the photos here! We finished off by looking at the various methods of equalizing anchors using slings and how a guide plate works for belaying two seconds on a climb who are climbing in parallel on separate ropes.

The three paid the equivalent of £60 each for a full day of climbing tuition with Iain and picked up a lot of useful skills & techniques which will go a long way to ensuring their success and safety as they move on to multi-pitch climbing. If you fancy learning rock climbing skills for yourself, then contact us here. We will be very happy to help.

Saturday 12 April 2014

Easter Holiday Adventure Activities in The Lake District with Kendal Mountaineering Services.

The Easter Holidays have begun and you have decided to visit The Lake District with your family. There are a great many different activities you can do here - but where do you start?

The areas is famous for its Hill Walking, Rock Climbing, Lakes and Rivers and with Kendal Mountaineering Services, you and your family can enjoy adventures in all of these places.

Take Hill Walking and scrambling for example - like the people in the photo who are tackling one one the Lake Districts famous scrambles - Sharp Edge en route to the summit of Blencathra which is one of The Lake Districts best known mountains.

We know the best routes up all of the Lake District Mountains so if you fancy being guided up the mountain of your choice such as Scafell Pike, Helvellyn, Skiddaw or Great Gable contact us to arrange your guided hill walking adventure. Prices start at just £75.00 each for two persons with your own Hill Walking guide.

Fancy trying a wet activity this Easter Holiday? Do you like the thought of seeing the views from one of the areas many lakes? Then how about spending a half day or even a full day out with us in a Canadian Canoe or in your very own Kayak?

Canadian Canoeing is great fun for all the family and you can all have just as much much as these children in photo two - warmly kitted out in wet suits and buoyancy aids to keep you afloat if you want to jump into the Lake!

Prices for Kayaking or Open Canoeing sessions in The Lake District start at £45 per person and include the provision of wets suits, buoyancy aids, Canoes or Kayaks and paddles.

Perhaps you fancy the idea of Ghyll Scrambling or Canyoning in The Lake District on your visit this Easter? There are loads of fantastic mountain streams that you can get in and walk up whilst being guided by our instructors.

We provide you with wet suits, cagoules, walking boots, helmets & harnesses for your Ghyll Scrambling & Canyoning Sessions with us to keep you comfortable as you make your way upstream swimming through pools and climbing up waterfalls - roped if necessary to keep you safe. These sessions are great family fun for children & adults alike and if you fancy something more adventurous and challenging then try one of our canyoning descents where we descend a gorge - abseiling or jumping down waterfalls into the deep pools below.

Our half day Ghyll Scrambling & Canyoning Sessions start at £45 per person and are a great way  to spend part of a day during your Easter Holiday visit to The Lake District.

If you fancy trying something different this Easter - then let us take you Caving in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. If you are staying in The Lake District then it's closer than you think - being a mere half hour drive from Kendal or 40 minutes from Windermere.

We will provide you with caving oversuits, wellington boots and helmets with caving lamps - all you need is old clothing, some thick socks and a change of underwear and towels - just in case you get wet!

We will introduce you to the delights of Caving underground in places such as Long Churns with it's famous (or infamous) squeeze called The Cheese Press and Babtistry Crawl with its fantastic Limestone formations. You can try out climbing the waterfall at Doctor Bannister's Washbasin and if you don't like small spaces then there are always bigger passageways around the tight sections.

Prices start at £45 for a half day (4 hour) caving session with us or £75 for a full day underground.

And finally, The Lake District is famous for its crags making it a great place to get out rock climbing this Easter. Not tried it before? then come along to one of our Introductory Climbing Sessions where you will be kitted up with a helmet & harness and attached to a climbing rope before starting to climb on real rock.

All of these sessions are 100% safe - you cannot fall and our instructors will be on hand to make sure that you are kept safe throughout a climbing session where you will be able to challenge your fear of heights and gain new skills and confidence - great for children & adults alike! Our half day introductory climbing sessions start at a mere £45 per person for a full four hours climbing and with all of our Adventure Activities in The Lake District this Easter, the more of you come, the cheaper it will be.

Contact us at Kendal Mountaineering Services to arrange your Adventure Activities in The Lake District this Easter - we look forward to working with you.

Thursday 10 April 2014

Rock Climbing Skills Training Courses in The Lake District.9th April 2014.

Yesterday we ran our first Rock Climbing Skills Training Course in The Lake District of the 2014 season.

Anna Thornton and her boyfriend Nick are visiting the Lake District this week. Both live & work in London as Trainee Paramedics, so getting away from the rat race and having a chance to relax and take life at their own pace in the tranquility of the Lake District is just what the pair wanted.

Anna & Nick both enjoy spending time at their local climbing wall together and felt that whilst in The Lake District, it would be an ideal opportunity to get venture on to real rock and learn rock climbing skills from a qualified Mountaineering Instructor.

The pair did a bit of online research and found our website. Liking what they read about our Lake District Rock Climbing Skills Training Courses, they contacted Iain to book a day out with him.

Photo one sees the pair at Lower Scout Crag in Langdale. Yesterday morning was rather damp, but the forecast was set to improve as the day progressed. To get quickly on to rock in these conditions would not have been a good plan so we spent several hours looking at anchor placements of all types and in this photo, the pair are practicing anchor selection and placements. They caught on quickly too!

Amongst other "trad" rock climbing techniques, we also looked at linking anchors together using slings to make a central attachment point (useful if one person is to be leading all of the pitches on a multi-pitch rock climb) and the pair can be seen practicing this in photo two.

Two anchors are placed into appropriate tapered cracks in the rock and connected to slings with screw-gate karabiners. The slings can then be shortened if necessary and joined with other karabiners to assemble an anchor system (belay) where both anchors bear equal weight (equal loading). The idea is that if for whatever reason, one anchor fails, then the other one will prevent the leader climber from being plucked from their stance. We practiced tying directly into the anchors using the climbing rope too - the technique used by most climbers if leading pitches alternately.

Photo three sees a very pleased Anna leading her first ever trad climb. The pair already knew how to tie on to the rope and belay each other and had, by now, learnt the skills for anchor selection, the setting up of stances and running belays, so now that the rock had started to dry off we were able to get stuck in.

Iain set up a rope so that he could self line along the line of the climbing route he had chosen for the pairs first outdoor rock climb. Self lining is a technique used by Mountaineering Instructors to allow them to be independent of a climbing pair whilst being able to coach them and ensure their safety. The safety involves attaching ones-self to a novice lead climber to ensure that they cannot fall - whilst allowing them the opportunity to place running belays and to experience what it feels kike to climb real rock as a leader. The route we used was still damp & slippery when we started, so Iain ensured Anna's safety by linking to her with a long sling - in this case the black & white sling seen at the bottom of this photo.

The final photo from this post about a Rock Climbing Skills Training Course in The Lake District sees Anna, who led the first & third pitches of the route securely anchored to an equalized system and busy safeguarding (belaying) Nick who is climbing up to join her.

Once Nick was safely at the stance, we unroped, stripped down the anchors, packed everything up and made our way down the descent route back to the foot of the crag.

Surprisingly, time was already heading in the direction of 4pm, but Iain made sure that the pair had a chance to practice an abseil retreat and learn how to properly coil the climbing rope before we finished for the day.

Both Anna & Nick were very pleased with their Rock Climbing Skills Training Course in The Lake District. The pair paid £75 each for this day which included the provision of helmets, harnesses, ropes & climbing rack as well as qualified tuition from an experienced Mountaineering Instructor.

As the weather warms up it also gets better for climbing out of doors and The Lake District is one of the best areas in the UK to enjoy this sport. Contact us and just like Anna & Nick, you can learn the skills and gain the knowledge to go out and do it for yourself. You can view other photos taken from this day here.

Saturday 5 April 2014

Scrambling Skills Training Courses in The Lake District. Tuesday 1st April 2014

The end of March has certainly been a busy time for us here at Kendal Mountaineering Services with our running two Scrambling Skills Training days, a two day weekend Navigation Skills Training Course and a half day Ghyll Scrambling Session - all done here in the beautiful Lake District.

Also, the weather has been largely dry & sunny allowing everyone to make the most of their Activity Sessions and skills Training Courses with us. It has been a really great weekend for all!

We finish off this busy spell with a report about David & Victoria's day out with Iain on Tuesday. The pair love the mountains and all things outdoors and were visiting The Lake District for a week. They wanted to learn the basic skills & rope work for scrambling so did some research online. Our website popped up and they liked the look of what we offer, so the pair went ahead and booked a day with Iain.

Photo one shows the two starting off with the basics - learning "spotting" techniques at the foot of Tarn Crag in Langdale.

The pair were pretty quick on the uptake and were confident on scrambling ground, so we didn't spend too long covering "spotting" before moving on to short roping techniques.

As usual, Iain short roped the pair up and then down a section of rocky ground showing them, where possible, the techniques of attaching to the rope, moving together and safeguarding each other through the various types of basic belays available.

The next task was to get the pair on the sharp end - ie roped up and practicing all of these techniques for themselves. In photo two Victoria tests the effectiveness of Davids locked off chest coils before the pair proceeded scrambling whilst being coached by Iain.

Photo three shows David adopting appropriate techniques to safeguard Victoria as she scrambles up an easy angled section of rock.

Provided the terrain angle is easy, then a braced stance and taking the rope in by hand may well be appropriate. In this photo David is braced for a pull towards Victoria should she slip, he is standing crouched with his uphill leg bent and his downhill leg straight - leaning away from the direction of pull. David is also taking in the rope whilst reforming hand coils keeping the rope nicely tensioned throughout the action - very good.

Also important when doing this is to make sure that the downhill hand is holding the rope in such a fashion that the little finger is nearest the second when holding the rope. This allows the leader to put a kink in the rope which makes for a very positive grip on the rope - important when short roping in this manner.

After Iain was satisfied that the pair had absorbed the knowledge given; and were able to demonstrate safe best practice whilst scrambling, it was time to get on to a proper Lake District scrambling route.

The pair had already obtained a copy of the Cicerone Lake District Scrambles South Guidebook so it was a case of identifying where our intended scrambling route was, getting to it and getting started.

The pair made pretty short work of The Spur (Grade 2) demonstrating good scrambling skills whilst being coached by Iain throughout. Photo four sees Victoria approaching David at the top of the final rock band whilst he safeguards her through the use of a direct belay.

Today was one of those perfect Skills Training Days, two keen & competent people, warm spring sunshine and most important of all - dry rock although the day had started out very wet indeed. Victoria & David paid just £75 each for their Scrambling Skills Training Day in The Lake District with Iain which included the provision of helmets, harnesses, rope and rack as well as tuition from a qualified Mountaineering Instructor.

You can view more photos from this Skills Training Day here and if you would like to learn the skills to undertake this great sport yourself then contact us here to book your course. We look forward to working with you.

Friday 4 April 2014

Lake District Ghyll Scrambling Courses. Stickle Ghyll, Langdale. Monday 31st March 2014.

After finishing our first Navigation Skills Training Course of 2014, Iain was back out the next day to meet father & son Pete & Joseph Burbage along with Josephs support person John for a Ghyll Scrambling Session the The Lake District.

Pete was a returning client - having visited the area the previous year to attend one of our great half day Ghyll Scrambling & Canyoning Sessions at Church Beck with his Daughter Kiera. You can read about that session by going to this post - it was fun!

Today was all about making sure that Joseph got a special session as part of a weekend away from the residential home where he lives in East Yorkshire.

Joseph suffers from a fairly severe form of Autism, but really enjoys swimming. Pete was keen to see if he would take to ghyll scrambling.

Pete had asked Iain to provide an easy session for Joseph that would not included the use of harnesses or any form of ropework. Iain therefore chose to meet the trio at the Stickebarn Tavern next to the New Dungeon Ghyll Hotel in Langdale and use Stickle Ghyll as the venue for Josephs session.

Stickle Ghyll is one of the most popular venues for Ghyll Scrambling sessions in The Lake District with easy access and lots of small waterfalls and shallow pools where people & children can get wet without getting out of their depth. There are, of course, a few pools where you can enjoy swimming  if you are a child - and almost if you are an adult! The pool in photo two is the deepest in the ghyll and a popular jumping in point with most people who visit.

Initially. Joseph, who is partially sighted, showed a reluctance to enter the water although he seemed very adept at scrambling up the sides. He was certainly not keen to get too close to any waterfalls or steep sections within the water or enter any deep pools.

However, with support & encouragement from Pete, John & Iain. his confidence increased and provided he was given a helping hand where he required it, he became more enthusiastic about getting stuck into the challenge of being in moving water where he could not necessarily see the bed of the stream.

Photo three sees Joseph making more of his own unsupported progress in the upper part of Stickle Ghyll as we progressed through his Ghyll Scrambling session.

Our final photo of this blog post sees John, Joseph & Pete as we headed towards the final section of waterfalls in Stickle Ghyll.

Usually, we offer the option to most groups to climb the final waterfall behind this trio; although this was going to be beyond Josephs ability today.

Despite that, he had done extremely well and Iain was told it was clear that Joseph had thoroughly enjoyed the session. As Pete put it "I think we can say that today was a success!"

For Iain, it was great news to hear this. At Kendal Mountaineering Services we are not just about running a session and taking the money - if we can surpass your expectations, give you a great experience and see your confidence improve along the way, then we have achieved a satisfactory session! We are here to help in any way we can during any of our activity sessions or Skills Training Courses.

If you would like to experience one of our fantastic Ghyll Scrambling Sessions in The Lake District then contact us here. Our sessions are fun and we do our best to make sure you remain comfortable & safe throughout through the provision of wetsuits, walking boots, cagoules, buoyancy Aids, helmets & harnesses and the use of experienced & qualified instructors who will do their best to make sure you'll have a superb session you'll never forget. For all this our prices start at a mere £45 per person.We look forward to working with you!

Navigation Skills Training Courses in The Lake District. March 29th & 30th 2014.

Last weekend saw us running the first of our Navigation Skills Training Courses in The Lake District. For those of you who are interested in learning the techniques of how to use a map & compass to get around in the mountains then these courses are for you. They are a very competitively priced £80 per person for the weekend and the use of our maps is included in the fee!

One of these courses will be running each month from now until June and they then start again in September. You can check out the course dates and make your booking here.

We had a great turnout of nine persons booked on to this Navigation Skills Training Course. We meet at Staveley in the southern part of The Lake District and spent day one learning map reading and compass skills very close to there on  Green Quarter Fell where there are all manner of features to be found. We started the course progressing through from orientating the map, to measuring distance & pacing, following a linear route (a bridleway) looking at "tickoff" features before learning about Grid References over Lunch. By the time photo two was taken, we were already using a our compasses to walk on a bearing. We would spend the rest of day one using these techniques before discussing the art of timing and Naismiths Rule and then heading back to the vehicles at around 5pm. The day had been dry and sunny with some haze, but a still fairly chilly, easterly breeze.

The next day - Sunday saw us driving further up the valley and parking near to the foot of the east side of the Kentmere Horseshoe.

As you can see in photo three, the weather was much better for the second day of our Navigation Skills Training Course in The Lake District. Not only was it warmer & sunnier, but there was virtually no breeze whatsoever making it quite hot a times.

We started off by using the compass to identify some unknown features from our known location before heading off up another linear route - the bridleway between Kentmere and Longsleddale. After travelling along this for 2km, we turned & headed up the ridge leading to Shipman Knotts continuing to locate tick off features along the way.

Our Navigation Skills Training Courses in The Lake District make use of the Ordnance Survey 1:25 and 1:50'000 scales. Whilst on Shipman Knotts, we were able to practice identifying features that were off the 1:25k maps we were using but were visible on the 1:50k scale map instead! Everyone did remarkably well in adapting to the smaller & less detailed scale to be found on a 1:50k map and everyone was successful in identifying the points we were looking for - good effort!

Photo four shows everyone discussing our location at a spring just to the south of Kentmere Pike Summit. We had used a combination of walking on a bearing, pacing and timing using Naismiths Rule to accurately pinpoint this place without any problems.

After continuing on to Kentmere Pike, we made our way down into the upper Kentmere Valley before returning via another bridleway back to where the vehicles were parked.

Everyone learned lots of useful new skills during this weekend Navigation Skills Training Course in The Lake District and all agreed that it was superb value for money. If you would like to book your place then contact us here - we have lots of places available on these great upcoming courses during the next few months.

Scrambling Courses in The Lake District. Tarn Crag, Langdale. Friday 28th March 2014

Last Friday, Iain spent the day with Iain Watson & his son Max who were visiting the area for the weekend. Iain wanted to learn the basic skills required to go scrambling and had booked on to a one day Scrambling Skills Training Course in The Lake District with us.

We started right back at basics by learning how to safeguard each other on easy grade 1 scrambling ground such as that seen in photo one.

Here, Iain climbs whilst Max adopts the technique of "spotting". When spotting, you prevent the person above you slipping off a scramble or low climb by a combination of pressing their feet against footholds, holding their feet in position or pressing on to backs, bums etc in an effort to stop that person slipping off, sliding down, or worse  - falling off backwards!

Whilst at this point we hadn't started using the rope - if there is any chance that a person can slip and bang their head then helmets should be worn. As soon as a slip could turn into something more serious such as a fall, then the climbing rope must be used - particularly if the nature of the terrain has changed - meaning that spotting would no longer be safe or effective!

In photo two, Iain demonstrates the scrambling technique of short roping. This was after Iain ( the instructor) had short roped the pair up & back down part of the venue in order that they could see the techniques involved.

Short roping is used where there is the possibility of a slip turning into something more serious. Two or more persons are tied in to the rope and the leader shortens the length of rope between the and the other person/s by taking up chest coils. As soon as the rope is employed then it is imperative that it be kept tight between the leader and seconds as often as possible. In photo two Iain is practicing "short roping" Max up an easy section of our scrambling route - forming hand coils as he takes in the rope.

After a morning of learning Scrambling skills, Iain took the pair to attempt their first grade 2 scrambling route and The Spur on Tarn Crag is a great little route going at this grade.

The route starts off up a rocky crest from the southern side of the crag with one having to make a tricky move across an exposed slab before scrambling up to a good block belay. Iain led the whole route and once Max had safely arrived at; and been securely attached to that belay, Iain led off up the second pitch (section) of the scramble before arriving back at the crest of the ridge (photo three)

Here, the stance is fairly small and exposed with a drop into the gully running between our route and the main crag so, Instructor Iain showed Iain how to place two anchors, link them together with a sling and rig up a system with which he could secure himself and belay Max up to this stance. Max was secured here before Iain set off up the next pitch where he arranged a body belay in order to safeguard Max up that section.

From the top of that final scramble up the ridge, one joins the main bulk of Tarn Crag and the guidebook description states that two further rock bands can be surmounted on the way to the summit. Iain made short work of both of these using direct belays at the top of each with which to safeguard Max and used the technique of "moving together" between the rock bands - a quick & efficient scrambling technique.

The final photo from the day sees Iain belaying Max with a body belay up the final easy slope and that was it! 4:30pm, time to pack up & descend to our vehicles.

Iain learned a lot from attending one of our Scrambling Skills Training Courses in The Lake District and the plan was to put these skills to use the following day in the Wasdale Valley on the west coast of Cumbria - near to where the pair and the rest of their family were to be staying over the weekend.

More photos from the pairs day out with Iain can be viewed here - complete with descriptions so that you can see what our Scrambling Skills Training Courses in The Lake District are all about. If you are interested in learning the skills to partake in this exhilarating & satisfying sport then contact us here. Iain & Max paid only £75 each for their full day out with Iain and these courses not only include instruction & coaching from a fully qualified Mountaineering Instructor, but also helmets, harnesses, ropes and climbing hardware are all included in the fee. Give us a call to book your course, we look forward to working with you.