Sunday 26 October 2014

Navigation Skills Training Courses in The Lake District. September 27th & 28th 2014.

Just before we headed south for our holiday in Jordan, Iain had one more bit of work to do. The first of our Autumn/winter Lake District based Navigation Skills Training Courses was scheduled to run during the last weekend of the month.

Despite being amazing value at just £80 per person for this two day course, it didn't book up well. However, we did have the minimum of four persons booked on to it for the Saturday at least, so Iain decided to run it anyway!

We were joined by two returning clients Al & Becky (centre & right, photo one) who joined Iain for a hardcore day of Caving in the Yorkshire Dales last February. It was good to see them again and they were joined by their mate Belinda who came out for the Saturday. Of the fourth person, there was no sign; although Iain later discovered that she had thought the course was not going ahead!

However, with those who did turn up, we cracked on through the usual syllabus on Saturday. This starts with our discussing the importance of map orientation followed by a comparison of map scales and their effect on detail.

We then set off on a linear route having discussed pacing and measuring distance. By the time we had gotten to the point in photo two, the girls were also able to find grid references on the map and had just walked on their first bearing. Good progress!

We spent the remainder of day one walking from grid reference to grid reference always on a bearing; and pacing the distances as accurately as possible. We finished the day discussing Naismiths Rule (3km per hour plus 1 minute for every 10m contour crossed and then spent a while working out timings between a number of grid references before walking back to the cars. A good day with a lot of learning having taken place.

Day two saw Iain, Al & Becky parking up further along the kentmere valley with the intention of taking the usual route up Shipman Knotts & Kentmere Pike.

Iain started the pair off by adding a new skill - how to use the compass to identify something you can see from a known location (photo three) The pair were already very good at reading from map to ground but this new technique would help them confirm what they thought they were looking at - a useful boost to confidence which is essential in the mountains!

We set off with the intention of ascending Shipman Knotts from the bridleway linking Green Quarter to Sadgill, but that involves  following another linear feature (the wall running along the crest). Iain wanted to push this pair a bit harder so we set off around the hillside above Sadgill - firstly to find the head of a small stream. Real Mountain Walking Leader Standard stuff!

And of course Becky & Al found their stream head no problem through a combination of pacing, walking on a bearing and being able to read the shape of the ground from the contours on the map.

We then went on to find a significant change in direction in another stream before heading up to a gently sloping shelf on the otherwise steeply sloping east face of Shipman Knotts - the pair could identify where they were going even before we got there! It wasn't until we got on to the summit plateau of Kentmere Pike in thick mist walking on a long leg from another stream head to the summit Trig Point that they really had to work hard; and then they were pretty much bang on finding that Trig Point!

By this time, it was mid afternoon so Iain's last instruction was "Right! - get us back to those cars now please!" which of course they did no problem.

So our first Navigation Skills Training Course of the Autumn went well with three people learning a lot of new skills which should help them venture into the mountains with confidence in the future. Job done!

Our next Navigation Skills Training Course in The Lake District  is projected to take place on November 1st & 2nd with a further on on November 29th & 30th.

There are plenty of spaces available on both weekends and at £80 per person for the two day course they are a bargain. Contact us here to book your place today!

Also, dates for our 2015 Mountain Navigation Skills Training Weekends are up on the website here so you can plan well in advance to attend one of these great courses. We look forward to working with you.

Saturday 25 October 2014

Cuillin Ridge Traverse Trips 2015 dates now up. Join the conversation here!

Details of our 2015 Cuillin Ridge Traverse Trips are now up - early to allow you all time to plan well in advance.

Details of what is involved can be found be visiting the webpage here.

Join in the conversation about these trips on Facebook here.

Interested in joining - contact Iain at Kendal Mountaineering services here or call on 07761 483364.

We look forward to your joining us for an amazing week on this amazing ridge on the Isle of Skye.

Ghyll Scrambling in the Lake District. Church Beck. 23rd September 2014

Wednesday 23rd Sepember found Iain back at Church Beck near Coniston - this time running a Ghyll Scrambling Session in The Lake District on behalf of The Scouts for St Cuthberts RC Primary School from Chester Le Street, County Durham.

These children were on a five day residential course based at Great Tower Scout Activity Centre near Windermere. We have enjoyed running a considerable number of activity days for The Scouts this Summer - in particular caving sessions in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

With the continuing warm weather, it was still fine to take these young people for a thorough soaking in Church Beck in their attire of personal clothing underneath Sailing Oversuits - it was just enough to keep them warm - good news as primary age children tend to get chilly a lot quicker than adults.

Ghyll Scrambling; or gorge walking as it is also known, involves walking/wading up a mountain stream - clambering up waterfalls and swimming through and jumping into deep pools. It is fun and exhilarating and best done in the Summer months when temperatures are warmer.

For people of all ages it can be an adventurous and challenging experience, it is also great family fun! We find Gorge Walking Sessions in The Lake District are very popular with Stag & Hen parties looking for an event with a difference. Read about our last Stag Event here and enjoy this video from that event!

Gorge walking sessions are also great for Team Building Events and we have a corporate client - Nucleargraduates, who regularly use our services over the Summer Months as part of their recruitment process. Our involvement in the Nucleargraduates Induction workshop programme sees us running a Ghyll Scrambling Session as as "icebreaker" to get groups of successful graduate apprentices forming friendships and bonds that will help them work together over the next two years of their apprentice-ships within the nuclear industry. So far, these sessions have proven to be highly effective for the client.

We have never yet run a Ghyll Scrambling or Gorge Walking Session in The Lake District that wasn't fun; and today, with this primary School Group, was no exception.

All of the children had loads of fun getting soaked and attempting challenges such as jumping into pools or crawling under logs through the water (as in photo three) Eventually though, the smallest & skinniest of them started to feel a bit chilly - so it was time to get out. Anyone for hot Chocolate & Cake in Ambleside? - words enough to bring a smile back to the face of even the chilliest child! Our prices start at £45 per person for a half day (four hour) ghyll scrambling session in The Lake District. However, if you are a family group we do apply discounts as we know how expensive it can all become on the holiday budget! Contact us for details, we look forward to working with you.

Rock Climbing Courses in The Lake District. September 21st 2014.

After Iains busy & varied day on Saturday providing an Introductory Rock Climbing Session and a Canyoning Session, he was out the next day with Kathryn West Rock Climbing as a follow up to the Rock Climbing Skills Training Day in The Lake District that Kathryn had attended in August with Sarah Payne.

Unfortunately, Sarah had to withdraw from this second pre-arranged Rock Climbing Skills Training Day at short notice. This left Sarah with the option of being guided by Iain on some multi-pitch rock climbs; or being allowed to attempt leading on multi-pitch rock routes of the easiest grade only.

During the previous Rock Climbing Skills Training Course, Kathryn had gotten on very well with all aspect of the syllabus covered and was regularly seconding climbs graded at VS/HVS with a climbing partner. After some consideration, Iain felt that it would be safe for Kathryn to lead whilst being mentored by him.

We therefore returned to Langdale where Kathryn led, first of all, on Middlefell Buttress.

Middlefell Buttress is a fine multi-pitch climb graded Difficult (which actually means that it is an easy low grade climb!). The route is a popular choice with people aspiring to lead multi-pitch rock routes and beginners will often be found climbing there. It is also a popular route with Mountaineering Instructors who use it as a place to teach the techniques of Multi-pitch leading. The route rises up good rock in a series of 4 pitches before one can abseil off into the gully forming the left hand boundary of the buttress or, as Kathryn chose (in photo 1) there is an additional and pleasant fifth pitch which can also be climbed.

Kathryn demonstrated good climbing ability and her anchor placement and belay construction techniques improved as we progressed up this rock climb. Photo two sees Kathryn at the final belay on Middlefell Buttress - looking justifiably pleased!

Time always flies past when you are taking your time and learning about climbing; and by the time we had completed Middlefell buttress it was already 2pm. This meant that we were going to struggle to complete another rock climb by 5pm unless it was somewhat shorter.

Iain decided that Centipede (a 3 pitch Severe) would be appropriate in terms of time and length. Kathryn led the first pitch from the Raven Crag descent path up to below the steep wall & traverse and then Iain took over on this rather harder pitch.

Photo three sees Kathryn appearing around the corner at the end of the traverse on Centipede's second pitch. On arriving at Iain's stance she then took over again and led on up the diagonal crack to the top of the buttress. There was still time for Kathryn to lead on from here up the final easy ground which she did, well.
The final photograph from this post about one of our Lake District Rock Climbing Courses just had to be taken and shows the head of Langdale from the base of Middlefell Buttress. It had been another warm & sunny day!

We have been blessed this year with one of the best Summers in recent times with weeks & weeks of hot, dry & sunny weather throughout June & most of July - just want you need for rock climbing out of doors! After a largely wet & cold August, we were lucky that the good weather should return; and then remain throughout all of September.

As we now move through a rather wet & miserable October - here's looking forward to a cold & snowy winter ideal for winter climbing, but in the meantime, you can still enjoy adventures with us in the great outdoors. How about trying caving, canoeing or kayaking; and we have plenty of availability on our Navigation & Map Reading Skills Courses running in November. Contact us here if you are interested in any of these activities or courses, we look forward to working with you.

Canyoning in The Lake District. Church Beck. September 20th 2014

After running a morning Introductory Rock Climbing Session in The Lake District for Andrew Cooper, Iain drove across to Coniston to run one of our popular Canyoning Sessions in The Lake District for Rebecca Harrison & her Dad Ian.

Rebecca had originally booked this session with us way back at the end of last year as a Christmas Gift Voucher for herself and a friend. Unfortunately she was subsequently unable to attend for the session before now; and her friend was unable to join her, however, her Dad was happy to fill the place.

Photo one sees Rebecca as Iain lowers her down the top waterfall in Church Beck. Rebecca's Mum had also followed us up the gorge and can be seen watching from the road in the distance. Our Canyoning Sessions in The Lake District often attract amused onlookers!
Canyoning is a term used to describe descending a mountain stream - abseiling down waterfalls; and where possible - jumping down waterfalls in to deep pools below. The sport is designed to provide an adenalin rush, a degree of challenge and of course, a whole lot of fun!

We do our best to keep you comfortable & safe on any of our Lake District Canyoning Sessions by ensuring you are appropriately equipped and to that end, everyone gets a wetsuit and a cagoule to keep you as warm as possible, walking boots  to provide good grip, protection & ankle support, a buoyancy aid to keep you afloat and a helmet & harness to protect you on those more serious sections. You will always be guided by an experienced Canyoning Instructor with safety equipment. We also take photos and videos of your session which are passed on to you at no extra charge.

Photo two is a view of  Ian & Rebecca in the pool at the bottom of the first waterfall in Church Beck.

Rebecca & Ian had a great Canyoning Session with Iain. We followed that lower down the first waterfall with a climb down & jump into a deep pool past the next waterfall immediately below.

A short walk downstream brought us to Miners Bridge and the second waterfall lower. Following this we scrambled down to the section known as the top jumps where a roped traverse and short lower puts you in a safe position to jump into the pool below. After this we climbed down the next waterfall and swam a pool to arrive at the slide down the big chockstone behind the pair in photo three.

After doing the slide, we then continued downstream as far as the end of the gorge and then turned around and climbed a waterfall (roped) before getting out of the gorge at a point just below where photo three was taken.

The final "grand finale" is a walk up the left hand bank of the gorge followed by a scramble down to a point around 18 feet above the deep pool that is above the chockstone in photo three. Standing there looking down at the pool - it looks like a much bigger jump and you certainly feel like you get some airtime when you do finally make that leap! The only way out now is to do the chockstone slide a second time, brilliant!

Even though Iain was only working with this pair today, we still managed to fill the afternoon and Rebecca & Ian were very happy with the experience; and the photos and videos that subsequently followed!

Canyoning in The Lake District with us is great fun! Contact us here to book your session. At £45 per person for a half day session (minimum of two persons) it won't break the bank and, as the was the case with this session, it makes an ideal Christmas present for friends or family!

Introductory Rock Climbing Sessions in The Lake District. September 20th 2014.

Just in case readers of our blog think that  we have packed up - no of course not! We have just been away on holiday, Jordan to be precise. Unfortunately we didn't manage to get caught up with the blogging before we went away - so here goes!

The weekend of September 20th & 21st was a busy one for us - Iain provided three different activity sessions over the two days. We started off providing an Introductory half day Rock Climbing Session in The Lake District for Andrew Cooper who wanted to get on to some proper outdoor rock with his daughter Freya; and friend Chaya had also come along to join in.

The venue Iain used in this occasion was Lower Scout Crag in Langdale - a well known single pitch crag often used by groups as a venue for Introductory Climbing Sessions. Photo one sees Andrew belaying Chaya as she climbs the route - The Slab MVS4b. The hardest bit is always entering the groove in which Chaya is stood!

Photo two sees Andrew learning the nuts & bolts of setting up for an Introductory Climbing Session. An introductory Rock Climbing Session will generally employ the use of a "top rope/bottom belay" system.

This system  can be seen in use in photo one (and three) and involves the setting up of top anchors into which a climbing rope is attached.

The top anchor will usually consist of two gear placements equalised to a central attachment point using static (prestretched) rope - that's the white rope in photo two. The yellow sleeves are rope protectors and these should be used anywhere where the rope can rub on rock - to prevent wear!

Once the top anchors are arranged and the climbing rope attached to the central attachment point, it is always a good idea to get someone an the bottom ot the crag to "load" the rope - just to make sure that ultimately, the load on both anchor points is equal. You will always find that adjustment is necessary here before climbing can begin!

Following that it is a case of the climber tying into the rope and the belayer cliping the rope into the belay plate attached to their harness. Whilst the climber climbs up (Freya in photo three), the belayer (Andrew) takes in the rope - keeping it tight to prevent a slip or fall. On occasions where the belayer may struggle to hold a falling climber or may leave the ground (generally due to the fact that the person they are belaying is much heaveer than they are!) a third person can be used to "tail" ie hold the dead rope behind the belayer to act as a safety back up and or hold the belayer down. None of this was necessary here though.

Our Introductory Rock Climbing Sessions in The Lake District are a great way to experience the thrill of climbing rock for the first time and are very safe. All of our instructors are qualified holders of the Single Pitch Award as a minimum requirement for single pitch crags such as Lower Scout; and for any climbing of  a more serious nature they will be Mountaineering Instructors. Prices start at £45 per person for a 4 hour session and include the provision of helmets harnesses and if required, walking boots as well qualified instruction. These sessions are ideal as part of a team building event families or couples. Contact us here to book your session.

If you like the sound of this or know someone who might - then why not buy them an Introductory Rock Climbing Session as a gift with one of our Activity Gift Vouchers. Christmas is coming!