Tuesday 10 March 2015

Scrambling Courses in The Lake District. Sunday 8th March 2015.

It's a little over a week since Iain was last out in the mountains; and that was in The Cairngorms - subject of our last Blog Post.

Iain received a call from Darren Willis last Friday asking if there was any chance of some more Scrambling Skills Training over the weekend. The forecsat was looking good for Sunday, so Iain agreed to meet Darren; and who-ever else came along with him for some more coaching.

In photo one, Darren sets off up the initial pitch of the East Rib of Tarn Crag (grade two). Sammy, who had also come along for the day is belaying as this can be quite a serious pitch for a novice scrambler - not that Darren is a novice anymore - as will become apparent if you read on!

Sammy also works for Darren who had bought her the shiny brand new Trango S Evo Boots she is wearing - so that she had the apropriate footwear for this day. That gets him employer of the year award in our eyes, but apparently, Sammy has earned those boots - that's really nice Darren!

Iain first met Darren at the last Kendal Mountain Festival when the two arranged to discuss his aspirations. Darren runs a successful business in South Lakes and having built it up over a number of years, he now wants to get back to persuing some of the pastimes he enjoys such as Mountaineering & Climbing.

Our first bit of work together was in late last December when Darren turned up with mate Jason to spend some time learning basic Scrambling Skills with Iain one Sunday. You can read about that day out here.

Iain quickly realised that Darren had a natural aptitude for scrambling & climbing; and as he had already done a Winter Skills Course the previous season, Iain invited Darren to join him for our recent Scottish Winter Week that was based in Glen Coe. As well as attending another Winter Skills Course as a refresher, Iain pushed Darren on to the sharp end getting him to look after two others on the Winter Mountaineering Route - The Zig Zags on Gearr Aonach and also the next day, when Darren led throughout on the popular training winter climb of Dorsal Arete in Coire An Lochan.

Darren displayed a high level of competence and good judgement throughout these courses. Good stuff!

Obviously, if a customer gets in touch and says "Can I have some more training please?" we are not going to turn them down! Practice makes perfect as the saying goes!

As we had already spent a day up here on the easier lower toe of Tarn Crag, it was time to look at Darren's capabilities on harder grade stuff. With Iain's coaching, Darren did a great job of climbing The East Rib Safely using appropriate belay and anchor placement techniques where necessary. Photo three sees him using a direct belay to protect Sammy as she moves up a short steep section of scrambling ground.

It felt odd to be scrambling so early in the season - but we are now officially in Spring! Whilst on Tarn crag, we were swept by a cold westerly wind and so it was nice to get up the route and into a shetered grassy bay where we could enjoy some lunch as the sun finally appeared to warm us through.

Iains plan for the afternoon was that we should follow The East Rib with the lake District classic Scrambler's tick - Jack's Rake on Pavey Ark. In photo four Darren can be seen midway up the first section of the route - short roping Sammy.

The first section of Jack's Rake looks easy enough from below to a novice. However, when you get to he foot of the route it rears up at an altogether much steeper angle and as you climb it - it get steeper! Not only that but whilst you start off scrambling upwards enclosed in what seems like a friendly groove, eventually this groove ends leaving some steep and exposed scrambling with a drop to the left which is several hundred feet high!

Just below that point, Darren wisely chose to change his plan from short roping to pitching - that is to say he left Sammy securely attached to a rock spike and then soloed up the steep upper section to safe ground above where he set up a direct belay to safeguard Sammy's ascent of that section.

Had there been a real chance of a slip on this sction turning into something more serious, Darren would have asked Sammy to put him on belay (as in the first photo of this post) whilst he climbed and protected himself by placing running belays (runners) along the way. However, having seen Darren perform on harder routes in Scotland, Iain did think that the latter plan was unnecessary.

Photo five sees Darren & Sammy above all real difficulties and almost at the end of Jack's Rake. It was worth getting to here just to enjoy that view behind!

Iain would like to remind readers of this post that Jack's Rake is no place for hill walkers. It is serious - particularly at the top of the first section and is undergraded at grade one in his view. There have been a number of deaths on here in recent years and no wonder given some of the people you'll see on the route in Summer! It is not a place for people in T shirts, shorts and training shoes without helmets or stout walking boots with cleated soles! Today, just such a pair started to follow us up the lower part of the route before wisely turning back. However, we were overtaken by an idiot who brought his Border Collie with him and then proceeded to haul it up the bad step at Crescent Climb's juncture with Jack's Rake - pulling it up by the lead/neck collar the animal was wearing!!

Had the lead or collar snapped, then the dog would have plummeted back down the step and in all probability continued to fall down the top of Crescent Climb all the way to the foot of the cliffs several hundred feet below! Had there been any scramblers or climbers in the way.....well, one can only guess at the outcome!

We finished off Jack's Rake climbing a series of short steps and leftwards traverses. Eventually, we arrived at the top - just beyond the prominent pinnacle, next to the wall that marks the end of the route.

Here, we found ourselves back in the wind which had moved to a more northerly direction (we had been beautifally sheltered on Jack's Rake) and now, it was quite chilly. The views in every direction were absolutely fantastic! We descended the North Rake of Pavey Ark to find a short secion banked out with the remains of the winter snows (photo six). Sammy got a chance to practice some Winter Skills here - maybe she will join us on one of next Winter Courses to learn more!

At the foot of the North Rake, one arrives at Bright Beck - quite a large stream running out of the valley between Pavey Ark and Sergeant Man - a fantastic place for Summer wild camping!

We enjoyed a great walk back out to Stickle Tarn and then down steeply to the New Dungeon Ghyll Hotel and the Sticklebarn Car Park.

It had been another perfect day in the mountains with Sammy & Darren getting to the top by one of the best means of doing so.

Our Scrambling Courses in The Lake District cost between £60 & £80 per person per day and this includes the provison of helmets, harnesses, ropes, scrambling rack and tuition by an experienced local Mountaineering Instructor. Book a course with us and learn the skills to go off and enjoy this great pastime safely for yourselves! Contact us here for details, we look forward to working with you.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Hi Iain,

Just a quick comment to say thank you for a great day! I learned a lot on our adventure and the views from the top are breath taking. I Hope to join you again soon to learn a few more mountaineering skills!

Best Regards,

Sammy Baines