Thursday 7 May 2015

Rock Climbing Skills Courses in The Lake District. Saturday 2nd May 2015.

Last week we were contacted by Adele who was coming to the Lake District together with her friend Victoria for the Bank Holiday weekend.

Both had previous experience of rock climbing, Victoria on the sandstone cliffs in her home county of Kent and Adele had been out "seconding" multi-pitch climbs with friends in the past, but had never actually led a route. Adele asked if Iain if he could arrange a climbing day which would allow her to specifically concentrate on the skills of anchor placements and an overall aim for the pair was to learn the skills required to be able to go out and climb multi-pitch rock climbs together - competently and confidently!

Photo one sees the pair kitted out and ready to go at the foot of Route 1 on Upper Scout Crag in Langdale. Iain had already arranged his own rope which would allow him to "self line" up and down the route allowing him to coach and protect the pair as they climbed together.

The weather forecast for Saturday was for there to be a cold but light easterly wind to be in evidence and for it to start raining by the late afternoon. Not really great for climbing - but at least dry for most of the day!

When we arrived at Upper Scout Crag, we found there was a bitterly cold wind blowing straight up Langdale - so more south easterly than east! The low temperature was surprising given the great summer-like weather we had been experiencing only a few weeks beforehand.

We all wrapped up well and then Adele started the first pitch coached along the way by Iain. She placed a number of good quality running belays as she climbed and then Iain showed her how to arrange anchors at the first stance prior to safeguarding Victoria who then followed Adele's lead - arriving at the stance in photo two.

After a quick changearound, Victoria then led the second pitch which is the hardest of the three on Route 1. By now, it had started raining; and this - added to that biting wind, was really making the crag no place to be at all.

In spite of the conditions, Victoria climbed the pitch with confidence and ease and also placed some very good running belays whilst being coached by a now very chilly Mountaineering Instructor.

Photo three shows Victoria dealing with the crux moves as she climbs the middle pitch of Route 1. At this point, Iain had attached a sling (the black & white cord) between himself and Victoria as a slip at this point for her, would have been serious.

As it was, Victoria didn't slip at all; and climbed easily up to the second stance on the route, but Iain was there to protect as well as coach - that is why the pair had hired him for their Lake District Rock Climbing Skills Training day!

Photo four sees Victoria securely attached at the stance atop the second pitch of Route 1 and doing a great, safe job of belaying Adele, seen here on the crux of the climb.

This second stance was much more open to the vile weather coming at us from beyond the photo and we were all now very cold and rather damp.

Fortunately for Iain, Victoria's well placed running belays were easily removed by Adele and Iain was rather relieved that he didn't have to abseil down the crag to extract any that hadn't been removed.

Upon arriving at this stance Adele made us aware that she was now very cold and didn't wish to continue. Iain had been about to suggest that we cut short the session anyway because of the conditions and so he quickly scrambled up the top section of the route and arranged a direct belay having left the girls with clear instructions as to whom was to climb first; and when.

Within 15 minutes we were all in shelter of sorts behind a buttress at the top of the route busy coiling ropes and packing up before we left the crag and Iain subsequently returned the pair to Grasmere where they were staying for the weekend.

It hadn't been one of our better rock climbing sessions unfortunately; and we had taken a chance by attempting to run it at all in the first place. Iain will be in touch with the pair to offer them a further half day or full day of climbing at a significant discount from our usual prices in the future. We think it is the right thing to do.

Learning to Rock Climb is an immensely rewarding experience best done with our Mountaineering Instructors in good weather. Contact us here if you would like us to arrange  a Rock Climbing Skills Training Course in The Lake District for you. We are flexible and won't force you to undertake a course in rubbish weather being willing to reschedule to a better day so that you can make the most of the coaching experience you'll be paying for. We look forward to working with you, on a crag, over the Summer months.

Corporate Events in The Lake District. Gorge Walking in Borrowdale. 30th April 2015.

Last Thursday, Iain joined yet another intake for Nucleargraduates - running another corporate Ghyll Scrambling Session in The Lake District with the intention of providing a challenging environment where this group of successful applicants would be impelled into working together and getting to know each other better as a result.

The first photo shows the group - equipped, as we believe any person heading into a Lake District Ghyll should be! Walking boots to provide protection, grip and ankle support, a wetsuit and cagoule to provide insulation, a buoyancy aid, to keep you afloat in deep pools, a helmet to protect your head and a harness to attach you to a rope so that we can safeguard you on one of those more challenging sections of any mountain stream (usually a waterfall) where a slip could turn into something more serious.

It doesn't matter who you are or what time of year you join us for a Ghyll Scrambling or Canyoning Session in The Lake District - you can also expect to receive this equipment as part of your fee; and we expect to offer you nothing less! Our activity sessions are designed to be safe first; and equipment such as this ensures your comfort - second. Only when these two factors are dealt with satisfactorily will you begin to enjoy yourself, have fun; and work together - the primary objective on this session.

Indeed, we had a number of reluctant participants arrive for this Ghyll Scrambling Session. The weather has been unseasonably cold in recent weeks feeling more like late Autumn or very early Spring and a number of these graduate apprentices were not keen on immersing themselves fully in chilly water - especially when they could see that the hills around had a pretty impressive coating of snow on them! Nor was Iain keen on this plan, so we chose to avoid getting a thorough soaking on this session and in fact - not get wet above the tops of legs if possible either. At first this group failed to interact which is what usually happens, but by the time photo two was taken, they were all starting to look after and help each other. People started to smile; and enjoy themselves!

We made our way up the venue - Hause Gill in Borrowdale, with the unity of this team of graduate apprentices growing stronger by the minute. One of the team fell headlong into the water and was very unhappy about this. There was a lack of certainty as to whether or not she wished to continue, but with the support & encouragement of her peers, she soon felt better; and a lot happier. Good things were happening today!

There was more water in Hause Gill this time; in comparison with the session three weeks earlier and at the first big waterfall, Iain had to individually rope each team member up so that they could bypass this wet and powerful obstacle seen in photo three just to the right of Maddie. Everyone enjoyed this challenge which we wouldn't have been able to do without harnesses and Iain's experience as a Ghyll Scrambling Guide. It is good that we were able to adapt to the situation and provide a safe & exciting alternative. We do this wherever we can for our clients in order to exceed expectations.

The final photo from this post about Corporate Ghyll Scrambling Sessions in The Lake District sees Ben & Maddie giving Ghyll Scrambling the thumbs up. On this session, Ben showed himself to be a strong performer - taking all of the challenges presented along the way in his stride and being very adept at providing support for other members of the team.

Maddie, would probably admit to being one of the least enthusiastic of the team at the outset; and initially avoided getting into the water, but very soon we saw a very positive change as she decided to get stuck right in along with everyone else. Great stuff!

The group worked well for the rest of the session and we kept going for as long as we felt it was comfortable to do so - making considerable progress up the streamway and developing a stronger team along the way. After returning to the car park and getting changed into dry clothes, a mug of steaming hot chocolate each was all that was needed to add the "icing on the cake" to what had turned out to be a much better session than anyone had expected at the outset.

All of these successful apprenticeship applicants bonded together well on this session and everyone learned something about their own capabilities and the benefits of working together as a team to get the job done.

We look forward to working with Nucleargraduates next Wednesday when one of our associates - Scott, will be running the session on Iain's behalf whilst he guides a group on the Cuillin Ridge of Skye. Watch out for the report and if you would like to book a Ghyll Scrambling session in The Lake District for your own bunch of employees or apprentices - then do contact us to discuss your aims and objectives and allow us to arrange a session to suit you. We look forward to working with you.

Tuesday 5 May 2015

Abseiling & Gorge Walking Adventure Day in The Lake District. April 27th 2015

After Iain's Successful Navigation Skills Training Weekend in The Lake District, he was straight back out the following morning in that wonderful Lake District Office - but this time one on one with client - Roger Bolton from Hertfordshire.

Roger's wife had booked him a Lake District Adventure day with us at Christmas by buying him one of our Gift Vouchers. These are ideal for anyone wanting to buy a loved one, family or friends a special gift with a difference. We are sure you will agree - Roger had a very special day out with Iain consisting of a half day Abseiling and a half day of Ghyll Scrambling.

Both photos one and two are taken at Hodge Close Quarry in Langdale. This massive slate quarry is almost 100 metres deep if one includes the depth of the lake at the bottom. Here, there are several abseil sites all regularly used by the Lake District's many Outdoor Activity providers. Today, we had the whole quarry to ourselves and the weather was again, good.

It was many years since Roger had last abseiled, but in photo two  - here he is having a second go at the easier, but considerably longer abseil into the quarry.

Abseiling is often perceived as being a real challenge for a beginner. Lowering yourself backwards over a cliff! In reality, once one has overcome the fear of just setting off backwards over the edge and then realising that if you keep your legs straight, your feet flat on the wall and lean back far enough - you'll be fine; and in actual fact - it is a really great and exhilarating experience! Abseiling is a firm favourite for us - particularly with Stag Groups & Hen parties looking for a challenge with a difference.

Roger managed three different abseils before deciding that was enough for him. Iain was quite happy to accept that judgement from this "young" 69 year old! The other half day session of Ghyll Scrambling was to take place at the nearby venue of Stickle Gill in Great Langdale, but we needed time to get there.

Roger had commented that despite visiting The Lake District on many occasions, he had never really gotten to know the Langdale area that well, so, Iain took him on a drive through Little Langdale and via Blea Tarn into the head of great Langdale where we pulled up on the pass road, sat & had lunch and enjoyed the view in photo three.

Today was one of those great days that really makes us appreciate what we do with clients; and just how lucky we are to do those things where we do them!

At Stickle Ghyll, we changed out of our clothes into wetsuits and walking boots, put on cagoules and buoyancy aids and also helmets & harnesses before heading off into the ghyll.

So what is Ghyll Scrambling? Ghyll Scrambling is also known as Gorge Walking. Both are actually the same thing and the activity involves getting into a mountain stream and walking up it - scrambling up the bed of the stream,climbing up waterfalls and swimming through pools. The environment is arduous and challenging due to the temperature of the water and the fact that the bed of the stream is an uneven mass of rock and boulders - it really does require the very highest level of protective equipment to keep you comfortable and to protect you so that you can enjoy what is a really refreshing and exhilarating activity. Roger certainly enjoyed the session as can be seen as he climbs the waterfall in photo five.
Sticke Ghyll is one of The Lake Districts most popular venues for Ghyll Scrambling with a nearby car park and also a great place to eat and get a hot drink after your Ghyll Scrambling Session - the Sticklebarn Tavern - owned by The National Trust.

One can scramble up this fine & varied watercourse for well over a mile and there are several waterfalls to be climbed (roped up for your safety) en route.

Also, there are a number of deep pools - great to jump into on a hot summers day - in fact this is one of our most popular activities in the summer months with families, Stag Groups and Hen Parties and we also have a corporate client who comes back to us time after time to provide this session as an icebreaker for their apprentices.

All in all, Roger fully enjoyed his Adventure Day in The Lake District with Iain. This had cost only £150 for the day and had included free transport, one on one guiding; and all of the personal protective equipment you can see him wearing in all of these photos.

The price of £150 is applicable to one or two persons; or you can choose either activity for a starting price of only £45 per person (minimum of two persons) Want it for less? Well, bring more people along and you'll get a better price! Contact us for details. We look forward to working with you over the Summer months..

Navigation Skills Training Weekend in The Lake District. April 25th & 26th 2015.

We've been rather busy at Kendal Mountaineering Services of late and apologise for the subsequent lack of blogging having taken place. For those of you who like to read about what we have been doing with our clients - here's an update!

The weekend of April 25th & 26th saw Iain providing another one of our Navigation Skills Training Weekend Courses for six persons which was not a bad turnout. The course was run from Staveley and day one saw us doing the usual progression on nearby Green Quarter Fell starting with orientation of the map, pacing & measuring distance before following a linear feature (in this case Hall Lane in photo one) locating tick-off features alog the way. In a very short space of time, the group picked up a lot of new and useful navigation & map reading techniques without realising just how much they had learnt!

The progression continued when, after a short, early lunch break, Iain had the whole group understanding 8 figure grid references within a very short space of time. Being able to find an 8 figure grid reference will get you into the bottom left hand corner of a ten metre square within a 1 kilometre grid square - now that's accurate; and these guys picked it up very quickly.

Photo two sees couple Clym & Ellie working together to find the bearing to the next grid reference Iain had asked them to take him to; along with estimating distance. Couples attending our Navigation Skills Training Courses in The Lake District often find this a great way to gain confidence in their collective abilities to go out into the hills together and therefore be able to subsequently enjoy many great days out together. Now, that's got to be good for any relationship!

Weatherwise - Saturday was a bit of a mixed bag for us, chilly, cloudy with rain - but also some blue sky & sunshine. Sunday, however, felt like another one of those warm late spring days (photo three).

On Sunday, we moved further north on to Shipman Knotts to carry on from where we had left off on the previous day. Straightaway - Iain introduced a new skill of being able to use the compass to identify unknown features from a known location. Once again, the whole group picked up this skill very quickly! Great stuff!
We headed around the back of Shipman Knotts above Longsleddale, finding a stream source and then a wall junction reached through some very uneven & steep rocky ground. By now, as well as pacing and walking on a bearing, the group were also using Naismiths Rule (4km per hour plus 1 minute for every 10m contour crossed) in order to be able to give an estimate of time between grid references. Photo four found us almost on top of Shipman knotts - again trying to identify unknown features from a known one.

This group also proved to be exceptionally good at alternating between 1:25 and 1:50k map scales in order to be able to identify features. It was undoubtedly one of the most successful Navigation & Map Reading Skills Training Courses in The Lake District we have ever run. The next such course is due to take place between May 30th and 31st and the cost is only £80 per person for the two day course with maps provided. Don't forget - these Map Reading & Navigation Skills Training Courses are ideal for anyone thinking of attending for a Mountainwalking leader Refresher before going for that all important ML Assessment! Contact Iain here to book your place. We look forward to working with you!