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.

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