Saturday 23 January 2016

Winter Climbing in The Lake District. Wednesday, January 20th 2016.

Last Wednesday, The Lake District was still enjoying the Winter weather that had arrived the previous Saturday. However, a lot of snow had gone at lower levels despite MWIS predicting that freezing levels  would remain at valley floor levels through until Tuesday.

Wednesday saw Iain & Nigel head  into Deepdale with the intention of checking out what was available on Greenhow End - that's the buttress in the middle of photo one.

There are some nine winter climbs listed on or around this buttress with grades ranging from II through to VI'. Our objective for the day was to try a couple of winter climbs on the north side of the buttress - either Deepdale Gully or Central Gully- both grade III. These can be seen above & right of Nigel - in photo two. Central gully is the more obvious line at the head of the scree cone.
It was surprising how long it took us to walk in to the foot of the crag - best part of 2 & a half hours from the Land Rover, parked at Bridgend at the foot of Deepdale. The walk in is 3km and height gain is 420 metres so, it's a fair walk in - but this, we knew! What we thought was that this high level & north facing crag would have routes that were in condition; and the nearer we got, the more it became apparent that they weren't!

Whilst from a distance, there looked to be a lot of snow, on Greenhow End, there wasn't! Nor was it neve either, just wind-slab with a light crust on top. There was ice, but that wasn't to be found in any quantity, so when Nigel offered to lead the first pitch of Central Gully, Iain was quite happy to let him!

Photo three sees Nigel at the top of the first pitch just below the first crux. Below here, the gully had some snow which would neither support weight nor the use of ice axes. There was no frozen turf. It was what should have been an easy grade II gully, but in truth, it was just a "thrutch".

Iain arrived at Nigel's stance and then moved up to try the steeper ice above. This would have been a great little pitch in good conditions, but again, there was little ice and what was there disintegrated with a blow from Iain's Rebels. At this point, we decided to call it a day - with the climbing at least!
We moved out rightwards on to the buttress and moved up & across further right to easier ground before deciding that really, the rope wasn't necessary either.

The day wouldn't be completely lost, but could be put to good use as a bit of mountaineering and winter walking. After all, despite the crappy climbing conditions, it really was a beautiful day with great views in all directions.

Photo four sees Nigel as he reaches the top of the steepest part of our snowy scramble amid rock & turf. At this point, Dollywagon Pike and Nethermost Pikes had become visible over the top of Deepdale Hause as well as the top of Falcon Crag - now that's supposed to be a place well worth visiting for some higher grade Lake District Winter Climbing Routes!

Just above here, the angle relented and we were soon on the top of Greenhow End.
The question now was how to get down again. There were a number of options - walk up right to get over to Hart Crag and then descend back to Bridgend via Hartsop Above How (the ridge running from left to right in the middle of  photo five) or descend via "The Step" into Link Cove and then drop down into at the head of Deepdale.

The latter was the quicker option; and time was getting on!

The final photo from this post about an "attempted" Winter Climbing Day in The Lake District sees Nigel as we arrived back in Mossydale. Greenhow End is the prominent buttress just right of centre; and Link Cove is the valley to it's left. All we had now was an hours walk back to the Land Rover.

As far as Winter Climbing went, it was disappointing. A lack of snow & consolidation/freeze thaw meant that there was no climbing worth speaking of; and after this weekend of mild temperatures; well, the chances are what there was has disappeared altogether now. However, it was a day of quality exercise and views and we went on to enjoy a few beers at The Brotherswater Inn on our way back to Kendal; and later, we also got to enjoy Ju's fabulous Fish Pie.

Thanks to Nigel for his company on the hill and to Nigel and Ju for entertaining & feeding us later on.

All in all, a quality day then.....really!

Tuesday 19 January 2016

Winter Mountaineering Days in The Lake District. Helvellyn Red Tarn Face. 17th January 2016.

January has seen, as it often does, a gradual cooling down with temperatures dipping below freezing more & more often. However, it took until last Saturday for us to get our first really decent snowfall of the season -  falling to lie right down to sea level where it remained for over 24 hours.

The MWIS forecast for last Sunday looked promising and Iain was itching to get out and use his ice tools in order that he could get back into the swing of things in readiness for the forthcoming Winter Climbing Season.

Also keen, were friend Mike Burns and we had a call from Darren Willis, a returning client on any occasions over the last year, who was also keen to join us if we were going out.

Photo one sees Mike in blue behind our Land Rover and Darren stood in front, as we prepared to leave on our walk in to Helvellyn from Greenside Mines on Sunday morning.

Getting to Greenside from Kendal proved to be an adventure in itself. It was fortunate indeed that we have the Land Rover as conditions on Kirkstone pass necessitated the use of just such a vehicle. You'd be surprised though; at the number of idiots in cars - not set up for winter conditions (ie no winter tyres!), that we encountered sliding down the north side of this pass. Fortunately, too, we were able to get up the track to Greenside and this allowed us to get a head start on many others who were compelled to leave their cars in Glenridding and walk the mile & a half to the mines.

An hour and a half later would find us approaching the shores of a largely frozen Red Tarn (photo two). The summit was still visible at this point and on the walk in, the wind had increased as we gained height and was now gusting fairly strongly. It was also picking up large quantities of spindrift which is most unpleasant when it is thrown in your face - hence Darren's expression!

We made  our way around the north side of the tarn looking for shelter from the swirling snow laden wind and of course, found none! In the end, we had to dig out the group shelter in order that we could get geared up for the route we had in mind; and get something to eat - in comparative comfort as opposed to sitting out in the elements. It really was bitterly cold!

Despite spending some time in the group shelter, we were all pretty chilly when we emerged and Iain was suffering from a fairly severe doze of hot aches in his fingers which took a while to go, but as we climbed several hundred feet into the base of Gully 1, we were all warmed up again.

We could see a party on Viking Buttress IV'4 above us to our right and another party snook in below them and set up a belay just left of where Darren is stood in photo three. These people would, in Iain's estimation, gain a great deal from a rock climbing course as their anchor set up at their stance was pretty abysmal. One anchor above and one level with the belayer's left knee; and not a screw-gate in sight!

As Iain was not officially working today, we decided that as Mike had given the impression he was happy soloing up to grade III, he would lead on in front. Darren would follow; and then Iain would bring up the rear.

Mike set off up the groove above him in photo three and gave the impression of not being too happy exclaiming that there was "not a lot of ice about". He did, however, reach the top & disappear out of sight.

After that, Iain decided to rope up with Darren  (just a simple bowline, nothing more was really needed), lead on up; and then belay Darren up the pitch.

Photo four sees a rather "puffed" Darren approaching Iain at his belay. Darren had been glad of the rope exclaiming that he was "at his limit" and also "f*****g Knackered!" He was noticeably slower than Iain at climbing the pitch.

Having made Darren safe at this stance, Iain whizzed off up another rope-length to some rocks, found a fine "direct belay" and brought Darren up quickly. There was easy ground and the summit cornice just above so Iain sent Darren straight on up to where Mike was waiting.

At the summit, we had whiteout conditions. Cloud, blowing spindrift and a strong cold westerly wind.

We managed to get some shelter in the largely "snow filled" summit shelter  (a crossed stone wall) jostling for space with other climbers who were also emerging from routes on the North East face.

A quick bite to eat and a mouthful of coffee and we were off for the top of Swirral Edge and a quick exit. Photo five sees Darren & Mike next to the cairn that marks the true summit of Helvellyn. Iain can remember when this cairn used to be a lot bigger!

Half an hour later, we were well on our way down Swirral Edge (photo six) which was not technically difficult  - just rather snowed up! It's a common place for novices to slip though; and during Iain's time in Patterdale Mountain Rescue Team, we would often be collecting casualties from the base of either the south (Red Tarn) side of Swirral or the north (Brown Cove) side in conditions such as we encountered today. Either way, it's a bad place to slip and a long way either side to tumble if you do; and as Iain recalls, the mortality rate of unlucky people here, is pretty high!

An hour & a half later, we were back at the vehicles after what had been a hardcore, but truly exhilarating day out. The route we climbed (Gully 1) was one that Mike had had his eye on for some time; and it was another new winter route for Darren who spent quite a bit of time with us in Glen Coe Last February. For Iain, this was probably his tenth ascent of Gully one. He first climbed it during "Winter Training" with the team 30 years ago!

So, Winter conditions are here in The Lake District at the moment and are ideal for Winter Mountaineering, Winter Climbing. There is also enough "Neve" to make Winter Skills Courses a possibility too!

Give us a call if you fancy having a go at Winter Climbing or Winter Mountaineering and if you want to learn how to be self sufficient in the mountains in Winter and know how to use that new pair of Crampons  and the walking axe you got for Christmas, we are available and will be happy to help you! Winter Skills, Winter Climbing & Mountaineering are all available to you for only £75 per person per day (minimum of two persons)!

In to 2016 and out on the very first day of the New Year! Navigation Skills Training Courses in The Lake District.

Friday, January 1st, 2016 was one of the first really decent days we had had for weeks by the time it arrived. Last November & December were just truly awful and wet; and some of you may remember our report about a Navigation Skills Training Weekend in The Lake District which we aborted after the very first day during the last weekend in November!

Well, Darren Willis & Emma Kershaw had been the clients on that occasion and had paid up in full, but Iain still owed them their second day of map reading skills. After enquiring, Iain found that both were happy to go out on New Years Day. Photo one sees the pair on the west side of Shipman Knotts in the Kentmere valley - often the scene of day two of our Lake District Navigation Skills Training Weekends!

We set off from Green Quarter - having a recap of skills taught the last time we'd been out. We briefly spent time learning how to use the compass to confirm the identity of features we could see from a known location before setting off up the BOAT (Bridleway Open to All Traffic) between Green Quarter & Sadgill  in the Longsleddale Valley.

Finding ourselves walking into a bitter east wind, Iain decided we should stay on the sheltered side of Shipman Knotts. We followed a footpath and paced to three curious squares marked on the map which turned out to be small walled enclosures and then headed straight up to a ring contour (small summit) on the top of the ridge. (photo two)

Here, we found that actually, the wind was no longer quite so chilly, so we made our way along Shipman knotts going from grid reference to grid reference. The pair got a real feel for how different pacing can be on moderately steep ground as opposed to walking along the flat on tarmac. Hopefully, they will remember to modify their pacings per 100 metres to what they found on the various slopes we were on today.

Eventually, we reached the top of Shipman Knotts where we enjoyed a bit of lunch in shelter below the boundary wall. Photo three sees Darren taking a compass bearing to the next grid reference - a stream head/spring a little over a mile away.

We spent the whole day walking from one grid reference to another using the compass and measuring the distance. Every now & then, Iain would ask the pair to identify something they could see from a known location - particularly to the east where what they were looking at was often off the 1:25'000 sheet they were using but on the 1:50'000 map instead. So, they had to "transpose" from one map scale to another to work out what it was they were asked to identify. The pair actually did very well at this. Well Done!

We continued on from Shipman Knotts to our stream head and then on to the summit of Kentmere Pike.

The last few hundred feet to the summit were snow clad to a degree. For the first time this winter - it actually felt and looked a bit like winter up here!!

Photo four is taken from the summit of Kentmere Pike looking towards Harter Fell which looked very bleak indeed. By this time it was past 2 pm; and time to be considering heading back before darkness set in.

We arrived back at the Land Rover at 16:30 so timings were about right. Both Darren & Emma were very pleased with their second day of Navigation Skills Training in The Lake District and were able to progress from what they had learnt on day one.

Details of our 2016 Navigation Skills Training Weekends can be found here if you are after a full weekend of training for only £80 per person. These courses are ideal for people getting ready for a Summer Mountain Walking Leader (MLS) assessment or re-assessment as a Navigation Refresher Course. The first course will be running during the last weekend of March.

Contact us here to book  your place on one of these fantastic value for money Lake District Based Map Reading & Navigation Skills Training Courses. We look forward to working with you! 

Thursday 7 January 2016

Winter Skills Training Course Dates. Running from February to the end of April 2016.

Starting now, we are in readiness to run our Scottish Winter Skills Courses. The venues for these winter skills courses  be Glen Coe, Aonach Mor, Fort William or The Northern Corries, Cairngorms National Park. The cost will be £150 per person for the two day course with up to six persons working with one instructor.

If we don't achieve a minimum group size of four then the course will be cancelled - so do tell anyone you can think of who might be interested in joining!! Book by the end of January and get your two day course for only £120.00!

The Dates are as follows:-

January  23rd & 24th, Venue - Glen Coe
February 13th & 14th - Glen Coe, 20th & 21st - Aonach Mor, 27th & 28th - Cairngorms
March 5th & 6th - Glen Coe, 12th & 13th - Aonach Mor, 19th & 20th - Cairngorms

April dates to be confirmed depending on conditions.
Food & accommodation are not included on these courses but if you contact us to make a booking, we will put you in touch with a number of hotels, bunkhouses, hostels and B & B's in the area.

Why do a Winter Skills Training Course?
The course is designed to help you become self sufficient in the winter mountain environment, be able to negotiate  winter terrain and deal with snow & ice of different consistencies. You will learn how to stay safe and survive in these challenging conditions. On our 2 day Scottish Winter Skills Courses you can expect to cover a comprehensive syllabus including basic ropework and belay methodsOne of the first things we'll show you is how to use your ice axe to prevent a slip turning into a slide. There are a number of ice axe braking scenarios to cover and the chap in photo three is about to arrest from a forward facing slide.

Amongst other techniques, we will also show you how to provide security for your peers when you are out in the winter environment.

There are many methods of making belays (anchors) by using the snow, a rope, your ice axe or even just yourself and a hole in the snow. We will look at basic snow & ice anchors, buried axe anchors and how to use Deadmen (a shaped aluminium plate specifically designed as a snow anchor). Other methods include the use of a body belay from a bucket seat and the use of equipment in other ways such as the Stomper Belay or the boot axe belay as shown here in photo four.

Many winter skills courses do not cover the scenarios of belay construction and basic ropework - but we do, because we think you ought to know what to do when you might need to!
Amongst other skills we'll cover snow-pack assessment and avalanche prediction. Avalanches are a real source of injury & death in the mountains in Winter so you will need to know what to look out for in the snow-pack as a result of wind action and recent snowfall. Reading forecasts from the Mountain Weather Information Service and the Scottish Avalanche Information Service are really good places to start as we will explain.

As well as being able to interpret snow-pack and deal with security of steep ground, we will also show you what to do if you are caught out by bad weather, injury or benightment.

There are a number of options for building an improvised shelter - the easiest is to tunnel sideways into a bank of snow to build a snow-hole but you may have to build a shelter from blocks of snow or by other means. We'll show you what to do!
Finally, you'll need to be able to use crampons to deal with hard snow (neve) and ice when kicking or cutting steps becomes too laborious a process.

Crampons can be a life saver on one hand or a serious hazard on the other.

We will teach you how to use crampons properly during you winter skills course using as many points as possible in contact with the ice to give you maximum security on icy terrain; and how to change the way in which you use them as the angle of the ice gets steeper.

To book your place on one of our Winter Skills Training Courses  contact us here, give Iain a call on 07761 483364 or join the facebook event page here.

Winter Mountaineering Courses in Scotland. Running from January to the end of April 2016.

Are you thinking of spending some more time in the mountains this winter? Perhaps you have attended a winter skills course already and like the idea trying of some of those more interesting ridge routes leading on to your favourite mountains? You may have heard tales of others undertaking Winter Mountaineering routes such as Broad Gully on Sob Coire An Lochan or Curved Ridge on Buchaille Etive Mor - both in Glen Coe, or what about the long and challenging traverse of the Aonach Eagach or Ledge Route on Ben Nevis? The idea of Winter Mountaineering sounds exciting & exhilarating stuff, however, you don't feel confident to try such routes for yourselves having heard that rope work is involved and perhaps feeling that you are lacking in the skills necessary to tackle these routes and stay safe!

At Kendal Mountaineering Services, we have a number of Mountaineering Instructors at our disposal with a great deal of experience on most classic Winter Mountaineering Routes. Why not start out your winter mountaineering experience by being guided by one of our experienced staff on an appropriate Winter Scramble just like the pair in photo one - you can then decide whether or not Winter Mountaineering is for you!

You may then choose to be guided up some further Classic Winter Mountaineering Routes to gain confidence or learn the skills to make your own way such as the person in photo two. Here, he has just prepared a belay in readiness to safeguard his mates while they cross an exposed crest on Sron Na Larig in Glen Coe.

These guys had already ascended Ledge Route with us previously; and had successfully climbed Dorsal Arete in Coire An Lochan the day before. So, we felt that they were ready for a Mountaineering challenge like Sron Na Larig as an opportunity to consolidate and further develop skills already learnt. Our plans for your Winter Mountaineering Courses are always built on the basis of your existing experience and aspirations. Your safety must always come first & foremost - followed by enjoyment, learning and satisfaction.

Our prices per day for Winter Mountaineering days in The Lake District & Scotland start at £150 for 1 person, £90 per person (group of two) or £60 each for 3 persons this being the maximum one Mountaineering Instructor is able to work with on easy grade 1 - 2 Winter scrambling ground. We will happily work with larger groups - bringing in more instructors as required.

Our Winter Mountaineering Courses are run on a bespoke "booked when you want to do it basis" and you choose how many or as few days as you want. Depending on our availability and the weather conditions, you can book your Winter Mountaineering Guided Day at short notice - so it will be worth giving Iain a call on 07761 483364 to check on his whereabouts and availability during the next four months.

Benn - seen in photo three, booked a progressive Winter Mountaineering Course in 2012 with Kendal Mountaineering Services split into 3 four days blocks. His course commenced with a 2 day basic Winter Skills Course in Coire An Lochan, a guided ascent & descent of the Winter Mountaineering Route "The Zig Zags" and a guided ascent of Dorsal Arete - all in Glen Coe

By the time that photo three & four were taken (both on Ledge Route, Ben Nevis) Benn was exhibiting such competence & confidence that Iain was happy, with coaching, for Benn to get on the "sharp end" of the rope as he is here - short roping Iain in this photo.

The use of the direct belay (photo three) and short roping (photo four) are both some of the techniques used for ascending Winter Mountaineering Terrain and these will be demonstrated to you during a guiding day or during a Winter Mountaineering Skills teaching day which will take place on grade I or II ground. Benn had this to say at the end of his course with us

Well sadly it's the end of my course :-( but what a course it's been, when Kendal Mountaineering Services say they 'give you what you want' they're not lying that's for sure! Iain has been a fantastic guide and coach throughout. He inspires confidence where it matters, he's funny, engaging and finds a great balance of having fun and being safe in the mountains. He didn't fail to answer any of my thousands of challenging questions and his knowledge of the mountains is unquestionable. I feel so much more confident in the mountains and it's all down to Iain and his great teaching style. If you want to do anything in the mountains Iain is your man! Just look at that last photo and they are the moments you do it for. Thanks to Kendal Mountaineering services and a special thanks to Iain ( Taken from this 2012 Blog Post)

So, just like Benn, you too can enjoy a great experience on one of our Winter Guided Mountaineering Courses or Winter Mountaineering Skills Training Courses in Scotland - where will we take you if conditions are fit? Well, here's a selection

Curved Ridge, Buchaille Etive Mor. Aonach Eagach, Sron Na Lairig, Dinnertime Buttress, Zig Zag Route, Glen Coe. The East Ridge.North Top Stob Ban, Glen Nevis. Ledge Route, Ben Nevis. Golden Oldy, Aonach Mor West Face - and many more!

If you would like to know more about our Winter Mountaineering Courses in The Lake District & Scotland then contact us via the website. Further details of past courses Iain has run can be found be reading the KMS Blog between December & March each year. We look forward to working with you in the coming months.

Wednesday 6 January 2016

Scottish Winter Climbing Courses. Running from January to the end of April 2016.

The Winter climbing season has already begun in the UK with a number of ascents of classic Winter climbing routes already having taken place in Scotland. At the present time, conditions are a little unsettled & mild, but climbing conditions are improving already as the weather is getting steadily colder!

At Kendal Mountaineering Services, we offer a number of options to those wishing to take up Winter Climbing. Ideally, you should have experience of scrambling or climbing outdoors on dry Summer rock if you wish to learn the skills of Winter Climbing; and will also have undertaken a Winter Skills Training Course to prepare you for walking in the Winter mountain environment.

However, if you already have sufficient experience of winter walking, crampon & ice axe techniques; and wish to be guided up a Winter climb then we can organise this for you.

To this end, we intend to be in the Glen Coe/Fort William Area from Mid January up until the end of March. We are specifically offering you the opportunity to learn the techniques of Winter Climbing or be guided on one of the areas winter routes at anything up to grade IV in standard depending on your ability.

Wherever there are mountains - there are Winter Climbing routes. Some areas are more popular than others and aspiring Winter climbers will have heard of areas such as Glen Coe where photo one with Benn was taken on Dorsal Arete (grade II) and the Northern Corries of The Cairngorms where this photo was taken of Mark on Invernookie (grade III'4)

Other areas also include Ben Nevis and Aonach Mor near to Fort William and Creag Meagaidh midway between Fort William and Aviemore. These are all great areas for learning how to climb Winter routes and all have classic climbs that we are happy to guide on if you would just like to be led up something!

All of these areas are readily accessible and can be reached from England border in four hours to Fort William and five hours to Aviemore. Both are good places to base yourself when attending one of our Scottish Winter courses - each with a wide variety of accommodation types, restaurants and supermarkets.

And once there - you are ready to start your Winter Climbing Skills Training Course or Guided Winter Climbing day with one of our instructors. You will be met, the evening beforehand your course if necessary, to go through your equipment, make your that you have everything necessary and check crampon fitting etc.

Your instructor will provide a copy of the climbing forecast and the local avalanche report the details of which they will discuss with you. In conjunction with these, and an appraisal of your ability and aspirations for your course, your instructor will choose an appropriate route that fits all requirements.

Winter Climbing Skills Training Courses and Guided Winter Climbing days are long demanding days - so expect to get up early and experience walk ins which may be 2 hours as a minimum. Ideally, you should have a good level of hill fitness if you want to get the most out of these courses.

The type of ground you will find yourself on will be dictated by the type of course you are attending. If you are attending a Guided Winter Climbing Day such as the pair in photo three then the ground may be grade 1 through to Grade IV. In this instance, the pair were on Green Gully, Ben Nevis - a classic Winter ice climb graded at IV'3.

On our Winter Climbing Skills Training Courses you are likely to be working on ground up to, but no more than grade III in standard where you will be coached by a Mountaineering Instructor who may well be moving alongside you  - coaching you as you climb.

The three seen in photo four enjoyed a progressive Winter Climbing Skills Training Course with us - in this photo they were climbing on Dorsal Arete (grade II), Coire An Lochan, Glen Coe; and they accomplished the route well. For their second day, due to the increased avalanche forecast, Iain coached them on nearby Sron Na Lairig before guiding them through the cornice at the top of the route. Again, they climbed this route well and took away a lot of new skills with which to use in the Winter mountain environment.

Maria, seen leading in photo five, attended one of our week long courses in 2010. Maria  had attended our Scottish Winter Skills Course followed by our Cairngorms based Navigation & Snowholing 2 day course before trying her hand at Winter climbing during one of our Winter Climbing Skills Training days.

It was a perfect progression for Maria who took very well to Winter Climbing. For Chris, the progression on to snowed & iced up rock was possibly a little easier as he had previously attended one of our Lake District based Scrambling Skills Training Course, a Cuillin Ridge Traverse Trip and a Winter Skills training course with us prior to joining Maria on this route - Twin Ribs in Coire an t Sneachda in The Cairngorms.

All of our courses are intended to be progressive. They are designed to improve your understanding of winter climbing techniques and improve your confidence to go on to try bigger & better winter climbing routes for yourselves!
Our final photo in this post sees Benn - on the last day of his 12 day progressive Winter Climbing course booked with Iain in 2012. Rather than explain it, you can read all about Benn's course here - if you wonder what a client is doing out in front, well, sometimes this is appropriate!

Our team of Mountaineering Instructors have a considerable amount of experience climbing in Winter in both The Lake District and Scotland and they will enjoy organising an appropriate package for you in either area. Whether it be learning Winter Climbing Skills or guiding you on that classic Winter route all of our staff are passionate individuals who will be intent on providing you with the best possible experience whilst keeping you safe.

We believe we provide excellent value for money with all of our Winter Climbing Courses. These cost £150 per day for one person, £90 per person/day for a climbing pair or £60 per person/day for a group of threeWe will be based in the Glen Coe/Fort William area from mid January to the end of March to provide your Winter Climbing Course. You can book as many or as few days as you like, you can also attend on your own as we already have other people booked in to these courses who will be looking for climbing partners! Meet them here on the Facebook Event Page!

Contact us via the website for more details about these courses or contact Iain on 07761 483364. If you are looking for something at short notice there is likely to be availability at short notice and in that instance - please ring Iain. We look forward to working with you.

Tuesday 5 January 2016

Kendal Mountaineering Services. In the run up to Christmas 2015.

Once again, its been a while since we've posted anything, however, there are a number of reasons for that.

The first and main one concerns the first photo showing the River Kent in Kendal on Saturday December 5th. Taken from near Stramongate Bridge, the river had inundated the flat grass field known as Gooseholme next to the river. This was taken at around mind-day on the Saturday during the height of "Storm Desmond".

Water levels continued to rise until around 10:30 pm that night. A number of areas around town which had never been flooded before were inundated including our area; and our home.

You can read a report on Facebook showing many more photos taken by us. The flooding wreaked havoc on our property and it has taken  a long time to get back to some sort of normality, but it will be many months before our home is restored to its original condition.

However, we are still open for business!

Immediately after the flood we found ourselves clearing up. Much of the outdoor equipment stored at our premises was soaked by dirty water and covered by a fine layer of silt. All of this had to be removed and cleaned before removal  to nearby storage where it could be dried. This task took up much of the following week.

Next Friday, Iain made his way to the 2015 Jagged Globe Leaders forum - run this time from the YHA's premises at Losehill Hall near Castleton in Derbyshire (photo two).  As in last year, this was another great opportunity to "network"with outdoor professionals from all over the country. Saturday started with Jagged Globe's Managing Director Simon Lowe discussing how the 2015 Nepal Earthquake had impacted the business and what had subsequently been done to repatriate clients who were trekking or climbing with the company in Nepal at the time. There were also presentations by a number of expedition leaders who were working in country at the time - sobering stuff. As always, Jagged Globe had put the well-being of their clients first & foremost and had acted with absolute professionalism and sound judgement.

After the presentations surrounding the earthquake, three separate workshops had been set up for attendees. The first one for Iain's group was an opportunity to discuss any aspects of expedition medicine with Doctor David Hillebrand and other doctors associated with Jagged Globe.

Lots of topics were discussed in an hour. Aspects of Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) how to deal with clients suffering emotional & behavioral difficulties as a result of AMS and the success rate of CPR in the mountains were amongst the topics. Very interesting indeed!

After lunch, our next session was spent with BMG member and IFMGA Guide Alun Richardson who talked about aspects of glacier travel and crevasse rescue.

Alun showed us the system he uses when working on glaciers with clients in order to help him conduct rescues where required. Photo three shows Alun demonstrating rescue techniques - clearly on non glaciated terrain in "the Morton Room", but very informative; and very interesting all the same. Thanks Alun.

After our Crevasse Rescue Session, we went outside briefly for a GPS Training Session run by Max Hunter. The weather outside during Saturday was wet & windy and pretty lousy at the time of our session. Put it this way - we didn't stay outside for very long at all!

The latter part of the afternoon was designated an open forum where any topic one wished to broach could be discussed. In our earlier first aid session, Iain had noticed a Hyperbaric Bag which is what is used to aid recovery from AMS and had asked if it could be demonstrated at the open forum later.

The doctor who had the bag readily agreed to demonstrate its setup and use of the bag in the open forum and in photo four it has been set up complete with a "victim" inside the bag and the bag is now being inflated up to it's operating pressure of 2 psi.

What impressed Iain is how one of these devices work. He assumed that someone suffering from AMS was sealed inside one of these bags and then pure oxygen was then pumped on from a cylinder. This is not the case at all!

By inflating the bag 2 psi one actually increases the atmospheric pressure around the casualty artificially, in effect, lowering the altitude. The atmospheric pressure decreases at altitude and there is less oxygen in the air. By increasing the atmospheric pressure (artificially in this case), the amount of oxygen available to the casualty is increased and often the casualty will make a good recovery.However, as soon as a casualty is removed from the bag then they will start to deteriorate. Anyone suffering AMS to the extent that a Hyperbaric Bag is needed, should be removed as soon as possible to a lower altitude where they can make a normal recovery. Read about the particular type of Hyperbaric Bag seen in the photo here. It makes interesting reading!

The open forum finished  at around 5:30 and the Christmas Dinner started around 7pm. A great evening ensued - an evening of great frivolity and fun. On Sunday Morning, all that remained to do was to return home. The Sunday was markedly different to the Saturday in so much as there was a frost at Losehill Hall first thing; and on his return to Cumbria, Iain noticed that the Lake District Fells were fairly well covered in snow - bring on the Winter!

Thank you to Jagged Globe for another great forum  and thanks to the staff at Losehill Hall for looking after us.