Saturday 22 October 2016

Scrambling Skills Training Course. October 8th & 9th 2016.

During the second weekend of October, Iain found himself working with Clym & Ellie Stephenson from Kendal. Both had previously attended one of our excellent value weekend Navigation Skills Training Courses in The Lake District some time previously and thoroughly enjoy going hill-walking in the area's mountains when they get a chance.

Recently, they had decided that they wished to learn scrambling skills so that they could climb the Lake District Mountains by some of the more interesting routes which often involve scrambling.

Scrambling involves moving on rock wherever possible - following the line of a rocky buttress or ridge or possibly ascending a ledge on a cliff face. Scrambling on grade 1 ground is relatively easy, but Clym & Ellie wanted to learn the skills required to move safely on grade 2 or 3 scrambles.

Photo one sees the pair on the lower shoulder of Tarn Crag above Stickle Ghyll in Langdale (one of our favourite Ghyll Scrambling Venues). Tarn Crag is one of our favourite venues for teaching one our scrambling courses as it has a range of routes from grade 1 to grade 3 and therefore much to offer students.

We spent the morning on the lower shoulder of Tarn Crag looking at the skill of spotting (moving together without ropes), short roping skills as in photo one; and all of the types of belay available to scramblers, before moving on to a grade 2 scramble (photo two) where, Ellie was given the chance to lead.

The grade 2 scrambling route we used in the afternoon was called The Spur. This route follows the line of a rocky rib leading up from the southern end of tarn crag. The scramble starts with a tricky traverse up a slab then follows a grassy groove to a spike belay. Above here the route goes straight up rocky slabs to a belay on an exposed stance before one moves up on to a grassy slope.

Above the grassy slope, the route goes up over three rock buttresses before levelling off an finishing just below the summit of Tarn Crag. The route allows students to use all manner of belaying techniques - direct belays using slings & karabiners, direct belays merely using the friction of rope on rock (photo three) or body belays where no rock is available. Ellie did an excellent job of leading this scramble whilst being coached along the way by Iain. The weather was excellent today - blue sky, sunshine & dry rock - just what we needed!

The following morning, Iain collected Clym & Ellie from home - there was no point in travelling separately as we were travelling from the same place! We drove over to the Walna Scar Car Park above Coniston where we got ready for a scrambling "journey" to the top of The Old Man of Coniston (the most popular fell-walk in the locality).

We started off with a great little scramble called "The Bell" which is only ten minutes walk from the car park and a great value grade 2 route once again offering all manner of belays and rocky pitches of varying degrees of difficulty and interest. Here, in photo four, Clym short ropes Ellie up one of the easier sections of that route; and once again, the weather couldn't have been better!

Photo five, taken some time later, sees Clym using a direct belay to safeguard Ellie who is scrambling up an exposed slab. This time, we are on a different route - Low Water Beck (grade 3).

Low Water Beck starts about 1 mile beyond the top of The Bell, which we had completed by about 11am. After an early lunch stop we walked across and set off up this route which has all of its difficulty in the lower part where it starts off in the stream before moving up steep slabs to it's right - involving a considerable amount of exposure. This classic Lakes grade 3 scramble takes one up to Low Water - a mountain tarn nestling under the summit of The Old Man of Coniston; and from here one final scramble can be followed to the summit ridge.

The final photo from this report about a Scrambling Skills Training Course in The Lake District sees Clym & Ellie arriving at the top of that final scrambling route.

Brim Fell Slabs rises in a series of rocky steps starting 150 metres from Low Water (the tarn in the background). The route offers great value scrambling with all manner of belay opportunities from body belays to direct belays on some lovely rock. Upon reaching the crest of Brim Fell a sense of real satisfaction is felt in the knowledge that one has arrived on the summit ridge of The Old Man having hardly travelled on any paths along the way! Both Clym & Ellie performed well during this Scrambling Skills Training Course in The Lake District and we wish them the best of luck with their future scrambling forays into the mountains.

Our Scrambling Skills Training Courses can be run in The Lake District, Wales or Scotland. The cost is £80 per person per day and we recommend a two day course allowing you to learn the skills on day one and consolidate them during a second day of scrambling. The price per person includes the provision of helmets harnesses, ropes & scrambling rack; and without exception, you will be coached by a Mountaineering Instructor. Contact us here to book your Scrambling Skills Training Course with us - you won't be disappointed!

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