Sunday, 28 May 2017

Guided Scrambling in The Lake District. 24th & 25th May 2017.

During last weeks exceptionally hot period of weather, Iain's skills as a Mountaineering Instructor were called upon by Robert Wilson from West Sussex who was looking for two days of Guided Scrambling in The Lake District as preparation for a visit to the European Alps to climb the Dufourspitze - the highest point of Mont Rosa - also the second highest summit in The Alps after Mont Blanc.

On day one of Robert's Guided Scrambling Course in The Lake District, we met at The Sticklebarn Car Park near the New Dungeon Ghyll, where we were able to quickly access our first scramble - Pike How (grade 2).

Photo one sees Robert as we approached the top of the first buttress of this route. We would scramble on up a further two rocky buttresses before gaining the summit of Pike How - an ideal place to break for lunch, with some spectacular views all around.

With Robert's objective of achieving the summit of Monte Rosa in mind, Iain's proposal for our next scramble to reach the summit of Harrison Stickle was to attempt a grade 3 scramble - South Central Buttress. A grade 3 scramble is somewhat steeper than a grade 2 route and there is more exposure involved. Robert, however, was quite satisfied that grade 2 was the hardest level at which he wished to be climbing today, so we changed our plan and headed slightly east on to the South East Ridge of Harrison Stickle (photo two) which is given grade 1; however, it is possible to take a line up the steeper rocks to the left of the ridge to bring the grade up to 2.

Unfortunately, the heat of the day was now making itself felt though it wasn't until the end of the following day that Iain discovered that this had resulted in moisture forming on the lens of his digital camera leading to blurred spots in many photos - such as the one in photo two!

We reached to summit of Harrison Stickle via the South East Ridge in a little over an hour after following an interesting line weaving through rock bands where Robert was probably on quite a bit of grade 3 ground without actually realising it. He managed fine regardless; and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

As we had time for a third scrambling route today, Iain roped Robert down Jack's Rake - the classic (and under-graded, we think!) grade 1 line cutting across the face of Pavey Ark above Stickle Tarn. Photo three sees Robert with Stickle Tarn and the Langdale valley beyond as we started our descent. We passed a couple of climbers mid route who were about to start up a new VS rock climbing line on the upper crags of Pavey Ark and we also passed quite a few people soloing up Jack's Rake intrigued at the fact that we were descending it!

We were back at the car park just before 5pm and enjoyed pints of cordial and lemonade to cool down - essential after our long hot afternoon; on dry rock in the baking sun.


For day two of Robert's Guided Scrambling Course in The Lake District, Iain decided to take him to a different area near Coniston, where there are a number of great scrambles allowing one to reach the summit ridge of The Old Man (the highest mountain locally) without going on the tourist track at all!

We started off by scrambling up The Bell (grade 1) a delightful ridge line rising in a series of buttresses to the summit of the hill of the same name. Again, Iain chose a line that would make the most of the more exciting sections of rock and we soon arrived at the summit (photo four). The great thing about the bell is that it is only a ten minute walk from the Walna Scar car park where we had parked - so more time is spent scrambling and not walking.
What we usually do after climbing The Bell is to walk around to the foot of Low Water Beck to where another great scrambling route (of the same name) weaves it's way up the watercourse - starting firstly in the bed of the stream before weaving up slabs to the right and then finishing above the stream on the left bank. Low Water Beck, however, is graded at 3 and Robert was adamant that he wished to remain scrambling at grade 2 again today. So this meant we had to miss out our second scramble and go straight for the third intended line - Brim fell Slabs (grade 2) above the hanging tarn of low Water.

We arrived at Low Water before mid-day when usually, we wouldn't normally arrive here till around 2pm after ascending the afore-mentioned scramble. After some lunch, we started up Brim Fell Slabs (photo five) arriving at the summit at around 2pm.

Robert was very pleased with his two day Guided Scrambling Course in The Lake District with Iain and reckoned it was just what he needed in way of preparation for his ascent of Monte Rosa. We may well see him again if he has time before his departure to The Alps as he'd like to take that step on to some grade 3 scrambling routes.

Scrambling is a great way to get to the top of mountains - much more interesting than walking up footpaths. There's a great deal to be said for taking an airy ridge line on steep rock instead!

Our Guided Scrambling Courses; and indeed - our Scrambling Skills Training Courses in The Lake District cost just £160 per day for one or two persons; and this fee includes the provision of helmets, harnesses; and a mountaineering Instructor with rope and scrambling rack to guide/coach you. You can be assured of a great day out on some great Lake District Rock - so contact us here to book your Scrambling Course. You won't be disappointed!

National Three Peaks Challenge Events. Guiding on Scafell Pike. Saturday 20th May 2017.

After returning from working in The Yorkshire Dales, Iain was out again the very next morning - very early in fact, to guide on the Scafell Pike Leg of a National Three peaks Challenge.

Dave, Tim, Linda and Abi (photo one) were part of a team from Investec Asset Management taking part in this arduous 24 hour challenge. They were part of a much larger group all of whom had started on Ben Nevis the previous afternoon all would be hoping to finish on Snowdon later today.

Photo one sees the four about 2/3rds of the way up the mountain during our ascent of Scafell. We had started the climb in Wasdale at around 04:00.

In terms of achieving the objective, only three of this group of four stragglers made it to the summit of Scafell Pike. Dave dropped out not long after photo one was taken.

Whilst the day had dawned dry & cloudy, the temperature had dropped too and it was very chilly on the summit of Scafell Pike (photo two)
So, we didn't hang around, in fact, we needed to be heading back down straightaway again to get to the bus waiting in Wasdale as we were already late!

Our final photo from this post about Guided Fell Walking in The Lake District sees Tim, Linda & Abi during our descent on the upper slopes of Scafell Pike. Way in the distance - through the cloud, one can make out Styhead Tarn - just!

We eventually made it back to the bus at around 08:30 and for this group, it was straight off on the journey onwards towards their final objective - Snowdon.

We do hope that all three made it to the summit of Snowdon. Why were they doing this 24 hour challenge? - to raise money for charity of course. For Iain, that was the end of his guiding or the day; and he was very happy to depart for home!

Kendal Mountaineering Services do not arrange logistics for supporting National Three Peaks Challenges for many reasons. However, if you would like to have a pleasant day of Guided Fell Walking in our beautiful Lake District Mountains - then contact Iain here. You won't be disappointed!

Prince's Trust Residentials in The Yorkshire Dales. May 16th - 19th 2017.

Almost two weeks ago, Iain was working for our friends at Mountain Explorers working as outdoor activities leader for a group of young people from Doncaster who had come away from home for a four day residential experience in the outdoors.

All have recently signed up to The Princes Trust Scheme which is designed to get young people aged 13 - 30 get into jobs, education and training. All of these young people have signed up to the Team programme - a 12 week scheme designed to get them into employment or enrolled on a  college course within three months.

A lot of people attending Prince's Trust courses come from difficult backgrounds that may have involved drug taking and abuse of some sort. Most suffer from low morale and self esteem and many may have been in trouble with the law. The good thing is that they were all here because they want to improve their lives and get to a "better place". This willingness to change their lives is a very good start!

The residential is part of the team programme and takes places early on on the course - in fact this group had only all gotten together for the very first time the previous week.

When Iain met the group, their residential experience would start with an indoor climbing session at the Harrogate Climbing Centre. After a very enthusiastic session we headed to our accommodation for the duration - Skirfare Bridge Barn in Wharfedale - where we would be based for the next three nights.

That evening would see us take a stroll along by the River Wharfe after supper (photo one) and then the next morning we walked the length of the Ingleton Waterfalls Walk. In photo two, the group can be seen under the overhang next to Thornton Force.

The residential experience is all about reacting to challenge; and working together as a team to support and encourage each other. For many, walking along a 3 mile dirt path during the waterfalls walk may well have been more than they'd ever walked in a day before; and what was coming next would be even more challenging!

Photo three sees the group all "booted & suited up" and ready to go caving. Caving is great fun and you'll get to see some amazing features underground. Caving is quite strenuous and challenging - especially as you may have to crawl or squeeze through some tight spaces - you don't have to though; as it's meant to be fun. Following some initial reluctance from a few team members to take part, all eleven went underground and had a great time!

Following the caving session, we returned over the moors to Skirfare Bridge to get showered and cleaned up before eating and then nipping into Skipton to buy a few supplies.

As part of the residential, the group are expected to work together to cook & prepare evening meals for each other and tidy up afterwards.

After this we went for a night walk and campfire near Kettlewell (photo four) which was intended as an opportunity for all group members to open up as to where they had come from in their lives, the problems they had faced; and what they wanted to achieve in the future. This was an emotional experience for some and a powerful experience for all in the group.

On the second; and final full day of this Prince's Trust Residential in The Yorkshire Dales, the group spent the morning trying their hand at Archery (photo five) in the grounds at Skirfare Bridge. George (dressed in grey) is about to fire an arrow hopefully into the centre of the left hand target.

At the time of this photo George was homeless - not that you'd know, he was such a keen a cheerful chap. Two weeks later, James, the Prince's Trust Group Leader, had found George both a home and a job!
The final photo from this post about a Prince's Trust Residential in The Yorkshire Dales sees the group later that afternoon at Brimham Rocks following a great rock scrambling session.

Brimham is famous for it's rock formations - great clusters of grit-stone monoliths rising out of the woodland. These rock formations have be en weathered by wind and rain; and in more recent times, by people scrambling up and down them.

We spent the whole afternoon at Brimham climbing up and down the rocks, squeezing through tight gaps and tunnels with everyone working together helping & supporting each other. It was a good afternoon.

After a further final night at Skirfare Bridge Barn, the group departed on Friday morning back to Doncaster. We would like to wish them all the best with their futures.

If you are interested in trying out any of the activities mentioned in this post - Guided Walking, Caving, Scrambling or Rock Climbing then contact us at Kendal Mountaineering Services here. We offer all of these activities both here in The Lake District and in The Yorkshire Dales. Caving is done exclusively in The Yorkshire Dales. All activities are great fun and prices start at just £45 per person for a half day (four hour) session. Discounts are applied for children under 16. We look forward to working with you!

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Gorge Walking in The Lake District. Wren Gill, Longsleddale. 13th May 2017.

A few weekends ago, we got a phone-call out of the blue - could we provide a ghyll Scrambling Session that day? Iain was doing nothing and so scrambled into action to provide this session for Paul Watts and his daughter Lucy who were up in The Lake District for the weekend camping at Windermere.

After getting sizings for wetsuits and boots and then dashing off to the kit-store to get equipment, Iain was ready with the Land Rover to meet the pair at Morrisons, Kendal at 2pm that afternoon.

Photo one sees the pair kitted up and ready to go. We had driven the length of the tarmac road up Longsleddale and then driven the additional mile & a half up the Gatesgarth Pass Road to the start point for the pair's Ghyll Scrambling Session in The Lake District. We'd already had an adventure of sorts but now it was time for the main event!

Photo two sees Paul hanging on to little Lucy as we made our way upstream from the get-in point. The lower part of the ghyll is fairly steep and there are a number of entertaining little climbs and waterfalls; and also some fairly deep pools too.

Ghyll Scrambling is all about having fun whilst climbing up waterfalls and swimming through pools. It is also good to work together to help each other as you make your way upstream. Lucy was keen and enthusiastic despite the fact that things were a tad chilly due to the strong southerly breeze blowing up the valley, so we worked hard to keep moving and that did the trick.

Thank goodness we had all that equipment on to keep us warm - but that's what you can expect to get if you come on a Ghyll Scrambling/Gorge Walking experience in The Lake District with us - every time!
After the first 500 metres or so, the angle of the stream eases back and it becomes more of a pleasant walk upstream although there are plenty of things to enjoy such as a waterfall you can sit behind and a pool where the flow of the stream comes in at such an angle that it creates a nice friendly whirlpool that kids love.

A little further on, one is confronted by a long, narrow; and very deep pool - its a swimmer for everyone, but it also allows the opportunity for one to jump off the low cliff (on the right when looking upstream) Paul swam through the pool closely followed by Lucy; and then Lucy had a go at jumping into the pool - not once but twice!

Above this point is another short gorge; and then another deep pool formed where a huge boulder dams the stream bed. Just above is another low cliff, so this pool can be jumped into too. Photo three sees Paul & Lucy ready to jump, which they did one after the other. Great stuff!

Our final photo from this post about a family Ghyll Scrambling Session in The Lake District sees Paul & Lucy as they climb up a low waterfall leading into the ravine of Cleft Ghyll. We' been going for a couple of hours now and that chilly wind was starting to have an effect on all three of us.

We climbed up and around the corner into the narrow rocky cleft (hence the name) to view the deep pool with Wren Gill crashing in through a narrow gap at the back. One can swim the pool and climb up a fixed rope at the back left hand side of the pool and then jump back in from 12 feet above, but we'd all had enough of a soaking now and little Lucy had done really well!

It was time to get out and go and get warmed up. Even after two hours in the ghyll, we were only 10 minutes walk from the Land Rover and Iain got the pair in shelter in the back and then got the engine running and the heater going. Next, it was cups of Hot Chocolate; and smiles all round!

Paul & Lucy thoroughly enjoyed their Ghyll Scrambling (also known as Gorge Walking) Session in The Lake District with us. If you want a real exhilarating wet adventure - then this is the sport to do; and this is the time of year to be doing it! Prices start at £45 per person for a minimum of two persons for four hours. The more people you bring, the less you'll pay and family groups will get a discount for under 16's anyway.

Contact us at Kendal Mountaineering Services to make your Ghyll Scrambling booking. You definitely won't be disappointed!

Corporate Ghyll Scrambling Sessions in The Lake District. Hause Gill with Nucleargraduates. May 11th 2017

Its a few weeks ago now, but Iain was back out with our corporate client Nucleargraduates Ghyll Scrambling in Borrowdale as part of a team building session for the next intake of successful graduate apprentices.

We've been working with Nucleargraduates since 2011 providing this activity for them. The fact that we consistently get good feedback from the organisation saying that "people haven't stopped talking about it since!" is a fairly good indication that its use for this purpose works!

So what is Ghyll Scrambling? Well, it is also known as Gorge Walking and it's really great fun - particularly in the sort of weather we are experiencing at the moment - temperatures in the mid 20's are enough to make most people sweat very easily and whilst it might be nice when it is hot and sunny - is it nice to feel hot, sweaty and sticky? We think you'd probably agree not!

So a good way to get out and cool down in The Lake District is to book on one of our Ghyll Scrambling/Gorge Walking Sessions - there are a whole range of places to go Ghyll Scrambling or Gorge Walking in The Lake District - Stickle Ghyll in Langdale, Wren Gill in Longsleddale, Glenridding Beck in the Ullswater Valley and Hause Gill, Stoneycroft Gill and Lodore Beck in the Keswick/Borrowdale area.
Let's explain about Ghyll Scrambling/Gorge Walking a little bit more. We've mentioned why it's a good idea in this weather and where you can do it - but what exactly is it?

All of our photos paint a pretty good picture of the activity. You can see people sat in a pool in photo one getting soaked and people in photo two helping others to get across a deep pool where swimming might be necessary; and in photo three people are climbing up a waterfall. Ghyll scrambling/Gorge walking in The Lake District encompasses all of those things - walking up a mountain stream, climbing up waterfalls, swimming through pools, having loads of fun whilst feeling refreshed and exhilarated. This is a pretty cool thing to try out!

In the case of Nucleargraduates, all of the young people experience all of that outlined - but whilst working together, looking after each other and helping each other...it's a really good way to get to know people in your group!

And now the final bits - how long can a ghyll Scrambling/Gorge Walking Session be? Typically, we offer four hour sessions starting at 09:00 or 13:00 on the day you book; or you can make a full day be doing two Ghyll Scrambling Sessions "back to back! If you have balls of steel and really want to go for it - then you should consider attending one of our all day Esk Gorge Ghyll Scrambling trips!

How much do these Ghyll Scrambling/Gorge Walking Sessions in The Lake District cost? Prices start at just £45 per person for a minimum of two persons and you'll pay less if your group size is bigger! The Esk Gorge Trip starts at just £80 per person for a minimum of two persons.

What equipment is provided? Everything you see the people wearing in photo four! Cagoules, wetsuits, walking boots, helmets & harnesses. You need to bring your own swimwear & towels and a long sleeved fleece type top each to wear under the cagoules. You'll also need either two pairs of normal (not ankle) shoe socks to wear in the walking boots provided - so not a lot really, all the major stuff is provided as part of your fee along with an enthusiastic instructor who will keep you safe and make sure you have great fun!

It's the Ghyll Scrambling/Gorge Walking Season here in The Lake District - so contact us to book your session. It's great for families with kids who'll just love it; and under 16's get a discount anyway! We look forward to working with you.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Guiding on Ben Nevis. A National 3 peaks challenge. Friday 5th May 2017.

Iain's recent trip to Scotland didn't finish with his departure from Skye on Thursday after working with Steve Smith & Jon Glew on The Cuillin Ridge. One of our friends up north had asked Iain if he were available to assist with guiding a large party of people who were attempting a National Three Peaks Challenge starting with an ascent of Ben Nevis.

Photo one sees Iain's group after about two hours of our ascent from the visitor centre in Glen Nevis; and as you can see, the weather was continuing it's fine & settled theme. We were all glad of a light northerly breeze which as helping to keep us cool!

National three peaks challenges can be done from either south to North starting with Snowdon in Wales and finishing on Ben Nevis in Scotland - the only snag with doing them this way is that as you get progressively more tired, the climbs become longer! Therefore, doing the challenge from north to south around makes more sense.

Our group today started at 15:40 and we arrived at the summit of Ben Nevis at 19:20. Four & a half hours is the average time for this arduous climb involving 2704 metres of ascent/descent and a round trip of 17 kilometres so they didn't do badly. However - they still had Scafell Pike & Snowdon to do - all within 24 hours!

Photo three sees Iain's group on top of "The Ben". As can be seen in both photos two & three, there was still quite a lot of snow up here; and despite the sunshine, the air temperature was close to freezing - but of course this is Britain's highest mountain at 1344 metres/4406 feet high!

It used to be reckoned that if Ben Nevis was another 500 feet/152.4 metres higher, then it would be covered in a glacial icecap. With the advent of global warming theories, "The Ben" would probably need to be a bit higher than that now, but this is still a serious mountain even in Summer; and novices should take care and be prepared and able to deal with poor visibility and winter conditions at the top.

People still die on this mountain fairly frequently - so if in doubt, hire the services of a Mountain Walking Leader or Mountaineering Instructor to get you safely to the summit and back down again!


Our last photo from this post about guiding on a National Three Peaks Challenge was taken as the group began their descent from "the Ben's" summit plateau.

We were looking out west down to Loch Linnhe with its terminal westerly arm - Loch Eil, running towards the sun; and away in the distance can be seen the sea. This was another perfect and clear day and the views extended out west as far as as the Rhum Cuillin and the Skye Cuillin - the very distant mountain ranges visible beyond everything else.

Kendal Mountaineering Services do not offer National Three Peak Challenges as part of our services, but we do provide Winter Climbing Courses on Ben Nevis and elsewhere in Scotland and we can provide you with guided ascents of Scafell Pike here in The Lake District. Contact us here if you are interested in either option. We look forward to working with you.

Guiding on The Cuillin Ridge. May 4th, 2017. The Am Bastier Tooth and Am Basteir via Lota Corrie Route.

After a rest day on Wednesday, Iain Steve and Jon met for one last time at Sligachan for the final objective of the pairs three days on the Cuillin Ridge - an ascent of Am Basteir via Lota Corrie Route and the Am Basteir Tooth.

As with the previous three days, the weather dawned hot and sunny and only a slight breeze and everything, everywhere, bone dry - just perfect for our final day on the ridge. Photo one saw us approaching Coire a' Bhastier after only and hour & a half - all "going well". Our objectives are on the skyline in the middle of the photo to the left of Steve.

A little over an hour later, we had reached and then descended beyond the Bealach Nan Lice - the col between Am Basteir Tooth and Sgurr a' Fionn Coire, into the head of Lota Corrie.

The guide describes the entry to Lota Corrie Route as a ramp of light coloured rock reached just before arriving at the lowest part of the cliff on that side. There is also a quite obvious cairn marking the foot of the climb.

After some lunch, Iain set off up the climb which is in fact, a basalt dyke forming a chimney leading all the way to the top of the tooth.

Whilst Lota Corrie Route is described as a moderate climb, Iain felt the route was only grade three scrambling although there was a lot of loose rock in the bed of the gully so, we pitched it all the way. Photo two is taken at the top of a steep chimney. One further pitch led us on to the "root" of the Am Basteir Tooth.

Photo three sees Steve & Jon just below the highest point on the Am Basteir Tooth. Although this looks fearsome from below, the top of the tooth is a gently sloping ramp. However when you look over the edge, it really does feel like a long way down to the screes below and it is easy to imagine how exposed one might feel when arriving here via Naismith's Route (a V Diff rock climb). In fact, a pair arrived with us just then - having climbed that route as part of their two day Cuillin Ridge Traverse.

This was the first time Iain had been to the top o the Am Basteir Tooth, so today was as much of an adventure for him as it was the others.

In the background in photo three, the summit rocks of Am Basteir rear above us; and according to the guidebook, getting there is via a "tricky" climb above an overhanging chimney - also graded at V Diff. It was now time to go and have a look at this!

Photo four looks down on Steve & Jon securely anchored on a stance below this tricky climb.

Getting there was easy enough. We scrambled back down the tooth and climbed back up and round right into a gully (lower left in this photo) leading up to the stance with a wall above.

It was clear to see that going via the overhanging chimney was the easiest way up this wall which completely barred access to the summit of Am Basteir; and it turned out to be remarkably easy to get up. Mind you - it wasn't a place to slip as there were no decent running belays anywhere on it! On a wet day, this would be a serious place to be.

Iain made sure that Steve & Jon saw how he had climbed it; and they followed - with ease! All that remained was about 15 foot of easy scrambling to the summit of Am Basteir.

Photo five sees a very satisfied pair of clients on the summit of Am Basteir - their fifth & final Cuillin Ridge Munro of the week.

Beyond the guys is the summit of Sgurr Nan Gillean which is the last Munro summit to be traversed if one is traversing The Cuillin Ridge from south to north. Steve climbed it in 2014 with Iain, Jon has yet to reach it's summit.

From here, we descended easier slopes going via the "bad step" and arriving at the Bealach a' Bhastier at around 15:30. Very good timing!

A further two hours would see us arrive back at the vehicles at the Sligachan Hotel. On  the walk back out, Iain couldn't resist taking a photo of the pair in the lower part of Coire a' Bhasteir with the Pinnacle Ridge skyline of Sgurr Nan Gillean forming the backdrop - a classic Cuillin photograph and also a "must do" tick for anyone wishing to enjoy a true mountaineering excursion in The Cuillins.

So that was it, the end of three perfect mountaineering days on the best mountain ridge in the UK and sadly for Iain, the end of another annual week spent in this idyllic place; and the weather just couldn't have been better! We'll be returning to Skye next May for our annual Cuillin Ridge Traverse Trip and if you wish to join us and be guided by Iain on the Cuillin Ridge whilst enjoying the comfort and hospitality offered by our accommodation then contact us here. The price next year is likely to be £475 per person for seven nights self catering accommodation and four days guiding on the ridge with Iain. We look forward to working with you!