Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Mountain scrambling skills training course in The Lake District. Langdale, August 15th & 19th 2011.


Next on the list of August work for Iain after his Open Canoe Foundation Course was a scrambling skills training course in The lake District for deputy headmaster Chris Owen who lives near Manchester.

Chris has been getting out on a number of grade one scrambles recently with a couple of mates. However, he felt that things were getting to the point where to progress; and keep each other safe, it was time to get some proper tuition in the techniques of scrambling ropework.

Chris found our website when browsing scrambling courses in The Lake District and liked what he saw. He contacted Iain expressing an interest in booking on to a scrambling skills training course with us.

Unfortunately, Chris could only attend the course on his own as non of his scrambling mates were able to join him, so Iain arranged a bespoke one on one scrambling skills training course for Chris which was just what he wanted.

During day one, we started off looking at the technique of "spotting" ie helping each other up & down easy scrambling ground by the means of holding feet in place on insecure foot placements or just by giving each other a push up or holding on to folks as they climb down a steep bit. Basic stuff - but new to Chris. We then followed this by getting the rope out and tying on/taking chest coils (photo one) and the technique of short roping ie moving together on easy scrambling ground.


The easy scrambling ground we used was the lower left hand rib of Tarn Crag in Langdale - just above stickle (Mill) Gill. This is a great place to learn scrambling techniques on what is only a bit of grade one scrambling ground.

If it all goes wrong, you won't slip far on here, but there are enough rocky bits to look at all aspsects of basic scrambling including spotting, short roping and basic anchors and belays.

In photo two Chris heads up an easy rock step before looking for; and finding a place to securely belay Iain up to him. The ground was such that Iain could follow Chris without concern and then evaluate which ever method Chris had chosen to belay him with. It was a good way for Chris to learn what belay techniques were appropriate and what were inappropriate for the various situations we found ourselves in.



Iain showed Chris the three main methods of belaying ie protecting your second with a tight rope whilst they climb something where it would be deemed that " the consequences of a slip could turn into something more serious".

In photo three Chris employs a direct belay - using the rope around a solid rock spike in such a way that the friction of the rope on rock provides the protection. The twist in the rope in Chris's hand also provides improved grip on the "dead rope" side of the belay. This method can be used either for belaying a scrambler up or lowering back down; and whilst on the lower part of Tarn Crag, we looked at methods for both ascent and descent.

We also looked at indirect or body belays - where you bring a person up (or down) a slope merely by wrapping the rope around your body and bracing with your feet. This technique must only be used for belaying people on easy parts of a scramble! Later, whilst on some grade two ground, we would look at the technique of semi-direct belays ie tying in to the anchor and belaying from the rope tie in loop on your harness with a belay plate. Does this all sound complicated? The pictures from this day are annotated with explanations as to what can be seen and why the particular technique is being used - have a look!

Anyway, after our morning learning techniques on easy ground, Iain took Chris up The Spur (grade two) on Tarn Crag to demonstrate how one would look after seconds on this sort of ground. He then allowed Chris lead the same route and gave Chris feedback on the techniques he used during his ascent of the route as the leader.

We were meant to use the next day (Tuesday) as a consolidation day with an intention to move across the valley to Piked Howe - a fine little grade two scramble. However, heavy rain the next morning made scrambling anywhere an unsavoury and unsafe proposition, so we rearranged the day for later in the week when the weather was better.

In photo four, Chris gets to grips with anchor placements on the first buttress of Piked Howe. Iain allowed Chris to lead the entire route and during this time Chris's confidence on rock improved greatly as did his belaying skills and his selection of appropriate belays for the scrambling ground we were on

On Friday, we put a scrambling ascent of Piked Howe behind us by 1pm so we had time to nip back over to Tarn Crag to have a go at East Rib - another fine grade two scramble; and photo five shows Chris leading off up the first pitch.

Chris led the three harder pitches of The East Rib with confidence and efficiency - placing running belays where appropriate and using good belaying techniques to look after his second.

Iain feels that Chris now has the skills to progress on to grade two scrambling terrain with confidence and hopes that he doesn't hang around doing so. Our scrambling skills training courses in the Lake District make for great and safe learning experiences and you'll get a lot from a course with us - however, with regards to what you learn on the course, if you don't get out and practise soon after - you'll quickly lose those skills!



To discuss your requirements for a scrambling skills training course contact Iain at Kendal Mountaineering Services here. We are one of the Lake Districts premier providers of Scrambling Skills Training courses, Rock Climbing Skills Training courses and Navigation Skills training courses and we also offer winter skills and winter climbing courses too. We pride ourselves on teaching you the right techniques to go off in to the mountains and do things for yourselves, or if you fancy being guided up that classic Lake District scramble or rock route or even up a winter climb, give us a call!

We also run two annual guided trips to the Isle of Skye to do the Cuillin Ridge traverse. One in May and one in September each year. These include seven nights self catering accommodation and four days of guided scrambling on the famous Cuillin Ridge. These packages represent fantastic value for money and are a must for competent scramblers. The next one is May 2012 and will be running between the 19th & 26th. Cost £425 for the week.

1 comment:

chris said...

What an excellent 2 days. Iain provided a very professional and friendly course. The technical input was first rate, I got to act as lead and Iain provided a constructive analysis of my choices of route, protection and rope techniques. I started the course as a complete novice with gear, ropes etc and now am confident that I can lead on grade 2 s safely. The photo log with notes is a really nice touch which acts both a reminder and a great souvenir.
Many thanks Iain