Rock climbing can give you a new challenge in life such as helping to overcome a fear of heights. Learning the techniques required to get you to the top can open up many new adventures along the way. Employing the services of a fully qualified mountaineering instructor will ensure that you safely learn the correct techniques to enjoy rock climbing for yourself. You may alternatively want to relax and be guided up some of the classic rock climbs to be found in the Lake District, Snowdonia or further afield.
Scrambling is often seen as the next step on from hill walking. Exploring rocky ridges and steeper buttresses can offer a new way to get to the top of your favourite mountains. If you are new to scrambling it may be worth considering a mountaineering instructor to help show you the way and introduce simple rope work and techniques to keep you safe on more exposed sections. The Mountain Instructor Award is the minimum qualification allowed to take people on graded scrambles where the use of a rope may be required in the UK.
If you want to improve your navigation skills, a mountaineering instructor will be able to coach you in taking a compass bearing and following it accurately using pacing and timing to find where you want to get to!
So next time you are planning a new adventure in the hills it might be time to hire the skills of a qualified mountaineering instructor to help you discover new places or learn the skills to get more from the mountains in your own time.
The British Mountaineering Council have produced this video to help explain what someone who holds the Mountain Instructor Award has to offer.
Mountaineering Instructor Award from team_BMC on Vimeo.
The Annual Outdoor Show took place recently at Friedrichshafen in Germany. All the major outdoor brands were there exhibiting their new products for next season. Kit is definitely getting lighter and shinier!
UKClimbing were there to report on the latest products and have published a comprehensive report on the show on their website. Click here to read about the award winners.
It is positive to see that helmet designers are really thinking about making helmets that people will want to wear when they go rock climbing or mountaineering.
The British Mountaineering Council (BMC) has just published a video to promote their current helmet campaign. You can watch it here. With modern helmets weighing as little as 250 grams we strongly recommend you consider wearing one for all rock climbing and mountaineering activities.
The first snow has fallen on the Lake District hills over the last few days. Up in the Cairngorms some of the mixed routes such as Stirling Bomber and Hoarmaster have been climbed already.
Last week at the BMC Lake District area meeting a debate was held on winter ethics in the Lake District. It was well attended and encouraged some lively discussion. This event was filmed and I will post a link to this once it becomes available.
The current Lake District Winter Climbs guidebook published jointly by the Fell & Rock Climbing Club (FRCC) and Cicerone has a very good section in the front on conditions which is well worth a read before planning your day out in the hills.
Everyone at the meeting was in agreement with the statement in the guidebook that “climbing (should only take place) when routes are fully frozen and in true winter condition” i.e. easier to climb using ice axes and crampons than without. It was suggested that even after walking all the way in, if you find your chosen climb not in suitable condition then you should walk away and leave it for another day to prevent damage to rare plants that may lie underneath the snow.
It is very easy now to find out what has been happening on the hill before you head out. The Mountain Weather Information Service (MWIS) produces a very comprehensive forecast every day and throughout winter the Lake District National Park Fell Top Assessors make their way to the top of Helvellyn to record the weather conditions at the summit which are then published on the weatherline website.
I will post up to date reports of what I find as I’m out and about in the fells over the coming months. In the mean time here are a few pictures from last season to inspire you!
When I first got into this outdoor stuff I quickly realized that a down jacket was a must-have piece of gear. That and some very chilly early starts in Scotland. I quickly came to own a down jacket but soon realized whilst great for standing around in it was not so good on the hill in our soggy climate. When I moved to the Lake District I soon acquired a synthetic filled jacket which is still going strong today having been to nearly 6000m in Ecuador, got soaked in Scotland and scraped up a couple of gritstone chimneys. Anyway, a few jackets down the line and I’m pretty happy with my current system of a hooded synthetic (primaloft) jacket which is awesome for Scottish winter belays and a down gillet which in the last couple of weeks I have been layering over the top to add extra insulation. Complementing this I also regularly use a synthetic gillet throughout the rest of the year to add core warmth when needed. The synthetic pieces have replaced bulky 200 weight fleeces (much lighter and more compressible when carried in a sack)and the down is still there for posing.
After three months of winter mountaineering I have spent the last couple of days reflecting on what went well and what I can improve on for next time. One thing that came up this year was the importance of having kit that fits you well, in particular your boots and your pack as this can vastly improve the comfort of your day out in the hills.
They say that saving a pound off your feet is equivalent to four pounds off your back!
Scarpa provides some very good information on its website on boot fitting.
It is also worth spending some time considering fitting your rucksack correctly so the weight is supported using the hip belt and chest strap to take the load off your shoulders.