November 2021

outdoor activities lake district and training

navigation training

November 2021 – Navigation Training, Canoeing & ow no…

 

Vouchers

Sorry, a blatant plug here… Don’t forget we sell Gift Vouchers for any of our activities. A half/full day, or even multiple days can be purchased. And remember if you’ve been with Rock n Ridge before then we will look after you price wise!

We can also send you a PDF that is easily printed off and made into, or put into a card to be given at Christmas time or whatever the occasion.

Gift Vouchers: Here

Navigation Training.

Well November started off well. Kicked off with some navigation training. Navigation is one of those skills that can take awhile to get the hang of, and then as is most things you can still refine and tweak 20 years on.

I remember learning myself – and being on the receiving end of some navigation training. I remember thinking it’s like voodoo, or black magic! How does it work, finding and locating a pinpoint of a blade of grass on an ordnance survey map?! And then through practice and having a ‘tool box’ of navigation techniques at your fingertips you can pull out and use at your disposal is pretty cool. Similar to all outdoor skills, you use what’s in your toolbox (a climber and their knots for example) at a chosen and preferred time.

Break it down

When you’re teaching a day or day’s navigation training, you have to be careful not to overload someone especially if this is brand new. It can be overwhelming at first, but hopefully through the years of doing this I chop it up as if you were to eat an elephant. Not they I have by the way, as their tusks would get caught in your teeth…and I love elephants 😉 ow and I’m pescetarian.

Canoe

Where were we..? Ahh yes November started good. There was the first river of the season completed. After all October/November is the start of the paddling season. Rivers go up, fishing rights are mostly off (had a fair share of angry fisherman just waiting to complain as you carefully meander by) Canoeing has transferable skills similar to navigation training. For a start you really need to plan your trip on an ordnance survey map. This helps obviously on where you are heading. But more importantly what to expect. For example, drops in elevation, sharp bends in the river, waterfalls and the canoeists dread…weirs. Which often have sharp spikes hidden under the water waiting for a tired and not paying much attention kayaker/canoeist!

Alright Cocker?!

The river Cocker is a 9km trip that runs from the bottom of Crummock water and terminates at Southwaite weir – is runnable funnily enough. The river carries on though into another days paddling but this is where I was planning to end. As the main problem is how do you get back to the car once you’ve finished? I now combine two activities into one and stash a bike at the finish and then it’s normally an enjoyable ride back to the start. But, but just remember especially at the start of the paddling season, to bring your bike lock keys with you in your canoe…doh!! Off I set with fading light after quickly checking the map for the quickest route back to the car – Just like navigation training again!

On yer bike…oops!

Luckily I hitched and managed to get two lifts back each bringing me nearer to the start. I actually forgot about hitching thinking ‘hmm not sure a bloke on his own will get picked up’ maybe it was the bare leg that put people off…but being in remote Cumbria and like minded outdoorsy type people passing it was pretty straightforward, and a nice nod to kindness in humans. Which with our busy day-to-day lives we can brush over or lose faith in. So all told a pretty enjoyable start to November but…

Ow no!

What does yours say? What does the line mean? Yes we tested positive for Covid. Since the outbreak first came to light, myself and my partner Becks have been super careful. We never socialise in big groups, I obviously work in the outdoors so plenty of space, and Becks teaches Yoga and Pilates, mostly online especially through the lockdown. But has a well-ventilated studio.

That said it’s here, and around us all from day to day. It laid me low for a good 12 days, Becks came off lighter than I did, but was left with a dry cough.

I decided to take it easy and not do any activities for at least three weeks, after all from what I have read and heard from friends it can still linger and when you think your right boom! It sets you back again.

The first day on the hill again was pretty special and I was apprehensive to see how much fitness I had, or I had lost. Luckily most of it was in my mind and all things considered felt strong and fit.

Links:

Navigation techniques: Here 

Nice little vid of some guys paddling the Cocker: Here

October 2021

outdoor activities lake district and training

October 2021 – ‘Biblical’ rain!

Scrambling Course

We kicked off with a four-day adventure Scrambling course: more information – Here

The work had come from a colleague who runs his own guiding business and this is sometimes how it goes in our industry. As well as running courses yourself, sometimes there is a limit of how many you can do time wise and physically wise as your on the go from the minute you meet the client until you get back into your car and head home.

The four-day scrambling course is a great opportunity to consolidate your learning. Firstly on day one there can be quite an overwhelming amount of information to take in. For example when to use the rope, and more importantly how to use it. So to have it spread over four days things start to sink in.  adventure

Adventure!

To add to the adventure of it all, the weather forecast for the week wasn’t great. In fact on two of the days there was ‘biblical’ rain forecast! Day one we were unable to cross the stream below Pavey Ark and so had to detour and consider an alternative to Jack’s Rake – A classic grade 1 scramble in the Lake District. Picture showing this above with Stickle tarn in the foreground. Indeed we did come back later in the week and get the tick when there was a break in the weather. It was the sort of weather where no waterproofs would be…waterproof if you know what I mean? But this adds to the realism and adventure of it all, and definitely makes you a stronger overall mountaineer.

Ground

Over the four days some ground was covered. I thought the weather was marginally looking better in the northern Lakes but this was too good to be true. But we did manage to climb the famous Cam Crag ridge, again a classic Lakeland scramble. As we topped out in the wild weather with visibility down to about ten metres, we covered some navigation tips and tricks, as this is an essential part of scrambling in the UK Mountains. It’s also equally important to be able to navigate to your start location too. As pin pointing exactly where a scramble starts can be very tricky. The second day wasn’t how I had planned it, but being the best weather of the week made it fit. Was an ascent of Middlefell Buttress in Langdale, quite probably one of the, if not thee best adventures and easy rock climbs in the valley. Furthermore it is topped off with a 40m abseil down the gully back to the start, a textbook way to end the scramble.

Scrambling Course – Rock Climbing Course

After the scrambling course, it was on to a four-day adventure rock climbing course. Fraser wanted to learn more about the art of climbing and how to go about doing things correctly. Again, the same as the scrambling course, this is super essential to get the grounding in so that you don’t learn bad habits that can stick with you for years.

For example I remember when I started, I was shown to make yourself safe at the top of a climb, you put a figure of eight in the rope on a bight and clipped it to your harness. Now although not unsafe, it’s just a time consuming knot to do in that situation. So therefore not appropriate. On the other hand, a clove hitch for example is adjustable, therefore saving time equalising yourself near the edge. adventure

Top roping/Bottom roping

Another topic he wanted to cover was bottom roping. This is where you rig a rope up at the top of a climb and belay your climbing partner at the base of the climb. Its advantages are the belayer can help the climber with tips and tricks on how to climb their chosen climb. We looked at some of the most common set up’s and ‘how to’ rig your ropes safely and efficiently.

Building belays

This skill was slowly feathered in over the four days. Belay building can be confusing so a slow build (no pun intended) I find is best. Every situation is different but if you know the main principles, you can then use it when building belays in different situations, and different types of rock.

Hill walking for confidence

The back end of October was a booking I had taken earlier on in the year. Andrea wanted to become more confident and independent in the hills, so she can have her own safe adventures. She had, had various aches and injuries over the years, which had knocked her confidence.

Originally we had planned a two-day course to cover various topics. For example, moving on steeper terrain. Crossing scree and lose rock. Light scrambling and techniques for this. Navigation for bad weather, were the main points to cover. Sadly we both decided to put the other day on ice and come back when better weather is here. In fact the day we postponed was again ‘biblical’ but this time caused many floods in the area, and some bridge damage! Definitely a good call to postpone. She was extremely grateful and although not the preferred option, sometimes it’s the best plan of attack, especially when you are trying to build confidence.

Links:

Scrambling advice/rack – Here 

Advice on Rock Climbing rack etc – Here 

September 2021

outdoor activities lake district and training

weissmies dri-hornli

family days

September 2021

 

The Weissmies

In September we had Deepan out with friend and business partner Neil. Neil is a British Mountain Guide who splits his time between the UK and the Alps. Neil guides for Rock n Ridge and heads up our alpine section of the company.

Deepan had six days and was on a mission to climb as much rock and peaks as possible! Of course there was some acclimatisation to do before climbing these high peaks.

The hike up to the Almageller hut is useful in a number of ways. Firstly it gets your head into the surroundings. Dri Hornli Secondly it’s great for fitness and training in preparation for the climbing of the Weissmies and climbs like the Dri Hornli, which was on the cards. And thirdly it’s all topping up your acclimatisation fitness. And fourthly it’s a warm, comfortable place to stay with food and beverage!  The hut sits at 2,894m, and the Weissmies stands at 4,017m, which as you can see is a good place to acclimatise.

The next day was the push for the summit and the picture above shows ‘Deeps’ on the summit of the Weissmies! Well-done lads.

Dri Hornli

The Dri Hornli / Dri Hornli traverse is a classic AD ridge on the south ridge of the Weissmies. It’s a ½ / ¾ day rock climb, which is roped, of course to keep you safe at all times. The traverse is exposed in places and the climbing equates to about a 4a/4b rock climb in the UK. The pictures show ‘Deeps’ on the ridge of the Dri Hornli, with the ‘classic’ picture just below the crest of the mountain.

Meanwhile…

In addition to the fantastic adventures that were going on in the Alps. Someone has to hold the fort back home, and September was a busy month here. Lot’s of Canyoning and Ghyll Scrambling, but some interesting multi pitch climbing work came in. The family wanted some rock climbing up near or around Edinburgh. After scouring the climbing guidebooks for a while, I came up with a place called Traprain Law. I’ve never heard, or been here but when I arrived the day before to check things out it looked promising.  Dri Hornli Weissmies

The weather was mega for their day luckily. So we made full use of this and got to work climbing as much as possible. The kids were great, and were keen. After all of the climbs they got to abseil off the rock back down to the ground, which is always a buzz for new climbers. Rock Climbing courses Here

Climbing

In addition to climbing in Scotland, there were people wanting days out in the Lakes. Jack and friend Olly were two climbers – Olly being relatively new to the sport but keen. Jack had done a fair share of climbing before but wanted to progress and take it further. He had climbed out in the Alps before, and so was telling him about the Dri Hornli and the Weissmies trips that were happening. The Dri Hornli is one that he had always wanted to do so that lit the fire for inspiration and alpine dreaming! Besides lots of rock climbing, equally important is looking at the safety side of things. So building belays, anchor selection, stance management and simple rescue scenarios were covered throughout their day. Jack’s words were ‘massively beneficial’ to his learning so that felt good.

Alpine Courses

If you require any further information on any of our courses, please get in touch. Besides the Dri Hornli and the Weissmies, Rock n Ridge covers ANY peak in the Alps and can sort out a custom trip out for individuals/small groups.

There will be more info about the Alps section soon, and eventually will be revamping this side as it’s a side of the business not many clients know about, but the conversation often gets around to the Alps and trips etc.

You can find more information on our alpine section Here

Links:

Preparing for the Alps booklet – Here 

 

 

 

June 2021

outdoor activities lake district and training

June 2021

 

Kids climbing days

June was a cracking month weather wise. Combined with the holidays there were lots of kids climbing days out.

Kids climbing is always fun as you just never know how the day will ‘pan’ out. I normally find that once you light the touch paper – climbing, or scrambling or anything else outdoor orientated, then the activity comes alive. Of course the kids need to be on board with it too to make it work. Likewise with many years of working for the Outward Bound trust, it can be like herding cats. 😉 You can find some more information on our climbing days here.

Activities kids climbing

Andy’s family made a couple of visits to the Lakes. They too were looking for some adventure days out. One of the activities had to be some climbing with his kids – Harry, Thomas and Elsie. As they sometimes say ‘it’s a small world’ and I too use to live in Otley a good few years back. I was actually brought up about 5 miles away so know the area very well.

We had done some Canyoning before with them, which they loved, so this time I had decided for some Scrambling followed by some Rock Climbing.

Andy also wanted to look at some rope work so that in the future, he may use it to safe guard the kids whilst scrambling amongst the rocks and outcrops, possibly back in his home town of Otley in Yorkshire.  More on Otley later…kids climbing

The finest crag on the planet

Besides kids climbing, I made a short trip to see family and nip into one if not thee, finest bouldering crags known – IMO – That is Caley crags. Caley is situated above the market town of Otley. A large and steep hill called Pool Bank leads you up to the top (use to cycle and run this a lot in the past) From there it’s a short walk to some amazing problems* situated in beautiful surroundings. This is probably the nearest thing we have to Fontainebleau, which sits outside of Paris, and too is utterly amazing.

On the government-climbing grant, I spent many days and what would turn into many years bouldering and climbing on the rocks.  The picture in the gallery is called one step above the clouds, and is a super problem that carries on up the wall above where I am and tops out in the clouds! I’ve probably climbed this 40/50 times over the years and actually remember a foggy wintery day topping out into mist…which felt like clouds 😉

  • Problems – To a boulderer each piece of rock or stone may have as many as 10 to fifteen ways up it. Therefore each boulder is unique and individual. So we call each way up a ‘problem’

Group days kids climbing

The reconnaissance of the Snowdon horseshoe by Deepan and myself the month before was the plan for the group we had arranged to meet and do a two day activity training weekend in preparation for their upcoming Alps trip with Rock n Ridge. Sadly in the end this did not go ahead due to Covid. Nevertheless no training is wasted and we made full use of the weekend. Crib Goch and Snowdon on day one. And Rock Climbing on day two. The weather was scorching and finding some shade was the tricky part! In contrast to kids climbing, these days can be more competitive. One person climbs a route and of course their friend has to do it. It’s all great fun and morale was high and the support from the group was strong.

After the climbing day we all said farewell and it was back up to the Lakes for me as in a day or two there was a family wanting a Canoe session followed by some ‘kids climbing’!

Now then, will it be touch paper, or cats…?

 

Links:

UKC – A list showing virtually all the climbing routes and ‘problems’ at Caley crags – Here

Beginners guide to bouldering – Here 

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May 2021

May 2021 Mostly Scrambling & Mountaineering... Firstly May historically for me has always been a month when I get away and play in the hills. Not for all the month,…

May 2021

outdoor activities lake district and training

May 2021

Mostly Scrambling & Mountaineering…

Firstly May historically for me has always been a month when I get away and play in the hills. Not for all the month, but for some of it. That said, many years back on the ‘government climbing grant’ aka the Dole, I spent a full month among the crags and boulders of Yorkshire – God’s own county, climbing every day. Bliss.

These days I run an outdoor business and so other people want to play too. Which is understandable as May for example in Scotland is mega – no midge! And good light, seasons turning a page and things are heading in the right direction after coming out of the ‘dark ages’ – winter – for the past 5 months.

Scrambling

So my man Deepan wanted to do a trip to North Wales. We had been chatting through the winter months about doing some of the Classics in that area. One of these ‘classics’ was Dolmen Ridge. Dolmen is a true classic. Apart from the start which is non descript, and a bit zig zaggy…the route itself is fabulous. Check the pic out in the blog, it has an ascending ramp line up to an airy vantage point. Deeps was loving this and several pictures and a good look later we pressed on. The ‘balls’ of the route is a corner that towers above you that’s itching to be climbed. Or in this case scrambled. The pitch itself is lovely and has ample holds for feet and hands just where you need them.

This pops you out below the Dolmen – link below to explain what one is if you don’t know – The final part involves some great scrambling following the ridge, which pops you out below the summit of the mountain.

Crib Goch

In addition to the Dolmen, Deeps wanted to do the Snowdon horseshoe, which is the horseshoe that takes in the mighty Crib Goch and Snowdon’s summit. It’s over 12k’s, which isn’t ridiculous in length, but the steep ascent of CG and the decent down to, and climb back up Lliwedd is pretty tough going. Luckily we had the weather on our side, so the winds on Crib Goch were good. Crib Goch although a grade 1, besides it’s low grade as a scramble – the starting point for all UK scrambles – it’s one not to be taken lightly as Deeps agreed. The scrambling for example, once you are on the ridge, you are on it! It’s not like Striding Edge on Helvellyn whereby you can by pass the exposed sections. This baby is all or nothing. Which as a mountaineer is what you want, and what drives you onto your next conquest/mission.

 

 MRT

May saw myself working with the Lochaber Scottish Mountain Rescue team. Six teams two per team, were paired up for a weekend of training, teaching, and having fun. Sadly it wasn’t the best weather, but we got on with it anyway and ticked some classics! Rock Climbing on the first day and Scrambling on the second. The Bowderstone Pinnacle in Borrowdale is what’s classed as a traditional Rock Climb. That generally means it’s easy for the grade, but in some ways it’s un grade able as you most likely have to do a ‘special’ move whilst on route. As I’ve done this route maybe 5 / 6 times before I new the ‘special’ move wasn’t that special and so they shouldn’t struggle too much. Things were going well, until the younger MRT trainee psyched himself out on what wasn’t the ‘special’ move but the move below which involves, some exposure and a small step to get established in the upper groove system. After 15 minutes of coaching it became apparent that he wouldn’t do it and so I had to lower him back down to the ground and just the two of us carried on.

This experience was equally important for his learning, and he said when we were all back together that although he was mad at himself for not getting up, he now knows what ‘pushes his buttons’ and areas that he needs to work on. After all being part of a MRT team can take you into all sorts of scenarios and uncomfortable comfort zones!

 Scrambling

The next day we headed to scramble Cam Crag Ridge a grade two in the beautiful Langstrath valley.

The weather was pissing it down sideways, but being Scottish it didn’t stop them!

We took our time as conditions dictated this, and we summited and headed back down to the valley to look at some anchor rigging, gear placements and then a well needed cup of tea.

Check out our Scrambling pages – Here!

Scrambling courses – Here

Napes scrambling

It wasn’t all work though and I managed a few solo trips to ‘suss’ out other climbing and scrambling areas for clients. So guess I contradicted myself there as it had a work focus in mind.

Napes Needle is the most iconic chunk of rock in the Lake District. First climbed in 1886 by Walter Parry Haskett Smith (just don’t get names like that no more) I wasn’t there for that climb but a scramble that is not far away from there and I’ve never done.

Arrowhead ridge scramble misses out the ridge (a fabulous route btw) and cuts in on the left hand edge further up the gully. I soloed this and then made a route up sticking to the crest the best I could. This leads you out onto the col below Great Gable/Westmorland crag. Whereby there is another great scramble called Pinnacle Ridge. Which made a logical link up to the previous scramble and hence the summit of Gable. A perfect day.

Links:

A Dolmen – Here

Dolmen video – A slightly panicked but realistic guy climbing it – Here

Napes Needle – Here

Rock n Ridge