All photo's are Copyright of Scott Swalling or the tagged Photographer. (Background photo Scott Swalling Photography).

About Me:

24Hr MTBike racer and general bike rider, climber and mountaineer. Good coffee drinker and cake eater (any cake, seriously, don't leave your cake laying around). Also, I like to try new things that challenge me.

Monday, 26 May 2008

Summer Mountain Leader Training – Weekend 2, Day 2

(Continued from Weekend 2, Day 1)

The next morning we were up, cooked and ate, all in a civil manner as we did not have to rush today. We broke camp and then de-briefed the events of the night before.  During this de-brief a few things would be learnt and no-one person was to blame, but certainly having the confidence to talk up when you think things are going a bit wrong is certainly a very good thing to do.

If Giles had said something at the point when he had noticed the error or I when I was not entirely convinced we were on the right path, we may well have not incurred the error.  Live and learn!

Live and learn we did. We saddled up, Ant given the first leg of the day’s navigation and off we set.  I without a map as I am super hardcore and was using the inner pigeon.......oh, and I couldn’t find the other map anywhere I looked to buy one.

Ant landed us on the first contour point set by Stuart, after we had spotted the other group who would have a similar heading as us and we would see a few times before returning to the “start point” of the previous day.

Andy was up next and off we set, me only occasional looking at a map, trying my best to follow the contours, taking the occasional bearing, noting my altimeter and noting d’jounrey.  ;-)  We contoured under a large crag eventually arriving at a v-shaped contour and a Skylarks nest (to be confirmed).  Everyone pointed to where they thought we were. I had decided we were elsewhere and convinced Giles of this.

This time we spoke up, I sighted my reasons why to Stuart and then Giles did.  Then Giles was asked to prove it by taking us to the point we thought we would see around a significant high point and crag. We trundle off and found the dog leg in a river at the exact point and over the exact journey we had identified.

Andy, now relocated us to the exact point we needed to be perfectly and it would be Toby’s turn to lead a leg.  I don’t know about the others, but I think with the change of maps from 1:25 000 to 1:50 000, I could have made the exact same error, just as easily, as constantly had to remind myself when I looked at someone’s map it was 1:50 000.

Toby got us successfully to the next point.  We discussed some more group management, first aid and then practiced some emergency stretcher bearing exercises.  It was nice to see some team work and group bonding occurring again so easily, in a clearly tired team.

I was given the task of getting us off the hill, whilst Toby proved that he was an excellent speaker and deeply knew his subject matter and provided some humorous anecdotes during his 5 minute talk.

We arrived back with everyone receiving their personal de-brief from the weekend and all said they were happy with it and expected the comments they received.

A successful weekend by all accounts, including Nikki surviving the Wayfarer of Death, Heather’s keys being retrieved in a timely manner and Toby surviving a night in a tent with me, the plucky duck and I feeling a little gaseous after the Mountain House meal.

A quick meal at the pub, some catch-up from everyone and then we all headed off.  Giles and I in convoy at least until Giles found fuel which he did without incident.  5.5 hrs later I found myself at home and looking forward to the final weekend in Wales.

It was great to get to know the crew a little bit more and I do enjoy spending time with them on the hill.

Summer Mountain Leader Training – Weekend 2, Day 1

The second of the 3 weekend training course with Adventure Unlimited would see everyone converge of Eskdale in The Lake District. Many would have a quick and easy drive from up around the various regions of the North.

However, two of us would experience the Bank Holiday carnage of the M6. Giles coming from South Wales and I from Surrey. Both leaving at around 1400 to avoid the traffic, I arrived somewhere around 2045 and Giles, sometime later. I arrived with a lust for blood of BMW drivers, caravan owners and those morons that insist on sitting in the outside lane at 60 MPH with no vehicle inside them.......WTF?. I know this is stereotyping, but if the boot fits.

Anyway, I arrived, struck camp fast and headed for the pub to find Toby and Nikki and several pints of Westons Cider and an Apple and Black Currant crumble that would be my dinner. Hmmm? Giles arrived, then Andy and Ant, a bit of a catch-up and then it was back to the campsite. Getting blinded by the head torch of either Heather or Michelle (we didn’t realise it was them at the time and I might have mumbled something about night vision, blinding and fecking) and identifying that Nikki walks like a BMW driver. :-p

We quickly caught up with Heather and Michelle, had a quiet laugh about the 3 girls squishing into one two man tent, a Quasar at that. Then it was off to bed with Toby bivvying about 6 feet from my tent.

Saturday morning came earlier than expected for Toby and I thanks to a kid wailing, a of mumble "quieten it with a brick" might have been heard from my tent, but either way Toby and I were awake at around 0500, Nikki as well thanks to a very clear blue sky.

We would all wake up and get organised to head off to start the training course, only to learn that Heather had locked her keys in the boot of her car. The routine ribbing ensued, a call to the RAC and Ian one of our instructors was made and we waited for the RAC. They arrived quickly and we were back on track.

We met Ian and Stuart at the meeting point split in to our teams, got briefed on what would happen this weekend and where we might camp and off we set.

We continued to complete micro navigational tasks as we headed for a camping destination, Green Hole, situated under Bowfell and Crinkle Crags. Discussions on wild camping and group management we had and I am sure everyone in our group, learnt something new.

We arrived at Green Hole, struck camp and lapped up the view, had a quick brief of what to expect on the night nav that we were setting out to do that night and then we had time to ourselves.

At about 1700, our camp became a beehive of activity, we cooked, ate and then sorted our rucksacks ready for the night nav. At roughly 1930, we set off, I took the first leg, straight up and onto the col between Bowfell and Crinkle Crags. Then Andy took us to a random point on Bowfell, which was well found. We then headed to Bowfell summit and watched the sun set (it was beautiful) and chatted about various things, including Giles and ladies underwear, again.

Next Giles had his leg of nav and did a superb job, putting us on the path nr Angle Tarn, then Toby landed us on Ore Gap. This would be our last success.

It was now dark and Stuart gave us a tricky nav task, and as a group, we messed it up. We hit the false point, being the first of two high points we wanted the second of. I was a little unsure that we had hit the right point and had stopped several times, but the group kept pushing on. Arriving at the false point, Giles mentioned he thought we were here, pointing at false point on map. Whilst the others took quick bearing on the next point that Stuart had given us and headed off. Giles and I discussed it, but the group was off again.

It would turn out that Giles was correct, and we made what Stuart referred to as a parallel error, in taking our bearing to the next point, from the false point we would run parallel to where we needed to be.

Eventually, Stuart showed us our error as we didn’t look like unf**king the f**k-up. Stuart naved us to the point we were meant to be at and then let us continue t nav off the hill and back to camp. We turned in for the night.

Summer Mountain Leader - Training Weekend 1

I recently decided to get my act together in regard to becoming an outdoor instructor and leader, with a long term goal of gaining the Mountain Instructor Award (MIA) and just maybe the Mountain Instructor Certificate (MIC).

Anyway, to get there I need to achieve a few short term goals, which I had put off until now.

On 10th/11th May 08, I attended the first weekend of a 3 weekend course run by Adventure Unlimited.  The training course is to gain my Summer Mountain Leader Certificate, which allows me to lead groups in summer conditions in the UK mountain regions, over certain terrain.

This first weekend would prove to be an excellent time to refresh old skills, learn some new skills, get out in The Peak District in very rare sun and to meet a group of new people, with very similar goals as myself.

The two days saw a lot of time concentrating of navigation and the environment we were in, a bit to do with group management and a fair amount of bonding over Giles love of wearing ladies underwear. :-p  He doesn’t really!

For myself and the others, I think the weekend went well.  I received, better than expected feedback and was quite happy that the areas I felt weaker in had improved or it was more a matter of personal confidence.

This is a very brief summary of that weekend a few weeks back, but I am getting old and my memory is not what it was.  However, I was left looking forward to the next training weekend, which would see us in The Lakes District, an area I love, but have not been able to get back to for nearly 2 years.