Mountain Trainin Picture

Mountain Trainin Picture

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Single Pitch Supervising...

For the last 5 weeks I have spent each Tuesday doing climbing sessions at University. This has given me the opportunity to instruct University peers at a variety of venues including The DewerstoneSheeps TorLeigh Tor and Hound Tor.

During this time I have helped teach peers how to rig top and bottom rope systems, rig personal and group abseils, build belays, make use of natural, passive and active protection and introduce some students to lead climbing.

Matt belaying Dylan from the top of Hound Tor...

Lou Belaying from the top of Leigh Tor...
Until next time...

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Scotland 2014...

Once I returned from the Peak District I set off up to Scotland in order to bag a few mountain days...

Whilst in Scotland I managed to bag a day with a friend and also managed to bag a few solo mountain days. Along the way I also managed to tick off 5 more Munros.

These were:

Stob Coire Raineach (Buachaille Etive Beag)
Stob Dubh (Buachaille Etive Beag)
Cairn Dearg (Corrour)
Sgor Gaibhre
Beinn Na Lap



Hopefully it wont be long before I am back out in the hills ticking off more mountain days...

Peak District - July 2014

Well after a long delay I am back...

Myself and good friend Eric managed to fit in a climbing trip up to the Peak District. Over the course of two and a half days we managed to bag almost 100 routes between us. We visited the crags of Stanage, Burbage, Frogatt and then Stanage again..

Just a few of the routes which we managed to tick off includes:

Long Tall Sally - E1 5b
Valkyrie - HVS 5a
Three Pebble Slab - E1/HVS 5a

An excellent trip to a fantastic location. Hopefully we shall have another trip planned in the not so distant future...

Eric on a route at Stanage Popular...

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Sanday...

This Monday (June 30th 2014) just past I had the pleasure of working on Sanday, one of the Northern Orkney islands. Myself and Dave were working for Sanday Community School on behalf of Adelong.

The first channel...
Myself and Dave ran two coasteering sessions at whales point on the North West point of the island. We had some excellent weather with wall to wall sunshine and no wind. A perfect day for the two groups.

The first session we ran was for the S3 and S4 groups. During this session we spent roughly two hours travelling around the coast enjoying scrambles, open water swimming, a good swell and a a variety of jumps.



Perfect weather during session...
The second session we ran was for the S1 and S2 groups. Unfortunately the session was shorter, however we enjoyed having a higher tide and spent a large part of the session in a long channel which had some interesting jumps.

Swimming in the channel...
All in all an excellent day which was made all the better by the weather and two brilliant groups.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Old Man of Hoy...

At 5:30am I was awoken by my annoying iphone ringtone! The day was finally here. The day me and Nige had planned to climb the Old Man of Hoy. I jumped out of bed and looked out the window hoping to see some dry ground. Bone dry, perfect...

We quickly dispatched of tea, cereal bars and brioche rolls before leaving the Hoy hostel and driving down to Rackwick to begin the walk to the Old Man.

We set off from Rackwick and within an hour and a half we were at the base of the Old Man snacking away and sorting our gear out. From below, the stack seems much higher and wider than it does from the top of the cliff. An amazing view which only a climber has the pleasure of enjoying...

Old Man of Hoy from the base...
Once we had fueled up I set off up the 1st pitch and quickly reached the 'Gallery' and then belayed Nige up on second. The 1st pitch is a nice gentle jug fest which feels about v-diff.

Nige seconding the 1st pitch...
Once we were both on the gallery we sorted out the ropes and gear and immediately started the 2nd pitch, the crux. I set off down the bad step and was confronted with the 1st overhang. Clipping the old peg and placing a small cam I swung out and over the overhang and climbed in the deep square cut chimney. A good rest here before bridging up on smears and good hand holds before a final palming move to gain the final crack of the pitch. Rather than resting here I just pushed on and followed the crack to the niche belay where I let out a celebratory roar!
Myself below the 1st overhang on the crux pitch...
Once I had sorted out the ropes I started to belay Nige. It wasn't long before he had passed the overhangs and the chimney before scaling the final crack and reaching the niche belay. Looking rather relieved to have finished the pitch.

Myself on the top of the Old Man of Hoy...
We quickly exchanged the gear and I quickly climbed the next few pitches. The pitches were a series of connecting ledges which were rather green and full of fulmars happy to cover your clothes in oily vomit. The climbing here isn't great but more than makes up for this in adventure! 

Once we had finished the connecting ledge pitches we arrived at the base of the final corner pitch. An amazing looking pitch which would be a classic climb in its own right on any outcrop crag!

I quickly climbed the pitch feeling completely comfortable. Feeling more like an indoor climbing wall as every hold felt like a jug. Brilliant. I topped out and let out a victory cheer to the amusement of the spectators on the main cliff who had been constantly watching our progress. I then belayed Nige up and we were then applauded by the spectators. 

Nigel on the top of the Old Man of Hoy...
The 1st abseil from the Old Man...
Once at the top we searched in vain to find the summit logbook so I decided to leave my diary behind as a replacement. Ripping out the unnecessary pages we proudly entered our log on the 1st page and stashed the book under the summit rocks.

Once we had enjoyed being at the top we then began the long descent back to the base. After 3 abseils, vomiting fulmars, snagged ropes and a long walk we finally reached the hostel in one piece!

Once we got the customary photos beside the iconic sign outside of the Rackwick hostel we finally headed back through the glen towards the Hoy hostel to retrieve our kit and head for the ferry.

Once back on the 'Mainland' we were picked up by Dave who drove us back to Niges house where we had a well deserved celebratory beer...

After being on my wishlist for over a year I was proud to have finally climbed this iconic sea stack. One of the most, if not the most iconic climb in the British Isles. A true adventure and a good tick for the logbook.

Until next time...

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Orkney Outdoor learning programme 2014...

For the last few weeks I have been working on the Orkney Islands on behalf of Adelong Outdoor Education. During this time I have had the opportunity to work with a range of schools including Glaitness, St Andrews, Dounby, the Northern Isles Schools, Rousay School, Shapinsay and Firth and Evie.

The activities have been run in a variety of different locations throughout the islands with activities including coasteering, canoe sailing, abseiling and kayaking.

Below are a few pictures which have been taken whilst on session.


Canoe sailing on sandy loch with Glaitness school...


Canoe sailing on sandy loch with Glaitness school 2...


Coasteering at white hamars with Dounby school...


Coasteering at Yesnaby with Northern Isles Schools...


Coasteering at Yesnaby with Northern Isles Schools2...


Kayaking on Loch of Boardhouse with Northern Isles Schools...

Guernsey climbing and Yachting eXped...

Rather delayed but here are some photos from our trip back at the end of May 2014!








Thursday, 10 April 2014

The Cobbler...


As the weather was predicted to be sunny again, myself and Josh decided to head up for a day on the Cobbler . We got to Arrochar and headed straight up through the zig zag paths to reach the open pass with good time. As we made good pace we passed the Narnain Boulders and headed up the towards the North Peak and had a quick bite to eat. 
North (Right), Central and South peak (Left) of the Cobbler...
We made good progress and headed up towards the central peak and successfully 'threaded the needle' to reach the true summit of the Cobbler.

Josh on the Central summit...
                                          
                                            Myself and Josh on the ridge descent from the South peak...

Bennybeg with the siblings...

Jenni on her 1st outdoor climb since she was a young'un...
Now that I have a 2 week period free from work and lectures I decided that a a trip back to Bonnie Scotland would be on the cards. Perfect time to visit family and of course get some climbing/walking days logged.

I had only been home a few hours and had already planned to get some sport climbing done on the Tuesday (8th April). A chance to justify purchasing the new Scottish sport climbs guide book and to visit a new venue was not an opportunity I planned on wasting.

Josh on one of his 1st outdoor lead climbs...
So myself, Jenni and Josh made the 1 and a half hour drive to Benny Beg. Benny Beg is a cracking wee crag just 200 metres from a fantastic little cafe. What more could you ask for, eh..? The rock is quartz-dolerite and generally very solid. What the crag lacks in height (between 8 and 15 metres) it more than makes up for in a number of good quality routes. During the day we managed to bag around 11 routes between us whilst enjoying the wall to wall sunshine that was on offer at this south facing crag. Bliss.






South Devon Yachting...

Towards the end of last month (March) we managed to squeeze a sail in on one of the college yachts. Aspiration. We headed out from Noss Marina down through Dartmouth towards Berryhead and then back again. We were out testing our sea legs ahead of our yachting eXped to the channel islands at the end of May. Here is a quick video. Enjoy...




Friday, 21 March 2014

BMC FUNdamentals 1...

This past Thursday (20th March) I attended the BMC FUNdamentals of climbing 1 workshop. The workshop was run at the Quay Climbing centre by Guy Jarvis of Undercover Rock.

The FUNdamentals 1 workshop is one of the prerequisites for the new Foundation Coach award. Whereas the Foundation Coach training focuses on how to coach, the FUNdamentals 1 focuses on what to coach.

We started off the workshop with a power-point presentation and had discussions on various things such as Istvan Balyi's Long Term Athlete Development and the 10,000 hour/10 year concept. Istvan Balyi's Long Term Athlete Development is a model in which Balyi focuses on the long term development of individuals. In the simplest terms, the Long Term Athlete Development model is intended to focus on an individuals lifelong development in sport by focusing on a long term approach to maximising potential. The 10,000 hour/10 year concept was first coined by Anders Ericsson (1993). The concept focuses on the length of time in which an individual must spend practicing a certain skill before they can be accepted as an expert. Roughly 3 hours of deliberate practice daily amounts to 10 years. Hence the 10,000 hour/10 year theory.

Once we had finished the power-point, things became far more practical. We headed down to the climbing wall and spent some time focusing on warm ups and floor games which can be used prior to a coaching session to prepare individuals for climbing. We looked at the role pulse raisers and aerobic activities can be used at the start of a warm up to ensure that the blood is flowing around the body, muscles become pliable and the brain becomes more engaged and aware. We then looked at the second part of a warm up which was focusing on dynamic stretches such as hip rotations, leg swings and shoulder windmills. Once we had done this we looked at part three of a warm up. Specific moves for climbing. This can be done by using easy traverses and focusing on agility, balance and co-ordination.

Next up we played some wall games and focused on weight transfer, economy of movement and the role that the body's centre of gravity plays during specific climbing manoeuvre's. We climbed with blindfolds, no hands, balls in each of our hands, using only fingers and using only bolt holes. The latter was extremely difficult. We done each of these exercises on slab walls and vertical walls. Once this was done we analysed and gave feedback to our partners on each skill.

One area which was an ongoing theme throughout the whole workshop was the ABC's of climbing (Agility, balance and co-ordination). It is extremely important for coaches to be aware that when coaching juniors it is these fundamental areas which must be focused on. If an individual does not receive an adequate amount of input in these fundamental areas by the time they reach the age of 12 the window for training these areas effectively starts to close. An individual can still learn these afterwards but it becomes a much slower and harder process. This is why it is extremely important for us as coaches to develop these areas before focusing on techniques.

We also covered areas such as skill acquisition, cognitive development, emotional development and the use of correcting fundamental movement errors. However to write about all of this would constitute an in depth university standard assignment. Far beyond the scope of a standard blog post...

An extremely well run workshop by Guy to an extremely high standard.

I thoroughly recommend that any individual out there who coaches junior clubs and/or squads attends one of these workshops.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Climbing Wall Leading Award (CWLA) Training

This past Saturday (15th March) I attended a CWLA Training course which was based at the Quay Climbing Centre and run by the The Adventure Fitness Company. The CWLA is a qualification which allows instructors to teach lead climbing on both outdoor and indoor artificial climbing walls.

During the course we looked at the skills required by an instructor to effectively teach lead climbing. This included all participants taking both top rope and lead climbing falls in a safe environment and the use of dynamic belaying whilst belaying a lead climber. We also looked at safe clipping of quick-draws and the position the leader should be in when safely clipping. We then headed to the boulder room where we gave some scenarios to one another regarding areas of improvement and the measures that can be put in place to implement these areas. The last area of the syllabus that we covered was the effective use of rescues. We were given some rescue scenarios and talked through the procedures in place to ensure that a rescue is carried out effectively.

The Quay Climbing Centre...
A very well run course by Pen. I would highly recommend The Adventure Fitness Company for any individuals interested in attending a CWLA Training course.

Next up, assessment...

Sheeps Tor

During this spell of excellent weather that we are currently having it would be sacrilege to not get any outdoor climbing done!

On Thursday last week (13th March) myself and George headed up to Sheeps Tor to get our first day of outdoor (rock) climbing in for this year!

As the weather was wall to wall sunshine it was not surprising that the crag was very busy by the time we got there. This didn't phase us as we were keen to crack on  We both got kitted up and I quickly lead up Overhang Crack S 4a as George followed behind. Next up George lead Slanting Crack - Severe. Next up I lead Workers Wall - HS 4a.

Once we had lead a few routes we grabbed a few solos before we headed back down the hill and back to the car.

Myself soloing up Mushroom Wall - VS 4c...

George soloing up Slab Route - Diff...

Good first day out on rock. Hopefully more to come this year...

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Fiacaill Ridge...

Today the weather was a bit better than forecast so the plan was to make sure we got a good day in before we head home tomorrow (Friday).

We set off from the ski centre car park and made the long slog up the slope leading to the ridge proper. Once at the top we got kitted up with crampons and helmets before heading down past the notch before ascending the ridge. The snow was fairly deep and the ice was melting quicker than we were moving due to the mild temperature.

Myself, Andy and Sam on the Fiacaill Ridge...
We made good progress arriving at the top of the ridge by 11:30am! Once we were at the top we followed the ridge round to spot height 1176 metres and then round to spot height 1141 metres. Once here we descended the Fiacaill a Choire Chais back down to the ski centre car park for 'tea, cakes and medals'...

The Fiacaill Ridge from spot height 1176 metres...

Another good day in the bag before we head back down south tomorrow...

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Cairngorms 2014

So far we have spent 2 days out in the hills making the most of all the snow that has dumped the Cairngorms this season.

Day 1 (Monday) we spent the day fairly close to the ski centre. We ascended the Fiacaill a Choire Chais ridge and headed to the summit of Cairngorm. A first Munro for many of the group. After bagging the summit we headed down towards marquis' well where we had a quick lunch stop and made a small snow-hole. After this we headed for Ptarmigan restaurant and descended the path towards the ski centre car park.


Myself, Sam and Andy on the descent from Cairngorm. Fiacaill ridge in the background...

Day 2 (Tuesday) the weather was a bit more hardcore. On the way to the sugar bowl car park we had a half hour wait due to the road being closed as the snow fall in the morning was heavy. Once we finally arrived we instantly set off and headed for the Chalamain gap. Walking through the gap we had some severe wind, we even had to stop and get the goggles on. Once through the gap we played about on some slopes practicing our ice axe arrests. Once we had done this we had a quick look at through the Lairig Ghru before turning back. The walk back through the Chalamain Gap was a bit friendlier with very little wind. A quick stroll and we were back in the car park. 

Ben in the Chalamain gap...

Hopefully the weather is a bit friendlier tomorrow so we can enjoy another day out in the hills...

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Foundation Coach Training

Now that we are in the new year I now have time to finally follow up from my last blog post.
 
Towards the end of December I managed to run many coaching sessions at work. This was very beneficial to my junior clubs as I can see a steady progression in their personal development.

 Now that I have done a large amount of indoor climbing coaching I decided that it was time to attend a climbing coach training. Luckily for myself there was one running at Plymouth High Sports. The individual running the training course was Paul Smith. A renowned climbing coach and author of some very popular climbing books.

The training lasted a full day and covered a wide range of coaching topics such as learning styles, methods of coaching delivery, stages of motor learning and skill acquisition.


Holistic Observation...


The coaching award scheme is a new coaching concept and award delivered by approved mountain training providers. It is a worthwhile award for coaches who would like to develop their own coaching ability and to also give aspirant coaches an underlying knowledge of the key concepts of coaching.

Paul Smith is a coach and provider whom I would highly recommend. He can be contacted through his website at Rock and Water Adventures.

Paul smith is the author of both 'Climbing Games' and 'Top Tips for Climbing Coaches'.

Smith, P. (2009) Climbing Games. Caernarfon: Pesda Press.

Smith, P. (2009) Top Tips for Climbing Coaches. Caernarfon: Pesda Press.