23 November 2009

Somebody call International Rescue

After the weekend I have just had I really could have done with one day to relax, chill out and get my head sorted with everything that is, and has been going on, since I started back at University in September. However, life must go on, and it seems that life is becoming more and more hectic each year. I suppose the one saving grace is that today instead of sitting in lectures, or sitting in an office, I was out on the crag 'climbing'.

Escaping the system by removing your harness. A sure fire way of scaring your second.

The weather wasn't conducive to a good climbing environment, but the show must go on - this seems to be a recurring theme in this post - so instead of climbing we focused, once again, on rope work that could be needed when climbing. In this particular instance it was rope work needed in rescue situations, hence the title of the post, so much of the time was spent hanging around on the rope, a little way off the ground, whilst your partner either escaped the system, hoisted you up the rock wall, or came and joined you so you could abseil back down to the ground together.

Getting cosy on a two person abseil.

It was a fun day and it did allow me some time to recollect my thoughts and regain my energy ready for another hectic period that I am sure will begin in only a few days time.

Good lines, stay safe and see you on the wet stuff...

22 November 2009

Another weekend with Wild River

Boats sat waiting for their owners to return from inspecting a rapid.

It's been a long time coming really, but this weekend was my 5* Assessment. I first set out on this road back in June 07 when I attended a training course at Canolfan Tryweryn. Then my Gap Year started and I never got around to getting an assessment in. The BCU then changed their scheme and I felt obliged to go on another training course in March 09 and now the assessment has been passed!

Mr. Wild River himself dropping down the first 4+ on the Water of Minnoch.

The assessment was provided by Sean McGrath of Wild River and it was a good weekend of paddling. I was slightly apprehensive that their would be too much water, after all the biblical rain we had had at the end of the working week, but we found ourselves starting out on the Upper Lune because both the Clough and Rawthey were too low. We did eventually finish up on the lower Clough late Saturday afternoon mind.

Same drop, different perspective and different paddler.

Sunday was a bit different however. We met early, drove for two hours, and went paddling on the Water of Minnoch, which is up north, over the other side of the border and is in fact not that far from Stranraer. This was my first time on the Water of Minnoch; I have heard a lot said about this river and I can see where it has all come from. It has to be some of the most continuous grade 4 I have paddled in a long while, with some interesting looking sections of 5 as well, which we walked around.

Somewhere on the Water of Minnoch.

Like I said, I passed the assessment. I am sure I must have scraped through by the skin of my teeth: throughout the whole weekend I didn't feel that my personal performance or my leadership performance was as good as it could have been. So even though I now have that extra bit of paper I still need to get out in my boat and put everything into practice more often so when I next come around to a kayaking assessment I can actually enjoy myself instead of worrying about my chances of passing.

Good lines, stay safe and see you on the wet stuff...

20 November 2009

Levels: High (Honky Tonky Rag Time)

You'd have to be pretty dim to not know that Cumbria is on a full scale flood alert. Carlisle seems to have got off lightly compared to other Cumbrian towns like Cockermouth and Workington, where bridges have been washed away by the flood waters.

The university decided to cancel lectures today, once I had driven the 19 miles to campus, as they decided that it was a bit dangerous to be travelling in the county. This did give me the opportunity to get some pictures of the impressive flooding around Carlisle. Obviously the improvements in 2006, after the 2005 flooding, have worked as it seems that the water is sitting in the fields rather than in people's front room.

Eden Bridge, Carlisle. You can just make out how high the river has been.

Looking upstream from Rickerby Park.

Looking downstream to Eden Bridge, Carlisle. The river is usually flowing through the middle two arches.

Looking upstream from Eden Bridge, Carlisle.

Looking across playing fields to the Memorial Bridge over the River Eden.

The River Petteril, which is about 100m away from my house, out of its banks.

This weekend is my 5* Assessment. As far as I know it's still going ahead, but I wouldn't be surprised if it got rearranged; it seems a bit disrespectful to be out on the rivers, putting ourselves in danger, whilst the emergency services are trying to keep people safe from the torrents.

Good lines, stay safe and see you on the wet stuff...

18 November 2009

In the morning...

On the 2.5km walk-in for the quick paddle back down to Mungrisedale.

I got a phone call yesterday as it was raining cats and dogs asking if I would be boating today (Wednesday). I wanted to say: "yes," however I had an afternoon lecture in Training and Coaching for Climbing so was reluctant to sign up for a paddling trip so I hung up after making it clear that I had to be back on campus at 1pm.

Somewhere on the log flume ride back down to civilisation.

Later on that evening I got a text saying we'd meet at 9am in Penrith and I agreed to this in the knowledge that if we stayed local I could easily make it back to campus for a spot of lecturing. Wednesday obviously came along, as it usually follows Tuesday, and we had a moving rendezvous on the A66 to save time and were soon looking over the bridge at Mungrisedale to find a gushing torrent heading downstream on the Glenderamackin.

The last drop in Mungrisedale just before you get off the river.

We kitted up quickly, I donned the new 2009 Typhoon Drysuit, with Adidas 'chav' stripes, and set off on foot, boats on our backs, in the direction of Scales Tarn and Sharp Edge. After a long slog up hill we threw the boats down to the river bank and headed off down the log flume ride back into Mungrisedale.

More pictures of November's beck bashing missions can be found here.

Good lines, stay safe and see you on the wet stuff...

16 November 2009

Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it

Is what the Dalai Lama once said and working on that logic I must be succeeding right now; I have had to give up a lot of my free time because of the addiction I have developed, through a University module, for climbing training.

I'm now into the fifth week of training and there have been some amazing improvements in my overall climbing strength, power and fitness, but this has come at a price. I have spent little time in a boat or on the fells, but on reflection this has not been an annoyance. What has been an annoyance is the fact that I don't have enough free time to fit everything in: training, paddling and walking.

The theory behing a lot of my training has come from Eric J. Horst's book Training for Climbing, which has been a great help, and through reading this, experimenting with my own ideas and chatting with other climbers I have now found the ideal session structure:
  • 20 minutes of continuous climbing as a warm up followed by a 20 minute rest
  • 20 minutes of movement skills followed by a 20 minute rest
  • 20 minutes of performance climbing followed by a 10 minute rest
  • Some form of strength or power exercises broken up by five minutes rest
  • A final 10 minute rest before ten minutes of continuous climbing as a cool down.
Most of these sessions are implemented whilst wearing a weight belt weighing in at roughly 5kg. This idea came from Horst's book and it is quite a basic principle really: if I develop my strength and power whilst wearing an additional 5kg I'll be stronger and more powerful when I remove the extra weight as my body will have come accustomed to pulling an extra 5kg.

I suppose all this training is in preparation for next year's summer project, but I am looking at getting out in the Christmas holidays to tick off a lot of the preparatory routes and problems I highlighted the other week before starting another phase of training so don't worry, there will be some interesting pictures and posts coming at some point. In fact there could be some next weekend as I've eventually got round to sitting my 5* Assessment. It's with Wild River so it is bound to be one good weekend of grade 3/4 boating.

Good lines, stay safe and see you on the wet stuff...

09 November 2009

You wouldn't think...

Setting off on Bilberry Buttress (VS 4c).

That it was nearly the middle of November. I was out climbing down in the Langdales on Raven Crag Buttresses today with the university. It was one of the best days climbing I've had in a long while. We ticked off two multi-pitch routes during the day and climbed these in groups of three so we could practice client management and such like on big, long routes. I think the pictures do the day more justice than any words could.

On the first pitch of Bilberry Buttress (VS 4c).

Looking down the Langdale Valley.

Belaying at the top of the second pitch of Saverneck (S, 4a).

Heading for home after an amazing day.

More pictures can be found here.

Good lines, stay safe and see you on the wet stuff...

02 November 2009

A couple of G's...

End of the World, Glenridding Beck.

After all I said in my last post on Saturday, the very next day comes and I wish I could be out boating. Typical. On Sunday it seemed that the heavens had opened for a good twelve hours and from the state of my phone inbox and missed calls register the Lakes was going off. However, I couldn't join anyone on any of their boating missions; I was inside climbing away whilst planning my training plan more thoroughly for next year's project. I was able to get out today, with paddle in hand, though.

Getting in below End in the World.

Having decided that everything would be off the scale I opened the guidebook, picked a beck I had never done before and decided that would be where we started our day. However, my logic was a bit flawed as when we pulled up at the top of Glenridding Beck there wasn't as much water as we had hoped for. Not to worry; it meant we had to get in below the main event, End of the World, and just bash on downstream.

Somewhere on Glenridding Beck before Underworld.

It was all pretty much read and run from the boat, but we did get out a couple of times: once to sort a swim; and once more for an inspection of Underworld, which we eventually decided to walk as there were so many ifs, buts and maybes when it came to the staircase of falls.

A tight squeeze, Glenridding Beck.

Once finished up - conscience of the time; some of the crew had to be back for lectures at 3pm - we loaded the vehicles and sped off for a quick blast down a very full Greta. It was big and bouncy, quick and fun, but it was soon over. En-route back to Penrith we called in on Glenderamackin Beck on the hope that it was still going; it wasn't. So it was back home for tea and medals.

Good lines, stay safe and see you on the wet stuff...