Navigation, barefoot walking and multi-pitch climbing in the Lake District.

Pashley and I drove up to Langdale to meet Laura and Sarah for a day of navigation training. We enjoyed some great weather and fantastic views on a walk around the Langdale Pikes, whilst I taught the ladies all I could about contours, handrails, bearings, timing and pacing. My boots were off within a few minutes of leaving the road and Pashley soon followed suit.

Misson Impossible!

Misson Impossible!

Pashley, Laura and Sarah on Pavey Ark.

Pashley, Laura and Sarah on Pavey Ark.

The following day began with a luxuriously late start and a leisurely stroll up Lingmoor. I left my boots behind, Pashley’s boots were soon in her pack and Laura joined in too. Two more converts to the joys of barefooting in the mountains! Every step has a meaning, you feel a deep connection with the ground and nature gives you a free all-day reflexology treatment. Try it out…

The Langdale Pikes from Lingmoor.

The Langdale Pikes from Lingmoor.

As nature intended...

As nature intended...

Pashley and I said goodbye to Laura and Sarah after coffee and cake in Ambleside. Then we went to the Golden Rule for a pork pie and a pint. Back in Langdale, we ended the evening in the Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel and walked out out of the pub to find one of the most beautiful starry skies you could hope to see.

The night was just too good to miss so we packed bags with climbing gear, sleeping bags and mats, a stove, coffee and porridge oats. We walked along Mickleden and up Rossett Ghyll to sleep near the col and stare at the stars. The sunrise brought a warm and bright morning that we enjoyed over coffee and porridge. Simply sitting still and enjoying the view for hours was a pleasure.

Our bivvy site for the night and breakfast perch for the morning.

Our bivvy site for the night and breakfast perch for the morning.

We finally got moving at mid-day and walked up to the base of Bowfell Buttress to climb the classic route right up its centre. It may be polished but it’s still great fun and furnished with bundles of huge, positive handholds. We climbed the route in 5 pitches and it provided Pashley with a good opportunity to learn more about multi-pitch ropework and belays.

Bowfell Buttress

Bowfell Buttress

Climbing with full packs for the first time in a while was a good reminder of how it raises your centre of gravity and makes you feel very heavy indeed!

Pashley on the tricky traverse.

Pashley on the tricky traverse.

We reached the top of Bowfell and were greeted by a warm and orange sun low in the sky. The views that evening were wonderful…

Looking south from the summit of Bowfell.

Looking south from the summit of Bowfell.

Thanks to Andy Docker for this last photo. Here’s a link to Andy’s Flickr page. Take a look at the rest of his Bowfell sunset shots. They’re very good and you need your whole screen to really do them justice.

Posted: October 14th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Barefoot, Lake District, Mountain Walking, Multi Pitch Climbing, Navigation, Trad Climbing | No Comments »

Mountain navigation course in Snowdonia.

Tej and I drove Jodie and Veronika to North Wales for a 2-day navigation course in the mountains. The weather gave us a mixture of snow, rain, sunshine and cloud – a good balance for learning to navigate in poor visibility whilst enjoying the beautiful mountain scenery. It was a great weekend! Here’s what Jodie had to say afterwards:

“We really can’t thank you enough for the whole experience – both Veronika and I learned so much, it was exactly what we were looking for and more. It was pretty special wasn’t it! A massive thanks to both you and Tej. I
can’t wait to get back out there and practice everything I’ve learnt now.”

Ffynnon Lloer - our home for a night and a day.

Ffynnon Lloer - our home for a night and a day.

Jodie and Tej walking out of Cwm Lloer on the way to Carnedd Dafydd.

Jodie and Tej walking out of Cwm Lloer on the way to Carnedd Dafydd.

Tej, Paul, Jodie and Veronika on the summit of Carnedd Dafydd.

Tej, Paul, Veronika and Jodie on the summit of Carnedd Dafydd.

It was soon after this point that the cloud came in, more snow began to fall and we found ourselves in the perfect conditions for practicing navigation using a compass and pacing…

Posted: April 28th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Mountain Walking, Navigation, North Wales, Winter Walking | No Comments »

A night-time blizzard on Helvellyn.

Robin and I went on a night-time winter walk over Striding Edge, Helvellyn and Swirral Edge. A good deal of fresh snow had fallen in the Lakes which made it hard going on the way up to the long and narrow ridge of Striding Edge. The ridge itself was quite straightforward and the adventure really began once we were in the full force of the wind near Helvellyn’s summit. The visibility was very low, around five metres, and the blizzard was blowing snow everywhere. We found the summit shelter after a little searching and crouched below its wall to gain a brief rest from the cold wind and eat some food.

Some compass work and pacing brought us to the start of Swirral Edge. It is important to get this right in such poor visibility when the eastern edge of the mountain is covered in snow and bordered by a cornice. The initial descent to Swirral Edge drops off quite steeply and we didn’t want to drop into one of the steep corries either side of the ridge. Once on the ridge the navigation eased and a straightforward bearing from the col below Catstye Cam brought us to Red Tarn and lots of thigh-deep snow on the way back to Glenridding and the Traveller’s Rest.

It was a great opportunity to practice our navigation in difficult conditions before getting up to Scotland this winter…

Robin through the snow by Red Tarn.

Robin through the snow by Red Tarn.

Posted: December 30th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Lake District, Mountain Walking, Navigation, Winter Walking | No Comments »
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