ML Plans

After a meeting with Jon earlier this week, tentative plans are in place to complete the ML by February half term 2010.

The first aid course is pencilled in for this October, as well as the official ML Training course, and, ultimately, as indicated, the official ML Assessment will be in February next year.

It may be overly-ambitious, but we have built in flexibility, and, if our progress is too slow, we can simply postpone the Assessment date.

The biggest issue at the moment seems to be finding groups to lead in the mountains, as group work is an important part of logbook experience. However, we know some people…

Anyone interested in getting into the mountains?

A Gill, a Beck and a Fell

Today I bought a house and climbed a mountain. It was a good day.

The family atop Haycock

I was out with the family again in Wasdale. This time we climbed Haycock from Greendale, descending along the lovely valley containing Nether Beck.

It was satisfying to explore a relatively unknown area – previous outings have mainly been in the Mosedale or Lingmell directions, as well as the south eastern side of Wast Water. The two valleys of Greendale and Nether Beck were quiet and still, and it was hard not to linger by Greendale and Scoat Tarns.

Descending to the serene Scoat Tarn

The relatively good weather made it fun to identify the various, small crags that are marked on the OS map. Probably not of excellent rocking climbing standard, they provide a diversion for the exploratory eye.

One day I should like to explore the crags fully and scramble through them extensively. However, besides the crags and tarns, I was most taken by a solitary tree between Scoat Tarn and Little Lad Crag. When you look for trees in the higher reaches of the fells, you notice they are conspicuous by their absence, but this one was conspicuous.

A solitary tree with Seatallen in the background

The fells were in all their glory today, making for good photo opportunities:

Great End Girdle

Today I was out with family and friends in the Lake District, aiming to take in Glaramara from Wasdale Head. However, because of different factors, it turned into a tenuous Great End circumference. Technically, it wasn’t a girdle, but the title is attractive!

It couldn’t have been more different from Dartmoor a few weeks ago. Away from the endless bogs and mires, the terrain was much more distinct, which aided navigation, but also hugely increased the sense of mountain drama. The weather was fair with sunny spells, and higher up, in the low cloud, there was drizzle.

After lunch at Styhead I thought the day would be a write off, as most of the party turned back, because of problems keeping my three-month old nephew warm. However, that, combined with some other interesting happenings, made for a formational day overall, which I am now happy to count as a ‘Quality Mountain Day‘.

Three things were noteworthy:

1. A walking party that includes a young baby introduces extra responsibilities on the leader. Babies are unable to regulate their temperature, and naturally exude heat from their skin as a heating mechanism. A leader needs to ensure that a baby is as well equipped and cared for as any other adult or ‘normal’ member of the party.

2. As ever, it is imperative to communicate plans and actions clearly and comprehensibly to members of the party. Although a leader may be clear personally about what is going on and what is required, as soon as uncertainty becomes evident among the party, this should quickly be addressed.

3. A radio can be a useful piece of equipment to a leader, particularly in a large party that gets strung out. Communication between leaders is equally as important as that between leader and party member. I was pleasantly surprised to see someone with a walkie-talkie, whether for leadership or safety purposes.

4. Although there may be accepted techniques for tackling steep, rocky terrain, such as turning face-in to the slope to descend, this is no guarantee that each individual in a party will necessarily adopt it. Sometimes it is necessary to introduce a technique as well as help personally in situations, giving an individual the confidence to adopt a technique in the future that he is not yet secure with.

Ultimately, we didn’t reach the objective of Glaramara or Scafell Pike – the latter became the secondary one. Instead, we ascended through the lovely Calf Cove, dipping down again to the Corridor Route and picking up the path beside Piers Gill. The damp, precipitous depths of the Gill were eerily enticing, and a trap for unwary walkers descending from Scafell Pike.

Looking into the Mirk of Piers Gill

At the Hill of the Stone Prisons

Whilst walking over Dartmoor last month, I was vividly reminded of a set of children’s books I used to read when younger. Although over 30 years old now, the Flightpath to Reading series, written by Sheila K. McCullagh, depict a remarkably similar landscape to Dartmoor.

Tim and the Hidden People: At the Hill of the Stone Prisons captures the same broodiness of the dark, foreboding tors, but in a fantasy land. At times on Dartmoor, it was easy to imagine the rocks suddenly lumbering to life, threatening us with huge stone clubs, such was the heavy atmosphere at times.

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