Wednesday, 5 November 2014

The Grit Season Has Arrived

So over the last few days the snowflake picture has appeared on the temperature gauge in my car. Four degrees celsius, and dropping in the valleys. The skies have been blue and hills have their Autumnal coat on. I passed my Mountain Instructor Award assessment at Plas y Brenin last week, so am keen to chill at the crag rather than focusing on the MIA syllabus. So bouldering it is, and a chance just to enjoy the movement and simplicity of climbing on the grit in great condition.

I headed to Embsay and met up with Rob ready to march up the hill with the pads to Crookrise. I had been a few years since I'd been to Crookrise, and having only climbed routes in the past, I was keen to sample the bouldering. The sun shone, the friction was great and the problems were nails. I definitely have a few reasons to head back up there this winter!

Rob on Sadcocs Wall f6B+ Crookrise

Olly on Barry King Size f7A

Rob on Barry King Size f7A

Rob on Hovis Super Direct f7A

Olly on Crease Direct Start f6A

Sunday, 2 November 2014

The Stress of Assessments

Since finishing my post at Low Mill Outdoor Centre at the end of June, I have had one focus; MIA assessment. The Mountaineering Instructor Award trains and assesses candidates in the skills required for instructing mountaineering, including all aspects of summer rock climbing, including the coaching of lead climbing, and scrambling (Mountain Training, 2014). I have spent a lot of time preparing myself for assessment through the summer taking people multi pitch climbing, scrambling and teaching climbing. 

Last sunday I headed to Plas y Brenin ready for assessment to start on the Monday. I'm afraid I don't have many pictures from the week as I was too busy to take many. Monday was personal climbing day and we headed to a wet Tremadog, and partnered with Dave we climbed One Step in the Clouds and Merlin under the watchful eye of Tim Neill. The routes were pretty sopping or gippy as Dave described them. Today was a day to be slick and controlled despite the poor conditions and being quite gripped on a few occasions. 

Emily descending towards Crib Goch
With rain approaching from the South we climbed at the Great Orme for our improvised rescue/problem solving day. This day felt pretty stressful at the time, and I was quite flustered at the beginning of the day before settling down into it. 

Our mountain day was the best weather of the week, as we climbed up the shady Southern side of the Llanberis pass to Crib y Ddysgl and the Clogwyn y Person arete, a grade three scramble. I had Tim and Emily on my rope as I lead them up the route,with my focus on the fluidity of the climbing and not letting it become to much like a multi pitch route. From the top  we were treated to sunshine and Brocken Spectres. We made our way towards Crib Goch and Tim quickly lead Emily and I up the classic Reades Route before being traversing Crib Goch and descending to Pen y Pass. 
Tim heading towards Crib Goch
I met my mock clients, Lee and Charlotte, on thursday morning for a quick chat about their climbing and their aspirations for the day, before driving through the drizzle in search of dry rock and Tremadog. We climbed the two pitch Crack Slab, Lee's first multi pitch route, and descended by abseil down the Rio slab. This was Lee's first abseil since he was in the Scouts which proved no issue. Charlotte and I descended in a stacked set up, pulling the ropes and with a quick lunch headed round to Oberon a three pitch route avoiding the polished slab by the groove round to the right. Charlotte and Lee were brilliant clients and made great progression through the day despite the poor weather.
The Brocken Spectres followed us along Crib Goch
Just Friday morning navigation to go, up towards the Glyders from Pen y Pass. We each lead a couple of legs and worked on our teaching points and relocation whilst following blind. The weather was fair and windy, and we were quickly heading back to the Brenin for debriefs after a slick morning of nav. 

I passed and I am so chuffed and proud to be an MIA. All my handwork and time has been completely worth it, and I throughly enjoyed going the through the process, growing as a mountain instructor as my climbing developed. In hindsight the assessment was extremely chilled and the assessors were brilliant, with any stress completely self induced, nervous with anticipation each morning about the day ahead before relaxing into the day once we started and just doing what I do.