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Way back in time before the onset of adulthood I enjoyed countless days heading into the hills of Yorkshire with nothing more than a squashed sandwich & youthful sense for adventure! Despite long past youthful and work commitments keeping me in the city, the sense of adventure and love for the outdoors never left me. After digging my boots out and returning to the hills I attended a number of courses to improve my hill knowledge and skill base, during one of these courses it was suggested I join the Mountain Leader Training scheme and was delighted go on to gain the MOUNTAIN LEADER Award in April 2012. As well as spending time on the hills and mountains of the UK I have also enjoyed trips to the Nepalese Himalaya, Swiss & French Alps, Mallorca’s Tramuntana, Andorran & French Pyrenees, Morocco’s High Atlas, Tanzania’s Mt Meru & Kilimanjaro, Argentinian & Chilean Patagonia and winter expeditions to Norway’s Hardangervidda. Since gaining the ML I have also gained the SINGLE PITCH AWARD, INTERNATIONAL MOUNTAIN LEADER AWARD and the WINTER MOUNTAIN LEADER AWARD. I am now enjoying working in a freelance role whilst trying to get out climbing as much as possible.

Saturday, 25 June 2016

Borrowdale - With Andy Swann (& 'The Lads')

 The past week I spent a couple of days climbing in the magnificent Borrowdale in the Lake District with Andy Swann of 'Grit, Track & Trail' and 'The Lads'. 'The Lads' being the dreaded midges! 😀
Tuesday - and I met up with Andy, who holds the MIA award and has been helping me improve my climbing technique and grade, to drive up to Borrowdale which is found south of Keswick in the Lake District.
 Even though I have the excuse of being a very late starter to climbing, I am still a little embarrassed to admit this was my first climbing trip to the Lakes. With the weather forecast to be fine I was more than looking forward to it.
 Leaving the vehicle in Grange we made our way on foot to 'Black Crag', which is a rhyolite (volcanic rock) crag with a number of multi pitch routes, through the surrounding woodland.
Unfortunately we were soon joined at the bottom of the crag by 'the lads', midges! Although I can accept that these tiny flying critters have their place in the food chain is there any need for so many of them to be in action at once, swarming over any bare flesh and leaving itchy little bites??? 😀😀 I had applied jungle formula insect spray containing the chemical and I swear I caught one licking it off my the back of my hand!
 I thought the rock was top drawer to climb and the routes we did (The Shroud VS 4c** & Troutdale Pinnacle Super Direct HVS 5a***) outstanding. Climbing alternate pitches gave me chance to practice not only my climbing but gear placements, rope work, building belays, and change over stages while accepting any tips and guidance on where anything could be improved from Andy (who has climbed a bit previously!).

Wednesday - we made the hour long walk in to 'Sergeant Crag Slabs' from Stonethwaite. The thought was to gain a little more height and be exposed to some stronger breeze which the midges can't handle, the bast@rds were there in force and battling the strong breeze 😀😫.
Andy taking extreme fashion measures to combat the midges!
But midges or not this again was a great crag. 'Friendly' rock, good gear placements and great routes.
 I seconded Andy on 'Lakeland Cragsman' (HVS 5a***), 'Terminator 2' (HVS 5a***), 'Between The Lines' (E1 5b**) before going back to 'Lakeland Cragsman' to lead it myself.
 Being keen to improve my grade I was happy to second the routes to gain some confidence. 
Summary - a quality couple of days!
I'm very aware how quickly I can fall into bad habits so to climb with Andy whilst also be given advice on best practice and  pointers as to where I can improve worked well in my 'sort of' training plan.

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