An amazing week spent working for World Extreme Medicine in arctic Norway on their Polar Medicine course. The training focused on giving medics the skills to move and operate safely in this enviroment as well as specific cold weather medical knowledge. We looked at nordic skiing, snow mobiling, dog sledding, snow shoeing, navigation, avalanche avoidance and cold water immersion. The majority of the time was spent out in the field including a 2 night snowholing expedition which corresponded with one of the best northern light shows of the year.
Last weeks adventure was Rob & Judes annual pilgrimage north of the border to sample some of Scotlands most iconic routes. The long range forecast wasn't looking promising but we perservered and initially headed for the Isle Of Arran and the amazing granite climbing on Cir Mhor. The worst of the weather appeared to be confined to the Saturday so we went for an extremely soggy scramble round Glen Sannox and over the summit of Goatfell. by Sunday it had all changed again and the next pulse of rain had arrived. Our search for dry rock eventually led us back to the Lake District and a sunny evening's climbing on the reliable Shepherds Crag. Shepherds Chimney (VS) and Monolith Crack (HVS) both provided good entertainment.
An early start on Monday saw us enjoying Irony (HVS) and Mandrake (HVS) on Quayfoot Buttress before yet more rain drove us back to Shepherds Cafe and an afternoon of rescue training, coffee drinking and cake eating. A break in the weather saw us take a punt on the quick drying properties of Esk Buttress. There were still a number of seepage lines but we were able to climb the 3 star Bridge's Route (HS) in the sunshine.
Weary legs on Wednesday steered us towards the roadside crag of Brantrake in the Eskdale valley for a day of leading practice, a few rescue scenarios and top roiping of some harder lines. Suitably refreshed we commited to the climb up to Buttermere's Birkness Combe under threatning skys. The clouds parted in front of us and we enjoyed the classic link up of Harrow Buttress (D), Slabs West Route (HS) and Oxford & Cambridge Direct Route (HS) to the summit of High Stile.
Not the sheep! but a bunch of enthusiastic doctors undertaking a weeks training in the Lake District with Expedition Medicine. The company provides worldwide medical training courses for medical professionals, wilderness medics and for individuals providing advanced medical coverage in remote areas.
The focus of the day was on the technical skills required to operate safely in the mountains in support of their extensive medical knowledge and closely followed the Summer Mountain Leader syllabus. We headed up onto the slopes and small crags of Bleaberry Fell above Borrowdale to look at the various options available to a leader on steep ground - coaching, spotting, supporting, confidence roping, pitching and abseiling.
Finally navigation focused on relating the map to the ground and the importance of scale as not all the maps they'll be using in the future are as detailed and accurate as Ordanance Survey.
the day concluded with a fascinating lecture by Dr Roger Alcock who has just returned from sierra leon as part of the NHS / UK Med response to the Ebola crisis
This weekend myself and Nick have been working on the BMCs Rescue For Climbers course. Seven keen climbers with a huge range of experience turned up in a sunny Lake District to experiment with the tools of self rescue. We spent the first few hours at Long Scar fine tuning folks ropework and stance management in an effort to prevent problems in the first place. The afternoon focused on escaping the system and assisted and unassisted hoists.
Sunday saw us enjoying the delights of Tilberthwaite Quarry ascending and descending ropes with a variety of equipment and casualties. The group then had a chance to put it all together working through some common scenarios, such as stuck karabiners, a second climbing past a runner or unable to make the crux moves, and some not so common ones with injured leaders falling off traverses into space above a very rough sea!
Tilberthwaite Quarry photos from Nick Cannon-Jones at More Than Mountains
This weekend myself and Nick Cannon-Jones have been working with Rockhoppers Mountaineering Club running a Rescue for Climbers course. The Saturday was spent braving the elements at Sandale Quarry developing the members climbing systems to proactively prevent problems in the first place. We then looked at some of the simple building blocks such as escaping the system and assisted hoists which can be used to solve many of the common problems which may occur
Sunday was a far nicer day and we enjoyed some dry rock (& the cafe1) at Shepherds crag in Borrowdale which allowed us to take problem solving into a multi pitch environment. Ascending and descending ropes were covered in detail before we moved on to a number of scenarios as we made a mass ascent of Jackdaw Ridge. Thanks to everyone present for some great input despite the conditions and fingers crossed you'll never need to use any of the techniques in anger.