29 April 2017

Ad hoc rope training

An email came out of the blue: did anyone want to do an evening of Mountain Leader-required rope work on a Monday? Well I had no idea what that entailed, but I am always keen to improve my mountain skills. I registered for it. And on that Monday I gathered some random stuff as I still didn't know what the evening would entail, and drove down. We would meet at 5.30.

I found Simon, the instructor, with whom I had done a scrambling day before. He explained a bit more what we would do; the session was mainly about being on a mountain with a group of people, and something going wrong to such extent that a rope (but nothing else) is both needed and available for sorting the situation out. That sounded useful, even though I tend not to find myself in that situation. A good skill set to have nonetheless. It might very well one day come in handy underground as well!

Later the other people arrived, but by the time we were complete it was past 6. We had to get a move on! And "we" also included Simon's handsome and snorty dog Mel. A nice bonus! We walked to some nearby rock outcrops and started with discussing kit; what rope to bring? How long? When to use it? The dog was a bit overly keen on contributing to the goings-on but we still managed to discuss it all. Then we went on improvising belays. You need to find an anchor, attach the rope to it, attach yourself to it, then attach your people to the rope and move them safely up or down. Or otherwise find an anchor without sharp edges (not always easy) and run the rope around it. That's quicker!

That done we practiced another knot for tying groups together, and some ways of abseiling on a rope alone. It's not very comfortable, but sometimes it might be necessary! But by then a rather cold wind had picked up, and I regretted not having packed my down jacket. It was time to go back to Plas-y-Brenin for a cup of tea...

We walked back under the evening sky which was turning orange. Simon managed to convince his dog not to eat a sheep placenta. The men were keen to go home, but the women had a cup of tea in the PyB bar. It had been a good evening outside! I learned something, and I was outside. Freezing, but outside. The alternative would have been climbing in Indy; I'm sure I will get my opportunities to catch up with that!

Looking for anchors

Mel gives us her most sceptical stare

Lydia flaking a rope

Having fun with a classic abseil while the evening sun paints Moel Siabod orange

The skuy turning orange while we walk back

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