Rock Climbing CompanyAssociation of Mountaineering Instructors

Advanced Scrambling Courses
in North Wales & Snowdonia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Classic scowdonia scrambles

 

 

 

 

 

Scrambling on Tryfan Bach

 

 

 

 

Scrambling on Tryfan

 

 

 

 

hard moves on milestone buttress on an advanced scrambling course

 

 

Advanced Scrambling skills and Alpine training

in Snowdonia & North Wales

 

Italian hitch belay on a welsh scramble

 

This course is for experienced hill walkers who have scrambled some of the easier classic routes, but who would like to get the skills and confidence to be independent and safe on more challenging mountaineering terrain. The content you will learn is also very useful for anyone training for Alpine ascents.

This Advanced Scrambling course covers skills used in mountain scrambling, rock climbing long routes and general mountaineering. It 'steals' techniques from all these 3 disciplines, because you need all round mountaineering skills to competently climb some grade 2&3 scrambles.

 

It is fair to say that 'difficult'- grade 3 or 3S - scrambles are essentially long,moderate rock climbs, but they are better thought of as alpine mountaineering routes because the skills and techniques required to climb them are much more thorough and commiting than a simple rock climbing grade would suggest.

The scrambling routes are normally climbed with a small amount of rock climbing equipment. Compared to the rack of hardware that a rock climber would normally carry, the length of the scrambling routes mean that the climbers need to move fast in conditions that may be far from perfect. The nature of the terrain sometimes means that the amount of protection that can be placed is fairly spaced. In short, to climb the hardest scrambles of North Wales and Snowdonia you will need to have a full set of mountain skills.

 

What you will learn:

 

 

Rates per person per day

1 person: £190 - 2 people: £95 - 3 people: £75 -

4 people: £65

Rates per half day

1 person: £130 - 2 people: £75 - 3 people: £55 -

4 people: £45

 

In order to book, you first need to contact us via email indicating your aims, level of experience and your preferred dates. Once we agree on the dates, the cost and the content of your course, you will need to fill in a booking form and pay a 50% deposit -or the full fee-, either by bank transfer -free of charge at our end- or via Paypal subject to a 4.5% fee.

Please make sure you contact us before and after submitting your booking form and payment so that we can email you all the details you will need and schedule your course in our diary.

 

There is a full course outline below and also a General Course information section.

 

 

Advanced Scrambling Course - Alpine training in Snowdonia

 

Scrambling in the Glyders

Our Advanced Scrambling course is a superb introduction to mountaineering and alpine climbing. You will have the opportunity to climb on exposed, challenging terrain set in remarkably beautiful mountains; it is also perfect training for your first alpine trips. Scrambling at level 2 and 3 requires a solid knowledge of rope skills to protect yourself and your partner, arrange and use top and intermediate anchors safely, place running protection and, in some cases, set up an abseil.

You will be learning a whole range of skills: choosing routes, using rock climbing equipment, movement techniques, indirect and direct belaying with and without rope controllers, specific scrambling rope work, use of natural rock features for protection, methods of abseiling, systems for moving together / short roping and security on steep ground will all be covered in depth as well as other useful information such as as understanding weather patterns and guidebook terminology.

We normally teach the Advanced Scrambling skills and Alpine training courses on private basis because this is a high level course and your requirements are likely to be very specific. On a private course, every aspect is customisable and we can build and pace the days around your needs.

The main goal of this scrambling course is to give you the broad range of skills and techniques needed to climb the more adventurous scrambles on Britain's mountains and many of the famous Alpine routes such as Mont Blanc and Matterhorn.

We will concentrate on helping you to move safely and confidently over a variety of steep, rocky terrain and help you to build up your understanding of the techniques needed to stay safe in different situations. A large part of scrambling safety is constantly evaluating the current situation and then making the correct decisions on the move. The terrain you climb on and the weather conditions that can vary hugely in a short time.

This means that you will need to know when to move from soloing to short roping to moving together to pitching sections of the scrambling route; each of these techniques involves different skills and rope work. There is a lot to take in, but once mastered, you will be able to swap between them smoothly and this will allow you to move quickly and in safety.

These skills can only be perfected with experience, but we will help accelerate this process and give you an appreciation of the benefits and risks involved in each decision that you make.

On the longer courses, we try to pace the difficulty of the scrambling routes to correspond with your growing skills and awareness.

 The ability to tackle these harder scrambles will allow us to climb some of the best mountain routes that Snowdonia has to offer: Cneifion Arete in Idwal, the Tryfan Bach Approach and many of the scrambling routes on the East Face of Tryfan are great examples of classics climbs at this grade.

The capable scrambler moves faster and more freely than a rock climber and it is that freedom of movement that makes long, sustained scrambles so much fun. The art of scrambling is about efficient rope work; being able to switch smoothly between soloing without a rope to moving together using a shortened rope, coils and natural anchors for protection and - when necessary- being able to switch to rock climbing pitching the short and or hard sections.

 

 

 

 

Scrambling Information & Tips

 

 

Good route finding is imperative for safe day in the mountains. The route finding begins whilst at home with your guide books, maps and the web. These tools will give you a good overview of not only how to approach, find and climb the route, but also the location of escape routes, timings and objective dangers.

The grades of scrambling routes can change dramatically - a route that is quite amenable in dry conditions can be a slimy, horror show after a prolonged wet period. The guide books should provide information on this, but south facing routes will dry faster than north facing routes and buttresses will dry faster than gullies.

Locating the start of scrambling routes can be fairly hard - I remember finding the East Face of Tryfan very confusing when I first encountered it with lots of very similar gullies and grooves all very close to one another - Nor Nor Gully, Nor Nor Groove, Nor Nor Buttress etc. Take your time to correctly identify the start of the route - getting off route before you start is a good way to start an epic day. If you are in the general vicinity of the route and are looking for the exact starting point then look for signs of travel - small cairns and polished, clean rock are good identifiers.

Scrambling in the Ogwen valleyWhilst approaching the scramble it is worth taking the time to locate obvious landmarks both on the rock route, on the approach and in the general mountain area. Take out the guide and locate the position of your route from a distance.

These observations can help you in several ways: once you start climbing the route your whole perspective changes and becomes very foreshortened plus it is often hard to see very far ahead. The landmarks that you noted earlier can help stay on route in highly featured terrain or if the visibility deteriorates. Once you are at the top and need to go back down, the information on the terrain you memorised earlier will give you valuable pointers and markers for the descent, especially when descending in bad weather.

Once on the route, always look ahead, move carefully and test holds before puling hard on them. Looking ahead is important to avoid getting into blind alleys that force you to retreat. Keep an eye at all times on the easiest line of ascent. Moving steadily and carefully without jerking reduces the chances of slips, lets you focus on the ground ahead and pick a good line. Always test rock flakes and rock spikes before pulling on them. You should ensure they are solid - tap them (hard) with you the palm of your hand and- if they sound hollow or move- avoid using them.

if the way is blocked by an excessively hard section, look for alternative routes and try to skirt around the difficulties. Scrambling routes often offer several options - try to follow the most climbed lines of ascent; these are often identified by areas of worn rock. Most popular scrambles will generally have some signs of previous travel. You should be looking for the normal or easiest way, avoiding ground with loose rock and lots of vegetation.

It is best to only attempt tricky sections if you feel you can confidently climb them down; otherwise your options for retreat may become a lot more limited. In genera, it easier climbing up than down.
 
Rain, wind and cold can totally transform a climb and make it feel significantly harder.

 

Classic welsh Scrambles

Scramblers working as a team can reduce the seriousness of a tricky step by careful spotting, grabbing and fielding. It should be emphasised that if a slip or fall is likely in an exposed situation, it is time to rope up and protect the climbers by construction a solid anchor and placing protection.

'Spotting' is when the second climber stands below the leader climber on the ground -or on a safe platform- with the aim the stopping the leader from falling. This can be achieved by keeping the leader pushed onto the wall or -if they do fall- by stopping them from going too far or hitting their head.

Once over a tricky section, the first climber(s) can offer others advice and if need be can give support by grabbing a shoulder strap or jacket thus stopping any slip becoming a fall. The grabber should always be well braced and well balanced whilst other members of the team can help by holding the grabber in position.  

The grabber should avoid linking hands with the second scrambler as this reduces their grip and balance and can result in both being pulled off.

When spotting or grabbing becomes useless a rope can be invaluable; normally scramblers use 30m to 50 m of 9mm dynamic rope.

 

 

 

Rock Climbing Helmets

 

Climbing helmets used to be heavy, unventilated and sit too high on the head – so nobody wore them. Times change and helmets are now sleek, light, ventilated and widely accepted as being as essential to a climber’s safety as a rope and harness.

There has never been as much choice as there is today, but the key factor is that the helmet you choose must suit your head shape and size. There is no real alternative to trying on a selection of helmets in a good store and seeing which fits best – once adjusted securely on your head try to make it move out of position; if it slips backwards or is easily knocked askew then look at another model. If you are planning to climb alpine/winter routes then remember to also try the helmet whilst wearing your beanie or balaclava.

The construction of a helmet is the main factor that determines its overall performance and intended end use. There are 3 main types of helmet construction:

1.Traditional - Hard Shell Helmets.
           
These helmets have an internal webbing cradle holds the hard, stiff shell away from the head. In an impact the cradle webbing stretches, absorbing a lot of the energy of the impact whilst the shell also absorbs energy by deforming.  This style of helmet often has the best top impact and penetration resistance plus they are generally durable and rugged. The downside of this design is normally a bit of extra weight, mediocre side impact performance and a helmet that sits higher on the head. These features make them popular for those who give their helmet a lot of abuse (group users) and for those whose main source of danger is likely to be falling debris -  alpine/ice climbers and mountaineers.


2. EPS – Expanded Polystyrene Foam

Climbing helmet design evolved when climbing companies followed the cycling industry by building helmets with shells made from in-molded polystyrene.

These helmets are often 40% lighter than traditional shell/cradle helmets, sit lower on the head (i.e. you bump your head less on the rock) and have improved side impact resistance. They generally offer less top impact performance, but most importantly are less durable. After one bit impact and they should be retired.

These features make them excellent for general rock climbing in less remote environments where the emphasis is protecting the user in a fall rather than on-going protection against rock fall.

3. Hybrids: Plastic shells with shock absorbing inserts

Many of today’s most popular helmets meld design ideas from both of the previous styles to give climbers a feature set that most find very attractive – these helmets tend to be more durable than the EPS style and lighter/more versatile than the traditional design.

 

 

 

Here below we outline our choice:

1.KasK

https://www.kask-safety.com/en/safety-helmets/superplasma-pl.htm

2.Petzl Sirocco

http://www.petzl.com/en/outdoor/mountaineering-and-climbing-helmets

The SIROCCO meets the needs of climbers and mountaineers for reduced weight and for protection. Its head-covering shape, lower in the rear, offers enhanced protection over the entire head. It provides excellent ventilation and maximum comfort as well as an optimized volume on the head.

This helmet does not meet the requirements of the EN 1077 standard for alpine ski helmets but it is suitable for ski tourings, thanks to its CE ski touring helmet certification.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pricing and Booking

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Advanced Scrambling

Rates per person

full day session

1 person: £180 - 2 people: £95 - 3 people: £75 -

4 people: £65

 

In order to book, you first need to contact us via email indicating your preferred dates, aims and level of experience. Once we agree on the dates, cost and course content, you will need to email us a booking form and pay a 50% deposit -or the full fee- either by bank transfer -free of charge at our end- or via Paypal subject to a 4.5% fee.

Please make sure you contact us before and after submitting your booking form and payment so that we schedule your course in our diary and can email you all the details you will need

 

Complete an Online Booking Form

Booking Details and Conditions

Equipment provided by us: the Rock Climbing Company will provide all the hardware and equipment needed for the Advanced Scrambling course - this includes ropes, climbing equipment and a helmet and harness for each member of the course.

We have very extensive rack of climbing equipment that you are welcome to use - this is a really useful way of deciding which kit you prefer.

What you need to bring: Scrambling in the mountains of North Wales will often see see you encountering rain and sun on the same day so it is always best to play safe and bring plenty of suitable warm clothing and a full set of waterproofs (top and trousers). Don't forget your hat and gloves. because even in summer it can be cold on the summits.

Good footwear is crucial on harder scrambles and it is best if your boots are rated as being 3 - 4 season and have stiff soles. This type of footwear makes standing on small rock edges much easier and more secure. A lot of scramblers use sticky soled approach shoes - these do make the scrambling easier, but are susceptible to becoming wet on the walking sections.

Reinforced gloves are often useful for the longer courses as the course involves a lot of rope handling and this can help protect your hands.

You will also need a rucksack (30 - 40 litre capacity) and food and drink for the day.

There is a list of equipment that we recommend for courses on the Equipment for Courses page.

What is not included: prices do not include, transport, accommodation, meals or personal insurance.

Ratios and course sizes: this Advanced Scrambling course is best taught at a ratio of 1 or 2 clients to 1 instructor. It is also possible to take 3 people, but we will need to slow down the pace.

 

 

 

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