12 July 2011

I dun me some learnin'

I got myself on an SPA assesment course to train to become a single pitch instructor last weeekend. Propbably should have done it twenty years ago but it never seemed that important before. A great and intensive weekend with a day in the quarry at Ilkley and a day at Brimham doing group skills.

Day one was in two halves part one was theory and indoor skills at Harrogate. I managed to make myself take an (intentional) leader fall at the Harrogate wall which is my bette noir, so I was quite pleased. Next I finally  learned how to clip bolts properly. Part two at  Ilkley was good, we  climbed a few routes whilst our instructor checked our technique. Ilkley was windy but the sun was breaking through.  It was nice to be leading again as I hadn't tied onto the sharp end for  nearly a year. Anyway I managed to drag myself up a bit of 4b with no real effort, although I was pretty tight as my now aching calves will testify. It also got  me thinking about leading a few more routes over the next few months, I still have no real ambitions to push my grade though. What mainly came out of the day was that techniques have changed little since I last  got any formal instruction 25 years ago.  Gear is a bit better now and I am a reasonably competant leader.

Day two was Brimham and group skills, this was a bit more of a learning curve. All good stuff mainly concerned with rescuing kids you have got stuck and trying to avoid getting them stuck in the first place. Included was  the wonderful idea of tying a rope to them and dragging them down if they are cragfast. Particularly memorable was doing an abseil rescue in a rainstorm.

I was sufficiently happy with the weeekend to think I will go back and get assesed next year. I could reccomend it if you are thinking of working with kids in an outdoor environment. The course leader was Dan MacKinlay who was an all round star and pretty funny to boot.  He flashed the Pommel whilst we were there which was a bit gutting. On the upside  he reckons its V5 and my suspicion about how to make sense of the top looks right. I'm  just waitng for the rock rash on my arm to heal some good conditons and then time for another go.

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