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Attending an Advanced Scrambling Course

Just to recap, in May this year I did a mountain craft course with Rob Johnson. I spent six days playing in the Welsh mountains with two of those days spent learning and re-tuning my stage one scrambling skills and I was hooked. I wanted to do more scrambling so when we filmed the Simply Hike Advert in the Peak District I was over the moon I could get my teeth stuck into scrambling and also have the opportunity to help the others as well which was great (although I’m not too sure the camera crew would agree).

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So what’s next? Well as soon as I came back from the Peak District I was straight onto Robs Website (expeditionguide.com) and booked the Advanced Scrambling Course which combined stage two and stage three scrambles.

Before I set off I had to “re-think” my clothing although the walking boots I owned were fine for stage one scrambling I needed a stiffer sole and also a narrower fitting boot for the narrower parts that come with stage two and three scrambling, so I picked the Mammut Magic boot (which I shall be writing a review on very soon). I also had to think of keeping my pack weight light due to the fact that I would be carrying a rope, harness and helmet. So for trousers, I wore the Montane Terra Pant - they are light weight, quick drying and more importantly ridiculously hard wearing. For my top half I wore the Helly Hansen Pace shirt and the Mammut Kento Jacket both - combined kept me cool, and dry when it was raining!

Knowing Wales would be wet so I wanted to keep my hands dry but also have a glove that has great grip. I thought straight away of the Sealskinz Ultra Grip Glove for this and lastly I decided to take a Black Diamond walking pole. My main reason for taking one was because of some of the ground we needed to cover to get to the start of the stage two and three scrambles would be a bit steep and I wanted to save as much energy as I could for the scramble parts.

So after a mixture of coach and train journeys I met up with Rob and to my surprise Mark (who was on the my mountain craft course). We checked the weather report (which didn’t look too good) and we headed off to the mountains. The route we scrambled up was a great mixture of stage two and three scrambles and a touch of stage one in the mix as well as we headed off to the North West face of Cwm Idwal onto the Idwal Staircase, up Seniors Gully and then up to Cneifion Arete.

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To be honest I wasn’t too sure what to expect, I visited Robs blog to take a look at images before I set off but they can never really show the true feeling of achievement that you get when scrambling. I thought I was a pretty fit person, I survived the mountain craft week, peak district and several mini adventures around where I live but I soon realised I had spent maybe too much time in front of my computer or the telly...

Anyway, we got straight into hiking up some steep paths to some great scrambling points but my calves were burning like hell. I loved every minute of it though! Rob went through some key knots and hooked us up to the rope and we were off! I never have felt so connected to a mountain and my surroundings it was brilliant. The rain pelting down, the slippery rocks the aching legs and arms and even in some cases Rob pulling me up and poor Mark having my bum in his face (I was the middle man!). We all got to the summit the hard way, no paths or trails, straight up. A fantastic feeling of achievement for us all followed and we still had another day to go.

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The second day of advanced scrambling was a damp but beautiful autumnal day. We headed up the Clogwyn Y Person Arete's grade three section and then descended the North Ridge of Cwm Glas.

Today I was prepared, I knew what was in store for us and I was very excited and nervous at the same time. I knew today would be harder, more stage three scrambles but with the added trouble of still aching from yesterday. Before we had even started scrambling, we had a long hike (which felt like it went on for miles and miles!) to the first scrambling point after Mark and myself rested our poor calves. We headed off and from the get go it was another level pretty much - vertical walls, foot and hand placements smaller than say two inches or even none whatsoever.

At one point we had to scramble up a crack between two rocks and both sides were as smooth as glass and to top it off it was soaked…. And I mean well and truly soaked. Even Rob had difficulty getting up (sorry Rob I had to add that in but its okay I won’t mention when your helmet rolled down the side of the hill on the descent…) so what chance did I have? I was the middle man so once I had jammed my feet in the crack and had pins and needles in my fingertips I just dragged myself up, thanks to Rob and Mark. We reached the summit and I felt so proud of us all yet again we as didn’t take any paths or trails and we went straight up to the summit and it was even harder (for me) than what we had done the day before.

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I would highly recommend this course for anyone who wants to improve their scrambling skills or wants to dip into rock climbing as this is a great start! Rob is an awesome instructor, very patient and gives directions clearly and what he teaches you sticks with you. I had a great two days in the mountains and I can’t wait for my next adventure with Rob.

Check out a little video we made from footage taken during the course [youtube height="HEIGHT" width="WIDTH"]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dn4Br4Cp6hg[/youtube]


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