By last Friday, Lakes Climber in Ambleside was all out of crampons and walking axes. At 7.30pm that evening Ian Barnes of Lakes Climber called Colin Westland of Allcord, the northeast based distributor of climbing gear. Colin was at a dinner party and Ian was on a mission with a big weekend ahead in the Lakes.
Ian Barnes set off at 4.30am Saturday from Ambleside and met Colin at the Allcord warehouse where they loaded Ian's van up with C.A.M.P crampons and axes. During Saturday Ambleside was jammed as were the fells, and Sunday morning it was back up to Newcastle and a return trip to Allcord for Ian for even more spiky and pointy bits.
It was the same over at the Climbers' Shop; Nick Cox, deputy manager told UKClimbing.com that they had sold over 100 pairs of crampons in the past week, from 10 point walking crampons to technical Grivel G14 GSB and Black Diamond Seracs, all the way to Grivel Spiders and Kahtoola Micro Spikes. Nick told us that Langdale Mountain Rescue Team who as you know have been busy all season, had been in and bought crampons and head torches, not for themselves, but to lend to stranded walkers whilst they were escorted, in some cases roped down to the valley. The Climbers' Shop also feature a Langdale Mountain Rescue Incident Log next to their popular weather forecast in the window of their shop. A warning of what can happen if you venture above snowline without the right gear and the skill to use it - or in some cases just be darned unlucky. Want to see how busy Langdale Mountain Rescue Team have been? Click on Incidents 2009 in the menu bar at www.lamrt.org.uk.
Including the latest:
"Three men became stuck on steep, frozen ground and were unable to continue down. They were located by team members, roped together and escorted down via a series of steps cut by team members. Regrettably, the message that we have been trying to get out for several days seems to have fallen on deaf ears. They were not equipped for the conditions and seemed surprised by the fact that the snow had re-frozen once the sun was off it."
Down in North Wales, Pete Griffiths of V12 Outdoor told a similar story, but not just walking axes and crampons but pricey more technical items, like DMM Flys, Petzl-Charlet Nomics and BD Cobra axes, have been flying out the door. Just up the Llanberis high street, Gill Barnicott at Joe Brown's said that they were selling out of everything and she had been on the phone all morning ordering more kit from suppliers.
So the weather is good news for many climbing companies despite the bad news with the economy. Of course it is all very well having the right kit, but it is essential to know how to use it.
If your skills are lacking it is wise to read up and even consider going on a short winter skills course. Here are some resources.
- Glenmore Lodge - Scotland's National Outdoor Training Centre
- Plas y Brenin - The National Mountain Centre
- British Mountain Guides
- Association of Mountain Instructors
- BMC Winter Essentials DVD
UKC related articles.
- The Lord of the Swings... Walking Axes by Paul Lewis
- Crampons - Everything you need to know! by Paul Lewis
And please, Mountain Rescue Teams throughout the UK are under great pressure and are doing an amazing job.