The Peak Mountaineering Month - March 2015

31st Mar 2015

The transition from winter to spring is a stunning time of year.  We came back from Scotland and laid dozens of crampons and axes out to dry in the afternoon sun. Snowdrops are starting to poke their heads out in the flower beds of our Peak District garden even though, when we left, the Highlands were still in the icy grip of winter.  Of course, it's that uncertain season to season transition period and, although we'd had some great weather recently, this morning we saw winter giving a last icy breath as we awoke to a few inches of snow in the valley and on the tops.
Our winter season is actually still going strong in the Highlands with some tail end courses left to run but we also have a stack of rock climbing and navigation courses kicking off in the Peak.  So far we have six fully booked Learn to Lead courses for the Spring (definitely the most we've ever had lined up by this time in the year) along with various introductory and intermediate climbing and navigation courses and taster sessions ready to run.  We are also delivering some courses for clubs and there are various family groups and private bookings lined up over the Easter period.  
First aid courses continue to be a significant and growing part of our business.  As I write this we have another full ITC 2 day open outdoor course running and we have, over the last few weeks, delivered private courses for forest schools group, expedition companies, Duke of Edinburgh groups and residential centres.  We are proud to be an ITC centre and even prouder that our courses continue to receive consistently great feedback.  We now run an open course every month (alternating between weekend and midweek dates) and we are discussing doubling that number again.  
Spring is also a time of year when Paul does a large amount of technical advice work and he has had recent meetings and training courses with the various expedition companies, outdoor activity providers and schools that he advises.  Some of this work involves helping with the selection of new leaders and collectively this is a part of his work that he really enjoys.
Spring is also a time to get out on the fat tyres.  We are unashamedly biased in saying the Peak District is one of the UK's best mountain bike venues and our home village is right in the centre of some of the best.  Whether you head for the trails around Mamtor, Kinder, Cavedale or a little further afield to Stanage and Bamford - there is a host of possibilities on our doorstep.  We were recently invited to trial some new trails near the Longshaw Estate developed by the National Trust and we were very impressed.  We were out with a group from the Hope Valley mountain bike club and it was a very sociable affair despite the snow showers and driving winds we battled on the way back.  Leaflets on the trail options are available at the Longshaw Estate cafe and they are a great addition to the Peak District's biking options.
We've always wanted to use our business as a force for good whenever possible and this can take various forms.  Recently, for example, we were really pleased to provide some prizes for the Hayfield schools fundraising auction and even more delighted to get a follow up email from the organiser saying £6000 had been raised to help buy IT equipment for the school. We have also just agreed to help provide some rope access to the Peak Park Conservation Volunteers for a clean up of some steep banks near Chee Dale in a couple of weeks.  
This will only be about a month before our annual Pick and Play litter collection event which is now in its fourth year.  The event, which has become a well known feature in the area, combines litter collection in the national park with a selection of outdoor activities.  It is a feel good event that really does good for the environment.  This year we are delighted to have been offered the support of equipment suppliers Rab who will be offering prizes, a gift for every participant and even financial backing to allow us to provide lunch.  As always the event is completely free to attend so we do hope you can join us.  The date is May 11th and full details will be on the website very soon.
The Peak Mountaineering office is also getting a bit of a facelift during the next few weeks.  Luckily, being a log cabin, all that really means is splashing on some wood preserver on the outside and using some stain on the interior walls!  Having said that, our storage is being revamped and a new deck area added so it is a bit more user friendly.  If you've seen our familiar logoed Caddy whizzing around you'll also soon see our new addition during the fleet - it heads to have it's new logos added just after Easter.  The equipment we provide on courses needs to be fit for purpose and we always use the early season to replace some items.  A new batch of ropes and other climbing hardware has just arrived at Peak HQ and they'll all be put to good use over the coming months.
In between all this there is plenty of business development afoot.  We have some new publicity material being created, some changes to the website are planned and new avenues are being explored for our overseas expeditions and first aid provision.  We also have an exciting new partnership with a marketing company in the pipeline and we'll share the details as soon as we can.
So, it's been a busy and exciting March.  If you fancy joining us on a course in the near know where we are.  Otherwise, hope to see you in the mountains soon.
Posted by Cal