The Peak Mountaineering Month - April 2015

26th May 2015

April has been, mostly at least, a peachy weather month.  We usually turn a corner with our course types as the days lengthen and temperatures rise and this year was no exception.  Suddenly everyone starts getting inspired for gritstone and the Springtime moorland beckons.  We started off by delivering courses to a university club as well as several climbing and navigation courses.  Well I say we, but in fact the heroes were actually our instructor team because, as they swung into action, I was heading to Wales for some rest and relaxation with the family.  

We regularly stay at a cottage in the Llanberis Pass and luckily this trip coincided with a week of incredibly stable and sunny weather.  Of course there's rest and rest - and our family don't do lazing around too well.  So, we had a brilliant family week of climbing in Ogwen and the Llanberis Pass, scrambling on Snowdon, coasteering on Anglesey and gorge scrambling in the Afon Dhu.  We also had an overnight mountain bike trip and plenty of barbecues.  It was the perfect week.

We returned in time to help with a special litter collection event with the Peak Park Conservation Volunteers.  We've worked closely with this vital group over the last few years and the work they do is amazing.  They'd got in touch to ask if we could help with a litter spot with a difference near Chee Dale where fly tippers had dumped a huge amount of waste down a very steep bank which would require safety ropes to allow safe access.  We teamed up with the Fit 4 Work team and cleared a huge amount from the slope over the course of a very busy day.  It's so fulfilling to be able to use the skills we've learnt over the years to make such a difference to the National Park that's both our home and our workspace.

The litter clearing led into an extremely busy period of climbing and navigation courses.  We continue to deliver a large number of Learn to Lead climbing courses and this is an area we believe we have a significant specialism in.  Working over 2 days with 2 clients allows massive progression at a rate tailored to their requirements.  There are providers running these courses at higher ratios but that's definitely not as effective as 1:2.  There are also very long Learn to Lead courses but I have no doubt that 2 days of progressive instruction at low ratios will give the tools to move forward independently......and confidently.

Alongside these courses we've had the usual broad selection of groups, introductory climbing and navigation courses.  We've also seen a growing number of families booking a day's instruction which we really love - we live a family climbing life and its great to see others having fun on the rock too.

In between this we've had our ITC Outdoor First Aid and industry first aid courses running.  Open courses at the Hollowford Centre run every month and continue to get great feedback.  It's a beautiful location and, with a great lunch provided on both days and stacks of accommodation available locally, choosing a course in the Peak District has never been easier.  We also offer discounts for outdoor professionals and, of course, the usual fantastic quality progressive training.  Alongside our open courses we've been running courses for various organisations and expedition companies during this period.  Helping to prepare expedition leaders and staff working in remote or challenging environments is an important part of our business and it was lovely to get a grateful email from a recent first aid client who had successfully managed a team members significant asthma attack while away in Morocco only 2 weeks after the course.

Peak Mountaineering has grown steadily since its birth and within that time the range of products we offer has also grown.  We reviewed our business path recently (along with our financial guru Brian) and decided it was time to split the business in two.  We are excited to say we are becoming Peak Mountaineering Ltd and Peak First Aid.  This is a really exciting move for us and, although it has created a lot of behind the scenes administration, it will pave the way for further expansion into our target sectors. Peak Mountaineering Ltd will focus on the provision of great quality outdoor training and expeditions while Peak First Aid will broaden our first aid delivery to offer more courses in a wider range of contexts.  Look out for specialist paediatric, industry, defibrillator and advanced first aid courses which will be coming soon.  Plans to buy a tropical island and start an airline are still at the wishful thinking stage though!

Towards the end of April Richard and I travelled to Yorkshire to deliver Bronze and Silver National Navigation Award Scheme (NNAS) courses for the British Mountaineering Council.  This has been a regular offering for the last few years and we are delighted that the representative body of UK climbing and mountaineering keep asking us to run these on their behalf.  The courses ran from the beautiful Lowstern Hut near Clapham which is a property belonging to the Yorkshire Rambling Club.  The event was really sociable with a Saturday evening meal in Clapham and 2 days enjoying the stunning Yorkshire terrain.  On the drive home I reflected that I really don't get up to that area frequently enough and that's something I plan to put right over the coming year.  In my past life as a university caver I remember many mornings of pulling frozen wetsuits on at frosty campsites before heading into some remote cave system in these hills.  I am more than happy to explore them just from above ground now though!   

While Richard and I were strolling around Yorkshire we had another of our Peak District marathon weekends on the go.  Cal (who many will know as our office manager) regularly switches at weekends from keyboard maestro to quartermaster as she delivers equipment to the instructor team and ensures everyone gets off to their venues in good order.  The businesses couldn't run without her and, even though I know she may occasionally curse at the early weekend morning wake ups, I also know she relishes the efficiency of the operation.

As I reflect back on a crazy April I smile at the hectic month.  I also smile because I know that May is due to be even busier.  The next Peak Mountaineering Ltd and Peak First Aid monthly update will be coming soon........

Posted by Paul