We know the importance of hands-on experience, especially when it comes to climbing products, so each year we send our climbing team out to get to grips with the latest gear and tech.
Our 2014 annual staff climbing training took place in May in Nant Peris, North Wales. Staff from all shops were in attendance, alongside representatives from DMM, Five-Ten, The North Face and Gore.
Training kicked off with a talk by Gore on all things GORE-TEX, looking in minute detail (literally) at the weaves of the fabrics, construction of garments, waterproofness, breathability and how to maintain GORE-TEX clothing properly.
Next stop was DMM HQ at Llanberis for a tour of the factory.
DMM grew from Moorhouse Engineering established in Bethesda in 1981, employing just four people. As demand for their engineering grew, DMM was born. Moving to its current site in 1986, they now employ over one hundred and fifty people.
Our staff were taken through the whole manufacturing process; from the raw aluminium rods and bars destined to become climbing gear, following it to the forging, punching, baking, cooling, CMC-ing, de-bearing, testing, and double checking, to the ladies spring loading the screw gates and threading the wall nuts, finally coming to the end of the line - lasering on the batch numbers.
The factory is like a 'Santa's workshop' of climbing hardware construction - the amount of hardware that is produced on a daily basis is absolutely phenomenal and the number of processes for something like a simple karabiner is incomprehensible until you've see it. It's through DMM's engineering background and the on-site presence of their product development department that has allowed them to become one of the world's leading climbing brands and the sole climbing hardware manufacturer in U.K, also producing kit for other brands such as Mammut and Petzl. Not only do they source as many raw materials as they can from the local vicinity, extra kudos is deserved for all waste aluminium going to Anglesey for recycling, which due to the wonderful Welsh weather forcing us indoors was the next stop!
The Indy Rock Climbing Wall at Llanfairpwllgwyngyll providing plenty of top rope, lead climbing and bouldering opportunities was an excellent training/playground for the next part of our staff training.
Our staff rotated between a rock shoe seminar with 5-10, putting theory into practice by testing the shoes out on the wall. DMM were on hand to talk harnesses, again giving the staff opportunity to try out their range.
Mountain guide, photographer and author, Nigel Shepherd also joined us to give belaying instruction and advice, passing on his infinite wisdom and vast experience. Finally, over on the bouldering walls, Ben Bransby was on hand to give a bouldering masterclass (to summarise, there are no short cuts, practice, practice, practice and practice some more!).
In contrast to the previous day, our second day of training was in glorious sunshine. The very Welsh mountains that had once provided Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay et al. the training ground for the first successful accent of Everest in 1953, formed the backdrop to our morning talk from The North Face.
Talk over and it was time to test out more climbing gear on some real rock, to the delight of all the staff. A limestone crag near Conway provided ample nooks and crannies to test DMM's abundance of wall nuts, alloy/brass offsets and I.M.Ps climbing treasure and we were again joined by Five-Ten with their array of rock shoes. A better afternoon of weather or climbing gear to test couldn't have been wished for and passed far too quickly! After two days of intensive all-round training it was time to head back to everyone's respective locations, with a greater understanding and passion for all things climbing.
A big thank you to Brian Molyneux for organising the training, Nigel Shepherd and the brand representatives for attending.
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