Scrambling is a strangely British pursuit – it occupies the middle ground between walking and climbing. In other countries it is simply called mountaineering. It involves moving over slightly technical mountain terrain in airy positions, often when you’ll need to use your hands.
On easier scrambles (such as the classic grade 1 ridges of Crib Goch or Sharp Edge) only the most nervous scrambler would need rope. But if you get a taste for it then you’ll soon need to know your bowline from your belay. And you’ll need to know how to use your rope to help get out of situations if things go pear shaped.
If you’ve done a little bit of rock climbing or a few easy scrambles, and you are considering venturing into more difficult or challenging mountain terrain then learning a few scrambling skills could be the right pathway on your mountain journey.
The aim of our scrambling days are simple; to equip you with the skills appropriate to your UK mountaineering ambitions.
A typical introduction to scrambling will look at equipment and techniques, route choice and judgement.
This may include type of rope, frequently used knots, harnesses, a very simple rack of climbing equipment, ruck sacks and guidebooks.
Learning the hard skills and technical aspects of scrambling is the straightforward part. Using the skills fluidly, with sound judgement and in context is the key.
When do we move together for speed and efficiency, taking a bracing position behind a block or boulder to protect and when do we consider a more formal pitched method using the climbing rack is appropriate.
Ongoing risk assessment in the mountains is critical – It’s worth having a few tricks up your sleeve to help your day flow well whilst still keeping safe.
Scrambling grades vary across regions but are generally:
Grade 1: relatively straightforward with most difficulties avoidable.
Grade 2: Use of the rope necessary at times to safeguard a tricky steps or exposed ridges.
Grade 3: Use of the rope is to be frequently expected for continous sections, which may be up to about the grade of ‘Difficult’ in British rock climbing standards.
The rope-work methods we choose will depend on your personal ability, where you are and the weather and conditions. On easier ground in favourable conditions you can choose a very fast method of covering ground, such as moving together or even soloing. But if we’re on tricky ground, the rock is greasy, it’s raining or blowing a gale then the full time use of the rope in a full-on pitched climbing style may be vital.
To some degree, the old adage ‘the leader never falls’ applies as many of the difficulties are in more serious situations than, for example, a climb graded Difficult at a single pitch rock climbing crag.
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