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Scrambling

From Guides

Scrambling, often seen as the middle ground between hillwalking and rock climbing, is a method of ascending steep, rocky ground using easy rock climbing moves.

Scrambles are usually distinguished from walking routes by the need to use ones hands. Although scramblers do not generally use rope protection on lower grade scrambles, they may use a safety rope for sections of more difficult or exposed routes. Because of this, the precise distinction between scrambling and rock climbing is somewhat unclear - it is hard to say where scrambling stops and climbing begins.

Scrambling Equipment

Most hill walkers will already own most of the basic equipment needed for scrambling, as the two activities overlap to a large extent. Items such as boots, waterproofs, navigational equipment and warm clothing are to be considered mountain essentials rather than specific scrambling gear. However, for scrambles of grade 3 or above a rope, associated rock climbing equipment and the knowledge of how to use these safely will prove invaluable.

UK Scrambling Grades

All of the grades below apply to dry summer conditions only – in wet or wintry weather the use of grades such as these may not be appropriate. For this reason, it is essential to use your own judgement according to the conditions on the day. If in doubt, come back another time with a rope!

Grade 1 A rough climb or exposed walk. There will be the occasional hard step where you will be required to use your hands. Route finding will be obvious and ropes should only be required by the extremely nervous. Prime examples of grade 1 scrambles in the UK are Striding Edge (Helvellyn), and Crib Goch (Snowdon).

Grade 2 These scrambles will be more sustained and involve greater levels of exposure. Routes will also be more serious and committing, involving small amounts of Easy rock climbing. The ledge route up Carn Dearg (Ben Nevis) and the traverse of the Aonach Eagach ridge in Glencoe are grade 2 scrambles.

Grade 3 Grade 3 routes are likely to involve pitches of Moderate rock climbing and significant levels of exposure, therefore it may be advisable to carry a safety rope, even if it is not used. Broad Stand (Scafell) is an example of a Grade 3 route.

Grade 3s This is the most technical and committing scrambling grade. A rope, the knowledge of how to use it and some rock climbing or general mountaineering experience are highly recommended. Grade 3s routes will involve V.diff rock climbs and exposure is likely to be high throughout. Tower Ridge (Ben Nevis) is an example of a grade 3s scramble

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