Scrambling is a fantastic activity that’s a favourite among those who love the outdoors. It mixes the beauty of dramatic landscapes with exhilaration and adrenaline, a perfect choice for experienced walkers and climbers.
However, while it provides a great experience and a fun way to explore, rugged terrain can put scramblers at potential risk. Scramblers, therefore, need to pay constant attention to the environment around them, use good judgement and have well practised technical skills to safely explore this challenging mountain terrain..
So, what can you do to ensure you remain safe while scrambling?
Choosing the right grade
Different scrambling routes are graded based on their difficulty. Therefore, before you pick out your chosen scramble, you need to have a clear understanding of the grading system. The most common grading system is a numerical one, scaling from 1 to 3.
Grade 1 is the easiest and will only require a small amount of climbing and will mostly be escapable if you choose to abandon your route. For Grade 2 routes, a little more experience is required, along with good route finding skills. Some scramblers will choose to use a rope at this grade so having these technical skills dialled is really important too. . Grade 3, will be the hardest to conquer, making these routes only advisable for confident scramblers. At this grade, escape will be difficult and most scramblers will use a rope for the whole ascent, requiring a solid set of technical climbing and rope skills.
Choosing your scrambling route
Once you’ve assessed your capabilities and chosen the right grade for you, you can pick your route. Guidebooks will help you here, but when considering which scramble to try, be conscious of other factors that could affect accessibility.
First of all, consider how much daylight you’ll have and how long the route will take to complete – you don’t want to get stuck in the dark because you’ve chosen a lengthier scramble.
While the cooler weather might be more tolerable for scrambling, consider if it will mean getting stuck in a downpour or whether there could be snow on the rocks. If you could face showers, choose a route that won’t be as slippery when wet and gives you options to escape..
It’s also important to bear in mind the fitness levels of both yourself and your fellow scramblers. If anyone has a low fitness level or a medical condition, it might be advisable to choose a gentler route – at least while you get started!
Preparing for your scramble
Make sure you are completely happy with the route before getting started. Review your plan nd the review it again, ensuring you have a good idea of where you’re heading. In more remote areas, such as the Lake District, paths can be slightly harder to identify, so try and pick out some landmarks so that you be sure you’re heading the right way. Have a good look at your chosen line as you approach the rock – it’s loads easier to see where you’re going when you’re a few hundred meters away, rather than already committed to the rock.
Carry the right kit
The kit that you carry will depend on the weather conditions, your experience and skills and the route that you’ve chosen. As a minimum you’ll want good mountain clothing as well as stiff boots and emergency kit to keep you warm in the event of an emergency. A helmet is a good idea, even on easier grades as the risk of rock fall in the mountains is high. At more advanced grades, a basic climbing rack and a rope may be required to keep more tricky sections safe. What technical kit to carry can be the topic of a whole blog on its own, but we’d be happy to advise you if you need help.
If scrambling sounds a bit daunting, or you’re a beginner in need of a helping hand, then guided scrambling could be an advisable option. By going on a guided scramble, you’ll have the security of exploring the landscape with instructors who have been through an intensive programme of professional mountain training, helping them prepare for absolutely everything.
Scrambling courses can also be a great way to get started and gain confidence. The courses teach scramblers the core skills needed to have a great day out in the mountains, whether you’re new to the sport or an experienced scrambler wanting to learn the technical skills needed to progress into Grade 3 terrain,
Regardless of whether you’re looking for guided or unguided routes, there is plenty to explore. Take some time to prepare and you’ll be set for a fantastic day out.
Our range of professional mountain skills courses and guiding gives us an enviable reputation. Regardless of whether you’re looking for a qualified instructor to help you develop your mountaineering or climbing skills, a mountain guide to lead you up Scafell Pike or host a team challenge event, or learn how to navigate in a far corner of the Lake District, our team can help.
Contact our team to learn more about our courses and guided scrambling..