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Aspiring Mountaineer - Mountain Scrambling

Updated: Apr 26

Climbers above the Ogwen basin
Scrambling N Wales

This blog is for keen hikers and trekkers looking for the next challenge of mountain scrambling. You may have ticked some classic grade 1 scrambles and ridge walks and are now ready for the next level! How do I learn technical mountaineering? There are a range of guidebooks available now for mountain scrambling based in Wales, Lake District and Scotland offering a great range of routes and grades. When choosing a route be sure to do your homework and have a good understanding of any possible crux moves (hard sections) on the route and if it is possible to detour round them or not. You should also make note of any escape routes and be confident you can keep you and your team safe.

The best way to stay safe on mountain scrambles is to use a rope and protect any potential dangerous situations with rock climbing gear such as chocks (nuts) and camping devices. To learn how to use these effectively it is recommended to learn from an instructor or befriend an experienced mountaineer/ climber. It’s good to do your research and plan accordingly. Getting lost on a route is the worst case because you can end up on ground harder than your original route. Focus on land marks on the rock and points to aim for. This will help you when climbing to mentally tick as you progress. You can do this best on the walk into the crag when you have the overall view. Take your guidebook out and match the route with what you can see on the cliff face.

Weather and conditions play a huge part when planning a route. Will there be snow or ice? Could it be very windy high on a ridge?

Do I need any additional equipment? Yes. Scrambling past grade 1 usually requires some climbing equipment such as a helmet, rope, harness and a small climbing rack. I take a mixture of nut protection (4-5) and 2-3 hexes or cams. I also take a belay plate, nut key and QuickDraws. Knowing how to use this equipment is fundamental before venturing out. Practice skills on grade 1 ground first or pay for some professional instruction. It will save lots of mistakes.

What to do to become a mountaineer?

Get out and practice! There really is no better way to learn than getting out there and playing in the mountains. Some ways to speed up the learning curve are joining a mountaineering club where you can meet other climbers and gain knowledge from following their lead. Taking part in some professional tuition is the quickest and best method to becoming a mountaineer.

Ridge Scrambling
Ridge scrambling

Can I go solo? Lots of people do solo these climbs but they will be very comfortable on the ground having spent time climbing much harder. They will also choose routes familiar and ones with escape routes (ability to access easier ground if it gets hard). Learning to climb together in a pair is valuable if you tend to visit more scrambles at this grade. Practice skills like belaying, building anchors and placing protection while you climb.

When should I go? Summer and dry conditions is always best but you can also climb in the rain. If you are comfortable on the grade then climbing in the rain can be very fulfilling requiring an extra test of trust in your foot placements. Do I need climbing shoes? No. Climbing shoes help a lot on steep climbs but you can climb in boots or trainers depending on the route and weather. It is always recommend to have stiff mountaineering boots as they give better stability of small foot holds. Although if you feel uncomfortable then you may decide to a pair of climbing shoes just in case.

For Mountaineering courses and guiding please see our climbing courses page here.


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