Nav­i­gat­ing scree

Trail (UK) - - CONTENTS -

QWhat is the safest tech­nique for walk­ing on scree? Stu­art Dixo■, Aberdee■

Jeremy says Scree gen­er­ally ac­cu­mu­lates at a 32° an­gle, with the up­per slopes tend­ing to be the fresh­est and thus the most un­sta­ble. It can be frus­trat­ing and time-con­sum­ing mov­ing over scree, but of­ten you’ll find es­tab­lished paths on a scree slope, so stick to these rather than try­ing to forge an al­ter­nate line.

Stone­fall, ei­ther dis­lodged nat­u­rally or by other par­ties, is the main prob­lem when as­cend­ing or de­scend­ing scree. The key to avoid­ing be­ing caught up in it is to be aware of your sur­round­ings and weigh up any po­ten­tial risks. Un­der­stand­ing the po­ten­tial tra­jec­tory that stones might take, and lim­it­ing the amount of time you spend in fall zones, like con­fined gul­lies or be­low crags, is cru­cial.

If you have to cross risky ar­eas look for spots that might of­fer pro­tec­tion if any stones cut loose, for ex­am­ple be­hind large boul­ders or un­der over­hangs. Treat them as is­lands of safety and move care­fully but promptly be­tween them. If you are in a party, split up and take it in turns to cross ex­posed ground, mak­ing sure each mem­ber is safe be­fore the other pro­ceeds. Avoid tak­ing routes that pass un­der other par­ties, or at least wait un­til the other party is out of the way.

If you set off a stone­fall or see some­one else do so, the stan­dard call is to shout ‘Be­low!’ re­peat­edly as loud as you can un­til the dan­ger passes. One fi­nal thing to bear in mind is that stones can ric­o­chet off gully side walls or other rocks, so don’t as­sume rocks will fall in a straight line!

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