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!