The equipment you will need to scramble in the UK will depend on what grade you will be climbing.
Grade 1- You will need to make use of your hands, primarily for balance, but will require little or no technical climbing equipment. A lot of routes of this grade aren’t much more than very exposed hiking routes where most difficulties can be avoided if desired
Grade 2- This is where a rope will come in handy, if only for the more technical/ exposed sections and some other technical climbing gear is advisable. This is perhaps one of the most dangerous levels of scrambling because the dangers can be greater than a regular climbing route but most people won’t use the same level of protection, if any.
Grade 3- The line between Rock Climbing and Scrambling becomes very blurred here. Many guidebooks will use Grade 3 Scramble and Moderate Climb interchangeably. A rope and other climbing gear will be expected on at least part of the route. If you have experience of the first two grades this will be a good challenge for you.
Standard walking boots would be fine for most lower grade routes but as you move up the grades will need to look at a stiffer, more rigid boot with a climbing zone at the front. These will allow you to get a better grip on the rock while on more technical terrain.
What clothing you are going to need for a scramble is going to depend very much on the weather conditions you are expecting to face along with the type of route you are doing.
In nice sunny summer weather then your regular hill walking clothing is going to be fine for most scrambles. For some of the higher grade scrambles you may need look at clothing that has extra durability and freedom of movement as you are likely to rub against the rocks more and use more technical climbing moves. The softshell material is durable with a reasonable stretch but other clothing does come with extra reinforcement on areas likely to catch on the rock surface (knees and elbows for example).
Bad weather, or just cold weather, will impact your choice of clothing in the same way normal hiking or mountaineering would. Take a durable waterproof jacket, over trousers and a warmer midlayer but be prepared that a lot of scrambles in the UK are dry water courses and in snow and ice can become full graded Ice routes.
If you are climbing the higher grade scrambles then you will be wanting a rope, harness, belay device, a small ‘Trad Rack’ and possibly a helmet as well.
A Trad Rack would have a few Nuts, Slings (of different length), a couple of Quickdraws and some spare HMS carabiners.
The rope need not be more than 25-35m as, even at higher grades, you shouldn’t be doing long pitches. Mainly you should be moving together over anything but the most technical parts of the route.
Most Scrambles in the UK are attached to a walk in the mountains and so you are going to need a backpack to carry the essentials (food, map, compass, water, spare clothing etc) along with any climbing gear you may need.
Most importantly you need to be comfortable with the rucksack. If you don’t like how it feels when walking and climbing then it doesn’t matter how technical it is or how many features it has. Get a backpack that you are happy with.
When it comes to the route you need to think how much gear you will need. Is it a Grade 1 requiring no climbing gear or a Grade 3 needing rope, harness and rack? The more gear you need the larger it will have to be, unless you split it with a friend. This also applies with the time of year as in winter you may want to carry more spare layers, food, water etc.
If the route is more vertical and requires some technical moves then a backpack with an ‘air ventilation’ system is actually going to work against you as it will throw you centre of balance off more. On shorter lower grade routes this won’t be a problem for you.
Written by Joe