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  • Writer's pictureAlex Moran

Top Tips: How to start scrambling in the mountains.

Updated: Dec 15, 2023

Are you captivated by the allure of scaling rugged peaks and exploring the untamed beauty of the mountains? If so, diving into the exhilarating world of scrambling might just be the perfect adventure for you. Whether you're a budding enthusiast or a seasoned climber seeking new challenges, scrambling offers an adrenaline-packed yet accessible way to conquer rocky terrain and ascend to breathtaking heights.

It is important to remember that when scrambling you will be entering into terrain which is more exposed, more technical and is generally more dangerous than a hill walk or hike. This is why it is so important to make sure that you approach this discipline with caution. Often taking a scrambling course or mountaineering course is the best way to learn in a safer environment.

What is Scrambling?

Scrambling, often described as the middle ground between hiking and rock climbing, involves navigating steep, rocky, and often exposed terrain. It's about using your hands, feet, and a keen sense of judgment to ascend challenging rock routes to reach areas or summits not normally accessible by hill walking or hiking. Scrambling is a great way to practice the skills and techniques which are useful for rock climbing, making it an ideal starting point for aspiring climbers.

Alt= Scrambling in the Cairngorms national Park
Scrambling course with Alex Moran Mountaineering in the Cairngorms National Park

In the UK, scrambling has its own grading system which goes from Grade 1 to Grade 3. These grades will all require the use of both hands and feet to ascend the mountain, however, each increase in grade requires more advanced techniques and has the potential for increased risk if not managed correctly. Each grade requires different techniques, however, for all scrambling you must wear a helmet at all times.

Grade 1

All of the scrambling grades in the UK require the use of both hands and feet often in exposed locations. Whilst Grade 1 scrambles could be seen as the next step up from hill walking, they will require careful foot placements and you will be entering areas which are exposed. Often on Grade 1 scrambling routes, the difficulties will often be avoidable and there will be many sections which provide walking or easy scrambling.

Grade 2

Scrambling at Grade 2 begins to become rock climbing, you will be doing several short sections or harder moves where you must use good movement skills. At Grade 2 and above it is important to have the use of ropes and equipment to keep you safe whilst you climb. These scrambles will require you to feel confident moving over exposed terrain and to gain this confidence it would be highly recommended to attend a scrambling course or a rock climbing course to help make your ascents safer and more enjoyable.

Grade 3

This grade also encompasses Moderate rock climbs, the easiest rock climbing grade. With this in mind it is extremely important that you have the required rock climbing skills and feel confident on terrain up to V Diff. For this it is best to take a scrambling course or a rock climbing course to make sure you are clear on technique and also can take the best advice to help you progress.

Alt= Scrambling in the Scottish Highlands
Enjoying the Scottish mountain views on an Alex Moran Mountaineering scrambling course

Why Choose Scrambling?

  1. Accessible Adventure: Scrambling offers an accessible entry point into the world of mountain adventures. It allows beginners to experience the thrill of ascending rocky ridges and summits. Make sure you get the right advice and take a mountaineering or climbing course with a mountain professional to make it as safe as possible.

  2. Physical and Mental Challenge: While not as technical as climbing, scrambling demands physical stamina and mental focus. It's a fantastic way to build strength, endurance, and problem-solving skills.

  3. Breathtaking Views: The routes taken in scrambling often lead to some of the most spectacular viewpoints in the mountains, rewarding climbers with awe-inspiring vistas.

Getting Started with Scrambling

1. Build Your Fitness Level

Begin by enhancing your overall fitness. Engage in regular cardio workouts, strength training, and exercises targeting your core and lower body strength. Building endurance and agility will significantly benefit your scrambling pursuits.

2. Start Small and Learn the Basics

Consider enrolling in rock climbing courses in the UK that specifically cater to scrambling and mountain skills. These courses often cover fundamental techniques, route planning, navigation, and safety practices. Look for reputable instructors who are highly qualified and programs that focus on introducing beginners to the world of scrambling.

3. Gear Up Wisely

While scrambling may not require extensive technical equipment, investing in proper gear is essential. Sturdy hiking boots with good grip, a helmet for safety, appropriate clothing for varying weather conditions, and a small backpack with essentials like water, snacks, and navigation tools are crucial. Alongside this, for the harder grades you will need a rope and rock climbing equipment. Just like all safety equipment you need to buy items which are CE marked and marked with the UIAA international standard for rock climbing equipment. Make sure you buy from a reputable outdoor shop or online store who will be able to advise you.

Exploring Mountain Courses

For those eager to delve deeper into mountaineering and scrambling, specialised mountain courses offer invaluable opportunities. These courses, often held in stunning locations across the UK, cover advanced techniques, multi-day expeditions, and more challenging terrain.

- Climbing Courses UK

Several renowned climbing schools and centres across the UK offer courses specifically tailored to beginners and seasoned climbers alike. These courses focus on various aspects of climbing, including scrambling, and provide comprehensive training under expert guidance. Check out my Highland Scrambling Adventure course!

- Mountaineering Courses UK

Mountaineering courses encompass a broader spectrum of skills, including navigation, avalanche awareness, glacier travel, and advanced rope techniques. These courses are ideal for those seeking to explore more technical and challenging mountain terrain. My Summer Mountain Pioneer course will help you to start your scrambling and mountaineering journey.


Embarking on a journey into scrambling opens doors to a world of adventure and discovery. By starting small, learning essential skills, and gradually progressing, you can savour the thrills of ascending rocky peaks and relish the breathtaking panoramas that the mountains offer.

Ready to take the plunge into the exhilarating world of scrambling? Enrol in climbing courses in the UK and mountain courses that cater to your skill level and aspirations. Begin your ascent and unlock the wonders of the mountains, one rocky ridge at a time.

Remember, safety is paramount in any mountain adventure. Always prioritise proper training, adequate gear, and respect for the environment to ensure a fulfilling and safe experience.

Start your scrambling journey today and embrace the exhilaration of scaling new heights amidst nature's grandeur!

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