|Group picking our way up Old Snowy.|
by Sue Griffith
Photos by Sue Griffith
Photos by Sue Griffith
Do you love hiking but crave a little more challenge? Is the specter of ropes and harnesses keeping you from reaching summits? To get a taste of what climbing is all about, you might want to start with a scramble.
The term scrambling is highly subjective and means different things to different people. Experience, trail conditions, and fitness can make one person’s scramble another person’s climb. Though most agree it falls somewhere between hiking and climbing, the Yosemite Decimal System provides a more precise standard: Class 2 (simple scrambling, with possible occasional use of hands) and Class 3 (scrambling; hands are used for balance; a rope might be carried). Scrambling is often a hiker’s next step toward climbing and typically means leaving the maintained trails, navigating a steep slope, or slogging through talus and scree—or any combination of these. For me, it means getting my hands dirty, my knees bruised, and a huge sense of accomplishment.
Scrambling is often associated with non-technical summits but don’t be fooled—all un-roped climbing carries risk. Be smart and know your limits. Do not underestimate the effort required simply because a route is called a scramble, rather than a climb. Turn around if you feel unsafe and bear in mind that what goes up must come down—don’t put yourself in a position where the trip down is trickier than the scrambling up and might possibly exceed your abilities.
Listed below are three of my favorite scrambles. While they all offer non-technical summits, each is strenuous and none should be attempted without appropriate skills and conditioning. Need more inspiration? Check out Barbara Bond’s 75 Scrambles in Oregon—Best Nontechnical Ascents.
|North and Middle Sister from South Sister|
Camp at the trailhead and plan on an early start to tackle this six mile route up a 10,358 ft. stratovolcano. After following a pleasant forest trail to a high plateau, get ready for a steep climb as you scramble up loose cinder and scree to the crater rim. Once on top, the views of the Cascade Range and beyond will make you forget the pain of getting there.
Nestled in the center of Washington’s Goat Rocks Wilderness, this 7,930 ft. extinct volcano is a popular summer hike, rewarding climbers with 360 degree views on a clear day. While primarily a long, 14 mile round-trip hike through beautiful scenery, the last mile or so leads you along a steep, exposed ridge with plenty of loose rock. Be cautious. At one point you will need your hands and solid footholds to continue up. This is a strenuous climb but determination, stamina, and a bit of scrambling will get you to the top for those spectacular views!
|Kings Mountain Summit|