Scrambling has been around for many years and with the progression of the outdoor activity comes a grading system that helps us to understand what the particular route will be like and how difficult the scramble actually is. In today’s guide books all scrambles are graded in good dry conditions, and should be treated as such only if the rock is dry.
Wet rock can increase the grade of a scramble considerably, or even render the scramble extremely dangerous. Through my own experience wet rock for example on buttress or ridge of a grade two and above should only be tackled by experienced scramblers and a rope is highly recommended for safety.
Over the years scrambles have been graded in Scotland and England rather differently with the English system being given grades from 1 -3s (s for severe) and Scottish guidebooks using a system of grades 1 to 5.
UK Scrambles recommends a simpler way to grade the system that would cover the entire UK. What we propose is to remove the “s” from the English grading system and then to remove the “5” from the Scottish system, evening out the grades from 1- 4 for both areas, and thus removing any confusion between the two higher ended grades.
Grade 1 Scrambling
This grade is for an easy scramble with little or no hazards and easy route finding. What this grade does is to find the most interesting route / line up a gully, gill, ridge, or buttress where the exposure is not great and where the route can be varied at will. NOTE: wet conditions on this type of route could increase the difficulty and hazard level up to a grade two.
Classic grade 1 scrambles include:
- Jack’s Rake scramble in the Lake District.
- Red Brook scramble in the Peak District.
- Striding Edge in the Lake District.
Grade 2 Scrambling
This grade is for routes that contain longer difficult sections where a rope could be used for safety / confidence, short exposed sections of rock or grass, and or at a certain point in the scramble that requires a short rock climb to overcome a particularly obstacle.
(These can often be avoided though on grade two’s.) Some skill required for route finding.
Classic grade 2 scrambles include:
Grade 3 Scrambling
Escape is difficult! This grade is more serious and should only be undertaken by experienced scramblers. A rope is advised for some of the pitches of easy rock climbing where the exposure could be quite high, or where the scramble of a particular water fall could be hazardous. This route could also contain steep grassy sections which offer no hand holds and a slip could be fatal.
Classic grade 3 scrambles include:
Grade 4 Scrambling
This grade should only be undertaken by the most experienced of scramblers, and donates a particularly serious scramble. This route will contain exposed passages on steep rock or poor vegetation. Routes of this type will require the skill of rock climbing up to a v diff and mountaineering skills where the use of rope and other climbing equipment would be used for passage on key areas. Escape on these routes is difficult and could probably only be escaped from by means of an abseil. Exposure will be high in many parts along the route.
Using the star system
The star system indicates the quality of the route:
* Represents a route that has some good points and is worth a visit.
** Represents a route of more interest and a good sustained quality line.
*** Represents a classic route with good continues rock and a good line well worth a visit.