A scramble is a route up a mountain that requires you to use your hands. It is steeper than a hike but it does not require ropes, belays or protection. A scramble is more technical than a hike and less technical than rock climbing.
In 2023, I climbed 13 peaks. Most of them were hikes or easy scrambles.
There are links to the trip reports below.
Upper Kananaskis Lake
The first peaks I tried were long hikes up to summits. Some of the peaks required more fitness and a good grasp of "micro route finding".
In general, route finding is locating a path or line, sometimes around or over challenging sections, to get from where you are to where you want to go. Often to a summit but sometimes to the top of a col or through a difficult feature like a rock face.
Micro route finding involves finding the safest and most efficient way to move up or down a small area of off-trail terrain such as slabs, scree, or a boulder field. For example, on Grotto, Sparrowhawk and Rundle, we used micro route finding to move quickly and confidently and use less energy, finding the best places to put our feet on different types of terrain.
Sometimes it is possible to climb more than one peak in a single trip. An example is Heart Mountain and Grant MacEwan Peak which are connected by a ridge. I climbed both on the same trip. To read more, click the trip report below.
With Dan being injured, I had to climb most of the summer on my own. I chose summits that were low risk or that I had done before and felt confident summitting alone.
On April 4, I summited Prairie Mountain, my first peak of 2023. A very humble, straightforward hike led to the top of Prairie Mountain.
On April 20, I summited Ha Ling. Still lots of snow out there but a great trail and beautiful day.
On April 29, we summited Little Lougheed. Such a beautiful blue sky day was perfect for the very scenic views from the top.
On May 6 we summitted Wasootch Peak. This was a great scramble, so much fun! Kind of a windy stormy summit but lots of good adventure. Check it out!
On May 13 we summited Grotto Mountain. We've spent a lot of time in Canmore and had climbed all the mountains around the town except this one. Now it too has been climbed!
On May 21 we summited Mount Sparrowhawk. We saw it from the top of Little Lougheed and it looked intriguing. It is about the same height gain and difficulty rating as Grotto. We found it a bit more challenging.
On May 28 we summited Mount Rundle. The highest elevation gain and distance of any of the peaks so far. It went really well.
On June 4, we set out to climb Mount Hood and ended up on top of King Creek Ridge. Does a ridge top count as a peak? It does if there's a summit register up there, or so we decided.
On June 21, I scrambled up Heart Mountain. Once on the summit, I decided to continue along the ridge and summit Grant MacEwan Peak.
On June 24, I summited Mount Yamnuska. Super fun scramble on great rock. Fun features like a chimney and a narrow ledge with chains to hold onto as you traverse across it make this a great route.
On July 18, I summited Mount Bryant. Long day, lots of hard work for this one. The best part was the hike through alpine meadows to a lovely little lake where the ascent started.
On July 24 I summited Forgetmenot Mountain. It was a long long hike through all kinds of terrain with some off trail route finding to avoid bushwacking.
A quick word on Alpine Grades. F is the easiest grade that can be assigned to an alpine climb. It is from the French word facile which means easy. Routes with this grade have very little technical difficulty or route finding challenges. This is typically the grade given to scrambles.
Within the F grade, there are different levels of scrambling difficulty ranging from first to fourth class. Fifth class terrain requires rock climbing skills and most folks will use a rope and some form of belay or protection. First through fourth class scrambling is defined as follows:
Simple hiking on well defined trails, no need for hands. Could involve long distances, creek crossings and navigation challenges.
Simple scrambling and off trail travel on scree, talus and boulders with low exposure. Hands are used at times for balance. Good route finding improves efficiency and safety. Falls can cause serious injuries.
The hardest mountains we climbed in 2023 were rated F Second Class.
Involves steep rocky terrain requiring hand holds for upward movement. Mountain guides will often rope up and belay their guests on this terrain. Typically there are plenty of hand and footholds, easy to find, but may be loose and require testing before trusting. Good route finding skills are needed to avoid unsafe terrain. A fall could result in serious injury or death.
We are planning to attempt a few F - 3rd Class climbs in 2024. On the list are Mount Chester and Mount Hood.
Difficult and exposed scrambling often requiring a rope. Steep and rocky terrain is more loose and longer than third class. Exposure is greater such that a fall will likely result in serious injury or death. Rock climbing skills are very useful. Route finding skills are often necessary to avoid technical climbing sections. Many people will want to use a rope and belay.
Pidgeon Spire 2015