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January 2018 Issue
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Navigating a scree slope

Lean back and use walking poles when descending scree slopes. Photo: Peter Laurenson
Crossing a scree slope will add a thrill to any adventure – so here are a few tips and tricks to make the most of it.

Cover up
Cover your legs, arms and hands before moving onto the scree slope – you need to protect your skin in case you lose control and need to self-arrest. Gaiters will also keep small stones out of your boots.

Dig in to go up
When going up a scree slope, scuff your feet and dig your toes in to get a firm footing. Sturdy shoes or boots will help with traction. Only transfer your weight when you’ve got a secure footing.

Lean back to go down
To head down, face outwards and kick your heels in on every step. Leaning backwards will help with balance, as will a walking pole.

Follow the path of least resistance
Going across in a switchback style saves energy and gives the rock a better chance to accept your weight. Scree slopes in popular areas may already have faintly visible paths that can be followed.

If traversing a scree slope as a group, spread out so no-one is directly above anyone else. If you dislodge rocks and they start to gather speed, yell “Rock!” to warn others.

Self arrest
If you do take a tumble, the self-arresting technique is the same as for snow. Roll onto your front with your head facing uphill then dig into the slope with your hands and feet to arrest your fall.