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Home » Groups » Fort Collins » Alpine Scrambling School


Alpine Scrambling

Next Course:  May 2019

Contact: John Raich

Have you taken the Mountain Hiking School and are now ready to stretch your skills a bit further? Do you want to improve on the skills you will need to climb most of the Colorado 14ers? The Alpine Scrambling course is for you.

Most Colorado summits are accessible by scramble routes, so the skills acquired in this course will improve your ability to reach the summits of the Colorado 14ers as well as hundreds of other peaks.  The Alpine Scrambling Course is also a good choice for those interested in climbing semi-technical non-standard routes.  While much of the enjoyment of scrambling is freedom from technical gear and complicated rock climbing techniques, unroped scrambling in exposed situations is potentially one of the more dangerous aspects of mountaineering.  For this reason, education and training specific to scrambling is important for safe and confident climbing.

The ASC student will practice elementary technical methods in preparation for the more challenging scrambles.  A review of ice axe self-arrest, fit-and-usage of a climbing harness and helmet will provide for a safer climbing environment.  Leaders of scrambling trips will carry a rope and some protection gear during field days.  Technical gear may be used for security on exposed sections, or to facilitate a safer retreat in case of difficulty.  Sustained use of the technical gear is not taught in this course.  A goal of the course is to assist students to become more comfortable with exposure since that is a significant aspect of scrambling.

Although many find the ASC a logical bridge between a hiking course and a technical climbing course, others find the ASC an end in itself.  For those with moderate goals and aspirations, the ASC will provide a rewarding experience.  For those with more lofty ambitions, the ASC will add skills, confidence, and conditioning in anticipation of moving to technical climbing courses.

Elective Scrambles are typically rated at the C hiking classification level.  C classified trips can be up to 15 miles roundtrip and/or up to 3,500 feet elevation gain.  The earlier Elective Scrambles are not likely to reach these limits, a few of the later scrambles may get close or exceed them.  The physical and mental demands of the ASC are not to be underestimated.  A typical 4 a.m. meet time, long approach hikes while carrying a 20 lb pack, challenging scrambles with exposed climbing, and a late afternoon return to the trailhead, can be demanding on mind and body.  

If you believe that you may have issues handling exposure on your own or in a group, you are encouraged to start gradually with the easiest scrambles earlier in the season. Elective Scramble listings include descriptions of the hiking distances, climbing difficulties, and degree of exposure that you can expect on each trip. Ramping up the difficulty of your trips allows you to gradually increase your comfort level. Missing the early scrambles may result in attempting a later, more difficult, climb without being mentally prepared for it which would be discouraging for everyone.

Alpine Scrambling is generally offered every two or three years based on interest expressed by Northern Coloardo Group members. Acceptance to the course requires active CMC membership, and prior completion of the Mountain Hiking School, Wilderness Trekking School, or equivalent experience. If you are interested in taking this course, please contact John Raich, course coordinator. You can request a copy of the ASC manual for a closer look at the overall program.
More Information: John Raich, ASC Director,