Scrambling skills in Scotland

Scrambling in Scotland with Jim Sutherland Following the success of some North Wales and Lakes personal scrambling skills days, Alan Halewood got to work and organised similar for members in Scotland. So on Saturday the 23rd of July Jim Sutherland nineonesix-guiding provided the first of what we hope will be more, Mountain Training Association Continued Personal Development days based in the North West Highlands of Scotland.

The purpose of the day was personal scrambling skills development and not any sort of pre-MIA training or endorsement to work with clients out of ML remit;. Typically it was to prepare participants for scrambling adventures of their own with friends.

Murray and Richard both wanted to review, practice and extend their skills for scrambling. We all agreed that the time was best spent at a local venue and I had just the perfect one in mind – the crag above the local primary school in Shieldaig. I have used this venue before with clients as well as for rigging practice with the mountain rescue team.

Over the course of the day we reviewed movement on easy, non-serious rocky ground; the clear difference between scrambling terrain and that appropriate for confidence roping. Our day then progressed onto simple natural and direct belays, techniques for retreating from scrambles and finally onto scrambling terrain which demands a fuller repertoire of techniques such as belaying a leader, runners and building an anchor.

Here is their feedback:


‘The day met my expectations.It moved me out of my Mountain Leader comfort zone and allowed me to learn and practice a few basics techniques which, when added to my admittedly very basic current knowledge, gives me just those couple of new knots, anchors, abseiling techniques etc that I didn’t have before. It also reaffirms my long held feeling – I am not and never will be a climber! The ratio of 1:2 was key for a single 8 hour day, anymore people and there would not have been enough time to ensure everyone got the skills they were looking for. And it’s worth more than £65.’

And the result! Last Saturday on Aonach Eagach with 3 mates, West to East (I just prefer that direction) the rain came on just as we got to the wee tricky section before our final pinnacle. I didn't like the look of a particularly slippy down climb with terrifying consequences so rigged a very quick abseil of about 6 or 7m to get us down it onto the escape path below on the north side. All down safely and able to traverse the tricky bit and carry on to complete the ridge and have a fantastic day.

The training all clicked, I even got my nice new leather Spear and Jackson gardening gloves dirty so I look less of a newbie.

Regards, Murray

“The day’s training was run at a good pace with progression from an initial exploration of goals to movement on rock and then onto ‘ready to use’ scrambling techniques and finishing with more challenging terrain and then consolidation of skills learnt. We concluded the day with a debrief over a brew, identifying techniques to practise in the coming weeks. The day was great fun and thanks to Jim Sutherland for making it so informative and enjoyable.”

Cheers Richard