Scrambling on Table Mountain hikes – 13 August 2015

If you’re thinking about hiking Table Mountain, you’d do well to familiarize yourself with the term ‘scrambling’. Its conventional meaning, pertaining to eggs, gives little clue to its use in the context of Table Mountain hikes. Rather, it’s a method of movement to negotiate steep terrain – of which Table Mountain offers in abundance. Most Table Mountain hiking routes involves scrambling at some point along the way, so before you whip up the mountain, or find yourself walking on eggshells near the edge of a sheer drop, make sure you know what scrambling involves.

Scrambling can be defined as elementary climbing. It’s the grey area between hiking and rock-climbing, where steep terrain necessitates the use of hands. It’s not a precise science, though: there are shades of grey, and its demarcation a nebulous affair. As far as Table Mountain hikes go, scrambling is not really boulder-hopping: the activity of clambering and / or skipping across boulders. It refers to an upward movement – vertical rather than horizontal. Hence its definition as elementary climbing.

Factors that affect the severity of a particular scramble are rock quality, exposure to heights, technicality and type of movements required. Friable rock makes scrambling dangerous and scary because you can’t trust the rock. Scrambles exposed to heights feel harder and are more dangerous, because of the penalty in the event of a fall. Certain moves – chimney climbing, straddling, traversing – are harder for some than for others. Technicality relates to the complexity of the moves required to get up a section of rock: more technical scrambling requires more experience, and sometimes borders on rock-climbing.

Table Mountain hikes can be customized to suit your scrambling preferences: exposed or non-exposed as well as the technicality and quantity. Exposed and upper-end scrambling often requires the use of a rope, so make sure you go with someone competent in providing safety on steep ground. If you have a sense of adventure, then Table Mountain hiking routes involving scrambling offers a fun and exciting way of ascending the mountain. If you’re unfit, chances are you will find scrambling easier and more fun than mere slope-slogging. It’s a great way to add spice to a hike and get in touch with the essence of the mountain while challenging yourself and varying the terrain. Scrambling is more engaging and stimulating, so ideal for those who like to challenge themselves and up for an adventure.

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