Gear: What rack to take scrambling

A question I often get asked as a mountaineering instructor is what quantity of rack should I take on harder scrambles. The difference between harder scrambles and easy climbing is often negligible; however if we think we are going climbing we are likely to pick better weather and use rock shoes. Scrambles are often undertaken in poor weather and in big boots. I am not going to go through the techniques we use to protect ourselves, just a typical rack of gear I would take for grade 3 scrambles. More kit gives greater options for security but is heavier to carry.

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Belay plate and karabiner = my preference is for a guide type plate. My current favourite is a DMM pivot with an oval karabiner

Nut key = with so little gear, you need to be able to retrieve it!

Spare karabiners = if I intend to take coils I take one per person plus two spares per person to build belays with

Mid size nuts = the magic number seems to be 6! Sizes 3,4,5,6,7,8

Quickdraws = this largely depends on your comfort level but somewhere in the region of 3-5. Longer quickdraws are definitely an advantage. 2 Slingdraws are essential.

Hexes = I can't help it for scrambles (and winter climbing) I don't think you can beat the reassurance of a chunky hex as you are about to slither up a slimy groove! I try and take complimentary sizes with nuts and cams ie don't have more than one piece which fits into the same size range. Go big

Cams = two seems to do the trick. As above linked in with the other sizes of protection you have 

Slings with karabiners = 3 120cm slings with karabiners and 1 longer one. My current favourite are 180cm for a longer size.

The above is my personal opinion, for longer harder routes like Tower Ridge you may even want to beef it up a little but remember less can often be more. Alpinists are constantly obsessing about weight but it's worth considering whether an extra nut you can place on the crux will make you happier to commit to the move and therefore actually be faster.

Rope = together with your rack you will need a rope; this is likely going to be a different length for different routes but UK scrambles requiring a rope will mean you need a dynamic rated climbing single rope. Do not consider using a half rope. Minimum length will be 30m.

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Thanks for reading... If you are interested in learning more about scrambling, contact me for more information on a bespoke scrambling course

Simon Verspeak