Tips for Hiking on Skree

Tips for Hiking on SkreeScree is made up of numerous rock chunks, typically fist-size or smaller. Walking in scree is not unlike walking in sand because it shifts underneath you. Scree usually isn't all that deep. But it can still produce a dangerous "scree slide" triggered by a falling hiker or even one clumsy step. You may also feel as though you're sliding two steps back for every step uphill. Try the following tips as ways of making hiking on scree easier.

Footwear

Make sure you're wearing closed-toed shoes, preferably solid boots with nylon shanks. These give you the best possible combination of sturdiness and relatively light weight. Wearing sandals or very soft shoes is a sure recipe for discomfort; bits of scree will work their way under your sandals, and walking on scree in soft shoes is just as painful as walking on a very rocky path--except that the rocks are continually moving underneath you.

Kick Steps

Gently dig or, if necessary, kick the toes of your boots into the scree. The sole of your boot should be horizontal; this gives you the best purchase on the scree. Always test your footing before committing your weight to it. The scree may slide a little beneath your foot--this is inevitable--but you should be able to make more upward progress than down. You can reverse this technique on the way down by digging your heels into the scree slope with each step; this is similar to a mountaineering descent technique known as plunge stepping.

Switchback

Create your own switchbacks by angling back and forth across a scree slope, working your way up gradually instead of going straight up. Even though you cover more total distance than if you were to go straight up, you expend less effort because you're not sliding backward in the scree as much. This technique also works to help keep you from speeding out of control on the way down.

Use Footholds

Make use of any bare spots, large rocks or even trees protruding from the scree field. These can be stable footholds that help you leverage yourself up but remember to always test your weight on them first, especially the large rocks. They may shift when weighted, as the scree appears to be holding them in place but really isn't.

Article Written By Marie Mulrooney

Marie Mulrooney has written professionally since 2001. Her diverse background includes numerous outdoor pursuits, personal training and linguistics. She studied mathematics and contributes regularly to various online publications. Mulrooney's print publication credits include national magazines, poetry awards and long-lived columns about local outdoor adventures.

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