Hiking on scree can be a challenging experience for newer hikers. It's unique and rough terrain can be quite difficult and varies on which direction you are hiking. Today we should cover how to hike Up, Down and Along Scree and also touch on what scree actually is. If you are planning on turning up your hiking skills and taking on a more challenging hike then knowing how to walk on scree is very helpful and can certainly bring the risks of injury down.
What is Scree?
Scree are smallish rocks and stones which pile up on the sides and bases of mountains and hills. There are several environmental factors and events which govern how these rock fields are formed including the heating and cooling of the rocks continuously until they eventually break apart into smaller rocks creating fields of stone.
Hiking Up Scree
When hiking up scree it can be very easy to lose your balance on the uneven and rocky surface. When trying to balance yourself on Scree you want to try spread out your legs and allow for as much stabilisation as possible. Widening the base of your legs can add a ton of balance as you walk up the scree and can be further aided by leaning into the hill slightly.
If you want to make walking up scree slightly easier you can also walk in a waving, zig-zaging pattern which will lighten the load on your legs because you don't need to push up the hill as much. This will also lower the risk of a slip down the hill because you are not putting your faith in the scree to be a stable base to push off.
Hiking Down Scree
As you might imagine, going down scree is quite a bit easier than going up but that doesn't mean it doesn't pose its own challenges. One main way you can hike down scree is to glide with it, this usually involves moving with the energy of the moving scree and can take some getting used to.
Start by putting your foot out straight and as you land your leg on the Scree put the weight into heel allowing for stabilisation and the absorption of the impact on the Scree. This comes with the warning that this doesn't work on all kinds of scree, some larger rocks and steeper slopes will make this method more dangerous than helpful and could put you at risk of injury.
In these areas of large Scree and steep slopes try to zig-zag your way down and take your time as there is not really a way to get around going slow down these slopes.
Hiking Along Scree
Like when you are hiking up the scree you want to widen the base of your legs allowing for as much balance as possible. The zig-zag pattern may also be replicated allowing for the best and most stable experience from hiking along the Scree.
Boots with decent sides or gaiters are a good way of keeping the smaller stones out when sliding down on Scree and can stop those annoying little stones which get caught in your shoes from getting stuck.
Hiking on Scree is not all bad or annoying, gliding down can be quite fun and if done right can be a really interesting experience. Scree is a surface unlike any other and should be treated like so, it is not like walking down a paved path or well-trodden track but when taking the right precautions you can do it safely and with relative ease.
Written by Josh Welch