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What is scrambling?

Scrambling is hiking taken to the next level. It's something indoor climbers and hikers that are climbing-curious do. It combines what you know from hiking with skills taken from mountaineering for off-trail travel over snow and rocks. Reaching the summit is the ultimate objective.


Generally scrambling is considered strenuous and physically demanding, often using route-finding skills and the use of your hands to keep balance as you “scramble” over rocks. Unlike mountaineering or rock climbing it does not require glacial travel. This means no technical gear such as rope, rock or snow protection, or belay skills are needed.

What is Mountaineering?

Mountaineering, like scrambling, usually has a summit as the main objective. However, where scrambling requires the head on your shoulders, the shoes on your feet and the occasional ice axe, mountaineering requires special technical skills involving roped glacier travel and rope handling skills, belaying, and occasional rockclimbing moves.

Getting started


Take an Intro to Mountaineering course

Intro to Mountaineering is the first of our Scrambling Series.

See upcoming events

Image by Muhaimin Mohd

Physical Conditioning

Challenge and test yourself with incline hikes such as Mt. Si. Join Gearhouse for weekday hikes.


Get the right mountaineering gear

Be prepared. Gearhouse has ice axes, crampons, and accessories. Just bring yourself and your boots. Learn more.

During our intro to mountaineering day we will learn:

  • Proper, safe ice ax use & technique

  • How to properly perform a self-arrest with an ice ax

  • How to “kick steps” and other techniques for walking in snow

  • How to walk in crampons (condition dependent)

  • Safe techniques for glissading

  • Walking and navigating rocky terrain

Physical fitness and conditioning for mountaineering 

As mentioned above, scrambling is a challenging activity. In order to be safe, keep-up with the group, and have fun, you will need to be in good shape. Each scramble trip is rated in terms of how physically challenging they are.


If you are uncertain or looking for a benchmark -- plan to hike up to the viewpoint on Mt Si with 20% of your weight in a day pack. If you can get to the top in 2.5 hours with few rest breaks and not exhausted or out of breath, it's an indicator you are on your way. 


If Mt. Si is a struggle keep hiking and focus on endurance, you have your first goal to help you work your way there. Part of our summer scrambling program will include midweek “workout” hikes to some of the high points in the i90 corridor.

What you'll need for Mountaineering

Mountaineering Gear

The beauty of scrambling is that at its core is just a vigorous hike with a summit as the destination. So, in general there is not a lot of special equipment outside of what you hike and backpack with. However, some scrambles require the use of special equipment, along with learning the skill.

Book a kit or pick your gear. 

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Ice Axe

Ice axes are used for safely navigating glaciers and icy terrain.

Image by Patrick Schneider


Having traction is crucial on uneven and slippery terrain.


Ultralight Camping Gear

Sleep and cook food with lightweight equipment provided by Gearhouse.

Mountaineering Packing List
  • 10 essentials

  • Helmet (route dependent)

  • Ice Axe (route dependent)

  • Crampons (route dependent)

  • 2-3 liters of water

  • 2000-3000 calories (mix of real food, bars, etc.)

  • Sunnies and Sunscreen

Hone your Craft - Skills Progression

Skill Check 

What level am I?

Get a baseline

  • Join Gearhouse for Intro to Mountaineering skills.

  • Can you reach the top of Mt. Si in 2.5 hours or less without being exhausted?


You're an avid hiker or backpacker but are looking to go higher and harder. Join our weekly after-work conditioning hikes in the I-90 corridor to get your legs ready for steeper and more challenging days


You’ve taken our Intro to Mountaineering skills clinic, your legs can get you atop Mt. Si comfortably. Now you're ready to come on our easy scramble days offered in May, June, July, August, and September. 


You're feeling strong. You've been joining our easy scramble days. You're comfortable with long days, off-trail travel, route finding, and “scrambling” over 2nd & 3rd class terrain. Join our “hard” scramble days, May-September

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