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Rock Climbing

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1342087.  Fri Feb 07, 2020 9:57 am Reply with quote

From time to time, when I was a younger, fitter and more agile costean, I used to indulge in a spot of rock climbing. And that, I think, is quite enough of the tedious reminiscences from my youth; so to the point.

On one particular occasion we were climbing Tryfan (a fairly hefty chunk of rock in Snowdonia) and I remember the instructor telling us that Tryfan was the only mountain in mainland Britain which was impossible to ascend without having to climb or scramble. By this he meant that on every other mountain it is possible to find a route to the summit where walking is sufficient. I stress ‘mainland’ because in the Cuillins on Skye there are a number of non-walkable mountains.

Climbing involves helmets, ropes, safety equipment, effort and swearing. Scrambling means that while you may be able to walk up most of the hill you will need to use hand holds to get past the difficult bits. Tryfan has an almost shear side (the climbing bit) and a steep side where you need to scramble to ascend (or descend if you choose to come down that way).

Now, I haven’t climbed/walked up every mountain in Britain, but all the ones I have support the claim above. Can anyone confirm whether or not this is true? It seems to me to be quite interesting either way.

Anyway, as things stand it seems that Wales has just one peak which is impossible simply to walk up. And, all the high points of England are accessible to the casual walker.

This got me thinking about which other countries might have all peaks which are entirely accessible to walkers and which might be the country with the highest accessibility rating (ie the one with the highest peak where it and all other peaks can be accessed by walkers). Perhaps our international members could make some suggestions?

1342100.  Fri Feb 07, 2020 1:05 pm Reply with quote

costean wrote:
I stress ‘mainland’ because in the Cuillins on Skye there are a number of non-walkable mountains.

It's just Sgùrr Dearg, isn't it? I've heard it claimed as the only Munro that you can't walk up. Just to make it even more fun it's basalt, which is rather more slippery than the gabbro and granite that make up most of Scotland's mountains.

You appear to be right that every mountain on the British mainland bar Tryfan is walkable. Ben Nevis is really quite an easy walk (for the fit), while Helvellyn seems to be regarded as best avoided if you are determined not to scramble.

Mount Whitney is California (14,505 feet) is walkable; the hardest part is said to be getting the required access permit. Mount Kilimanjaro (19,341 feet) is also walkable, and indeed Aconcagua in Argentina (22,837 feet) is said to be "marginally walkable". This appears to mean that serious mountaineers have gotten to the top without using their ropes or axes, but they don't recommend attempting the mountain without carrying such equipment.

As far as I can establish, there are no natural climbing opportunities in the Netherlands; cardboard climbing walls are all there is. Belgium is scarcely more renowned for its mountains than the Netherlands and there is none which is unwalkable, but there are opportunities to dangle if so inclined.

1342105.  Fri Feb 07, 2020 1:52 pm Reply with quote

Sgùrr Dearg is a full on climb (ropes etc) and as you say the rock can be treacherous. As for the other peaks in the Cuillins I am informed, but do not know for sure, that a few others require scrambling. This wiki page has some info on the easiest routes.

I have been up Helvellyn a number of times (once at night) and there are walkable routes. Striding Edge is steep and a decent scramble if that’s your bag.

I was wondering how long it would be before someone played the ace of trumps with Mount Kilimanjaro (19,341 feet). Not very seems to be answer to that! But, it still leaves us with the question of whether all the other peaks in the country are also walkable in order for Tanzania to be “fully accessible” – technical term.

Argentina, I think, would be a chuck out as many of its Andean peaks would require not just climbing skills, but the full expedition.

1342113.  Fri Feb 07, 2020 6:00 pm Reply with quote

Mountaineers seem to consider Monte FitzRoy as the hardest to climb in Argentina. It's "only" 11,073 feet, but it looks like something out of a Tolkien novel and there are plenty of vertical granite faces to ascend. What's more, the border with Chile runs through the mountain and in places there are border fences in your way. So yes, that one is best left to a full expedition with diplomatic passports.

The second highest mountain in Tanzania is Mount Meru (14,968 feet). I can't find anything formal about its difficulty, but I found a forum posting from a fellow who claims to have been up it "many times". He says that it's a hands and knees job, and there's lots of scree to contend with. What's more, it's an active volcano (last erupted 1910). So no, it is not the case that the mountains of Tanzania are all walkable.

Alexander Howard
1342152.  Sat Feb 08, 2020 4:31 pm Reply with quote

As costean says, The Inaccessible Pinnacle of Sgùrr Dearg (on the Isle of Skye) cannot be climbed without climbing equipment, and it is the only munro which Munro himself never climbed to the summit.

1342185.  Sun Feb 09, 2020 8:26 am Reply with quote

The ‘In Pin’ is still the reason most Munro baggers confine their efforts to the mainland.

suze wrote:
So no, it is not the case that the mountains of Tanzania are all walkable.

That’s good. I hadn’t checked on the other mountains in Tanzania and it seems there are rather more of them than I had supposed. Also, Kenya has quite a few volcanic peaks (other than Mount Kenya) and a few of those are unwalkable.

From the list we can also cross off Australia, Mongolia, The Dem Rep of Congo, Uganda and Turkey.


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