Obviously, there is no limit when you talk about climbing or using alpine equipment, but what about maintaining a constant speed while walking, without crampons, and staying on feet, no scrambling?

Is there a way to estimate the maximum slope angle walkable in hiking or tracking boots on various terrain types?

  • I'm not clear what your getting at? – user2766 May 18 '16 at 14:05

What's the limitation here? Back in the old days there were no climbing boots available so rock climbers used boots (maybe enhanced with metal plates). Also in icy terrain this was the case. Even when Eiger Northface was climbed first not all party members had crampons. (people also climbed barefoot very steep and tough rock routes, even today some are doing this)

So it is possible to climb steep without the high-tech equipment we are blessed to be able to play around with today.

If you want a maximum slope angle where typical hiking is healthy this depends highly on your physique. So I would say there is no formula or something like that to answer your question.

  • This question is about walking rather than just ability to move, such as in climbing. – George Polevoy May 18 '16 at 10:52
  • Yes but what is the limitation? The transition from "walking" to "climbing" or "scrambling" is fluid. So what is your real question here? I just gave an excerpt why it is in my opinion not possible to give an absolute answer to your question about maximum slope. – Wills May 18 '16 at 10:59
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    I agree with @Wills - the answer will depend hugely on the terrain and on your balance and skills. On a very slippery rock slab even a few degrees can be impractical. On other terrain, 45% may be practical if it's possible to zigzag up the slope. So the answer is, it all depends. By the way, people almost always over-estimate the angle of steep slopes. – Tullochgorum May 18 '16 at 12:44

Maximum angle depends on the type of rock and on the type of your boots.

There are too many factors to think about, so maybe the question about maximal angle is not useful. Consider the following:

  • Is the rock wet or iced? If yes, this may severely limit your walking abilities.
  • Is the rock covered with a thin layer of sand or gravel? (you will slip all the time)
  • Is the rock crumbling, with a potentially dangerous fall?
  • Is the rock a monolithic limestone with small sharp ridges caused by rain, like this?

Just found an example GPS log of a hike, where I went up and down such slopes with average angle of 15-40° (average 30°). I had light flexible boots, which, I imagine, improved traction - so this may be close to the most favorable combination.

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