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I'd like to walk along some bluffs, but there's a bunch of gravel at a 45° angle along the bluffs that's kinda slippery and treacherous.

My question is: what kind of gear would assist me with this? I'm thinking walking sticks but maybe cleats as well?

The following two pictures show the terrain I'm describing:

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    I would not even attempt it without climbing gear. The people give some kind of scale: the scree part is only about 10m wide and then it looks as though there is a much steeper drop to the river. One slip and it's all over. – Weather Vane Mar 11 at 13:00
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    All that scree looks like it could also be indicative of rockfall from the cliff face. And scree, as anyone who's looked at it for a while, constantly triggers itself into mini avalanches. Plenty of hikers (not alpinists) end up seriously injured from being careless around bad terrain, this looks like a textbook case thereof. I once was hiking with a friend and couldn't believe it when she suggested traversing similar terrain. Good to ask, but, don't do it. – Italian Philosophers 4 Monica Mar 11 at 18:09
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    From the photos, I'd do my best to leave that area alone. Investigate whether the obstacle can be bypassed by going up to the top of the crags, or perhaps across the river. The latter could be shorter, and give better views of the slope, but could be impractical if there's nowhere suitable to cross it. – Toby Speight Mar 14 at 8:11
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    Where the people are looks to be slightly negotiable.. but near the top of the photo is much less wide and appears nearly vertical.. bad idea. – Nate W Mar 15 at 18:12
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This just doesn't look like it can be done safely. It looks like it's about 15 meters tall (diagonally), and the brush is thick enough to prevent you from just staying low down near the water. A fall from this height could easily result in serious injury or death.

Soccer cleats or trekking poles will not help here. They will be no more stable than the underlying dirt, which looks like loose, chossy gravel.

You could try to do it using mountaineering techniques, roping up and placing protection. However, the rock quality looks bad, and I don't see any cracks or other features that you could place protection in. You could try slinging trees and bushes, but from the photo that doesn't look like it will work.

If the rock quality of the cliffs is better than it looks, then conceivably you could drill and put in bolts, then do this traverse with a hand line or a belay. This would be a time-consuming and expensive project, would require permission from whoever controls the land, and would not be practical if you're talking about doing kilometers worth of traversing along this slope.

If you do decide to attempt it, wear helmets.

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  • Good call on un-safety. 1 small quibble: hiking near the water, if it was possible, would still put you at risk of rocks that came bounding down from the scree and they could be moving pretty quickly by the time they got down there. The ones in the upper picture look fairly sizeable too. btw, here's a link on hiking with scree, one guy in the comments, Gene, encountered exactly what you are warning about: sliding into a cliff. – Italian Philosophers 4 Monica Mar 12 at 5:30
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A pair of medium to tall height hiking/hunting boots, with gaiters or long trousers over the top to keep out stones. Ideally these will be something with a stiff upper and a full shank (inside the sole), so that you can place your foot perpendicular to the slope and not roll at the ankle.

Walking sticks, use appropriately should help with stability, but will not help you if you start to slide, or fall over and slide.

Assuming by cleats you mean like on the bottom of football/soccer boots or perhaps on sprinter's track spikes, rather than the tread pattern of the same name. If the football boot style, then these will not help you at all, unless they can make purchase on the soil underneath the loose rock. Football style cleats are designed for purchase on soft ground such as grass or dirt, rocks will lower their traction. Your best bet will be a pair of boots with a mud/dirt-shedding pattern so that they don't pick up mud or clay and provide less traction.

On a side note - as these cliffs appear to be overhanging in some respects, and the slope below consists of loose rocks - these have all shed from the cliff and can do so at any time. Wearing a climber's helmet may just save your life.

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    This is not realistic. Traversing along the slope will be extremely unsafe if done the way you suggest. – Ben Crowell Mar 11 at 14:24
  • Cleats and poles are completely useless on this sort of terrain, they just cause the rock to shift. – Loren Pechtel Mar 15 at 3:29
  • @LorenPechtel - that's why I said not cleats these will not help you at all is my quote. Poles, I disagree; it is highly surface dependent. It is very hard to tell from the photos what the exact surface is, it looks like it is a small layer of loose rock over dirt (second photo). In this situation, poles may poke through the rock, to provide purchase. Cleats, definite no, the surface area on footware is too great to provide any penetration. – bob1 Mar 15 at 3:35
  • In addition - there are grasses growing through the rock, so I suspect that it is a relatively shallow layer of rock debris - enough to be unsafe and difficult to traverse, but not out of the bounds of possibility with a lot of technical know-how. This is not a deep talus/scree slope that will slide indefinitely. There's even evidence of a partial trail in the second photo, leading up where the people are, and then along the base of the cliff past the bushes to their left, though it doesn't look like it goes any further and looks hella unstable. – bob1 Mar 15 at 3:47

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