Trip Rating System

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The VOC Trip Rating System is designed to offer trip leaders a much more quantitative tool for describing the difficulty of the trip they lead. In the past we've had issues using qualitative terms (such as beginner-friendly, etc) but these terms 1) aren't standardized in terms of what difficulty to expect and 2) give a very vague description to new members what to expect from a trip. Therefore, using this system outlined below, much of which has been adopted from the Alpine Club of Canada, the VOC exec hopes this system can inform its members better to understand the difficulties each trip will present itself. If you see anything that could be improved, email the current Trips Coordinator for feedback.


The Trip Rating System will be classified into 3 major categories: 1) Activity Type, 2) Technical Difficulty, and 3) Fitness Difficulty. These three categories we as the VOC exec give the best description to new members on what to expect from each trip, and what appropriate list of prerequisites are recommended before signing up for the trip.

Technical Difficulty Sorted By Activity

The following list provides a description of each technical difficulty rating sorted based on the activity. Much of this system was derived from the Alpine Club of Canada (ACC).

Mountaineering (Alpine)

Difficulty (D) Name: Description

  1. (E) Easy: Mountaineering with few difficulties - IFAS* Facile (F)
  2. (M) Moderate: Moderate mountaineering and climbing - IFAS Peu Difficile (PD) "a little difficult".
  3. (D) Difficult: More Difficult mountaineering with harder climbing, steep snow or ice - IFAS Assez Difficile (AD) "fairly difficult".
  4. (VD) Very Difficult: Very Difficult mountaineering with steep sustained technical climbing on rock, snow or ice - IFAS Difficile (D) "Difficult".
  5. Extremely Difficult (ED): Serious technical climbing IFAS Tres Difficile (TD) and harder.
  • IFAS = International French Adjectival System


Difficulty (D) # Name Description

  1. Easy Gentle slopes. Travel on trails over fairly level terrain. Use of hands not required. Roughly YDS* Class 1.
  2. Moderate Moderate slopes. Simple scrambling with occasional use of hands. Roughly YDS Class 2.
  3. Difficult Travel in mountainous terrain. Use of hands required. Increased exposure. Roughly YDS Class 3.
  4. Very Difficult Travel in difficult mountain terrain. High exposure. Most parties will want a rope. Roughly YDS Class 4.
  • YDS = Yosemite Decimal System


Difficulty (D) # Name Description

  1. Easy Gentle slopes. Travel on trails over fairly level terrain.
  2. Moderate Moderate slopes. Hiking may be off trail. Some route-finding.
  3. Difficult Hiking in mountainous terrain. Steep slopes likely. Complex terrain and route-finding.

Rock Climbing

Difficulty (D) # Name Description

  1. Easy (E): YDS* climbing grades up to 5.5
  2. Moderate (M): Moderate climbing YDS grades 5.6 to 5.8
  3. Difficult (D): More difficult climbing YDS 5.9 to 5.10
  4. Very Difficult (VD): Very difficult climbing YDS 5.11 and harder.
  • YDS = Yosemite Decimal System


Difficulty (D) # Name Description

  1. Easy Gentle slopes - "green" runs. Beginner to intermediate skiing ability. ATES* "Simple" terrain classification. No glacier travel.
  2. Moderate Moderate slopes - "blue" runs. Intermediate skiing ability. ATES "Challenging" terrain classification. Possible glacier crossings.
  3. Difficult Difficult slopes - black diamond runs. Intermediate to advanced skiing ability. ATES "Complex" terrain classification. Glacier travel likely.
  4. Very Difficult Very difficult slopes - double black diamond runs. Advanced/expert skiing ability. ATES "Complex" terrain classification with steep snow, ice or exposed glacier skiing.
  • ATES = Avalanche Terrain Exposure Scale

Snow Shoe

Difficulty (D) # Name Description

  1. Easy Gentle slopes. Snowshoeing on fairly level terrain. On trail or easy route-finding.
  2. Moderate Moderate slopes. Snowshoeing on steeper trails or routes. Intermediate ability. Some route-finding.
  3. Difficult Snowshoeing on steep slopes. Complex terrain and route-finding.

Ice Climbing

Difficulty (D) # Name Description

  1. Easy Grade 1 (WI1) - Low angle ice. Easy climbing.
  2. Moderate Grade 2 (WI2) - Steeper ice with short sections up to 80 degrees. Moderate climbing.
  3. Difficult Grade 3 (WI3) - More sustained steep ice up to 80 degrees.
  4. Very Difficult Grade 4 (WI4) - Sustained full pitches of off-vertical or shorter lengths of vertical ice.
  5. Extremely Difficult Grade 5 (WI5) and higher - Extremely difficult climbing. Full vertical pitches.

Sea Kayaking

Whitewater Sports



Training difficulty ratings will depend on the activity(ies) planned for the course or workshop. Refer to each activity and the course description for specific descriptions about the difficulty levels.

Fitness Difficulty