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The usual system for rating a hiking, climbing or glacier trip's difficulty has two components. One rates how strenuous a trip is, and the other rates technical difficulty. The technical rating on this page is based on the Yosemite Decimal System, extended to include skiing.

For physical difficulty

Class Difficulty Description
A Easy Up to 5 hours of travel per day
B Moderate 5 to 8 hours of travel per day
C Hard 8 to 12 hours of travel per day, heavy loads, etc
D Extreme More than 12 hours of travel per day, heavy loads, rough terrain, etc.

For technical difficulty

Class Hiking/Climbing Skiing Glaciers
1 on-trail hiking trail skiing and only gentle slopes no glacier travel
2 off trail hiking, rock scrambling. Extremely rugged (north shore) hiking trails may be included here. skiing moderate slopes straightforward glacier travel.
3 easy climbing (usually not roped, but pulling on handholds required), glacier travel in broken terrain skiing sustained steep slopes (30 degrees) with sections that can be very steep (40 degrees) glacier travel in broken terrain, bridged crevasses, icefalls, etc.
4 moderate climbing, usually with a rope and placing occaisional protection. Difficult high mountain skiing. Sustained steep slopes combined with crevasse hazards, terrain traps, etc. Belayed Ice climbing on steep ice slopes placing ice screws for protection
5 technical rock climbing. Difficulty is graded using the YDS system or other rating systems extreme skiing, may involve rappels over cornices or cliffs Technical ice climbing. Difficulty is graded using water ice gradings such as WI3, WI4, WI5, etc.
6 aid climbing

Note about glacier travel: If a trip is rated Class 2 or Class 3, that does not necesarily mean that there will be glacier travel involved. Rather, if there is glacier travel then the Class 2 grade implies that it will be easy glacier travel.

Sometimes two technical difficulty grades are used, where a trip has a short difficult section but it mostly at the easier grade. (see Black Tusk Example Below)


  • Black Tusk B2(3)
  • Wedge Mountain North Arete C3
  • Mount Baker, Coleman-Deming route B2
  • Mount Seymour Hike A1
  • Alpha Mountain, east ridge C3(5)