How to understand our grading systems for 

rock-climbing, scrambling, hiking and biking

 

Every different mountain based sport has its own way of informing you how hard or dangerous a particular undertaking will be. To complicate matters, almost every country the world has their own way of grading each of these sports; and some grading systems take into account only part of the whole. For instance, by perhaps only focussing on the hardest 3 meter section, in a rock climb of 200m.

Here at EverydayClimbing, we are familiar with all the major grading systems for all the mountain activities we offer and can discuss the grade for any of our experiences or trips in a grading system you understand. For those who are unfamiliar with any grading system, we have tried to create our own accessible system of grading our experiences. This takes in account the physical effort and personal technical movement skills required to complete the hardest section of any of our experiences or trips. As we are ultimately responsible for ensuring your safety whilst under our instruction, we feel that focussing on this aspect of the experience is more beneficial to our clients. 

Please remember that all experiences and trips come with an element of development, we love to teach and see others improve!

So if you are unsure whether you have the skills required to take part in one of our popular experiences, please contact us and we will either adjust the itinerary to suit or include suitable skills development (where available) as part of the experience to allow you to fully participate.

Scrambling & mountaineering grading systems

EverydayClimbing Scrambling Grade;

EASY

Grade 1

A classic grade 1 scramble is essentially an exposed walking route. Most Grade 1 routes tend to be relatively straightforward with many difficulties avoidable, however use of hands for security will be necessary and keeping to the most direct line will generally involve additional risk. Some of the most popular days out in the British mountains are Grade 1 scrambles, all have notorious knee-trembling sections. Particular care should be taken in poor conditions, with the inexperienced or if you are unfamiliar with the route. Famous routes include Striding Edge on Helvellyn, Snowdon’s Crib Goch or Jacks Rake on Pavey Ark. They are typically attempted without ropes and protection by the confident, but equipment should be carried by a responsible leader to assist and protect novices. At Grade 1 expect to find plenty of exposure, but not too much commitment. Difficulty will often have to sought and is generally avoidable.

Grade 2

At Grade 2 the line between scrambling and rock climbing becomes blurred and the use of rope protection becomes more necessary for all parties. There is a popular misconception that scrambling is a milder and less dangerous version of rock climbing - ‘climbing-lite’. But scrambling can be actually be the more serious activity, particularly in the higher grades. Mainly because people typically attempt it with either less protection than rock climbing- or none at all. To fall is just as, if not more, serious.

Grade 2 scrambles such as the Aonach Eagach Ridge above Glen Coe will usually include sections where a nervous scrambler will need a rope to protect them, and the person in front (the leader) must be experienced and confident at moving over exposed yet relatively easy climbing terrain. At Grade 2 expect to find some committing moves and some exposure, but rarely at the same time. The hardest or most exposed sections of the route will often be avoidable but at the expense of climbing the purest line.

Grade 3

Grade 3 scrambles often appear in climbing guides as ‘Mod’ graded climbing routes (the easiest British rock-climbing grade) and should only be tackled by the experienced. Use of the rope is to be expected for several sections. If you've done a little climbing or a few easier scrambles however, then venturing onto something a bit more difficult can be very rewarding. At Grade three expect to find the route committing and exposed, but rarely at the same time. A higher level of judgement is required as some route finding may be necessary, you need to know how to protect yourself whilst making exposed moves and there may be areas of suspect rock on which care is required.

 

EverydayClimbing Scrambling Grade;

MODERATE

EverydayClimbing Scrambling Grade;

DIFFICULT

 
 
 

EverydayClimbing Scrambling Grade;

HARD

Grade 4

Grade 4 scrambles are essentially discontinuous rock climbs. At Grade 4, expect to find several sections or 'pitches' of rock climbing graded ground, with a full retinue of climbing skills needed to safely overcome these often unavoidable obstacles. These pitches are usually linked by easier but often still very exposed ground, where a broad range of mountaineering skills must be employed to maintain a balance of speed and security. Grade 4 scrambles are in a sense a reflection of Alpine style style climbing, with the experience and commitment that is expected of that style of climbing, although thankfully without the glacial approach skills required. At Grade 4 expect many committing and exposed, unavoidable sections of the route with a high level of judgement required for route finding, protection of the party and around areas of questionable rock.

 

Hiking and crag approach grading systems

We have applied gradings to all of our hiking, scrambling/mountaineering and climbing experiences. We do this to give you an idea of the expected level of fitness required by all parties to complete the experience and in the case of scrambling and climbing, the fitness required to access the routes and return from the top of them. Please note, that although we try to be generous and versatile with the time required to complete an experience, we cannot be held responsible for objectives missed during experiences due to clients lack of appropriate fitness. Although many of the experiences we offer have escape routes and options to reduce the distance covered, not all do. Please contact us with any questions or for more information.

 

EverydayClimbing

Hike Grade;

ENERGETIC

ENERGETIC

At this grade all clients will benefit from some previous experience of walking in the countryside, but the total distance covered during the experience will not usually exceed 5km but clients may have to carry some additional group equipment. The terrain will typically be easy underfoot and most, if not all of the journey will be on good quality paths. Clients booking an experience at this grade should be able to maintain a minimum speed of 2.5km on mixed terrain for 1.5hrs. In most cases, outdoor trainers will suffice as footwear. Walking poles should be considered by all clients as they may be of benefit for balance and security on steep ground.

 
 

 

EverydayClimbing

Hike Grade;

CHALLENGING

CHALLENGING

At this grade all clients will require a good level of fitness and need some previous experience of walking in an upland environment. The total distance covered during the experience will not usually exceed 10km but clients may have to carry some additional group equipment. The terrain will typically be easy underfoot, following a mixture of good and rough paths, but may include some walking on open mountainside. Clients booking an experience at this grade should be able to maintain a minimum speed of 2.5km on mixed terrain for up to 2.5hrs. A pair of good quality walking boots, broken in by the user, is highly recommended. Walking poles should be considered by all clients as they will be of benefit for balance and security on steep ground.

 

 

EverydayClimbing

HIKE Grade;

DEMANDING

DEMANDING

At this grade all clients will require a strong level of fitness and a good deal of experience of walking in mountain terrain. The total distance covered during the experience will not usually exceed 15km, but clients may have to carry some additional group equipment. The terrain may be easy underfoot for much of the distance, following a mixture of good and rough paths, but will include some walking on open mountainside, scree and/or very poor quality paths. Clients booking an experience at this grade should be able to maintain a minimum speed of 2.5km on mixed terrain for up to 3.5hrs. A pair of good quality walking boots, broken in by the user, are essential. A pair of walking poles per client is essential.

 

 

EverydayClimbing Hike Grade;

FORMIDABLE

FORMIDABLE

At this grade all clients will require a very strong level of fitness and good deal of previous experience of walking in mountain terrain to be able to complete the objective. The total distance covered will typically be 16km or more each day and clients may have to carry some additional load.

Some of the terrain may be easy underfoot, following a mixture of good and rough paths, but the trip will include some walking on open mountainside, scree and very poor quality paths in ascent and descent. Clients booking an experience at this grade should be able to maintain a minimum speed of 2.5km on mixed terrain for 3.5hrs or more. A pair of high quality walking boots that have been broken in by the user and a pair of walking poles per client are essential.

 
 

Rock climbing grading system

For those unpractised in applying a grading to the difficulty and danger involved in attempting a rock climb, the British Trad Grading system can feel like an unwelcome lesson in algebra...

In a nutshell,  ‘Trad’ stands for ‘traditional’ and the grade is divided into two parts:

The adjectival grade (Diff, VDiff, … to E10). This gives an overall picture of the route including how well protected it is, how sustained and an indication of the level of difficulty of the whole route.

The technical grade – (4a, 4b, 4c,….to 7b). This refers to the difficulty of the hardest single move, or short section, on a route.

Using our experience of working with clients in different stages of their climbing career, we have applied our own (rough) experience level to each of the Trad Grades, please read the corresponding text to understand what experience is required before joining us on a graded experience. If you are unsure about your ability or experience, please contact us, we will be happy to advise.

More information on trad grading systems can be found here and you will find a conversion chart at the bottom of this page.

EverydayClimbing Climbing Grade;

BEGINNER

UK Trad Grade 'Very Difficult' or 'VD'

We consider this to be the grade at which Rock Scrambling ends and Rock Climbing begins.

The terrain may be very steep or even vertical for short sections but is generally easy angled. Very little technique is required beyond maintaining balance, the movement of a single limb at a time and proper placement of the hands and feet on the best holds. Hand and foot holds are abundant and generally obvious.

 

This is a good introductory grade for those with little experience. Generally achievable by anyone...

with a little determination.

EverydayClimbing Climbing Grade;

EXPERIENCED

EverydayClimbing Climbing Grade;

ADVANCED

EverydayClimbing Climbing Grade;

EXPERT

EverydayClimbing Climbing Grade;

ELITE

UK Trad Grade 'Severe' (3c-4a)  or 'S'

 

At this grade the rock structure is likely to be steeper or even vertical and for longer sections. Some basic technique may be required on the very hardest move of the route, but typically you are not yet obliged to solve these sections in an specific manner. Hand and foot holds are less abundant and some observation and planning ahead for foot placements might be required.

This grade is achievable by determined and fit beginners with some coaching and by those who have had recent experience of indoor climbing at Grade 5 or outdoor climbing at Grade VD.

UK Trad Grade 'Hard Severe' (4a-4b) or 'HS'

The rock structure at this grade is typically the same as Grade 'Severe', but might also include some 'overlaps' or small roof features requiring a degree of upper body strength. Good climbing technique applied to various rock structures (chimneys, cracks, corners, etc.) is required, as well as increased confidence in friction of the feet on the rock. Hand and footholds are becoming rarer and/or smaller, so observation and planning ahead for placements becomes necessary. Body position will play a part in being able to utilise certain holds.

 

This grade is sometimes achievable by determined and fit beginners with specific coaching on individual moves. We recommend that to enjoy a shorter route or to be capable of joining us for a long route of this grade, you have climbed at least 10x routes of indoor climbing at Grade 6a or 5x outdoor climbs at grade Severe.

UK Trad Grade 'Very Severe' (4a-4c) or 'VS'

The rock structure at this grade is typically the same as the grade 'Hard Severe', but the frequency and duration of sustained, vertical sections will be increased. You may even encounter overhanging sections of rock, albeit with larger handholds. Good climbing technique applied to various rock structures (chimneys, cracks, aretes, etc.) is required, as well as increased confidence in friction of the feet on the rock. Hand and footholds are likely to be rare, spaced apart and/or smaller. Experience in using the hand to securely hold certain types of handhold is necessary as will using body position to maximise the use of these holds. Obviously, observation and planning ahead for placements is also necessary. Some sections will require the climber to be suitably strong and experienced enough to complete a move in a specific way to be able to bypass it.

This grade is not recommended for beginners, even with specific coaching on individual moves.

To join us on a route of this grade, you must have climbed at least 20x indoor routes of grade 6a+ or climbed 10x outdoor routes at grade Hard Severe or higher in the past 18 months.

UK Trad Grade 'Hard Very Severe' to 'Extreme' (5a-5c) or 'HVS, E1, E2, etc'

The rock structure at this grade could contain any angle of wall, including full roof. 

Hand and foot holds are often very small and widely spaced, requiring sophisticated training with particular development of finger strength, skill in balancing and grip techniques. The rock structure may force you to climb very delicately or very hard where overhanging, requiring special training and considerable strength in the arms and hands. The holds may be so small or arranged so as to require a particular combination of well studied movements.  

This grade is not recommended for beginners or those with modest experience, even with specific coaching on individual moves. 

To join us on a route of this grade, you must have climbed at least 40x indoor routes of grade 6b or have climbed 15x outdoor routes at grade Very Severe or higher in the past 12 months.

Contact

07841131463

Address

Seafield Cottage,

Station rd,

Carrbridge,

Invernesshire

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