Technical Grading of Hikes
We use the American classification because it flows well into the rock climbing grading to give everything perspective.
Class 1: low-risk hike on a well-defined trail. Class 1 rating doesn't mean you won't gain elevation or have your mind-blown by the views; it simply means that there's very little chance of you falling off a ledge. No technical gear is required, although hiking shoes, hiking poles and a day pack are nice to have on any hike.
Class 2: Class 2 trails might have sections that aren't clearly defined. There is a chance you'll need to use your hands to steady yourself, depending on how cautious you are, but for the most part the terrain is considered easy or moderate. The unsteadiness of a Class 2 trail often comes from the need to traverse over scree (small, loose rock) or talus (larger, semi-loose rock) fields.
Class 3: Class 3 hikes include sections with rugged terrain where the use of your hands is necessary. That's right, you get to scramble through Class 3 sections of hikes. Using your hands could be due to extreme terrain, such as large rocks, steep slopes, or a combination of both. You don't need technical climbing gear, but some people use ropes for added safety. The exposure (being exposed to a steep slope with little to no protection from a fall) of a Class 3 hike is kicked up a notch, meaning a fall could result in serious injury. Don't be deterred by this, just be prepared to follow your guides instruction.
Our guides all carry a confidence rope for any grade 3 or higher hike.
Class 4: Class 4 is considered to be more of a climbing or mountaineering route than a hiking trail. While the climbing or traversing is considered easy, unstable terrain and a high level of exposure warrant the use of a rope for most Class 4 routes. No prior knowledge is needed in this regard, our guides will do it all for you.
Class 5: Class 5 route is considered technical free-climbing and requires the whole rock climbing getup: a rope, a harness, a belay device, climbing shoes, a helmet and other hardware, such as quickdraws, depending on the type of climbing you're doing. From here, you actually get thrown into another dimension of ratings. Free-climbing routes have an added decimal system and letters (5.0-5.15d) (American rating) to gauge the difficulty of specific class 5 routes. But we'll save that for our climbing tours.