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Ratings on Explor8ion

The Ratings on Explor8ion

The following is a summary of the Rocky Mountain Rambler Association rating system (used with permission). I have also developed my own ratings for the “remoteness” of a trip. Trip Category – What type of trip is it? Technical Difficulty Level (1-9) – How technically difficult is the most difficult section of the trip (note: it might be short or long). Remoteness Level (1-5) – how remote is this trip and how likely are you to run into other people on it (not including the parking lot since some trips start from popular lots and quickly get remote – i.e. anything up Mosquito Creek such as Cataract Peak).

RE – Remoteness Rating (all season)

  • 1 – Popular, expect many others along with families and dogs on the trail with you (i.e. Chester Lake, Grassi Lakes, Lake Louise front country, Moraine Lake)
  • 2 – Not remote, expect some others on many areas of the trip (i.e. Skyline Trail, Berg Lake, Assiniboine Provincial Park, front range Kananaskis, Yoho most areas, mid country Banff)
  • 3 – Somewhat remote, expect to see others but not for long and not many (i.e. Mid ranges in Kananaskis, Crowsnest, Castle Wilderness, Wapta Icefields)
  • 4 – Remote, likely won’t see more than one other party if that (i.e. Columbia Icefields, Siffleur, Ram, Pipestone, Fryatt, Great Divide areas of Kananaskis, Waterfall Valley in Yoho, backcountry Banff and Jasper, Woodland Caribou PP)
  • 5 – Very remote, you will be alone on this trip (i.e. Robson Glacier, Clemenceau, King Edward and deep Rockies along the Divide, north of Robson, extreme eastern Banff, west Ghost, pretty much anywhere without an official trail or Gaia route lines ;-)) 

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TL – Trail Hiking (non-winter ratings)

  • 1 – Well maintained, easy terrain suitable for running shoes (i.e. Upper Kananaskis Lakes circuit)
  • 2 – Purpose-built, graded with switchbacks if necessary (i.e. Healy Pass)
  • 3 – Sections of trail, few purpose-built sections, non-bridged streams (i.e. Prairie Mountain)
  • 4 – Hiking poles are a definite asset, rougher sections of trail that could be slightly overgrown (i.e. Memorial Lakes)

OT – Off-Trail Hiking (non-winter ratings)

  • 1 – Flat, easy gradients on firm, open ground (i.e. Alpine Lakes with no trails but a good shoreline, West Coast Trail – beach sections)
  • 2 – Moderate slopes, pretty easy terrain with some stream hopping possible (i.e. Alpine meadows with no trails and little bush)
  • 3 – Steeper slopes, rougher terrain, hiking poles an asset (i.e. Whaleback)
  • 4 – Sustained steep grassy or wooden slopes, hiking poles required for balance (i.e. Kent Ridge)
  • 5 – Steep slopes including grass, wood and scree. Little use of hands required but some exposure on route (i.e. Opal Ridge)

SC – Scrambling (rated for dry or optimal conditions)

  • 5 – Kane “easy” – YDS 1 – rocky gradients slightly more serious than OT5 (i.e. Grotto Mountain)
  • 6 – Kane “moderate” – YDS 2 – steep, exposed sections with moderately loose rocks and exposure, route-finding (i.e. Mount Temple)
  • 7 – Kane “difficult” – YDS 3/4 – very steep, exposed sections with slabby or loose rocks and lots of exposure and/or tricky route-finding in an alpine setting (i.e. Mount Chephren, Smuts, Northover)

MN – Mountaineering (in dry or optimal conditions)

  • 6 – Low angle glaciers, under 20 degrees with minimal crevasses (i.e. Saskatchewan Glacier)
  • 7 – An SC7 scramble with simply glacier terrain or snow slopes added to the mix (i.e. Mount Patterson)
  • 8 – An SC7 scramble with slightly more complex glacier travel and steeper snow slopes or extreme exposure where most folks would find a rope reasonable (i.e. Mount Victoria)
  • 9 – YDS 5.0 to 5.4 – equipment to protect the leader from falls is good practice, extreme exposure on steep but easily climbed rock, possible snow and / or ice couloirs used on route (i.e. Mount Assiniboine north ridge, Mount King George south glacier, Mount Harrison ice couloirs)

TS – Track-Set Skiing

  • – Easy
  • – Easy / Moderate
  • – Moderate
  • – Moderate / Difficult
  • – Difficult

TL – Trail Skiing

  • – Easy
  • – Easy / Moderate
  • – Moderate
  • – Moderate / Difficult
  • – Difficult (Elk Lakes via Elk Pass)

OT – Off-Trail Skiing

  • – Easy – Low angle slopes with minimal avalanche hazards, on partial approach roads or easy summer hiking trails (i.e. Elephant Rocks, Healy Pass)
  • – Easy / Moderate – Low to moderate angle slopes, some avalanche hazards, partial trail on approach (Burstall Pass, Bow Summit, Parker Ridge, Simpson Pass)
  • – Moderate – Follows established winter routes with avalanche terrain and possible navigation issues in certain conditions (Crowfoot Glades, Dolomite Circuit)
  • – Moderate / Difficult – Proceeds a bit further off-trail than a moderate route, requires more stable snow and more exposure to avalanche hazards, may require boot packing to the summit (Bow Peak, Citadel Peak, Ramp Peak)
  • – Difficult – Completely off-trail in severe avalanche terrain, requires very stable snow conditions and good weather (Spray Traverse, Crowfoot Mountain, Jimmy Junior, Snow Peak)

MN – Ski Mountaineering

  • – Fairly low angle approach on established winter routes, avalanche hazards and easy glacier travel requiring crevasse and avalanche rescue gear (Mount Rhondda, Gordon, Thompson, French / Haig / Robertson)
  • – Moderately hazardous approach through crevassed and avalanche or serac-exposed terrain, usually requires overnight winter gear along with crevasse and avalanche rescue gear (North Twin, Mount Baker)
  • – Hazardous approach, severely crevassed terrain, large avalanche slopes, usually requires overnight winter camping (Mount Balfour, Mount Columbia, Mount Resplendent)
  • – Hazardous approach, hazardous winter, cornices and/or glaciated terrain to the summit, severely crevassed and avalanche-exposed slopes on route and usually requires overnight winter camping (Mount Collie, Twin’s Tower, South Twin, The Helmet)

TL – Trail Snowshoeing

  • – Easy (Kananaskis Village area)
  • – Easy / Moderate (Rummel Lake)
  • – Moderate (Rawson Lake, Elk Pass)
  • – Moderate / Difficult (Chester Lake)
  • – Difficult (Elk Lakes via Elk Pass)

OT – Off-Trail Snowshoeing

  • – Moderate angle slopes with some avalanche terrain (Mount Fortune)
  • – Moderate to steep snow slopes with avalanche terrain (Big Bend Peak)
  • – Steep snow slopes with avalanche terrain and possible glacier travel (Castleguard Peak, Commonwealth Ridge)
  • – Extremely steep snow slopes with severe avalanche terrain and / or glacier travel with crevasses and / or cornices (Mount Wilson, Mount Olive – both summits)