How Iceclimbs are Rated
no-star Might be worthwhile if you're in the area.
* A good climb. A must-do for the local area.
** A very good climb. A must-do for the regional area.
*** An exceptional climb.
A must-do for the Intermountain area.
Technical Rating: (These numbers apply
to WaterIce, AlpineIce, or Mixed terrain).
These are actually "commitment" ratings, and somehow such squishy
qualities such as "scariness" are factored into the rating. Suffice it
to say that range of difficulty within each rating is broad.
The technical grade describes the hardest pitch of the route.
In general, the technical difficulty of a climb is based on
the usual conditions encountered. Since the technical difficulty of
a climb depends directly from the quality of the ice, be aware that
conditions outside the average will affect the rating.
1 Walking up with crampons. No tools required.
2 A pitch of 60º-70º ice, reasonably consistent, with few short steep steps. Only one tool is needed. Good protection and belays.
3 Sustained 70º-80º ice, usually thick and solid.
May contain short, steep sections, but will have
good resting places and offer good protection and belays.
4 Sustained 75º-85º ice, separated by good belays,
or a less steep pitch with significative vertical sections.
Generally good quality ice, offering satisfactory protection.
5 A noticeably more strenuous pitch of good but steep
6 A very steep, strenuous pitch with few stances for rest.
The ice may not be of top quality and protection may be poor.
A high level of skill and strength is required.
7 An overhanging, strenuous pitch with few resting places and often
I A short climb with a short approach and easy descent.
Time required is an hour, or two.
II A 1 or 2 pitch climb with a short approach and easy descent
by rappeling, or downclimbing. Time required is a few hours.
III A multi-pitch route at a low elevation which may take several hours,
or a route with a long approach that requires good winter travel skills,
or a route subject to occasional winter hazards.
The descent is often by rappeling. Time required is half a day.
IV A multi-pitch route at higher elevations, or a remote route
which requires mountaineering and winter travel skills. May be subject
to objective hazards (i.e. avalanche, or rockfall).
The descent may be difficult, and involve rappeling.
Time required is a most of a day.
V A long climb on a high mountain face that requires significant
competence as well as commitment. The climb is subject to objective hazards
in addition to bad weather. The approach and descent may be long and
difficult. Time required is a long day, or two.
VI A long, multi-pitch route on a high alpine face.
The climb may include winter alpine climbing logistical problems
in addition to severe objective hazards
( i.e. avalanche, falling seracs, high elevation and remoteness).
Time required is many days.
For a discussion of aid climbing grades, go
to Middendorf's Big Wall Page.