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alpine grades for ski alpinism - (swiss alpine club)

Overall Tour Difficulty

Rating Terrain: Ascent and Descent Exposure Bottlenecks: Descent Only Slope
Easy F Tame, hilly terrain, no obstacles No danger of sliding out of control No tight spots Under 28°
Not Very Difficult PD
Usually open slopes with some short steep steps, quick turns might be necessary to avoid some obstacles Short steep sections with gentle run outs Bottlenecks are short and not steep. Around 30°
Rather Difficult AD
Short steep steps which cannot be avoided, some obstacles in moderately steep terrain, requires quick reactions. Kick turns necessary on the ascent. Longer slide ways with steeps steps. Danger of injury if sliding Bottlenecks are short but steep. Quick turns necessary. Around 35°
Difficult D
Steep slopes, many obstacles require good skiing skills Long slide ways, partly into blocks, rubble, trees. (danger of death if snow is icy!) Long and steep narrow spots. Short, quick turns still possible Around 40°
Very Difficult TD
Generally very steep terrain, often with interspersed rock steps, many obstacles Slide ways with steep steps, cliffs (mortal danger!)

Long and very steep couloirs. Often jump turns and side slipping necessary.

around 45°

Extremely Difficult

Extremely steep slopes and couloirs, no safe spots for stopping
Extreme exposure

Long and very steep couloirs. Only jump turns and side slipping possible

Around 50°
Exceptionally Difficult
Extremely steep faces and couloirs, only for experts
Possibly rappelling necessary over rock ledges
55° and more

The overall tour ski rating is an estimate of the general level of the difficulties encountered and their continuity, it also takes the altitude and length of the route into account. The scale, modeled on the overall alpinism rating, goes from F (easy) to ABO (horrible).

Remember: This rating is an overall difficulty rating. It is used to compare one route to another. The criteria listed above are guidelines for how to classify routes into ratings, but are not absolute. A straightforward route with a short, unexposed 45° pitch would not necessarily be rated TD based on slope alone. If the rest of the route is fairly easy ski mountaineering, it could easily be rated something like AD+.

WARNING This is a rating for skiing, and not for alpinism: a corridor may be rated D for skiing whereas for alpinism, its ascent does not exceed AD or PD.

This overall tour rating is sometimes used in combination with the Traynard rating system for the crux section of the descent. In this way the rating provides an overview of the tour as a whole as well as the most difficult section of the descent.

Example: Click here for a ski touring route description using this rating system.

Click here to return to the home page for ski tour & ski descent rating systems

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