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Freedom of the Hills...

Rating System

Ratings are subjective, routes may be easier or harder than noted...

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Difficulty - Endurance


In assessing the difficulty of a hike/climb based upon the amount of cardio-vascular effort required the author has considered factors such as distance, elevation gain and loss, steepness of terrain, weather conditions, bush-whacking, stream crossings, some technical aspects such as hand use, talus, scree etc.  This scale is highly subjective and will vary greatly depending on the conditions in which the hike/climb was completed.


Scale Range:


0 - sitting and resting.



5 - moderate day scramble in summer conditions, the “average” scramble in Kane’s book or a longer day hike in Daffern’s book.



10 - Multi-week high altitude climb with full expedition gear in extreme conditions


Difficulty - Technical


In assessing the difficulty of a hike/climb based upon the technical aspects of the climb/hike the author has considered the steepness of the trail, the quality of the rock, the existence of talus, scree, the quality and amount of handholds, the amount of hazards and the existence of exposure (fall distance) etc.  This rating is based on the most difficult part of the hike/climb unless the difficult part is very short and out of proportion to the rest of the hike/climb. Note: the author believes that a rope and belay should be employed on exposed sections that are more than trivial in terms of difficulty.  It is completely up to you to determine what amounts to "trivial".


1: Hiking on a clear, well-maintained trail, no hazards and easy inclines.

1.5: Hiking on a rough trail, moderate inclines.

2: Hiking on an intermittent or hard to discern trail or animal trail,  requires some route-finding skills, through brush, over fallen trees, mild talus or scree.
2.5: Hiking that requires route-finding skills, through thick brush, over fallen trees and other small hazards or rough steep talus and scree, some use of hands may be required for balance but such use is not necessary.  Kane: “largely a hike”

3: Scrambling over rock, moderate hazards or steep talus, occasional use of hands required, no exposure.  Kane “easy”

3.5: Scrambling over steep rock, larger hazards or very steep talus, some route finding required, frequent use of hands required, mild exposure, likelihood of injury if a fall occurs.  Kane: “moderate”

4: Scrambling over very steep rock, consistent use of hand holds to ascend, route-finding required to stay off technical rock, descending may require rope, exposure, likelihood of severe injury or death if a fall occurs.  Kane: “difficult”

4.5: Scrambling over extremely steep rock, consistent use of hand holds to ascend, route-finding required to stay off technical rock, rope recommended, descending will likely require rope, severe exposure, likelihood of death if a fall occurs. Kane: “a climbers scramble”

5+: Technical climbing,  techniques including counter pressure are employed, rope and protection required.
This link may provide more insight into the YDS rating system: