Route classifications



On this web-site, I have classified routes based on the Yosemite Decimal System (YDS), unless otherwise stated. Deviating from the YDS table, is class 2+, which I found in the book "Colorado's Thirtheeners" (Roach & Roach). A classification aims to describe the hardest pitch of a route in terms of a number. The classification is only valid for optimal circumstances. A good example is dry vs. wet rock. Wet rock may easily turn a class 2+ route into class 3. This is important to keep in mind. The main goal is to provide information about the route's crux (most difficult point) and allow you to prepare for the hike/scramble/climb accordingly. 

The intention is to describe the route objectively - using digits. The numbers take away subjective attributes as "dangerous", "steep", "difficult", "fairly easy", etc. that have different meaning from person to person. The classes *should not* take into consideration attributes like exposure, distance to summit or steep and strenuous hillsides. These attributes will be added as comments to the route. On this page, I will describe my interpretation of the classes, based on my personal experience.

Why YDS?

I've found YDS (along with the class 2+ extension) most suitable for hiking/easy scrambling. Since I for the most part write about Norwegian mountains, it would perhaps be convenient to classify routes based on Norwegian standard (class 1-10). The Norwegian standard is however aimed towards climbing and omits various grades of hiking/light scrambling. Typically, a class 3 YDS route would be a class 2 route after Norwegian standards. See this link for a listing of the Norwegian classes. Unfortunately, the page is written in Norwegian.

The classes

I only aim to describe classes 1 through 4. As I am not (yet) into technical climbing, I concentrate on classes valid for non-climbing routes for Hordaland mountains.

Class 1  Suitable for most hikers. Typically, a trail or cairn trail (above the forest) without any need to use hands for support. An odd long step here and there may occur, but nothing that should be considered as problematic. Class 1 may also include off-trail hiking, but in this case, the terrain is trivial.
Class 2 Still a fairly easy hike, but parts of the route run off-trail. Typical examples are bushwhacking, boulder fields, scree slopes,  etc. Still doable for most hikers, but expect to work a bit harder than on a class 1 route. You may need to use your hands for support and balance.
Class 2+ This class is not part of the YDS, but a very convenient classification. Typically, this is a awkward class 2 route, more scrambling than walking, but where handholds present themselves. In steep slopes (you shouldn't fall there), you may have to search for the route, although the route isn't technically difficult. I tend to classify routes as 2+ when I lower my center of gravity (a nice term for having the ass on the ground) in slopes which are not technically difficult. Class 2+ routes tend to be a bit airy, although not necessarily exposed.  
Class 3 This is scrambling and not hiking. Exposed or not, you will have to look for the handholds and plan the moves, but neither are particularly difficult. To my knowledge, only 3 Hordaland mountains require class 3 scrambling on the easiest route. These mountains are Gygrastolen, Laurdalstind and Bjørndalstindane. All located in the Ænes-Rosendal region by Hardangerfjorden, and very airy - even if this does not influence the classification. 
Class 4 This is more climbing than scrambling. A friend of mine has a rule of thumb regarding class 4: "It is not too difficult to climb up, but you would rather rappel down". When you're in for climbing, exposure is a natural element. On the other hand, exposure does not drive this classification. If you scramble up a gully, a couloir, a dry river, etc., you may encounter class 4 without exposure (OK you may fall a few meters, but this is not exposure). No Hordaland mountains have class 4 as the easiest route.
Class 5 This is rock climbing. Class 5 is followed by another number which determines the actual difficulty. Refer to subdivisions of class 5 climbing on the YDS page for more information.


I have not found a good way of classifying routes where fording rivers is the crux. It is difficult to state the "optimal condition", as rivers depend on precipitation (in addition to snow melt). A river that is easily forded mid-July could be impossible at the same time in another year. I have not encountered any Hordaland mountains where a river is a crux on the easiest route.

A fun example of how a route may change classification is the Tysso-Høgafjellet route on Osterøy. This is not the easiest route to this mountain, but a very fun route indeed. What used to be a fairly easy class 2 route got increasingly more difficult the last time I followed this route. A bridge across a river had collapsed, and the river crossing was no longer trivial. The point here is that classifications on this web-site were, at best effort, valid for the time of the hike. Over time, trailheads may have changed, new forest roads may have popped up, streams may have become rivers (and vice versa), trails may have been rerouted, etc. Use this web-site as an additional source of information, but be careful about planning hikes exclusively based on information on this web-site.

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