I was talking to a friend tonight about the rating system used to describe the challenges of climbing a mountain. When we could not agree on the rating of a particular mountain, I decided to do a little research. For general mountaineering it seems as if the YDS is commonly used. It is the one I was introduced to by friends and regional literature. It is as follows:
Let's apply this criteria to a popular climbing destination, Diamond Peak, in our area. Diamond Peak is commonly referred to as a class 3 climb. However, depending on one's route finding ability, it is not uncommon to find one's self on the east ridge clinging to a few hand holds thirty feet above solid ground. A fall from such a place may well prove to be fatal or at least very debilitating. In this case the class 3 label is questionable. So is Diamond Peak a class 3 or a class 4 climb? This is exactly the point when the whole rating system becomes subjective. It just depends.
As I plan for some major excursions this summer, I need to remind myself that an initial rating will only get me in the ballpark. Without rope skills, I look for class 3 mountains to ascend. Yet, I know, when I am in the thick of it, that I may find myself in situations that may require a class 4 passage. It is during those times when sane judgment will decide the next move.
I look forward to to developing new skills this summer and expanding my abilities to enjoy high places.
|James Helfrich down climbing a steep pitch on Diamond Peak's east ridge|