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Grading system

Grading system


Postby Frogwell » Thu Nov 17, 2011 4:16 pm

Not sure whether this has been mentioned previously, I'm far too lazy to read back through old posts to see if anyone else mentioned it.

The site might benefit from a more in-depth grading system At the moment just about every munro falls into the four boots grade when the reality on the ground is more complex. Take for instance Ben Avon; four boot rating, but as technical walking goes it's a doddle. It earns it's four boot rating from the long (but almost motorway quality) walk in and also the possibility of becoming lost in poor weather on the plateau. Then there are hills like Beinn Sgritheall, again a four booted walk, far shorter than Avon but the steepness and scree requires more technical (and possibly physical) ability.

Then of course there are walks that a very straightforward in good weather, but become downright dangerous in snow and ice - anything with a boulder field for instance (Beinn a'Chroin and Derry Cairngorm spring to mind). Other walks, such as Ben Chonzie would present no great challenge in snow.

Steven Fallon's website has slightly more advanced route information, breaking the grades down into terrain, navigation and effort. Something along those lines would be good. The adding all that to the search filters would be even gooder.
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Re: Grading system

Postby helenw » Thu Nov 17, 2011 4:47 pm

We are looking at revising the grades on some of the Munros, but as you say under our system most Munros fall under Grade 4 - Grade 5 is reserved for the hardest walks and Grade 3 includes only the easiest and most popular Munros.

As you say, putting a grade that reflects the actual difficulty in all weathers and for all abilities is very complicated. We'd prefer to leave the detail to the Terrain summary and route description in the text. Eg. if a walk had v. difficult terrain it could mean it is very boggy or heathery but could equally mean it is rocky and scrambly so its difficult for a number system to cover all this.

Winter conditions present more problems for grading as conditions are different on different days eg. in many winter conditions Ben Wyvis might not be the most difficult ascent but on the other hand it is real avalanche blackspot in some conditions.

Will keep the grading system under review and are re-grading some of the Skye ones to make it more consistent.
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Re: Grading system

Postby HighlandSC » Thu Nov 17, 2011 4:52 pm

Frogwell, I think you have some good points worth considering, however, having more such gradings could mean walkers rely less on actually reading about a route and making their own judgements based on their own experience and current conditions.

With so many variables on any given day it sounds more trouble than it's worth to try and grade every eventuality depending on season, weather, avalanche conditions, navigation hazrds, etc, etc. I find descriptions usually make you aware of any key information. But perhaps something better as an "at a glance" grade indicator may be useful. Personally, I prefer shorter more technical/scrambly routes and tend to avoid epic long walks - but i use the "Find a walk" function to filter out most of the stuff I don't want.

The "boots rating" isn't something I've ever really looked at or judged anything on (because like you say, nearly every hillwalk is a 4), but it does seem to be getting mentioned more and more on here.
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Re: Grading system

Postby Frogwell » Thu Nov 17, 2011 5:04 pm

HighlandSC wrote:having more such gradings could mean walkers rely less on actually reading about a route and making their own judgements based on their own experience and current conditions.


I think this will probably be the case already. I get the point that giving people less "picture information" as it were should force them to seek more detailed information, but people being people, I'd say this is frequently not the case. People will just go based on the little amount available in graphical form.

I know I'm often guilty of not reading the descriptions very thoroughly before picking a walk and it's caught me out a few times. Admittedly I am prone to extended fits of idiocy, but It's not a condition unique to me.
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