Andes Website : Climbing, Skiing, Trekking and Guidebooks in South America

Grades

At ANDES we use a two scale system to grade all of our courses and expeditions.

A number indicates the technical difficulty

and

a letter indicates the level of fitness required.

For  trekking and mountaineering  these grades are outlined below.  Further down the page is our separate system for ski grades  and a few  comparisons  for peaks and treks elsewhere in the world.

It is always best to phone or e-mail  us before booking an expedition so that we can answer specific questions about your fitness and experience.  All our expeditions are designed for fit and healthy people who are keen on the outdoor life, but the easier trips can be joined by fit and adventurous people with little previous experience. On some of our mountaineering expeditions members must have previous experience of winter hillwalking and on the most difficult we ask for previous experience of Alpine or winter climbing. To climb above 6000m always needs a very high standard of fitness, in particular good heart/lung fitness. Further details of the sort of experience and fitness required can be found in the specific expedition dossiers.


Trekking and Mountaineering Grades

DIFFICULTY   Our numerical grade indicates the technical difficulty of the expedition. The higher the grade the more extensive previous experience of walking or climbing you'll need.

FITNESS   Our alphabetic grade is an indication of the level of fitness and general commitment you will need to bring to achieve your trek or summit.

 1   Walking, or climbing involving only paths, easy scree or easy-angled snow. No previous experience of climbing is required and we don't expect to use ropes.  A   Good general fitness. Similar to that required for a week of  hillwalking in Britain. Only day sacks will be carried (up to 10kg) in the mountains.
 2   Ropes are used mainly for glacier travel and perhaps some very easy scrambling. Previous roped climbing experience may be useful but it is not essential.  B   Good fitness needed with some light cardiovascaular training, such as circuits or running. Expedition rucksacks of up to 20kg will be carried at times, but only for very short periods or downhill or at low altitude.
 3  Climbing with short sections of ice where two tools may be necessary, e.g. Scottish II or Alpine PD or rock scrambling to about Diff./Alpine II. A little previous experience of roped climbing is essential.  C   A very high level of fitness and stamina are required. You will need to be able to carry a heavy rucksack (20-25kg) for several days, often uphill at high altitude. Several months of training, particularly for cardiovascular fitness, will be necessary.
 4   More difficult or more continuous climbing e.g. Scottish grade III or Alpine AD or rock to about Severe/Alpine IV. Extensive climbing experience is required, e.g. several Alpine or Scottish winter seasons.


 

Ski and Snowboard Resort Grades

For trips to ski resorts we normally list the grade as N/A (not applicable). This is because your fitness and ability will not affect the success of other members of the group, only yourself. However we do of course still recommend that you come out to the Andes fit for a week of downhill snowboarding or skiing.

Ski Mountaineering and Ski Touring

For ski touring and ski-mountaineering courses  we use a three point technical or difficulty scale plus the same alphabetical fitness ratings as for our mountaineering and trekking expeditions.

 DIFFICULTY   Our numerical grade indicates the skiing difficulty of the expedition. The higher the grade the more extensive previous experience of skiing, particularly off-piste, you will need.

 FITNESS   As in the table above our alphabetic grade is an indication of the level of fitness and general commitment you will need to bring to achieve your trek or summit.

N/A  We don't quote a grade for our downhill, resort based ski and snowboard trips. This is because your fitness and ability will not affect others on the trip. However we do still recommend that to get the most from your trip you have good basic downhill ski or board fitness.

 1  Good downhill ability required, with red runs being skied confidently. No previous off-piste, touring or mountaineering experience is required.

 A   Good general fitness the same as for a week of Alpine skiing or hillwalking in Britain. Generally only day sacks will be carried (up to 10kg) while touring in the mountains.

 2  As for grade 1 but also requiring a little off-piste or ski-touring experience plus some previous mountaineering experience, including use of ice-axe and crampons.

 B   Good fitness needed with some light training, such as circuits or running. Expedition rucksacks of up to 20kg may be carried at times, but only for very short periods or downhill or at low altitude.

 3  Excellent downhill skiing ability required, black runs being skied confidently. Previous ski-touring and more extensive mountaineering experience is also necessary, e.g. ropework and climbs to Alpine PD.

 C   A very high level of fitness and stamina are required. You will need to be able to carry a heavy rucksack (20-25kg) or tow a heavy sledge (20-30kg) for several days, sometimes uphill. Several months of training, particularly for cardiovascular fitness, will be necessary.

 


Comparisons

As a rough guide for those who have climbed elsewhere in the world the following peaks would be graded by ANDES as follows.

West Highland Way 1A

Everest Base Camp 1A

Kilimanjaro 1A

Mera Peak 2A

Mt. Blanc 2B

Pik Lenin 2C

Denali 3C

Matterhorn 4B

Alpine Haute-Route on Skis 2B


 

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