GMS Climb Classification System




The climb classification system used by GMS expands on the system published in the Climber's Guide to Glacier National Park by J. Gordon Edwards. It contains information on the overall rating of a climb, the degree of difficulty of the most difficult pitch, the round trip distance and the elevation gain. An example might be:

Going-to-the-Sun Mountain (9,642 feet): West Face Route
Rating: III (4) M M

This route will have an overall rating of Class III with the most difficult pitch being Class 4, a Medium round trip distance and a Medium elevation gain. Each section of this rating system is described below.







Climb Ratings
Class I (1)
Easy
Trail hiking.
Class II (2)
Moderate
Low angle scrambling.
Class III (3)
Difficult
High angle scrambling, moderate cliffs, considerable exertion. A rope might be necessary for beginners.
Class IV (4)
Very Difficult
Higher angle cliffs, increased exposure. Rope required for belaying.
Class V (5)
Severe
High angle cliffs with severe exposure. Protection placed by leader. Technical climbing experience is necessary.
Class VI (6)

Extremely Severe

Direct aid technical climbing. Overall rating in this classification reserved for only the biggest technical climbs such as the North Face of Mount Siyeh or the East Face of Mount Gould.

Round Trip Distances

S
Short
1 to 6 miles.
M
Medium
6 to 12 miles.
L
Long
12 to 20 miles or longer. Exceptional stamina is required

Elevation Gain

S
Short
Less than 3,000 feet. Still a pretty long day for those not in shape.
M
Medium
3,000 feet to 4,500 feet. The high end of this range makes for a long day.
L
Long
Over 4,500 feet. Exceptional stamina is required.

Route Symbols

F
Face
S
Slope
R
Ridge
C Couloir
N North
S South
E East
W West
AL Alpine
T Traverse Descent route different than route of ascent.
Snow/Ice Snow/Ice Snow and Ice likely on a summer climb. Ice axes and experience required.