RMRA Rating System

The following is a summary of the Rocky Mountain Rambler Association‘s rating system (used with permission).

Trip Category – What type of trip is it? Technical Difficulty Levels (1-9) – How technically difficult is the most difficult section of the trip (note: it might be short or long)?

TL – Trail Hiking (non-winter ratings)

  • 1 – Well maintained, easy terrain suitable for running shoes (i.e. Upper Kananaskis Lakes circuit)
  • 2 – Purpose-built, graded with switchbacks if necessary (i.e. Healy Pass)
  • 3 – Sections of trail, few purpose-built sections, non-bridged streams (i.e. Prairie Mountain)
  • 4 – Hiking poles are a definite asset, rougher sections of trail that could be slightly overgrown (i.e. Memorial Lakes)

‚ÄčOT – Off-Trail Hiking (non-winter ratings)

  • 1 – Flat, easy gradients on firm, open ground (i.e. Alpine Lakes with no trails but a good shoreline, West Coast Trail – beach sections)
  • 2 – Moderate slopes, pretty easy terrain with some stream hopping possible (i.e. Alpine meadows with no trails and little bush)
  • 3 – Steeper slopes, rougher terrain, hiking poles an asset (i.e. Whaleback)
  • 4 – Sustained steep grassy or wooden slopes, hiking poles required for balance (i.e. Kent Ridge)
  • 5 – Steep slopes including grass, wood and scree. Little use of hands required but some exposure on route (i.e. Opal Ridge)

SC – Scrambling (rated for dry or optimal conditions)

  • 5 – Kane “easy” – YDS 1 – rocky gradients slightly more serious than OT5 (i.e. Grotto Mountain)
  • 6 – Kane “moderate” – YDS 2 – steep, exposed sections with moderately loose rocks and exposure, route-finding (i.e. Mount Temple)
  • 7 – Kane “difficult” – YDS 3/4 – very steep, exposed sections with slabby or loose rocks and lots of exposure and/or tricky route-finding in an alpine setting (i.e. Mount Chephren, Smuts, Northover)

MN – Mountaineering (in dry or optimal conditions)

  • 6 – Low angle glaciers, under 20 degrees with minimal crevasses (i.e. Saskatchewan Glacier)
  • 7 – An SC7 scramble with simply glacier terrain or snow slopes added to the mix (i.e. Mount Patterson)
  • 8 – An SC7 scramble with slightly more complex glacier travel and steeper snow slopes or extreme exposure where most folks would find a rope reasonable (i.e. Mount Victoria)
  • 9 – YDS 5.0 to 5.4 – equipment to protect the leader from falls is good practice, extreme exposure on steep but easily climbed rock, possible snow and / or ice couloirs used on route (i.e. Mount Assiniboine north ridge, Mount King George south glacier, Mount Harrison ice couloirs)

TS – Track-Set Skiing

  • – Easy
  • – Easy / Moderate
  • – Moderate
  • – Moderate / Difficult
  • – Difficult

TL – Trail Skiing

  • – Easy
  • – Easy / Moderate
  • – Moderate
  • – Moderate / Difficult
  • – Difficult (Elk Lakes via Elk Pass)

OT – Off-Trail Skiing

  • – Easy – Low angle slopes with minimal avalanche hazards, on partial approach roads or easy summer hiking trails (i.e. Elephant Rocks, Healy Pass)
  • – Easy / Moderate – Low to moderate angle slopes, some avalanche hazards, partial trail on approach (Burstall Pass, Bow Summit, Parker Ridge, Simpson Pass)
  • – Moderate – Follows established winter routes with avalanche terrain and possible navigation issues in certain conditions (Crowfoot Glades, Dolomite Circuit)
  • – Moderate / Difficult – Proceeds a bit further off-trail than a moderate route, requires more stable snow and more exposure to avalanche hazards, may require boot packing to the summit (Bow Peak, Citadel Peak, Ramp Peak)
  • – Difficult – Completely off-trail in severe avalanche terrain, requires very stable snow conditions and good weather (Spray Traverse, Crowfoot Mountain, Jimmy Junior, Snow Peak)

MN – Ski Mountaineering

  • – Fairly low angle approach on established winter routes, avalanche hazards and easy glacier travel requiring crevasse and avalanche rescue gear (Mount Rhondda, Gordon, Thompson, French / Haig / Robertson)
  • – Moderately hazardous approach through crevassed and avalanche or serac-exposed terrain, usually requires overnight winter gear along with crevasse and avalanche rescue gear (North Twin, Mount Baker)
  • – Hazardous approach, severely crevassed terrain, large avalanche slopes, usually requires overnight winter camping (Mount Balfour, Mount Columbia, Mount Resplendent)
  • – Hazardous approach, hazardous winter, cornices and/or glaciated terrain to the summit, severely crevassed and avalanche-exposed slopes on route and usually requires overnight winter camping (Mount Collie, Twin’s Tower, South Twin, The Helmet)

TL – Trail Snowshoeing

  • – Easy (Kananaskis Village area)
  • – Easy / Moderate (Rummel Lake)
  • – Moderate (Rawson Lake, Elk Pass)
  • – Moderate / Difficult (Chester Lake)
  • – Difficult (Elk Lakes via Elk Pass)

OT – Off-Trail Snowshoeing

  • – Moderate angle slopes with some avalanche terrain (Mount Fortune)
  • – Moderate to steep snow slopes with avalanche terrain (Big Bend Peak)
  • – Steep snow slopes with avalanche terrain and possible glacier travel (Castleguard Peak, Commonwealth Ridge)
  • – Extremely steep snow slopes with severe avalanche terrain and / or glacier travel with crevasses and / or cornices (Mount Wilson, Mount Olive – both summits)