4th Class - Your Definition?

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James Dziezynski
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4th Class - Your Definition?

Postby James Dziezynski » Wed Sep 26, 2012 10:28 am

After reading many of the user contributed trip reports, I'm curious what people have in their head as to what is 4th class terrain. As a NOLS alumni, I've always gone by their definition:

* 3rd Class = Low difficulty, low consequence hands and feet committing moves
* 4th class = Low difficulty, high consequence hand and feet committing moves

Any thoughts?
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Re: 4th Class - Your Definition?

Postby DaveSwink » Wed Sep 26, 2012 10:32 am

The Class ratings are for difficulty only, so a move that could result in a bruise is rated the same as a move with the same difficulty that could result in a long, fatal fall. Exposure, hazard, etc are not considerations in the Class rating.

For me, Class 4 begins when handholds feel important to staying on the rock, not just for balance, or if on slab that I have to start being conscious of my balance, weight shifts, and application of core muscles.
Last edited by DaveSwink on Wed Sep 26, 2012 10:38 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 4th Class - Your Definition?

Postby crossfitter » Wed Sep 26, 2012 10:35 am

Fall consequence is sometimes correlated with terrain difficulty but not always:

Image

Image

Where would you rather fall?

In general, 3rd class is simple scrambling where everything you touch is a perfect hold. 4th class requires some very easy searching for holds but you always have 3 or 4 perfect points of contact.
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Re: 4th Class - Your Definition?

Postby SchralpTheGnar » Wed Sep 26, 2012 10:44 am

3rd class - kind of feels like you're walking up rock
4th class - kind of more feels like you're climbing up rock
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Re: 4th Class - Your Definition?

Postby mtree » Wed Sep 26, 2012 10:45 am

Class 3 - You can downclimb facing out all or most of the way
Class 4 - You have to face in a good portion of the way
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Re: 4th Class - Your Definition?

Postby Jelgan » Wed Sep 26, 2012 10:46 am

My rule of thumb for Class 3 vs Class 4 is if I'd feel comfortable down-climbing it while facing forwards it Class 3, if I'd prefer to down-climb it facing the wall its Class 4.

And in the time it took me to write this some else posted the same thing, in less words.
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Re: 4th Class - Your Definition?

Postby GregMiller » Wed Sep 26, 2012 11:02 am

I like mtree and Jelgan's definitions myself. Then again, there are '3rd class' routes (like Quandary West Ridge) that I downclimbed parts of facing in, and I felt a lot more comfortable on Kit Carson's North Ridge, even though it's class 4. So, don't put too much stock in ratings.
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Re: 4th Class - Your Definition?

Postby MtHurd » Wed Sep 26, 2012 11:29 am

Depends on what state you are in. Here is California class 4. Cathedral peak final summit pitch. There is nothing anywhere close to this on any standard Colorado 14er route.

Bottom. Final summit crack above his head.
FinalSummitPitchCathedral2.jpg
FinalSummitPitchCathedral2.jpg (174.66 KiB) Viewed 823 times


Top looking down the crack.
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Re: 4th Class - Your Definition?

Postby Brian C » Wed Sep 26, 2012 11:47 am

I'm a big fan of the idea of simply going out and climbing routes that are rated class 4 to get a feel for what the rating means to you. Ratings always feel different to everybody so go do a few and see what you think. Also, it does not matter how close to the ground you are (there are a few exceptions), class 4 is always class 4.

A few examples...

Freeway on the 2nd Flatiron

Capitol Peak

Crestone Traverse (the end)

Cabezon Peak, NM

Mount Lady Macdonald, AB (snow and rain can cause the rating to change)

Pawnee - Little Pawnee Traverse, IPW
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Re: 4th Class - Your Definition?

Postby Dave B » Wed Sep 26, 2012 12:34 pm

I think that class 3 and 4 are pretty easily distinguished; 4th class can feel pretty scary if rock quality is less than superb.

The one I have a real problem with is where 4th class turns into low 5th class.

For example, the descent off of Notchtop is considered 4th class but is awfully spicy in places

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Re: 4th Class - Your Definition?

Postby snowypeaks » Wed Sep 26, 2012 12:58 pm

For more than a generation, Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills has been a definitive text that provides excellent guidance and instruction to all, both inexperienced and experienced alike.

For me, 4th-class has more to do with “potential” (consequence) than it does with the slight increase in difficulty of simple force-counterforce moves over the 3rd class definition of “hiking with your hands in your pockets.”
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Re: 4th Class - Your Definition?

Postby Iguru » Wed Sep 26, 2012 1:32 pm

Class 3: You can hike it with your hands in your pockets.
Class 4: Use of your hands is necessary to complete this climb.

:)

And Snowypeaks: You seem to be using exposure as a criteria in determining class, and I believe class only considers difficulty, not exposure. Maybe someone else can confirm this?
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