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Class rating and slope/steepness correlation

FAQ and threads for those just starting to hike the Colorado 14ers.
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Re: Class rating and slope/steepness correlation

Postby TomPierce » Sun Apr 22, 2012 7:47 am

I agree with the posts above that class and steepness are only loosely linked. You can find some really steep terrain that's actually pretty easy because it's very ledgy, plentiful handholds, etc, And a much lower angle slab can be solid 5th class because the "ledges" are as thick as the side of a quarter. :shock: But yeah. there is a loose correlation...I've never seen an 80 degree 3rd class section.

But Keith, one thing you haven't mentioned that I think could be a show stopper, for you or your wife, is exposure. It's not linked to the difficulty of the moves, but how exposed you are to cliffs/voids...I suppose the length of a potential fall. You can be on terrain that'd be easy if it were 5' off the deck, but terrified if there are sheer drops of 100 or more feet on either side of you (sections of the Little Bear-Blanca traverse come to mind). So in your hunt for easy stuff, try to determine the exposure as well. Some routes are just very exposed which could freeze those unaccustomed in their tracks.

Good luck and have a safe, good time!
-Tom

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Re: Class rating and slope/steepness correlation

Postby keith in louisiana » Sun Apr 22, 2012 9:06 pm

There is a lot of good advice for us to consider. Exposure is certainly an important consideration.Thanks to all for the comments.

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Re: Class rating and slope/steepness correlation

Postby RoanMtnMan » Sun Apr 22, 2012 11:05 pm

TomPierce wrote:I agree with the posts above that class and steepness are only loosely linked. You can find some really steep terrain that's actually pretty easy because it's very ledgy, plentiful handholds, etc, And a much lower angle slab can be solid 5th class because the "ledges" are as thick as the side of a quarter. :shock: But yeah. there is a loose correlation...I've never seen an 80 degree 3rd class section.

But Keith, one thing you haven't mentioned that I think could be a show stopper, for you or your wife, is exposure. It's not linked to the difficulty of the moves, but how exposed you are to cliffs/voids...I suppose the length of a potential fall. You can be on terrain that'd be easy if it were 5' off the deck, but terrified if there are sheer drops of 100 or more feet on either side of you (sections of the Little Bear-Blanca traverse come to mind). So in your hunt for easy stuff, try to determine the exposure as well. Some routes are just very exposed which could freeze those unaccustomed in their tracks.

Good luck and have a safe, good time!
-Tom


This post pretty much hit the quarter on the head. Mount Richthofen shouldn't be an issue given your requisites. But as Mr. Pierce states, exposure can have a bigger mental impact than actual climb ratings. Air under the butt makes every move feel like perhaps your last, even on class III. From a training standpoint, it's not so much strength as a prepared head that gets you up to your goal. The only way to get the prepared head is to go scare yourself before the climb a few times. The Never Summer Range is indeed remote (and fantastic), but the southwestern San Juans are a bit of a step up from a hiking perspective. I don't think I have come across a legit section of 60 degrees that most folks wouldn't want a rope for (slope is usually over-estimated). If you want to get after it outside of Ouray, Teakettle comes to mind, as do Dallas, Potosi, Whitehouse, and Ridgway. Depending on your taste, Orvis Hot Springs can be quite the challenge. Best of luck. Seems like and awesome trip.
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Re: Class rating and slope/steepness correlation

Postby viejo » Mon Apr 23, 2012 7:50 am

I'd really recommend against Richthoffen. As an earlier poster mentioned, it's a talus slog. The little class 3 gulley near the top is probably the easiest portion. It's the loose rock around the saddle that can be tedious.

As an alternative for you and your wife, I'd suggest walking up to LuLu via Thunder Pass and the American Lakes. You can access this via the Michigan Ditch Road, either from Cameron Pass or from the Lake Agnes Trailhead. You can also wander over to Pt. 12018 (informally called the Electrode) to the west of thunder Pass. The American Lakes Basin is quite scenic, the walking pretty straight forward, and the views are excellent. Since you're going in June/July, it's also faster and easier to bail out on these summits if storms move in as well.

Clark is a good walk but can feel a bit long on the way out.

Enjoy!

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Re: Class rating and slope/steepness correlation

Postby cougar » Mon Apr 23, 2012 8:12 am

agree with other posts on Richthofen - the route from Lake Agnes isn't quite class 3 (I'd say 2+ and maybe 1 or 2 moves of class 3 for about 10 ft in a chimney, unless you look around for it). The hard and hazardous part is the slog up and down the steep scree, loose dirt and rock. It's a nasty route despite the short mileage, and as mentioned, the class 2 part is harder than a lot of class 3. There aren't any rocks that don't move for most of the last mile.

You can climb it from American Lakes (via Static Peak), which is longer, but better rock, more class 3, and route finding. Lulu Mountain is a walk up on tundra and would be an easy alternative.

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