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Class 3 vs. Class 4 -- What is the difference??

FAQ and threads for those just starting to hike the Colorado 14ers.
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Postby Scott P » Tue Mar 20, 2007 8:32 pm

Technical difficulty is a static measure that isn't influenced by other variables unless those other variables actually change the dynamic of the route, like rain or ice.


You make some excellent points above.

Anyway, there are many added factors (such as exposure) too that add to a route even if technical difficulty stays the same.

One besides exposure is "rock quality." Last November, my borther, cousin, a friend, and myself went to climbWindow Blind Peak, a beautiful peak rising a few thousand feet above the desert in the San Rafael Swell in Utah. My cousin and his partner lead 5.12 trad, so I (and the others) thought the summit was in the bag. Though the easiest route up the peak is "only" 5.7 (though highly exposed), we didn't pull the summit block.

When I invited them, I failed to recognise that although they could lead 5.12, almost all their experience was on hard granite. The soft sandstone was something they were not used to and it was intimidating for them. I was used to soft rock, but am not very skilled in leading multi-pitch trad. Therefore, we failed to reach the summit.

There are many factors that play into a climb other than just technical difficulty. Exposure, rock quality, avy danger, etc. all play a part in how intimidating a route is.

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Postby rider » Tue Mar 20, 2007 11:00 pm

Hikerguy -

Here's some of the better links to photos of some of the CA 14ers Class 3 routes that I've found ... Sorry, I couldn't get these to paste as links, so you'll have to copy the info to your browser. Each link has lots of photos, plus the http://www.snwburd.com site has trip reports ...

Mount Whitney via Mountaineer's route
http://outdoors.webshots.com/photo/1173 ... 4790zGnUZU
http://outdoors.webshots.com/photo/1181 ... 4790rVoDwg

Mt. Russell
http://www.snwburd.com/bob/trip_photos/ ... 00115.html

Mt. Williamson
http://www.snwburd.com/bob/trip_photos/ ... 016_w.html

I agree with the post that said photos can be misleading, but the photos help (especially if you have some previous experience to rely on).

In one of the links for Whitney's Mountaineer's Route, a guy has some nice photos of the ridge (easiest climbing route) on Mt. Russell. He climbed the Mountaineer's Route, but he turned back on Mt. Russell ....

rider

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Re: Michael Reardon

Postby guitmo223 » Tue Mar 20, 2007 11:38 pm

malcolml1 wrote:Crossing boulder fields at Class 2 can be very dangerous on account of boulder shifting and throwing you or trapping a leg or arm.


I've never heard of this happening, nor experienced it. I guess I'll start being more careful on talus.

malcolml1 wrote:
Above Class 2 exposure comes into play for example Crestone Needle. If one has a tendancy to vertigo, or nervousness with heights, for example climbing onto a 2 story sloping house roof, then the difficulty is much greater. If one can treat exposure as fun then often the technical difficulty almost vanishes and becomes the same as boldering.


This is a fallacious argument, even though I'm not arguing. I had no problem whatsoever with the exposure on Crestone Needle. It was like a very easy climbing wall in the gym from hell. However, my roof, which I seem to have to climb on a regular basis, is 30 feet up at the lowest part, and it is class 1. I have no problem with the ladder (which is class 3), but I'm scared to death to get on my roof. The reasons? There are no handholds, it has a steep pitch and the traction ain't great, and I'm an old man (44) - even a fall to the lawn would probably break my ancient brittle bones. But it has nothing to do with vertigo, and it is certainly not fun.
"Although prepared for martyrdom, I preferred it be postponed" - Sir Winston Churchill

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Postby thebeave7 » Wed Mar 21, 2007 12:28 am

Rider,
You climb with corrine(snownymph) and bob? Just wondering if we maybe ran in the same circles in Cali. Both good people.
Disclaimer, Bob Burd is a little crazy(just a little :roll: ). Routes he solos/climbs, most people would not go near without a rope. Basically, his trip reports are wonderful, he's a wealth of knowledge, but don't follow his lead, I made that mistake a few times :lol: .
Eric

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Postby rider » Wed Mar 21, 2007 2:02 pm

Eric --

Sorry, I haven't climbed with Snownymph or Bob.

I attached those links to photos and trip reports, since I was trying to address Hikerguy's question regarding assessing Class 3 and Class 4 routes ... especially, the specific question regarding Gerry Roach's statement that some Class 3 routes in California would be rated Class 4 in Colorado.

Maybe you would have an answer to this based on climbing experience .... The crux move on Mount Russell looks like it may be as hard as the crux moves on Sunlight Peak, Capital Peak, and/or Mount Wilson. Is it??? (plus, the same question for Mount Williamson via the standard route through Shepherd's Pass) If yes, then that would suggest Gerry Roach's statement is right. I have not climbed these peaks yet (but maybe one day), so I cannot answer the question myself.

Bob Burd is obviously a very accomplished climber, so I realized a long time ago that if he does something that doesn't mean that I can do it. Bob's photos and reports are outstanding references.

Larry

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Postby CO Native » Wed Mar 21, 2007 6:45 pm

deleted
Last edited by CO Native on Wed Mar 21, 2007 8:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby denalibound » Wed Mar 21, 2007 7:46 pm

CO Native wrote:I know there are exceptions, but for general description these correlations are true.
True?

Sorry, none of the definitions of true say "most of the time" for those descriptions to be "true" they would need to apply 100% of the time. They don't! Not being true in all cases is what has lead to the widespread misunderstanding of the classification system in the first place.

As I see it the backpacker definitions read like this:

"Scramble with your hands and feet; =class you'll likely survive a fall."=exposure

"On these steep short sections and cliffs,=class unroped falls could be fatal."=exposure

Saying that you'll likely survive a fall on class 3 paints a picture that is incomplete, even if you are trying to establish some general understanding. It is a disservice to beginner climbers to tell them they will likely survive a fall on class 3. This type of description could lead people to climbing a class 3 route with extreme exposure, where a fall could result in death. But according to the guidebook it was class 3, so they think they are fairly safe.

Case in point:
http://www.14ers.com/bb/viewtopic.php?t=2547
Though she didn't die, she very easily could have. Do you think she would have benefited from Backpackers version of class 3 and made a decision to descend the main trail? My guess is that they would be, and possibly were, lulled by a false sense of security, thinking that a fall wouldn't be that bad.

Oops, they slipped and fell, and are now dead. Oh well it wasn't you, no?

It just doesn't make any sense. People need to understand that technical rating has no bearing on the outcome of a fall and vice versa. Backpacker would have done a better service to inexperienced hikers if they had explained this instead of trying to lump it all together. People who think it's all the same based on a basic description like that, are the ones who find themselves in bad situations.

Who cares if somebody follows their literal definition and dies, I'm still alive, right?

Those of you who do understand there is a difference need to take responsibility to help others realize there is no correlation and that they are completely separate. Or I guess you can take the laissez-faire approach and watch novice climbers do as they please, knowing you are nice and safe in your experienced little world.

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Postby Scanner » Wed Mar 21, 2007 8:02 pm

Here's a picture that gives me a good idea of the difference between class 3 and 4. This is from the class 4 section on Mt. Lindsey's NW ridge (rightmost of Bill's three paths). My boots are just out of view below the bottom edge of the picture, for those curious about the angle the picture was taken at. The rest of the ridge below is class 3.
Image

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Postby thebeave7 » Wed Mar 21, 2007 8:11 pm

Rider,
Unfortunately I've only been on Colorado for 9mo now, so I haven't climbed the peaks you name. From what I've read and seen, the final move on sunlight may be akin to 2-3 moves on Russell's east ridge. A cali class 3 with lots of exposure. Williamson was very nice in my opinion, the crux is a much more protected section, no exposure. After this summer I should have bagged all the peaks you've named, so I'll let you know what I think. :D
Eric

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Postby CO Native » Wed Mar 21, 2007 8:13 pm

denalibound wrote:Sorry, none of the definitions of true say "most of the time" for those descriptions to be "true" they would need to apply 100% of the time.


Wow this debate has reached the level of childish logic. Did you forget to look up correlation while you were at it?

I apologize to the readers and especially the originator of this thread for the hijack and the decay of the discussion. I will delete all my previous posts here.
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Postby denalibound » Wed Mar 21, 2007 10:42 pm

CO Native wrote:
denalibound wrote:Sorry, none of the definitions of true say "most of the time" for those descriptions to be "true" they would need to apply 100% of the time.


Wow this debate has reached the level of childish logic. Did you forget to look up correlation while you were at it?

I apologize to the readers and especially the originator of this thread for the hijack and the decay of the discussion. I will delete all my previous posts here.

Unfortunately the latter part of the paragraph was omitted in your quote, although I'm sure it wasn't intentional. I believe I went on to state that when using descriptions that are not "true" 100% of the time, uncertainty and confusion is the ultimate result, as is the case with the original post.

Oh yeah, acording to Webster:
Main Entry: cor·re·la·tion
Pronunciation: "kor-&-'lA-sh&n, "kär-
Function: noun
Etymology: Medieval Latin correlation-, correlatio, from Latin com- + relation-, relatio relation
1 : the state or relation of being correlated; specifically : a relation existing between phenomena or things or between mathematical or statistical variables which tend to vary, be associated, or occur together in a way not expected on the basis of chance alone <the>
2 : the act of correlating

I'm pretty sure that's exactly what I meant. Or to state it more clearly, there is not a relation existing between the class of a route and the exposure of that route.

And as far as I know I have not wavered from the original topic, as stated, "Somebody help me understand if this corresponds to the classes discussed at 14ers.com -- please! If not, what are the classes?" Discussing the classes and how they should not be related to exposure is right on topic, as far as I can tell.

Calling someone childish and deleting posts that may prove valuable to people who may be reading this at a future time seems more on the level of decay than anything I've written. My logic is sound and instead of calling me names and deleting your posts I challenge you to counter in such a way as to prove me wrong and enhance the discussion.

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Postby hikerguy0 » Thu Mar 22, 2007 11:51 am

Hi, the "originator" here. I encourage people to not delete posts. I find the discussion helpful (although I think we need always be respectful in our differences). I like knowing how "we got here," which gets lost when posts get deleted.

Quite a debate between the "class does include some measure of exposure" vs. "class is independent of exposure" has acutally been helpful to me. The things discussed help me to understand just what is involved in route selection and route execution. While exposure may or may not be a component of route classification, exposure definitely is a factor to be considered in route selection. It's been very helpful for me to realize that I should not consider routes based on class alone (not that I would have, but this discussion really drives the point home).

So, all in all a very profitable discussion. Please, let's keep the posts (and keep a cool head on both sides of the debate). :-)

Thanks, everyone, for taking the time to discuss my little "harmless" :-) question.

--Hikin' Jim
(aka hikerguy0)

PS By the way, if you want to contribute to the post that generated this post, please drop by: http://www.14ers.com/bb/viewtopic.php?t=5275

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