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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 JeffR » Thu Mar 22, 2007 1:53 pm

Good arguments on both sides. For my own (and possibly others') edification: can someone point me to pictures of the following examples:
- Class 1-2 section with extreme exposure
- Class 5 section with miniscule exposure

Thanks!

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Postby malcolml1 » Thu Mar 22, 2007 2:04 pm

Many bolder problems at class 5 have low exposure in that the most difficult move can be getting off the ground. Depending on landing I/we jump down in our frequent attempts to get up.

Can't think of any Class 2 with exposure, although the move at the top of the trough on Longs could rank unless this is generally deemed to be Class3..

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Postby CO Native » Thu Mar 22, 2007 2:10 pm

Yes, I'm back. I'll learn to loosen up a bit someday. :D

Anyway. The last photo on my Kit Carson trip report shows a class 2 trail with pretty high exposure. This is of course Kit Carson Avenue.
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Postby jeffro » Thu Mar 22, 2007 2:13 pm

JRfromAZ wrote:can someone point me to pictures of the following examples:
- Class 1-2 section with extreme exposure
- Class 5 section with miniscule exposure

Thanks!


I don't have pictures readily available but here are descriptions of what you've asked for.

The "Sidewalk in the Sky" portion of Mt. Eolus is an example of a class 2 hike with serious exposure on both sides. I'll bet there are pix of that here on this site in Bill's route descriptions or in someone's trip report.

For class 5 with miniscule exposure...go to any crag (rock climbing area) or bouldering area. On vertical (or steeper) routes the initial moves are usually class 5 in difficulty whereas a fall from said moves would mean jumping off onto flat ground. Boulderers do this type of unroped, yet difficult class 5 climbing all of the time.

Hope this helps.

Jeff

edit: boy I'm just not fast enough at posting my replies... :roll:
Last edited by jeffro on Thu Mar 22, 2007 2:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby CO Native » Thu Mar 22, 2007 2:13 pm

And to rekindle the debate a bit again...

Looking at the photo mentioned above, if you fall on the class 2 trail you are fine. It's only when you fall off the route onto the class 5 terrrain that you have to worry about injury.
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Postby CO Native » Thu Mar 22, 2007 2:17 pm

I think the real challenge would be to find a photo of a class 5 route that goes vertically 20 or more feet that has no exposure. Basically it's not possible because then the route itself is the exposure. So really the only class 5 without exposure has to be short enough that a fall quickly puts you on lower class terrain.
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Postby Devin » Thu Mar 22, 2007 3:07 pm

Check out the first picture in this thread.

http://www.14ers.com/bb/viewtopic.php?t=3405&highlight=

Sounds like a class 2 ledge (maybe even class 1), but pretty crazy exposure:


As far as class 5 w/o exposure, isn't there a spot on the Bells traverse that is a small class 5 chimney? I haven't done the climb, but have seen pictures, and it doesn't look like there is exposure.

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Postby thebeave7 » Thu Mar 22, 2007 3:10 pm

Class 2 with exposure, note that the person pictured is using a hand rail for personal comfort, though without the hand rail it is a simple set of "stairs".
Unexposed easy class 5 the green line in the background is an unexposed easy class 5 slope. Here is Bob climbing that unexposed slope. So put together you get an idea of angle and the actual holds(or crack). I am taking the picture while standing on an 8-10ft wide platform at the base.
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Postby frannyzoo » Thu Mar 22, 2007 4:49 pm

Class 1: I can hike up the trail holding a full beer and nothing spills.
Class 2: I can hike up the trail and keep beer from spilling if I put my thumb over the top of the bottle.
Class 3: I have to hold the bottle top in my mouth while I climb. Frequent breaks are required in which I can drink the beer.
Class 4: Other equipment is required, namely canned beer. Six-pack rings may be used to pull climbers along. Helmets may be worn to protect hikers downtrail from thrown emptied beer cans.
Class 5: Beer is consumed prior to climbing in order to save weight/space, but principally to build up the necessary crazy gumption to gain the summit.

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Postby hikerguy0 » Thu Mar 22, 2007 4:53 pm

Definitely class 2 with exposure!

The more I think about it, the more it makes sense to de-couple exposure and the technical challenge of the route. Both Backpacker Magazine and the climber's "bible" (Freedom of the Hills) list exposure as a component of class, but despite this, I think it best to determine the class based on the rock and then to describe other factors separately. Maybe we need a 4 E system? Something like "this route is class 3 EE."
E = little or no exposure
EE = moderate exposure, serious injury unlikely
EEE = significant exposure, serious injury likely
EEEE = high exposure, critical or fatal injury likely

Now, I just know the climbing world will change and do it my way. :-)
Still it might be nice to have some kind of classification for exposure.

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Postby jeffro » Thu Mar 22, 2007 5:07 pm

There is an "exposure rating" scale of sorts. It involves movie like ratings:

PG, R, X

It was actually developed by a guy I used to work with named Jim Erickson. Jim put up a lot of onsight free solos in the Flatirons and in Eldo back in the 70s and 80s. He's also famous for the first ascent of "The Naked Edge" a wild line in Eldo that goes at about 5.11a/b.

The rating system in is actually mentioned in Mountaineering: Freedom of the Hills (another of Jim's claims to fame). I've only heard of it being used in 5th class climbing though and it usually has to do with the options (or lack thereof) for placing protection. I've not heard it used in conjunction with class 3 or 4 routes.

Jeff

edit: Ha! ..... I got this one in before somebody beat me to it!
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Postby hikerguy0 » Thu Mar 22, 2007 5:18 pm

Cool! Looking forward to climbing some NC-17 really soon! ;-)

Hey, I missed that in FOH. Do you know what page (or section) that's in? Is it in the Climbing Fundamentals section or Rock Climbing or ?

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