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Climbing Grade 3???

FAQ and threads for those just starting to hike the Colorado 14ers.
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Climbing Grade 3???

Postby jford » Sun Jul 01, 2007 4:37 pm

We have climbed 7 14ers so far and all have been Grade 2 and 1. We are considering Blanca and Ellingwood which are rated Grade 3 class 2 by Roach's book. Can anyone tell us what they know about the main difference between a 3 and a 2? Has anyone bagged these 2 in one day? I appreciate any info...we don't want to do anything that requires equipment.
Mark and Julie
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Postby Chris P. » Sun Jul 01, 2007 4:50 pm

The thing that makes them grade 3 is the long approach up the road. A backpack approach will make it much more manageable.

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Postby guitmo223 » Sun Jul 01, 2007 5:32 pm

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Postby thebeave7 » Sun Jul 01, 2007 5:35 pm

The grade usually refers to the level of commitment of a climb. While I haven't climbed those two routes it is my understanding that they are more sustained class 3 than many other peaks, meaning that they aren't simply a move or two but a more continuous scrambling route. The length of the approach also figures in to the grade(commitment), but isn't the only piece.
Eric

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Postby michaelverdone » Sun Jul 01, 2007 6:14 pm

I believe that Roach assigns the grade based on the time it takes to do the route from the trail head in one day. So, if you did both Elingwood and Blanca from the lower trailhead in a day it would take you 12+ hours, which is where the Grade III designation comes from.
Grade I is usually a few hours, Grade II is most of a day and Grade III is all day. Higher grades are routes which command multiple days to complete.

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Postby michaelverdone » Sun Jul 01, 2007 6:53 pm

Doesn't the wikipedia definition seem a bit ambiguous? Grade III is listed as "half a day". This could mean half of a day where day is defined as the hours a person would typically be awake or it could mean half of a 24 hour day. I have yet to complete a Grade III climb in less than 10hrs.

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Grade III

Postby Fat Texan » Sun Jul 01, 2007 7:55 pm

Class I is a simple walk. Class II is walking picking your feet a little higher and maybe touch a rock with your hand now and then for balance. Class III is continual use of hands climbing up, or down. In Class III the hand holds and foot holds are obvious but there may be exposure to falling. Class IV the hand holds and foot holds get smaller and less obvious. Routes with exposure on Class IV peeps will use a rope depending on their comfort level. Class V is the "rock climbing".

Nothing to due with the distance to the trailhead. A good peak to try the Class III would be something like Wetterhorn outside of Lake City.

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Postby 2giqs » Sun Jul 01, 2007 8:25 pm

i hiked both last August 10. Had hiked up to Lake Como the day before.
Departed for Blanca at 5:20 a.m. and arrived on summit at 8:50 a.m. Summited Ellingwood Point at 10.40 a.m. (the traverse is intermittently marked at times) and returned to camp at 2 p.m. Almost 9 hours to cover perhaps 7 miles. Not exactly speedy but my lungs were still seeking east coast oxygen.

That five mile road walk to Lake Como can be hot and wearying, but it can also be entertaining what with all the jeeps and llamas also struggling for their share of the road.

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Postby hugemike » Sun Jul 01, 2007 8:26 pm

Climbed Ellingwood and Blanca from the lower parking lot on Sunday. Total time was 11 hours 45 minutes. It's a long day and even longer when it's hot. Gets real warm below tree line. Brings lots of water and don't forget the bug spray!

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Re: Grade III

Postby michaelverdone » Sun Jul 01, 2007 8:29 pm

Fat Texan wrote:Class I is a simple walk. Class II is walking picking your feet a little higher and maybe touch a rock with your hand now and then for balance. Class III is continual use of hands climbing up, or down. In Class III the hand holds and foot holds are obvious but there may be exposure to falling. Class IV the hand holds and foot holds get smaller and less obvious. Routes with exposure on Class IV peeps will use a rope depending on their comfort level. Class V is the "rock climbing".

Nothing to due with the distance to the trailhead. A good peak to try the Class III would be something like Wetterhorn outside of Lake City.


In case you missed it, we are talking about GRADES and not CLASS.

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Postby gdthomas » Sun Jul 01, 2007 8:43 pm

Class is a subset of Grade. Grade takes into account mileage, elevation gain and class. Grades go from I to VII although no 14er routes in Roach's Guide surpass Grade III unless you combine two or more climbs. Roach also uses an R Point value in his guide to Colorado's 13ers denominated by two and three digit numbers. The "R" system considers the same factors as the Grade system.

I would guess most people who climb Blanca and Ellingwood do both in the same day...I did. In my opinion, you're better off climbing both while you're up there rather than hiking that miserable road twice. If you climb them in the summer, you won't need "equipment".

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Postby Matt » Sun Jul 01, 2007 10:53 pm

I repeated Blanca today along the way around Lake Como.
I think Blanca & Ellingwood define "difficult class 2," but grade is another story. It's a lot easier if you camp at Como...
The road is a murderous slog and it is HOT. I stopped and gave a ride to a guy (from everyone's favorite state, been here a day) who was about to pass out about 1.5 miles up from the 2wd car parking lot. He looked like he was cooking from the inside.
We only hiked from the lake down to my truck just below Jaws 1, and I was ready for some A/C!
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