difficulty scale

Outdoor activities are potentially hazardous and carry a significant risk. They should only be undertaken with a full understanding of all inherent risks. These grades are guidelines that must always be used in conjunction with your own experience, intuition and careful judgment.


GradePath, terrainRequirements


Good track / path.

Flat or slightly inclined terrain, no risk of falling.

Comfortable walking shoes.

Mountain Hiking


Path with continuous track bed.

Sometimes steep terrain, slight risk of rockfall / feet slipping.

Competent, agile.

Quality hiking shoes.


Difficult Mountain Hiking

Paths not always visible, some exposed.

Partially exposed sections with risk of slipping/ gravel / unexpected changes in path and terrain.

Previous experience and competent agility needed. High quality hiking boots are essential.

Basic to medium alpine experience needed.


Alpine Hiking

Paths not always available.

Terrain quite exposed, tricky grassy slopes, abrupt changes to paths.

Confidence in exposed terrain, good, robust trekking shoes.

Previous alpine experience.

Due to weather changes can be difficult to retreat.


Difficult Alpine Hiking

Varies between no tracks to grassy/easy climbs.

Exposed, challenging terrain, steep paths/ changing terrain/ glacier and snow fields routes with risks of slipping/falling.

Mountaineering Boots

Good alpine experience needed with some previous experience of pick and rope.


Very Difficult Alpine Hiking

Mostly pathless.

Often very exposed, very steep terrain, with increased risk of slipping.

Advanced alpine experience needed, confidence using alpine technical tools.


Source: Schweizer Alpen Club

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