Backcountry Run Rating

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Lies, Damned Lies and Ratings. The ratings listed in here are merely an indication of what can often be expected. Early season, late season, after snowfall, no snowfall, state of mind - all change the rating for a given route. Rating is by general consensus . It's probably wrong.

Incline (or 'pitch' or 'slope') is generally exaggerated by people, even without attempting to boast. A usual error is 50%, but 100% exaggeration is common ("Man, no, seriously, I swear - it was 45 degrees- at least!").

I've included it where it's been measured with an inclometer (cheap thing, so still an estimate). Average pitch is no guide so is not included.

At this stage we're having a play with the 'S' system. This was proposed in France, and then tuned by the Americans. I dunno how it will prove to be for Australian conditions, but lets try. I think that most of the runs will fall into a sort of 1+ to 3+ area. Hopefully we can find a few above that To clear the cobwebs of the mind.

Remember that they're only ratings, and it's only skiing. Don't get too worked up because you can (or can't) ski some rating or other. Mainly they're just some shit to spin about at the pub, before the telemarkers start talking about bindings or the climbers begin crapping on about the third move of some poxy chosspile they've just cried themselves up.

Approach Ratings (I - VII)

I Access from a chairlift or by driving. Not hard to reach. Things like Dead Horse Gap run.
II Approaches that are easily done in a day. May require some mountaineering. Pretty much everything in this guide, although not a lot of mountaineering.
III Longer approaches with more vertical or technicalities. Could be multiday. Unlikely to occur in Australia.
IV Longer approaches yet with technical difficulties and logistics such as glaciers, roped travel, multiday. Hello NZ.
V All of the above, yet farther, harder and longer. Roped climbing, glaciers, higher altitudes. NZ without the helicopter access.
VI Close to a full expedition. High altitude, roped climbing, crevasses. One ticket to the Alps, please.
VII Could die on just the approach. Oxygen, technical climbing, altitude, etc. Welcome to the Greater Ranges.

Steepness Ratings (0-7 with +/- qualifiers)

S0 Flat terrain.
S1 Low angle. Possibly poling in places.
S1+ Beginning terrain at a ski area. Safe run-outs.
S2 25° slopes. "Intermediate" terrain at a ski area.
S2+ Slopes at or near 25? with some terrain features.
S3- Slopes up to 30°.
S3 Slopes up to 35°. "Expert" runs at ski areas.
S3+ Slopes at or near 35° with terrain features that require manoeuvring around.
S4- Slopes 35-45° with safe run-outs and little to no dangerous terrain features.
S4 Slopes 35-45° with dangerous fall potential and a few terrain obstacles.
S4+ Slopes just under 45° that are continuously steep, have serious fall consequences and multiple terrain obstacles.
S5- Slopes that are continuously at or near 45° or slightly over.
S5 Slopes between 45-55°. You'd be lucky to live through a fall.
S5+ Slopes at or around 55°. Don't fall and expect to remember it.
S6- Short sections that are steeper than 55°. Most of the run is continuously above 50°.
S6 Slopes continuously steeper than 55°. Painful death from falling highly likely.
S6+ 55°ish slopes with major obstacles - cliffs, trees, crevasses.
S7 60° slopes. Fucking steep.
S7+ 60° slopes with nasty obstacles. A quick and certain death if you fall.
S8 The future, but sometimes nailed in pubs and in dreams.