Levels of difficulty in hiking

Jul 18, 2021
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Are you planning a day hike or trek with a mountain leader, but don't know how to assess your physical or technical level?

This article has been created to help you to assess yourself and to choose an outing adapted to your level so that it takes place in complete safety and with maximum pleasure.

"Before anything else, it is important to talk honestly with your mountain leader about your experience in the mountains and your physical condition. As professionals we will adapt and propose an outing that suits you."

 

PHYSICAL CONDITION

Your physical condition is the essential element to take into account. It conditions your performance, the management of the effort and finally the pleasure you will have to hike.

 

TECHNIQUE

Technical skills are acquired through practice and experience.

 

LEVEL SCALE

The level scale detailed below takes into account the following criteria:
- Duration of the hike (walking time and number of days, based on an average speed of 3km/h on the flat and 300m/h on the way up and 300m/h on the way down).
- Elevation gain (cumulative positive and negative)
- Type of terrain (quality of the track, slope, altitude)

This is of course a subjective scale, good walkers will find the times overestimated whereas novice walkers may find the times underestimated.

Beginner :


Hiking on wide, well-maintained trails with gentle slopes

Physical condition: I am fit. I occasionally do sports activities

Elevation gain: 300m maximum / day

Duration of effort: 3 hours maximum / day

Experience required: None

Carrying : Backpack for the day or backpack for several days in case of itinerancy

Technical difficulties : None

Intermediate :

Hiking on comfortable mountain trails with no major technical difficulties. Ideal route for discovering hiking over one or more days.

Physical condition : I am in good physical condition. I practice a sporting activity regularly (2 to 3 times a month). I like to challenge myself on not too long efforts and I need to rest between activities.

Elevation gain : 300m to 700m maximum / day

Duration of effort : 5h maximum / day

Experience required : A little experience is required

Carrying : Backpack for the day or backpack for several days in case of itinerancy

Technical difficulties : Varied and hilly routes

Experienced :

Hiking on mountain trails that may present technical difficulties (cabled passages, off-path)

Physical condition: I am in good physical condition. I practice a sporting activity at least once a week. I like to push myself, sometimes for long periods of time, but I sometimes need a rest between activities.

Elevation gain: 600m to 1200m maximum / day

Duration of effort : 6h maximum / day

Experience required: Hiking experience recommended

Carrying: Day backpack or backpack for several days in case of itinerancy

Technical difficulties: Some passages may be on steep slopes requiring a certain technical and physical ease

Expert :

Hiking on varied mountain terrain that may present technical difficulties (equipped and secured passages, short sections of ladders) or passages exposed to the void. It can take place off the trails and on difficult terrain such as scree.

Physical condition : I am in very good physical condition. I practice a sporting activity several times a week. I have the desire to surpass myself on long efforts and I can endure fatigue to a certain extent

Elevation gain : More than 1000m maximum / day

Duration of effort : More than 6 hours/day

Experience required : Good experience of hiking and roaming

Carrying : Backpack for the day, or backpack for several days if you are roaming

Technical difficulties : Hiking on slopes that are sometimes steep or may present technical difficulties.