/ alpine grades ?

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mark s - on 04 Jan 2013
further to thinking of a family holiday in the alps,me and my climbing mate are considering an august trip there and do some climbing.
sure we will do some bolted climbs in our usual style but would also like to climb some peaks.
how do the grades F .PD .ED etc compare to uk grades.or what they like in real terms?
GridNorth - on 04 Jan 2013
In reply to mark s: They don't compare well in many situations. We don't have glaciers and our mountains are no where near as big plus we are not used to climbing with a pack on and perhaps in big boots. Some pure rock climbs do stand comparison so for example the Rebuffat route on the Midi, which I think is a TD these days, comes in at about E1, 5b. F and PD routes are technically easy but could be over challenging ground involving snow and crevasses etc. Something like the Walker Spur gets an ED grade even though there are only a few pitches that we would consider HVS. It is however long, has a difficult approach and a serious long descent. Some guide authors no longer use the F, PD, ED system to describe pure rock climbs. I hope this helps.
Mark Haward - on 05 Jan 2013
In reply to mark s:
Routes are graded for good conditions and many routes get regraded due to changing conditions such as rockfall / climate etc. So it is important to get up to date information on routes. For example Cosmiques Ridge and Midi Plan used to be graded PD but both get AD now.
F: Simple glacier, snow to 40 degrees, scrambles
PD: Crevassed, short exposed 45-50 degrees slopes, narrow ridges, long rock scrambles and shorter rock routes with some pitches aound Diff but sometimes one or two harder moves
AD: Snow / ice to 55 degrees ( grade 1/2 ) may require belays, sustained narrow ridges, rock scrambling possibly up and down, rock pitches around V. Diff but can be severe or occasional harder move, abseils may be needed
D: Snow / ice to 60 degrees ( grade 2/3 ) long exposed narrow ridges, mixed climbs, rock around Severe possibly VS
TD: Long routes, snow ice to 75 degrees ( grade 3/4 ) with more complex route finding or harder sections, sustained mixed routes or rock routes VS /HVS
ED: Major routes, snow / ice to 90 degrees, long and serious mixed routes perhaps wuth considerable objective danger, sustained rock with HVS / E1 or harder

There are also +/ - for each grade and there can be a big difference in difficulty between them. A pure rock route graded D+ may feel easy in rock boots ( around Hard Severe / VS ) but a route at altitude with big boots / sack and possibly crampons may have short sections of the same grade and feel a lot harder.

( Thanks to Martin Moran / Alpine Club for grade info )
cannichoutdoors - on 05 Jan 2013
In reply to Mark / Alps: There was an article in Climber by Martin Moran giving Alpine grades for the Ben ridges. I think it was:-

Castle = AD-, Tower = AD, NE Buttress = AD+
mark s - on 06 Jan 2013
In reply to mark s: cheers for that.our trip is no more than talk and what we would like to do at the moment,need to do more planning and reading up.
trying to find good sites to give plenty of info for the mont blanc area.andi knows guides in cham from when he did his m.i.a.although neither of us have much ice experience we are not idiots on the rock.
andi turner - on 06 Jan 2013
In reply to mark s: Did you get all that "Castle = AD-, Tower = AD, NE Buttress = AD+"

I think we need to do some homework!
mark s - on 06 Jan 2013
In reply to andi turner: yeah I thought that
smithaldo - on 06 Jan 2013
In reply to mark s: From what you and your mate habe done I reckon Pure rock ed routes should be fine for you! Routes On the capucin would be good, and stuff like the cordier pillar.
JimboWizbo - on 06 Jan 2013
In reply to mark s: I recommend an Alpine Prep course, did ours at PyB before our first Cham trip and learned a lot of valuable skills
andi turner - on 06 Jan 2013
In reply to JimboWizbo: Yeah, good advice. I'll have a look into that.
David Rose - on 07 Jan 2013
In reply to mark s: Alpine grades can be misleading until you get a feel for them. For example, I have seldom been so gripped as when negotiating the long, knife-edged arete linking the Aiguille de Bionassay with the Dome de Gouter after an ascent of the Bionassay north face - a route graded AD+. The thing was horribly exposed on both sides, belays were impossible and it was made of wet, unconsolidated sugar. On the other had you will find relatively non-serious TD or TD+ rock routes with abseil points in situ in places such as the Envers des Aiguiles suitable for any competent HVS leader. The Zmutt ridge on the Matterhorn (D, though it used to be AD) is a monster of a route: big and committing (though hugely enjoyable) but with nothing more than hard diff in terms of climbing. But you'll get the hang of it soon enough. A course is a good idea, however. It might save your life. And follow one rule: NEVER walk around on a snowy glacier unroped, even if there seems to be a well-used track.

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