All our course and expeditions are graded for ability levels and fitness levels. When choosing a trip pay close attention to both ratings and this will help you to choose one that is best for you. Having climbers/skiers of a similar ability and fitness level on the same trip helps us make sure that everyone has a great time and gets the maximum out of each course.
Please note: These are only guidelines so if you are not sure about something please contact us to discuss which ability and fitness levels are best suited to you.
You have good cardiovascular and hill walking fitness. Endurance is key to successful mountaineering several days in a row. You are capable of being active for 5-6 hours of per day, with enough in the tank to push for a summit which can be up to 12 hours.
You are proficient at back to back days of climbing up to 6 hours, probably at altitude for an extended trip and are capable of bigger pushes up to 15 hours.
You’re proficient at higher altitudes (6000m+) or harsh conditions and the long trip duration require excellent cardiovascular and endurance fitness. You must be able to live for days/weeks on end in expedition conditions.
Extreme altitude (8000m+) and living in an expedition environment for 6 weeks or more require the highest possible levels of fitness and resilience. Lots of training and experience are a must for these trips.
You have some previous hiking experience and feel comfortable in the outdoors, and have reasonable awareness of walking along trails and over hills.
You will have some previous rock, ice or easy alpine climbing experience which will help to get the most from this trip as well as a decent amount of hiking experience. You will either be starting to venture onto more technical terrain or in a more remote/harsh environment.
You have previous experience climbing alpine PD grades and above. You’re comfortable on sustained scrambles and you have previous pitched climbing on rock and / or ice experience.
You are proficient at technical climbing and have previous experience climbing alpine AD routes as well as a knowledge of rope-work and glacier travel.
TREK A (Easy)
Trekking at altitudes of around 2000m. 3-5 hours walking per day. Experience is not necessary at this level: anyone who is in good health and fit enough to enjoy a good weekend hill walk can manage this type of trek. However, walking always involves some exertion: trails are rarely flat and on some occasions you may have to walk along steeper trails but usually not for too long.
TREK B ( Moderate)
Trekking at altitudes of around 3000m. 4-6 hours walking per day. Most people who enjoy a weekend in the hills or mountains are capable of undertaking a trek at this level: you need to be in good health and reasonably fit, and you will almost certainly be taking regular exercise. A trek could be graded “B” either as a fairly easy medium-duration walk, or as a harder, shorter walk. Some walking at higher altitude and the occasional longer or more difficult day may be involved, but generally conditions underfoot will be reasonably comfortable.
TREK C (Strenuous)
Trekking at altitudes of around 4000m, mainly in the Himalayas. 5-7 hours walking per day. For any trek at this level, fitness becomes an important element and you must have built up a good level of endurance at a medium pace. Previous trekking experience is desirable but not essential if you are confident of your physical condition.
TREK D (Tough)
Trekking at altitudes of around 5000m mainly in the Himalayas. 6-9 hours walking per day. At this level we recommend previous experience of trekking, preferably at altitude or to at least to a TREK C level. You need confidence in your physical condition and your ability to trek for many days without a rest day and be able to cope with difficult underfoot terrain such as scree, snow or difficult paths on steep mountainsides. Extremes of altitude and weather will also be present, and on some treks it may be necessary to use an ice axe and boot crampons. Stamina is very important, as walking days can be from 6 to 9 hours or even longer when crossing passes in the Himalayas.
TREK E (Very Tough)
Trekking at altitudes of around 6000m in the Himalayas to some of the highest trekkable peaks in the World. 7-12 hours walking per day. To earn an “E” grade, a trek is likely to involve all the elements of a “D” grade plus extra factors of significant difficulty – tricky river crossings, high and difficult passes, glaciers, or trekking peaks where basic climbing skills may be required. Often hardware such as ice axe and crampons will be needed and if so we require you to have some previous experience of them. While normally walking for 7 to 9 hours a day, you should be prepared for up to 11 hours, or on some climbs even longer especially summit days.
You have a basic level of fitness and can ski for up to 3 hours in the morning and 3 hours in the afternoon with relative ease.
You are able to ski the whole day and emerge with little or no aches. On ski tours you are able to do day tours from huts or a short hut-to-hut tour at the end of the week, skiing with a lightweight day pack.
You can take on multi-day hut-to-hut ski tours and be comfortable skiing at a fairly high intensity for the most part of the day. You’ll be able to ascend for up to 4 hours per day with a 10Kg pack.
You enjoy ski mountaineering that requires you to carry skis, axe and crampons and / or you can ski at a high intensity for days at a time. You are also comfortable ascending for 5 hours a day for consecutive days with a 12Kg pack.
Note: For all of our ski courses we require you to have a basic level of ski ability. You must be comfortable skiing on blue runs at a comfortable pace without snow-ploughing.
You feel confident on blue runs, and can get down them without using snowplough turns. You’ve begun to link turns and have been introduced to parallel turns.
You are now skiing easier red runs. You have begun to link parallel turns on most turns but occasionally lose balance and find yourself leaning back and losing your way a bit. You’ve noticed the off-piste and have begun to test yourself in powder and you like it!
You are skiing confidently on red runs and skiing over the icier steeper parts with relative ease. You like to venture off-piste more and more and you are beginning to feel confident in varied snow types albeit a little off balance.
You have taken on the challenge of skiing black runs to test yourself and have found to be able to get down them with relative ease if a little shaky at times. You’re more tempted by the off-piste now and have started looking for off-piste opportunities within resorts that look appealing and easy access. You have a good understanding of how to carve when initiating your turns and you are able to either quicken or slow down your turns depending on the width of the slope you are skiing.
You can ski all the pistes in a resort with ease but are mainly focused on riding off-piste now that you’ve had a taste for it. The addiction has kicked in. You feel comfortable in different snow types and narrower lines, and are able to ski steeper slopes up to 30 degrees and have a good awareness of your capabilities. You’ve begun to look further away from the lifts at untouched powder and have also begun to educate yourself on avalanche safety for when skiing off-piste.
You are now a confident off-piste skier, and can cope with chopped up and deep snow on angles up to 35 degrees. You ski with a backpack full of avalanche safety kit. You now want to go further into the back-country. You have a basic understanding of avalanche safety but are keen to refresh and update your knowledge from a guide. You want to learn more about crevasses and how to avoid them, and what to do if you can’t; including crevasse rescue techniques.
You are now an accomplished off-piste skier looking for the next challenge. You can ski 35-40 degree couloirs but would like to push to the 45 degree level as well as learn more about general mountain safety. You have a good understanding of ski mountaineering skills but would like to brush up on your skills and pick the brain of an experienced IFMGA mountain guide. There’s always more to learn. You are driven to go into the back-country anywhere in the world and ski challenging lines with people you trust.