I would say sometimes. It is good for averages over ranges much larger than the relief of the contours. I wouldn't trust anything under 1,000 feet, and even that I would take with a grain of salt. Just as an example a 40-foot cliff band would be nonexistant on an 80 foot contour. As a concrete example, the descent to the north into McMillan Creek Cirque from Terror-Rake Col in the Southern Pickets involves a couple hundred feet in the 55-60 degree range, and I don't think you can see that from a topo.
But it's still a fun thing to do, and I think it is useful to give you a feel for the long-range character of a route. If you measure 3k averaging in the mid-30 degree range, you can rest assured you have a superb descent awaiting you. If you measure 5+k in the mid-30 range, well that just kicks ass.
Joined: 08 Dec 2004 Posts: 2793 Location: Bay Area
Posted: Thu Jun 02, 2005 5:52 pm Post subject:
Re "Everything in skiing is so totally subjective to snow conditions anyway", if anything, conditions variations are more extreme on whitewater rivers (which I couldn't help but notice when running California's South Fork American, a textbook "Class 3", at very high water, 13K cfs). And yet, for those who understand that there is variation, the whitewater rating system has turned out to be pretty useful (though less so for creek-boaters and other nothing-below-class-5 kayakers who I suppose are analogous to the couloir folks in skiing).
Jeffy: I've found that a careful measurement of topo lines gives a good ballpark prediction of slope angle. However:
1) I'm not using any particular "slope angle" software function, but instead zooming in at highest magnification to a crux section of the slope that I'm looking at, measuring the distance between about 3 to 5 contour lines, and doing the trig on a calculator (match the units, ie convert all numbers to feet, & arctan(vert/horz)).
2) Keep in mind that it's an average; any variation whatsoever means that some of it will be steeper than average.
3) It ignores wind-loading properties of snow; thus, a 40 degree entry to an east-facing slope may be (briefly) much steeper, vertical, or corniced. Conversely, steep sections may be filled in at somewhat lower angles by snow deposition or small-slide debris.
Joined: 06 Dec 2004 Posts: 2634 Location: Tigard, OR
Posted: Fri Jun 03, 2005 1:11 am Post subject:
I've thought about this a bit in the past few days. Here's my 2cents:
Eric O wrote:
I voted against the entire ratings concept,
With all due respect Eric, every ski guidebook Iíve seen already uses some form of a rating system. Moynier uses the class 1-5 system, Richins uses the diamond system, Oregon Descents uses Beginning-Expert classifications, etc. It'd be much more convenient and logical if these systems were standardized, just like ski resorts use a standard rating system.
This isnít about creating a system for ratings, itís just about reaching a standard. Those who decide if we ever reach a standard will be the guidebook authors.
Now I just wish there was something steeper then S0 in this state I live in
Edited a bit for clarity
Last edited by Gaper Jeffey on Fri Jun 03, 2005 7:58 am; edited 2 times in total
Joined: 25 May 2005 Posts: 73 Location: Vancouver, BC
Posted: Fri Jun 03, 2005 6:07 am Post subject: guidebook system
I agree with Jeffey:
Gaper Jeffey wrote:
Huh? Every ski guidebook Iíve seen already uses some form of a rating system...
It'd be much more convenient and logical if these systems were standardized, just like ski resorts use a standard rating system.
This isnít about creating a system for ratings, itís just about reaching a standard. Those who decide if we ever reach a standard will be the guidebook authors, not us.
However, there are at least a couple guidebook authors writing on this thread, and possibility others reading. It would be great if this discussion could come to consensus on what is a good system, however this may not be possible. Regardless, I'd like to come up with the best possible rating system based on the type of information people want. I think that the smart choice would be to find an existing system that is widely used (europe) and fits the needs of people here. I personally am leaning towards a system that has a grade for overall route difficulty (terrain, glaciers, route finding, etc.) and another grade for the descent crux (exposure and steepness). I personally do not think the grade should address trip duration (this is sooo subjective) or elevation gain (which should be indicated separately in a guidebook). For these reasons the Swiss Alpine Club System seems the best.
Joined: 07 Dec 2004 Posts: 1116 Location: HELLsinki, Finland
Posted: Fri Jun 03, 2005 8:26 am Post subject:
Without really saying which is the best, I really like the European S-system. If the run I'm looking is not rated (often the case in Scandinavia) I just use my own grade: No probs - Mayby - Can do on a really good day - No freaking change.
Posted: Fri Jun 03, 2005 2:51 pm Post subject: Re: guidebook system
I think that the smart choice would be to find an existing system that is widely used (europe) and fits the needs of people here. I personally am leaning towards a system that has a grade for overall route difficulty (terrain, glaciers, route finding, etc.) and another grade for the descent crux (exposure and steepness). I personally do not think the grade should address trip duration (this is sooo subjective) or elevation gain (which should be indicated separately in a guidebook). For these reasons the Swiss Alpine Club System seems the best.
This system reminds me of the British rock climbing rating system, which describes so many aspects of a climb that to me, it confuses the issue rather than simplifying it.
I like the existing European S rating system, but think it has the fatal flaw of being capped at S7 which doesn't allow for future growth. The same can be said for descriptive ratings which tend to cap out at "extreme." What happens in 2007 when someone skis a line that is beyond extreme? Do you shift all of the existing ratings down, or add a new catagory at the top, such as Really Extreme. And then in 2010, do you add Really Super Extreme?
Joined: 07 Dec 2004 Posts: 116 Location: Chartreuse Mountains
Posted: Fri Jun 03, 2005 3:24 pm Post subject: Re: Shashani system
why are they switching?
do you know which rating system is the most popular in europe?
I don't know that they actually will, or maybe they will just add an extra field(s) in the database for the "French" system. There are more French than Swiss users and of course the French like things done "their" way - if you look at the sites:
I can see a certain logic to standardizing on a system, whatever it is, but I appreciate that the N.Americans may have some conditions whicy are unique and can't be expressed well with the existing systems or feel that the current systems are lacking. It would not be the first time that the New Continent has taught us something.
Joined: 25 May 2005 Posts: 73 Location: Vancouver, BC
Posted: Fri Jun 03, 2005 3:34 pm Post subject: upper end of ratings
I'm going to go out on a limb here... I may take this back later.
I think the nature of ski descents at the very upper end of the spectrum dictates a couple things.
Because of how serious these routes are, I think that the description of these routes is going to need to rely on text in a guidebook, rather than a super complex scale. I don't think it's super useful to split the rating system into a ton of categories to describe every possible type of terrain for the upper end of skiing. The descriptions for each level of the grade become so detailed, that it will require people to refer to an explanation of the ratings all the time to figure out what they mean. Why not just take that information and put it right into the description of the route in the book? I think the idea of the ratings is to classify routes so people can compare them and get a sense of a route. People use ratings to choose trips to do, based on their ability and motivation. I think the super difficult routes are going to be skied by a small group of very skilled skiers, who are going to need to read a text description to figure out if they want to ski a difficult, dangerous route. I think it's ok to have a rating system with some slightly broad categories. It still allows people to compare routes and make choices. obviously there is a balance between being too broad and too hyper specific. For me the swiss system seems to be about right.
Having said that, maybe the french "Shahshahani" rating system with the 5th grade that can keep going up for more difficult routes, combined with the E1-E4 for exposure is a better system. It can still be combined with the F, PD, AD, D system and is not so different from the swiss system.
Last edited by matosan on Fri Jun 03, 2005 4:42 pm; edited 2 times in total
I was about to say that S9 might be a fairly natural barrier. For skiers at least, maybe not for base jumpers. But seeing Arno Adamís recent bouts of skiing with a base jump chute deployed (chute open above head taking huuuuuuuge jumps off terrain rollers) maybe we shouldnít cap it at S9 too quickly, eh? I canít really imagine much reason to go above S10, but then againÖmaybe ski base jumping through flames or into flowing lava?
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