Our Trip Grading Explained
Whether you are looking for an active but relaxed holiday, or a real physical challenge out in the wilderness, we have a trip to suit your needs. Choosing the right trip, however, can be tricky as you need to consider the balance of physical challenge, technical skills and comfort level. That’s why we are launching our new trip grading system for all our trips.
Our trips are now graded as Easy (Green), Moderate (Blue), Demanding (Yellow), Strenuous (Orange) and Extreme (Red), with Green trips being the most accessible and Red trips being the most challenging.
Factors considered with each grading include: the number of days, the maximum elevation, the total daily elevation gain and loss, whether the trip involves glacier travel or crosses any passes, its remoteness and isolation and the necessary fitness level.
Since some of these factors are necessarily changeable, any system of grades can only provide a general indication. Adverse weather can make relatively easy trips seem difficult, and trips done quickly can seem harder than one done slowly. Anyone travelling for the first time will probably find many easy and most moderate trips quite challenging. If you have any questions about the nature of a particular trip or its suitability for you, please contact us.
Trekking and Hiking
Easy treks are suitable for most trekkers in good health, have trails below 4000m possibly with moderate elevation changes, usually for two or three days, and less than half a day nontechnical glacier travel or gentle pass crossings.
Moderate Treks are suitable for reasonably fit trekkers, cover trails usually for no more than one week, with significant elevation change and usually cross a pass below 5000m, and not more than half a day of usually nontechnical glacier travel.
Demanding Treks are suitable for regular trekkers who are fit and competent on difficult terrain, cover trails often for more than a week where some route-finding is necessary with significant elevation change. Any pass crossings are usu¬ally below 5500m, and nontechnical or technical glacier travel is usually for not more than one day.
Strenuous Treks are suitable for fit trekkers who are accustomed to rigorous trekking, are through rugged terrain over a longer and more committed route where route-finding is required, with glaciated or difficult pass crossings usually below 6000m, involving nontechnical or technical glacier travel for one or more days.
Extreme Treks are suitable for highly fit and experienced trekkers, may involve multiple days of extended technical glacier travel and trekking on rugged terrain above 4500m, require serious commitment to the route, and cross a glaciated pass higher than 5500m.
Technical trekking requires the use of mountaineering equipment and basic mountaineering and glacier travel skills for safe completion of the route.
Easy expeditions include hiking at moderate altitude of maximum 2,500-5,500m with maniacal 1,000m altitude per day.
You will need good basic fitness and health. Your enjoyment of the trip will be increased by a prior programme of similar exercise to the trip.
Moderate Mountaineering expeditions include climbing up to 6,000m without difficult terrain no or easy summits up to about 5,600m with 4-8 hours walking per day but up to 12 hrs on summit days. Increased demands caused by Altitude Experience in alpine hiking necessary.
You will need to have good general muscular and cardio vascular fitness and endurance. This will require a regular programme of general exercise prior to the trip. Expect to be engaging in 45 minute sessions of high to moderate exertion level of exercise such as swimming, jogging, cycling at least 3 times a week with trips to the hills for 3-4 hour walk around once every 3-4 weeks.
These type of climbing expeditions include, difficult alpine tours possibly on ‘winter’ terrain such as snow & ice. Alpine experience absolutely necessary, Expect time for ascents of up to 10 hours (plus several hours for descent) Good health status and excellent physical fitness necessary Will power and good mental health
You will need good specific muscular and cardio vascular fitness and endurance with a moderate training programme to target the relevant requirements of the trip.Expect to be engaging in min. 45 minute sessions of high-exertion level exercise such as swimming, running, rowing, cycling at least 3 times a week. You should also plan trips to the hills for a 4-5 hour walk with a 5-10kg pack around once every 2-3 weeks.
Strenuous Mountaineering expeditions include climbing up to 7,500m with possible glacier traverses, often difficult terrain and climbing time per day sometimes >12 hours. This is suitable for experienced mountaineers with alpine experience who are able to act autonomously and who have an excellent physical fitness and mental health and team spirit.
You will need very good specific muscular and cardiovascular strength and fitness and endurance with an intensive training programme to target the relevant requirements of the trip. These will include sustained ascent with heavy loads.
You will also need to plan your training programme to cater for the physical demands and stresses of the training it’s self and to taper off toward the trip. The risks of injury and over-training need to be carefully managed, preferably by a suitably experienced and qualified person.
Expect to be engaging in min. 45 minute sessions of high-exertion level exercise such as swimming, running, rowing, cycling at least 3 times a week. You should also plan trips to the hills for a 5-7 hour walk with a 10-15kg pack around once every 2-3 weeks. Consider specific strength training for leg and back.
These Climbing Expeditions include summits over 7500m. Experienced mountaineers who are able to act autonomously and who present with excellent physical fitness and mental health only. Some parts of the trip involve difficult terrain and need extended experience in handling safety equipment. Extreme mental strength and great problem solving ability is needed.
These expeditions are suitable for people with very good muscular and cardio- vascular fitness, endurance and strength.
All items lathe “strenuous” category above apply. It will be inevitable that with this level of exertion over the course of the expedition climber will lose a significant amount of body mass. This will include loss of muscle tissue as well as fat. This will need to be managed to some extent, possibly with a controlled ‘bulking up’ beforehand. This is likely to require management of dietary intake as well as anaerobic strength training. However, making significant alterations to diet and training regimes should only be carried out in conjunction with advice from suitably qualified and experienced Instructor/Guides.
In order to help you to choose your ideal holiday, we have divided our cycling trips into three simple categories. First identify your preferred riding style and grade and then choose from the range of holidays that suit your specific requirements.
The perfect choice for those who like to cycle independently, we have added support to minimise the hard work and planning. We arrange your accommodation and provide you with maps and route notes, so you can cycle at your own pace from one hotel to the next. Your bags are transported for you, so all you carry is what you need for the days ride.
Itineraries are based at least 70% on tarmac, which may be in good condition or pot-holed. Some routes also include occasional sections on un-surfaced tracks, but these will not require any specific technical riding skills. We design our routes to avoid overly busy roads, but you should be comfortable occasionally riding in traffic. The terrain varies from flat to hilly.
These trips follow a mixture of dirt roads, paths, and trails. These may be smooth and hard-packed, or loose, rutted, steep and rocky, and are often in hilly or mountainous terrain. On some trips, the tracks are mostly vehicle-width, but on others we aim for a higher proportion of single-track riding. For trips graded demanding and above, some off road experience is essential.
Suitable for anyone who enjoys easy and relatively short rides on flat or gently undulating terrain. Ideal if you simply want to explore a region by bike at a relaxed pace. Maximum daily height gain is approximately 250 metres and daily distances rarely exceed 50 kms (32 miles), often any longer days are optional.
Medium length rides which are suitable for cyclists who are used to undulating routes with occasional energetic climbs. You’ll be cycling mainly on trails and quiet roads and you should have a reasonable level of fitness. Distances on road trips rarely exceed 70 kms (43 miles) per day.
Longer and more demanding rides especially designed for cyclists who enjoy hilly terrain with some challenging ascents. The routes require a good level of fitness and may include some non-technical, off-road riding. Previous Mountain biking experience is preferable, but not essential, for demanding grade off-road trips as they will involve some technical riding.
This grade of cycling takes us into more demanding terrain, with long and steep climbs, sometimes on difficult surfaces and at high altitudes. These rides suit experienced cyclists with high levels of fitness, mental toughness and stamina. Average 100+ km per day.
Easy descent which does not require any particular technical abilities such as forest tracks for example. Initiation, slopes do not exceed 30° with no narrow sections. Vertical descent is less than 800m.
Wide slopes which are easy to manoeuvre, maybe fairly steep (25°). Ski 2. Few technical difficulties. Slopes do not exceed 35°.
Slopes up to 35° (equivalent to the steepest runs in ski resorts, on hard snow). Requires good skiing abilities in all snow conditions. Some technical sections, long slopes at 35° with very short sections at 40-45°.
Very good skiing abilities are required. Couloir or steep skiing: slopes between 40 and 45° over more than 200m vertical.
Slopes between 45 and 50° or more if exposure remains low. From 40° upwards if exposure is high. As well as a perfect downhill skiing technique, control of nerves becomes very important at this level of difficulty. Starts with slopes of 45°-50° during more than 300m vertical or above 50° for more than 100m vertical.
Fast moving water with riffles and small waves. Few obstructions, all obvious and easily missed with little training. Risk to swimmers is slight; self-rescue is easy.
Straightforward rapids with wide, clear channels which are evident without scouting. Occasional maneuvering may be required, but rocks and medium-sized waves are easily missed by trained paddlers. Swimmers are seldom injured and group assistance, while helpful, is seldom needed. Rapids that are at the upper end of this difficulty range are designated Class II+.
Rapids with moderate, irregular waves which may be difficult to avoid and which can swamp an open canoe. Complex maneuvers in fast current and good boat control in tight passages or around ledges are often required; large waves or strainers may be present but are easily avoided. Strong eddies and powerful current effects can be found, particularly on large-volume rivers. scouting is advisable for inexperienced parties. Injuries while swimming are rare; self-rescue is usually easy but group assistance may be required to avoid long swims. Rapids that are at the lower or upper end of this difficulty range are designated international ratings of Class III- or Class III+ respectively.
Intense, powerful but predictable rapids requiring precise boat handling in turbulent water. Depending on the character of the river, it may feature large, unavoidable waves and holes or constricted passages demanding fast maneuvers under pressure. A fast, reliable eddy turn may be needed to initiate maneuvers, scout rapids, or rest. Rapids may require “must” moves above dangerous hazards. Scouting may be necessary the first time down. Risk of injury to swimmers is moderate to high, and water conditions may make self-rescue difficult. Group assistance for rescue is often essential but requires practiced skills. Rapids that are at the lower or upper end of this difficulty range are designated international ratings of Class IV- or Class IV+ respectively
Extremely long, obstructed, or very violent rapids which expose a paddler to added risk. Drops may contain large, unavoidable waves and holes or steep, congested chutes with complex, demanding routes. Rapids may continue for long distances between pools, demanding a high level of fitness. What eddies exist may be small, turbulent, or difficult to reach. At the high end of the scale, several of these factors may be combined. Scouting is recommended but may be difficult. Swims are dangerous, and rescue is often difficult even for experts. A very reliable kayak roll, proper equipment, extensive experience, and practiced rescue skills are essential. Because of the large range of difficulty that exists beyond Class IV, Extreme (Class 5-International Rating) is an open-ended, multiple-level scale designated by international ratings class 5.0, 5.1, 5.2, etc… each of these levels is an order of magnitude more difficult than the last.
The pace is considered easier compared to Mountaineering, Trekking, Activity Holidays and should enable anyone in good health to participate. While there are no specific physical requirements, it is important that travellers are in good health, have a positive attitude, a sense of humour and a spirit of adventure. Tours & safaris can consist of early starts, some long days, climbing into Jeeps, dinghies or onto Elephants, or involve overnight sleeper trains. The transport provided is the best available for the area and type of terrain being visited but be prepared for some lengthy journeys, bumpy dirt roads, rough seas or the occasional delay. The amount of walking involved in these trips varies, longer walks on some and very little on others. Details of each trip can be found in the full itinerary, there are two grades easy and moderate; moderate tours tend to be at higher altitude and use some basic accommodation.
It is your responsibility to ensure that you are fit enough to join a Snowland’s holiday. Please remember that occasionally bad weather, a daily walking routine on treks, average altitude gained & lost temperature range, trail or road conditions, camp life or basic accommodation, remoteness and being away from civilisation, level of comfort, missing luxuries and unfamiliar cultures can make extra demands.