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Solve the mystery - What is 4th class?


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4th class is tougher than 3rd class but less than low 5th class with pro. Take out the pro and it is 4a. Add choss and it is 4d or 5.0a/x/r but on the other hand if it has choss but good pro??? it then is 5.0b. 5.0c is used when there is good pro,choss and mist.If there is fog it becomes 5.0e/r.

I hope this is no perfectly clear. Seriously form my limited experience up here ,4th class in the cascades is some serious stuff for the unprepared and unware. Good climbing, a few more posts and you'll be a wanker like me.

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This raises a questions I've been pondering... what is "mid-fifth class"? Does that mean 5.5 ish? Or do you take all of the 5th classes--5.0 to 5.14, plus all the a, b, c, and d's--and divide down the middle? That seems dumb, and I suspect I'm over analyzing the situation. Can anyone confirm?


Also, why would some route descriptions go to the trouble of saying things like "Pitch four is solid 5.6 with blah blah blah for protection. Pitch five is mid-fifth class. Pitch six has a 5.4 chimney." etc. etc. Why throw in mid-fifth class instead of a numeric rating?

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Actually, I was just joking around. [Wazzup]


If I remember right, 4th class was where you had two potential techniques; either pray and spin your legs like road runner and if yr behind make sure you aren't far behind your partners "wake", or go the ballet route and simul/belay using tie offs on shrubbery and the larger blocks that haven't yet slid. And maybe pound a pin into dirt if you are really sweating acid.


If Beckey is updating the books is he now including definitions like that? It might be helpful to those new to the area.


Nite all, off to take the Geritol. [big Drink]

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Oops, Mtngrrl, I spoke too soon about bedding down. I will respond with my humble thought before laying my aged head to rest.


Mid 5th class means one of two things; either, "I can't remember how hard it was but it must have been easy since I didn't lead it", or it means "damn, there were some hard moves there even if my hiking boots WERE wet.". Either way, it means that "a rope was used", in much the same way that "mistakes were made" or maybe "it was decided that".

Expect possible awkward, grabby stuff; read between the lines, prepare for worst, expect best. Or vice versa. [Confused]


[big Drink]




Beddy bye

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Very appropriate topic. On the flip side is grade inflation, which dilutes the value of consistent, properly graded climbs. Beckey pegged them well in his intro to CAG #1, but look at Nelson's guide: Grade III for Rainier, D.C.? (Beckey I+); Grade II for Easton Glacier (Beckey I); or Smoot's "Rock Climbing in Washington": Grade III for Concord Cave Rte. and Grade III for South Arete, SEWS??? Nyet, comrades.

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  • 1 month later...

Back in the days when "rock-climbing" was widely considered a sub-discipline of "mountaineering", and years before I had heard of the Yosemite Decimal System, "fourth class" was widely considered to be the level of difficulty/exposure where a mountaineering party employs a rope and formal belays, but little or no intermediate protection between belays stations. The problem with such a definition is its subjectivity. Depending on who is leading, "fourth class" might include difficulties to 5.8 or higher! A classic example would be the account George Lowe wrote of his climb on the South Buttress of Mt. Moran with Peter Habeler. Lowe reported that they had begun climbing unroped, but as the difficulties approached the 5.10a level, he raised the subject of roping up. Habeler reportedly laughed off the suggestion, thinking Lowe was joking... "surely you don't need a rope for THIS!?!" So the question arises: is the Habeler Variation on the South Buttress of Mt. Moran 5.10, as the guidebook states, or "third-class" (necessitating the use of hands for balance, but easy enough to do without a rope)? in current practice, the terms "third class" and "fourth class" are perhaps better understood as describing the style a particular climbing team used on a climb, rather than the difficulty of the actual climbing.


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  • 4 weeks later...

My experience with routes listed as 4th class is this: They have been routes where the actual physical climbing did not require any special technique(like say as hard as really steep stairs or a ladder, or getting onto a bunk bed), but a fall could be serious or fatal and a rope is highly recommended. Sometimes class 4 has just put me on exposed ledges I can pretty much walk on, maybe using my hands for security. If the rock is loose, the route description usually(not always) says something about that. On the other hand if the rock is solid, it is sometimes stated. If nothing is stated I pretty much prepare for whatever, but the rock quality hasn't been an issue on that route. Sometimes I've done a route listed as 4th class, but was actually, in my opinion, more like low class 5. Others may have different views and/or experiences.

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