The idea of effort expresses the physical difficulty of the hike.
The technical level is linked to the terrain and the number of obstacles on the path.
The risk is related to the exposure to serious or less serious consequences in the event of a fall.
Think about reading our article on the 10 commandments of hiking safely.
Hikes are then classified on a scale from 1 (easy) to 5 (difficult). Looking at these 3 criteria will enable you to decide if the hike you want to do adapted to your ability. Here is a quick guide to the different levels:
1 : easy: No physical difficulties. Path or part of the path that presents no or almost no particular difficulty. Feet are put down flat. Injury is possible but likely to be slight.
2 : fairly easy: A walk or short hike. Few obstacles, they are no higher than the ankle. Low risk of accident, minor injuries.
3 : a little difficult: Physical exertion required, but measured. At least one obstacle no higher than the knee. Low risk but risk possible on some parts of the path.
4 : Fairly difficult: Significant and sustained physical exertion. The irregularities if the terrain requires the use of poles, obstacles can reach the hips. Fairly high risk of injury or serious accident.
5 : difficult: Very sustained physical exertion. Obstacles higher than the hips, using hands mist be required in some parts, poles are likely to be a hindrance. Some passages may be secured. Very rugged terrain. Maximum risk of an accident.If you with to know more about the classification and apply it to your routes, the French Hiking Federation has published a downloadable guide.
If you hike in the UK, hikes are also graded:
- Very Hard
- Severe - Challenge Routes
These levels depends on different criteria:
- Terrain covered by the route. Some walks might have pathless parts that are not as easy to walk through as real paths.
- Total height gain in the walk
- Total distance
- Equipment required
- Navigation and compass skills required
Don't forget that bad weather can make any easy walk way more difficult! Always check the weather before going on a hike and adjust, or cancel, if necessary. Read our article about what to do in the event of a mountain storm here.