Hiking off marked trails requires particularly good planning and preparation. Which areas are best suited for wilderness hiking and what to consider for tours lasting several days can be found in the tour descriptions.
Proper equipment for the tours is a question that is very difficult to answer! It depends on the season and weather, as well as the type and duration of the tour. Basically: as little as possible, as much as necessary!
For the hiking scale, we at SimplyTourit use the SAC hiking scale.
The SAC hiking scale (SAC-Berg- , Alpinwander-, Trekkingskala) is used to rate mountain hiking trails and was introduced in 2002 by the Swiss Alpine Club (SAC). It is divided into six different grades: T1 (easiest) to T6 (most difficult), where "T" stands for "trekking".
Way well paved. If present, exposed areas are very well secured. Danger of falling can be largely ruled out with normal behavior. If marked according to SWW standards: yellow.
|None, suitable even with sneakers. Orientation without problems, usually possible even without a map.
|Trail with continuous path. Terrain partly steep, danger of falling not excluded. If marked according to SWW standards: white-red-white.
|Some surefootedness. Trekking shoes are recommended. Elementary orientation skills.
demanding mountain hiking
|Path on the ground not necessarily visible throughout. Exposed areas may be secured with ropes or chains. You may need your hands for balance. Partly exposed places with danger of falling, scree areas, pathless scree. If marked according to SWW standards: white-red-white.
|Good surefootedness. Good trekking shoes. Average orientation skills. Elementary alpine experience.
Trail not necessarily available. In certain places it needs the hands to move forward. Terrain already quite exposed, tricky grassy slopes, scree, easy firn fields and apere glacier passages. If marked according to SWW standards: white-blue-white.
Note: Older trails with the difficulty level T4 are today still often marked with red-white-red.
|Familiarity with exposed terrain. Sturdy trekking shoes. Some terrain judgment and good orientation skills. Alpine experience. Retreat may be difficult in the event of a weather fall.
demanding alpine hiking
|Often pathless. Some easy climbs. Exposed, demanding terrain, steep scree. Apere glaciers and firn fields with danger of slipping. If marked: white-blue-white.
|Mountain boots. Secure terrain assessment and very good orientation skills. Good alpine experience in high alpine terrain. Elementary knowledge in the use of ice axe and rope.
difficult alpine hiking
|Mostly pathless. Climbs up to II, often very exposed. Tricky scree terrain. Apere glacier with increased danger of slipping. Mostly not marked.
|Excellent orientation skills. Mature alpine experience and familiarity with the use of alpine technical aids.
Application and interpretation notes
The tours in the area of mountain and alpine hiking are each evaluated under the assumption of favorable conditions, i.e., good weather and visibility, dry terrain, suitable snow and firn cover, etc. The hiking scale defines "hikeable" glaciers as follows: Glaciers and firn fields that in summer, under normal conditions, are sufficiently exposed to allow any crevasses to be safely identified and bypassed without risk of crevasse fall. (This corresponds to the reality on various hut routes). Under these conditions, high altitude touring equipment is not required. It goes without saying, however, that elementary equipment (ropes, crampons) and knowledge of how to use it may be required on such tours in unfavorable conditions.
A serious misunderstanding that always leads to tricky situations is the assumption that hiking stops where the high difficulty scale begins. In reality, an alpine hike in the upper difficulty range (T5, T6) is usually significantly more demanding than, for example, an alpine tour with the rating L. An essential difference to an easy alpine tour is that on a T5 or T6 route (formerly BG) it is rarely or never possible to belay with ropes or other aids and therefore the corresponding terrain must be absolutely mastered, which requires a high technical as well as mental level. Typical examples are extremely steep grassy slopes, pathless scree terrain with poor rock or very exposed ridge passages. Due to the different characteristics of a typical high altitude tour and a typical "extreme hike", it is difficult to make a comparison, but it can be assumed that a T6 route makes comparable demands to a high altitude tour in the range up to WS..
Unfortunately, the SAC hiking scale only resembles those of the German, Austrian or Italian hiking associations to a limited extent. There are also regional differences, which is why you should find out in advance which scales are used locally and what they mean.
|blue or red
|red or black
|mostly not marked
|mostly not marked
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