Track 'Grade'

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Track 'Grade'

Postby Nuts » Thu 16 May, 2019 12:49 pm

Iv'e always thought The Overland Track was 'Easy', perhaps in bad weather, overall 'Moderate'. There are some steep sections but not overly so, and they aren't very long. There's no 'mud' and the distances between huts are very short in relative terms. Other than compared to staying home, how do you assign grades? Certainly, if you consider you know you're going for an extended walk in Tassie's mountains, they don't get much 'easier'.. :?

So I see there appears to be a growing (mainland?) application of a numbers system. I'm not sure what these mean yet(?) but on one site the walk was listed as '4' /5.. 'Hard'. Then i'm thinking, 'Hard'..? compared to what? For whom? etc.

Any further info on this grading?, if there's an accepted system where it came from? Any support for 'Hard'? Any thoughts on a useful grading or personal opinion?


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Re: Track 'Grade'

Postby johnw » Thu 16 May, 2019 1:24 pm

As a starting point:

AS 2156.1-2001 Walking tracks - Classification and signage
https://infostore.saiglobal.com/store/PreviewDoc.aspx?saleItemID=294324

https://www.ffm.vic.gov.au/__data/assets/word_doc/0013/22342/User-guide-to-the-Australian-Walking-Track-grading-system.doc

http://www.wildwalks.com/bushcraft/technical-stuff/track-classification-system.html

Can't say I've noticed much use of it in practice, occasional references, and my own gradings are probably unique to me based on individual skill, tolerance etc.

EDIT: I should study my own backyard more closely. Looks like NSW NPWS has been listing those gradings online against at least some NPs/tracks for some time:
https://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/safety/bushwalking-safety/australian-walking-track-grading-system

And actually looks like Tassie has started doing it (but strangely not for the OLT):
https://www.parks.tas.gov.au/file.aspx?id=47194
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Re: Track 'Grade'

Postby tastrax » Thu 16 May, 2019 2:13 pm

Here are some more to add to your research

https://parks.dpaw.wa.gov.au/sites/defa ... ndards.pdf - this one from Victoria seems to be the one that other states are adopting and is really a "tourist classification"

https://dpipwe.tas.gov.au/Documents/Wal ... 1-2020.pdf - this document also includes the 'track typing' classification for tracks (page 27) which is for management purposes and is based on the environmental and track-siting variables that have the greatest influence of track conditions (page 27).

https://tnpa.org.au/wp-content/uploads/ ... -Vol-1.pdf - this has the original prescriptive track classifications developed in Tasmania (section 10)
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Re: Track 'Grade'

Postby Nuts » Thu 16 May, 2019 5:00 pm

johnw wrote:
And actually looks like Tassie has started doing it (but strangely not for the OLT):
https://www.parks.tas.gov.au/file.aspx?id=47194


Ha, went looking and ended reading their entire advice again, doing so, it occurred to me that this was an example of very good track grade advice. :)
Your link isn't working for me John.

I too suspect the numbers are coming from Victorian walkers, maybe from the AWT grades. I guess there's no real harm to err on the cautious side. The references iv'e looked through seem reasonable, I think it's more likely going to get confusing in the interpretation of those grades.

'Hard' for this track, especially from a guided tour perspective is a bit OTT. Where from there?
Hard, Harder, Hardest, Nigh on Impossible :)

I'm open to using grading systems if one is gaining recognition (I'm being asked more for number grades lately) and indeed thanks for the links/reading.
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Re: Track 'Grade'

Postby Warin » Thu 16 May, 2019 7:17 pm

Grades...

Unless they are objective ... like % incline, elevation gained, then they are relative to the person that assessed them. As such your (my) scaling could well be different. And then if more than one person is doing the grading there can be differences between their grades.

Due to the above probable differences it is best not to have a lot of grades as that would simply demonstrate the different points of view.

1 to 5? or easy to hard? I think the words are easier to understand. As for being harder than hard, the same argument applies to harder than 5.

Personally .. they are a very rough guide, I'd use trail notes if I am interested in actually walking there. And anyway, if it is attractive I'd probably go even if it is 'easy'. If it is 'hard' I'd look at why it is hard and judge from that.
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Re: Track 'Grade'

Postby tastrax » Thu 16 May, 2019 8:10 pm

https://www.parks.tas.gov.au/index.aspx?base=5940 - this page has the links that John indicated. The first link has the actual track grades descriptions.

TrackGrades.JPG
Track Grades
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Re: Track 'Grade'

Postby Nuts » Fri 17 May, 2019 8:08 am

Ha, there we go. Thanks. Might as well assign the OT if others are..
So, do we agree, The OT is a solid Grade 3? :)
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Re: Track 'Grade'

Postby johnw » Fri 17 May, 2019 10:03 am

Nuts wrote:
johnw wrote:And actually looks like Tassie has started doing it (but strangely not for the OLT):
https://www.parks.tas.gov.au/file.aspx?id=47194


Ha, went looking and ended reading their entire advice again, doing so, it occurred to me that this was an example of very good track grade advice. :)
Your link isn't working for me John.

Odd, still works fine for me, both directly and via the page that Phil linked.

Nuts wrote:Ha, there we go. Thanks. Might as well assign the OT if others are..
So, do we agree, The OT is a solid Grade 3? :)

Maybe 3.5 :wink:
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Re: Track 'Grade'

Postby Son of a Beach » Fri 17 May, 2019 1:04 pm

Grading tracks is quite tricky. That grade system in the image posted by Tastrax refers to track surface and steepness. It doesn't seem to take any other factors into account. Which is OK, so long as people appreciate that there are other factors to consider.

Eg, perhaps some people would consider the Overland Track to be "hard" simply because it takes more than two days? Or because it is often very cold? I don't know if factors such as these should be considered or not. Perhaps that would be the difference between a track grade and a walk grade.
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Re: Track 'Grade'

Postby johnw » Fri 17 May, 2019 1:44 pm

Son of a Beach wrote:Grading tracks is quite tricky. That grade system in the image posted by Tastrax refers to track surface and steepness. It doesn't seem to take any other factors into account. Which is OK, so long as people appreciate that there are other factors to consider.

Eg, perhaps some people would consider the Overland Track to be "hard" simply because it takes more than two days? Or because it is often very cold? I don't know if factors such as these should be considered or not. Perhaps that would be the difference between a track grade and a walk grade.

Very good points Nik. Also I think those gradings may be applied to only part of a track, i.e. rated on the hardest section, which may be a very small component of the whole thing. So in theory you could have a track rated as grade 4 or 5 that is substantially grade 2. For example because there is a short section of very steep exposed scrambling, or some other challenging obstacle. I think they are best used as a guide, rating a walk is a very individual thing based on a range of factors as you suggest.
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Re: Track 'Grade'

Postby Nuts » Fri 17 May, 2019 3:06 pm

I'm not sure why your link is going in a loop back to here, I do have these PDF's.

Agree, it's a piece of string.

I rarely see anyone saying the Overland Track was very easy (though expect in time they come think of it as 'easier')

This guy did:

"The 6 day suggested time is very generous, I took just over 2 days, I know some will say why rush, well because I did:-) I would get bored if it only plodded along at 10-15 km a day!
If you have NEVER been off the beaten track (i.e walking to the pub) then you could find this very taxing and adventurous but if a seasoned hill walker in Europe or the States then I think you might wonder why you have paid so much to do this"

He's obviously not the guy writing grading systems :)

(I wonder if he took 2 days as he would have considered one day too 'hard' :) ) (perhaps he is only ultralight rather than super ultralight ..)
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Re: Track 'Grade'

Postby wildwanderer » Fri 17 May, 2019 6:39 pm

For gradings Id prefer two seperate 'grades' for any routes or tracks.

A: terrain. Am I battling through head high scrub or needing to scramble? Or is it a bogfree sound of music meadow

B:Signage/route follow-ability. Am i needing to navigate in flat, tree filled terrain with a comes and goes foot pad. Or is it a nice clear valley featuring a well maintained and wide track with markers every 100m.

Distance and elevation I can work out on my own.

PS Australian grades are ridiculous. You can have a track through a mowed park with playground equipment and BBQs but because there is no signage they list it as grade five.

AKA: https://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/th ... state-walk :lol:
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Re: Track 'Grade'

Postby crollsurf » Fri 17 May, 2019 7:12 pm

I guess it needs to be simple for the novice to understand, so the hardest section of a walk is the grade they apply.
I'd like to see a 3 tier grading. 3:1:4 (majority:minority:other). In the case of the OLT. Most isn't that hard (3), some is very easy (1) and a little bit is hard (4) 3:1:4.

Matt at wildwalks has a graph that shows steepness which is helpful but I'd say the philosophy in regards to grading is never underestimate the stupidity of a park user.






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Re: Track 'Grade'

Postby Nuts » Sat 18 May, 2019 6:19 am

Short of a specific explanation of a walk I think a more complex grade system would be possible (useful for new walkers). Grades wont serve any purpose unless the reader then looks further to see what the they mean. Multiple parameters might get them thinking of all the conditions to expect and applying the thoughts to themselves & their preparation.
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Re: Track 'Grade'

Postby Snooze » Sat 18 May, 2019 8:55 pm

Could this be related to insurance/liability issues? If they describe the track as "hard" or "for advanced walkers", and someone gets injured in a fall, wouldn't that reduce any compensation owed?
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Re: Track 'Grade'

Postby Mechanic-AL » Sun 19 May, 2019 11:52 am

Maybe its not the track that should be graded but the walkers ? John Chapman's books already do this in a way.

" This track is suitable for experienced walking parties with off track navigation skills"........etc. etc.
If the walkers were graded from ' 2 pack a day asthmatic shufflers with dodgy knees' right through to 'Off track navigation guru's' then the people contemplating the walks simply have to *&^%$#@! their own skill level as opposed to making a judgement on track notes that don't relate to somebody with their of their own personal skill set.
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Re: Track 'Grade'

Postby north-north-west » Sun 19 May, 2019 12:18 pm

Mechanic-AL wrote:Maybe its not the track that should be graded but the walkers ? John Chapman's books already do this in a way.

" This track is suitable for experienced walking parties with off track navigation skills"........etc. etc.
If the walkers were graded from ' 2 pack a day asthmatic shufflers with dodgy knees' right through to 'Off track navigation guru's' then the people contemplating the walks simply have to *&^%$#@! their own skill level as opposed to making a judgement on track notes that don't relate to somebody with their of their own personal skill set.


What about off-track gurus with dodgy knees?

You can't cover all the variables with a number system. Best assessment is to cover the major relevant factors with a brief description and perhaps the amount of the track/route to which each of those factors applies. More accuracy means more complexity, and greater likelihood that the numpties (in particular) will zone out.
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Re: Track 'Grade'

Postby Tortoise » Sun 19 May, 2019 12:49 pm

north-north-west wrote:
Mechanic-AL wrote:Maybe its not the track that should be graded but the walkers ? John Chapman's books already do this in a way.

" This track is suitable for experienced walking parties with off track navigation skills"........etc. etc.
If the walkers were graded from ' 2 pack a day asthmatic shufflers with dodgy knees' right through to 'Off track navigation guru's' then the people contemplating the walks simply have to *&^%$#@! their own skill level as opposed to making a judgement on track notes that don't relate to somebody with their of their own personal skill set.


What about off-track gurus with dodgy knees?

That is balanced out by the required pig-headedness determination to do those walks. Off-track navigation gurus should cover it.
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Re: Track 'Grade'

Postby Nuts » Mon 20 May, 2019 8:22 am

Snooze wrote:Could this be related to insurance/liability issues? If they describe the track as "hard" or "for advanced walkers", and someone gets injured in a fall, wouldn't that reduce any compensation owed?


I'm sure that's a concern for tour walkers (i'm not sure if a park service has been successfully sued yet?) but then it's a damage reduction exercise, confounding rather than promoting a useful track grade.

Mechanic-AL wrote:Maybe its not the track that should be graded but the walkers ? John Chapman's books already do this in a way.

" This track is suitable for experienced walking parties with off track navigation skills"........etc. etc.
If the walkers were graded from ' 2 pack a day asthmatic shufflers with dodgy knees' right through to 'Off track navigation guru's' then the people contemplating the walks simply have to *&^%$#@! their own skill level as opposed to making a judgement on track notes that don't relate to somebody with their of their own personal skill set.


Don't underestimate an asthmatic with a 2 pack habit & dodgy knees :)
That's the key really isn't it.. an intervention, where the reader relates whatever grade to themselves.
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