What CTC trip grades mean. Essential reading for newcomers.


Here is a rough guide to assist new members' understanding of our trip gradings. Gradings are relative to a reasonably fit, “Moderate”, experienced tramper, who goes out tramping regularly with the CTC, say, once a fortnight or more frequently. An “Easy” trip for a new tramper will be taxing without being too taxing. As the trip grades change up from Easy to the next higher grade, and so on, the trips require more overall effort, and the pace quickens. There are 5 grades, as shown in the table below. Breaks are included in the times given.

Gradings in the newsletter are accompanied by a description of the route, height gain, terrain, and the leader can be consulted for more information. Sometimes the leader will encourage participation on a trip by advertising a slower rate of height gain for the trip grade.

The club strongly recommends that newcomers to the club start with Easy day trips - at most Easy/Mod day trips. Then, when you are comfortable with that trip grade, you move up gradually to the next trip grade - trying to select trips that are at the lower end of the higher grade. Expect sometimes intense questioning from trip leaders, if you hope to go on a trip graded Moderate or higher, & if you are without evidence of prior tramping experience with the CTC at just below that trip grade. If a new person to the club over-estimates their own fitness compared to the club members participating on the trip, then that person will be holding up the rest of group - slowing down the trip and perhaps forcing a change of plan - which is undesirable for all concerned. On the other hand, if a new person to the club under-estimates their own fitness compared to the club members participating on the trip, then no harm is done and every one can be happy.

As always, you are expected to properly equip yourself with suitable tramping gear - refer to the club’s required “Tramping Gear Check List” on the web site under Home > About the CTC > Trip Gear. This minimum gear is not optional, but mandatory. If you do not have the gear, then consult the trip leader before the trip day for advice. If you turn up on the day without the required gear, then expect to be turned away unless there is prior arrangement. This required gear list has been compiled by highly experienced CTC trampers, who use this same gear list on all CTC trips. Interestingly, we occasionally come across inexperienced wannabee trampers who think that they know better than the experienced people who compiled the CTC gear list - and they turn up either leaving out important items of gear or wearing inappropriate clothing. The club has a message for these wannabees: a rapid change in mindset is required. Gear that you bring, or don’t bring, is a matter of group safety and risk.

Trip grades are primarily driven by the total height gain per day. It is important to bear in mind that the weather and ground conditions may alter the grading - e.g. the presence of soft & deep snow can shift the trip up a grade, slow the rate of progress, and increase the effort required.

A multi-day trip implies more effort PER DAY than a day trip for the same trip grade - as you are carrying a much heavier pack.









4-5 hrs

Generally well-formed tracks, with slow changes in height.

If you can walk comfortably with a pack for 4-5 hours a day you should be fine. No experience is necessary although the pace is likely to be rather more demanding than just "stroller level". The routes sometimes go off the track onto more interesting terrain, such as the Waipara gorge, but there is plenty of time to have frequent rest stops to admire the views! Any uphill gradients will be gradual, and height gains will be about 100-150m/hour.




5-7 hrs

Some tracks may be a little rougher, or easy off-track.

Any uphill gradients will be covered in up to 200-250m/hour.




6-10 hrs

Tracks and routes are often rough, steep, or off-track completely, with some bush-bashing below bushline. Navigation skills required, as is the ability to use ice-axe and crampons in snow season. Some easy rock scrambling. For overnight trips, sleeping in tents is common.

Previous tramping experience is required. Rest stops are typically taken every hour for 5-10 minutes. The terrain gets more interesting, with trips in the snow more routine. Bush bashing can be expected on occasion. You will be expected to take some responsibility for yourself and an interest in your tramping buddies' welfare. Rate of ascent in good terrain and conditions now typically up to 350-400m/hour.

Avalanche Peak: Height gain = 1100m. Reach summit in 2.5 - 3 hours, and descend in 2 - 2.5 hours.

Mt Somers from Sharplin Falls via Staveley Hill: total height gain = 1200m, time to summit = 3 - 3.5 hrs, trip time = 6.5 - 7 hrs, horizontal distance travelled = 10.7km.



8-12 hrs

As before, and also more challenging rock scrambling skills may be required.

Length and frequency of rests start to be dictated by other factors  such as daylight available and inhospitable weather. Because participants are more experienced, the pace can be quite quick as the need arises. Proficiency with an ice axe and crampons and confidence on exposed or unstable terrain may be required. Rate of ascent in good terrain and conditions now typically up to 400-500m/hour.

Mons Sex Millia from Boyle Village via Pk 1471 near Garnet Peak: total height gain = 1520m, time to summit = 6 hrs, trip time = 8.75 hrs, total horizontal distance travelled = 16.2 km


> 2500m

> 12 hrs

As before, and also technical rope skills may be required - such as for glacier travel and abseiling.

Occasionally you will need to be confident with basic climbing techniques, such as setting up abseils and belays - whether on rock or snow. At this level you should be self-reliant and be prepared to put in a long hard day if required.