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Ice climbing grading | WI (Water Ice) system

Ice climbing grades take into account several factors such as steepness, height of the section, configuration of the ice (curtain, cigar, free-standing, dagger or runnel/goulotte) and how technical the ice might be: fin, aerated or compact…

GRADE 3 • Moderate overall steepness with several short walls of up to 75°. The ice is usually compact and plentiful.

GRADE 3+ • Same as grade 3 ice but with walls up to 80°.

GRADE 4 •  The ice can have sections at 85° that are up to 10m hight. The ice is plentiful and compact.

GRADE 4+ • Same as grade 4 but with the steeper section approaching vertical and longer, up to 15m.

GRADE 5 • The climb offers a vertical section of up to 20m and the ice can take special shapes such as cauliflowers etc. In lowland ice-falls, grade 5 pitches are usually cigars (hollow tubes leaning against the cliff).

GRADE 5+ • A 30m vertical section. Climbing becomes pretty technical.

GRADE 6 • Grade 6 pitches will have 40 to 50m high vertical sections. Climbing is technical and sustained. The ice can become very aerated and protection difficult.

GRADE 6+ • The pitch is completely vertical and can even offer short overhangs, for example for going from one curtain to the next. The Dame du lac is a good example.

GRADE 7 • Extreme ice climbs that are very steep with large overhangs. The techniques and moves used by the climber become very similar to those of rock climbers on steep rock routes.

Additional information can also be added :
X : risk of collapse
R : thin ice
M : mixed section(s)