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Rock Climbing Photo: Parker tackles the final step before the summit.
Id# 107641219, 1000 x 750px View full size
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By Peter Lewis
From: Bridgton, Maine
Mar 13, 2015
Goodness gracious that does not look 3rd class. Consider the consequences! Is this really on-route?
By J. Albers
From: Colorado
Mar 13, 2015
The consequence of a fall has no bearing on the climbing grade/difficulty. That's why you often see things in guidebooks referred to as "exposed 4th class'. In other words, its fourth class (i.e. its possible to fall because you are actually climbing), and if you do, its exposed so you might eat it.
To answer your question about this picture though, I think its the camera angle that makes it look worse than it actually is.
By Chris Owen
From: Big Bear Lake
Mar 13, 2015
How many 5.6 moves do I find on a 1000 feet of Class 3? Lots. I'm a pretty good route finder so I'd say yes, this was the path of least resistance as far as I could tell.

And as far as the camera angle making it look worse is concerned, well it felt pretty deadly. In fact the whole climb felt pretty deadly. Which I must confess is rare for Class 3.
By Jeff Scheuerell
Mar 13, 2015
Slap, slap, slap! Ha ha!

Sorry Cris! Should have just commented on the odd angle of the lakes.
By J. Albers
From: Colorado
Mar 13, 2015
^^^^ @ Jeff.

Again, to the best of my knowledge -- and I just poked around a bit in various sources to check my recollection -- the consequence of a fall while climbing is not factored into the grade. The grade of the entire climb, as in, this climb is a Grade IV, does take into account consequences, objective dangers, etc., but the actual difficulty grade does not.

Jeff's rotation of the photo helps a lot with perspective. Nevertheless, from the photo it would appear that the climbing in the photo is 4th class because all four appendages are being used for upward progress, which I believe is one of the standard definitions separating 4th from 3rd class. Regardless though, I wouldn't want to fall there :)
By Chris Owen
From: Big Bear Lake
Mar 13, 2015
Technical rating does not consider the consequences of a fall. Class 3 is a technical rating. You could be killed on a Class 1. This is the shortcoming of the TDS (or YDS). This is why people added G, PG, R and X at a later date, but only added it to Class 5.

Thanks Jeff.
By Bryan G
From: Yosemite
Mar 13, 2015
From the ASCA website:

1st class - hiking
2nd class - scrambling and boulder hopping, hands are needed, but generally very little exposure or danger
3rd class - steep scrambling with exposure, ropes are needed for inexperienced people. An unroped fall on 3rd class terrain would likely be fatal.
4th class - steeper scrambling on small holds, ropes are needed for most people, but an experienced climber would normally climb an entire rope length without intermediate protection, then set an anchor and belay other climbers up. Inexperienced people may not be skilled enough to ascend even when belayed from above.

Or from Secor's High Sierra guidebook:

Class 3 is where the climbing begins. Hands and feet are used not just for balance, but to hang onto the rock. Steep or large talus can be rated as class 3. Class 3 is more common on steep faces or along ridges and aretes. Novices may feel uncomfortable, but the holds are large and easy to locate. A rope should be available to give a belay to anyone who requests it. My favorite description of class 3 is by Steve Roper in the 1976 edition of The Climber's Guide to the High Sierra: "Imagine climbing a steep, narrow staircase outside of a tall building without benefit of a railing: scary but easy." The east face of Middle Palisade and Mount Mills via the east couloir are examples of class 3.
By Chris Owen
From: Big Bear Lake
Mar 13, 2015
Thanks, good to know Bryan. The likelihood of a fall increases with the difficulty of the rating. Over the last 45 years, Class 3 has not phased me much as I know that I probably won't fall, however there is one Class 3 climb which bothered me, and that was this one on Middle Pal. Perhaps I was having an off day, perhaps it was the thought of having to reverse all of those moves, perhaps it was the exposure, I don't know. This photo shows the most difficult move on the whole route, although there was a very exposed traverse at the beginning. Both of these were tricky for me, and I'm a 5.11 climber.
By Jeremy in Inyokern
From: Inyokern
Aug 10, 2015
Just did this as my first 14er. After talking with all my pals it would seem this is the test piece for the 3rd class grade in the High Sierra, as it is steep and sustained at the grade. So all the comments seem appropriate but still the consensus rating should still be 3rd. In fact it should be easier/safer as compared to when it was climbed first since it is one of the cleanest alpine routes in the world.
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Parker tackles the final step before the summit.

Submitted By: Chris Owen on Jun 4, 2012
On this route:
Northeast Face (3rd 1- 1 I 1 M 1a )
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