Calgary Outdoor Club - Difficulty Ratings

It is challenging to quantify the difficulty rating for various events, but in keeping with our mandate of being a variety club, and not a hard-core single-activity club, our rating system/guidelines are described in detail below.

The COC utilizes a Risk Mitigation Plan which utilizes the following possible strategies:

  1. Accept the Risk: COC volunteers may run these events (baseline or elevated risk mitigation required)
  2. Transfer the Risk: COC volunteers may run these events only if they utilize a certified Service Provider with its own waiver
  3. Avoid the Risk: COC does not offer these events/activities. At this time there are no activities on our list which are marked as "Avoid the Risk". If an activity is not offered through the COC, or not at a certain difficulty level, it simply doesn't appear below.
For events which require 'elevated' risk management, the COC must have a Risk Management Plan for the Activity, and must be able to comply with its Risk Management Plan. Any events which do not meet this requirement are offered under "Transfer the Risk" until the COC has everything that it needs in place to run the event.

COC Event Types therefore can fall under the following Strategies:
  • Baseline: COC volunteers may offer these events, following our Baseline Risk Mitigation practices. No elevated risk mitigation required.
  • Elevated – Accept: COC volunteers may offer these events, and must follow an activity-specific Risk Mitigation Plan.
  • Elevated – Planning: COC volunteers may offer these events, however, at this time they must involve a paid Service Provider with its own waiver. Planning is underway so that COC volunteers can run the activity without a paid Service Provider. Check again soon!
  • Elevated – Accept Suspended: COC volunteers may offer these events, however, at this time they must involve a paid Service Provider with its own waiver. Before COC volunteers can run the activity without a paid Service Provider, we need to be able to execute our Risk Management Strategy. Want to help? Contact us!
  • Elevated - Future: COC volunteers may offer these events, however, at this time they must involve a paid Service Provider with its own waiver. Before COC volunteers can run the activity without a paid Service Provider, we need a Risk Management Strategy for them. Want to help? Contact us!
  • Transfer: COC volunteers may offer these events only through an external Service Provider with its own risk mitigation/waiver. The COC has no immediate plans to offer it solely through our volunteers. See below for detailed information by activity type and difficulty rating.


     
     
    Adventure Ski - Backcountry
    Camp Ski - Cross-Country
    Climb Ski - Downhill
    Cycle - MTB Snowshoe
    Cycle - Road Social
    Cycle - Urban Sport - Golf
    Equestrian Sport - Misc
    Gym Sport - Racquet
    Hike Sport - Run
    Hike - Backpack Sport - Swim
    Hike - Urban Sport - Team
    Learn Volunteer
    Meeting Water - Canoe
    Scramble Water - Kayak
    Skate - Ice Water - Raft
    Skate - Inline


    Adventure

    Adventure events are rated according to required skill level and/or risk.
    Difficulty (D) # Name Specs Notes Safety/Risk Mitigation Strategy
    2 Easy to Moderate Easy activity that doesn't fall neatly into a regular event type For example: Waterpark, RCMP Dog Training Demonstration Baseline
    COC volunteers may offer these events, following our Baseline Risk Mitigation practices. No elevated risk mitigation required.
    3 Moderate Moderate activity that doesn't fall neatly into a regular event type For example: Dog Sled Tour; Paintball Baseline
    COC volunteers may offer these events, following our Baseline Risk Mitigation practices. No elevated risk mitigation required.
    4 Moderate to Difficult Challenging activity that doesn't fall neatly into a regular event type For example: Guided Caving Tour Transfer
    COC volunteers may offer these events only through an external Service Provider with its own risk mitigation/waiver. The COC has no immediate plans to offer it solely through our volunteers.
    5 Difficult Difficult activity that doesn't fall neatly into a regular event type For example: Multiple D5 activities in one event (scramble + mountain biking) Transfer
    COC volunteers may offer these events only through an external Service Provider with its own risk mitigation/waiver. The COC has no immediate plans to offer it solely through our volunteers.
    6 Difficult to Advanced Advanced activity that doesn't fall neatly into a regular event type For example: Canadian Death Race Transfer
    COC volunteers may offer these events only through an external Service Provider with its own risk mitigation/waiver. The COC has no immediate plans to offer it solely through our volunteers.




    Camp

    Camp events are rated according to the amount of knowledge and skill required.
    Difficulty (D) # Name Specs Notes Safety/Risk Mitigation Strategy
    2 Easy to Moderate Front-Country car camping For example: Dinosaur Provincial Park, Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park Baseline
    COC volunteers may offer these events, following our Baseline Risk Mitigation practices. No elevated risk mitigation required.
    3 Moderate Walk-in tenting For example: MA-WE-GA Tipi Camping, Elk Island Walk-In Baseline
    COC volunteers may offer these events, following our Baseline Risk Mitigation practices. No elevated risk mitigation required.
    4 Moderate to Difficult Winter Camping For example: Mount Kidd Winter Camping, Quinzee Camping Elevated – Accept
    COC volunteers may offer these events, and must follow an activity-specific Risk Mitigation Plan.




    Climb

    Climb events are rated according to skill and risk.
    Difficulty (D) # Name Specs Notes Safety/Risk Mitigation Strategy
    3 Moderate Indoor Climbing Wall, where participants can make it as easy, or difficult, as they wish, in a supervised environment For example: Calgary Climbing Centre Transfer
    COC volunteers may offer these events only through an external Service Provider with its own risk mitigation/waiver. The COC has no immediate plans to offer it solely through our volunteers.
    4 Moderate to Difficult Supervised Rock Climbing Lessons For example: Ridgeline Guiding, CRAG - Canadian Rockies Alpine Guides Transfer
    COC volunteers may offer these events only through an external Service Provider with its own risk mitigation/waiver. The COC has no immediate plans to offer it solely through our volunteers.
    5 Difficult Supervised Ice Climbing Lessons For example: Ridgeline Guiding, CRAG - Canadian Rockies Alpine Guides Transfer
    COC volunteers may offer these events only through an external Service Provider with its own risk mitigation/waiver. The COC has no immediate plans to offer it solely through our volunteers.
    6 Difficult to Advanced Rock Climbing For example: Wasootch Slabs, Even-Thomas Creek Transfer
    COC volunteers may offer these events only through an external Service Provider with its own risk mitigation/waiver. The COC has no immediate plans to offer it solely through our volunteers.
    7 Advanced Ice Climbing For example: Grotto Canyon, White Man Falls Transfer
    COC volunteers may offer these events only through an external Service Provider with its own risk mitigation/waiver. The COC has no immediate plans to offer it solely through our volunteers.




    Cycle - MTB

    Mountain biking is rated according to terrain and technical difficulty
    Difficulty (D) # Name Specs Notes Safety/Risk Mitigation Strategy
    3 Moderate
     
    Easy terrain. Easy hills, hard packed trail, beginners are often welcome.
    Often equivalent to Eastcott's Backcountry Biking in the Canadian Rockies "easy/novice" rating.
    For example, Riverview Trail
     
    Baseline
    COC volunteers may offer these events, following our Baseline Risk Mitigation practices. No elevated risk mitigation required.
    4 Moderate to Difficult
     
    Some steep hills, tree roots, muddy sections, loose surface, narrow trail.
    Often equivalent to Eastcott's Backcountry Biking in the Canadian Rockies "moderate/novice" or "moderate/intermediate" rating.
    For example, Goat Creek
     
    Elevated – Planning
    COC volunteers may offer these events, however, at this time they must involve a paid Service Provider with its own waiver. Planning is underway so that COC volunteers can run the activity without a paid Service Provider. Check again soon!
    5 Difficult
     
    Technically challenging. Steep hills, mud, roots, rocks/scree, loose surface, narrow trail.
    Often equivalent to Eastcott's Backcountry Biking in the Canadian Rockies "difficult/intermediate" or "moderate/advanced" rating.
    For example, Prairie View/Jewel Pass
     
    Elevated - Future
    COC volunteers may offer these events, however, at this time they must involve a paid Service Provider with its own waiver. Before COC volunteers can run the activity without a paid Service Provider, we need a Risk Management Strategy for them. Want to help? Contact us!
    6 Difficult to Advanced
     
    Very technically challenging. Steep hills, mud, roots, rocks/scree, loose surface, narrow trail.
    Often equivalent to Eastcott's Backcountry Biking in the Canadian Rockies "difficult/advanced" or "extreme/advanced" rating.
    For example, Powderface Creek/Prairie Creek
     
    Elevated - Future
    COC volunteers may offer these events, however, at this time they must involve a paid Service Provider with its own waiver. Before COC volunteers can run the activity without a paid Service Provider, we need a Risk Management Strategy for them. Want to help? Contact us!
    7 Advanced
     
    Extremely technically challenging. Steep hills, mud, roots, rocks/scree, loose surface, narrow trail.
    Often equivalent to Eastcott's Backcountry Biking in the Canadian Rockies "extreme/expert," rating.
    For example, Jumpingpound Ridge/Cox Hill
     
    Elevated - Future
    COC volunteers may offer these events, however, at this time they must involve a paid Service Provider with its own waiver. Before COC volunteers can run the activity without a paid Service Provider, we need a Risk Management Strategy for them. Want to help? Contact us!




    Cycle - Road

    Road biking is rated according to distance, pace, hills and hazards (ie. traffic)
    Difficulty (D) # Name Specs Notes Safety/Risk Mitigation Strategy
    3 Moderate Highway ride. 30k-50k For example, road ride on Highway 66 Baseline
    COC volunteers may offer these events, following our Baseline Risk Mitigation practices. No elevated risk mitigation required.
    4 Moderate to Difficult Highway ride, often in the mountains. 50k-100k For example, Bow Valley Parkway between Banff and Lake Louise Elevated – Planning
    COC volunteers may offer these events, however, at this time they must involve a paid Service Provider with its own waiver. Planning is underway so that COC volunteers can run the activity without a paid Service Provider. Check again soon!
    5 Difficult Highway ride, often in the mountains. 100+ km For example, Icefields Parkway Elevated - Future
    COC volunteers may offer these events, however, at this time they must involve a paid Service Provider with its own waiver. Before COC volunteers can run the activity without a paid Service Provider, we need a Risk Management Strategy for them. Want to help? Contact us!




    Cycle - Urban

    Urban biking is rated according to distance
    Difficulty (D) # Name Specs Notes Safety/Risk Mitigation Strategy
    2 Easy to Moderate An urban bike ride on city trails. Less than 30k. For example, bike around the Glenmore Reservoir Baseline
    COC volunteers may offer these events, following our Baseline Risk Mitigation practices. No elevated risk mitigation required.
    3 Moderate Urban ride. 30k-50k For example, Calgary pathways and neighborhood streets Baseline
    COC volunteers may offer these events, following our Baseline Risk Mitigation practices. No elevated risk mitigation required.




    Equestrian

    Equestrian events are rated according to required skill level and/or risk.
    Difficulty (D) # Name Specs Notes Safety/Risk Mitigation Strategy
    2 Easy to Moderate Guided easy trail ride Transfer
    COC volunteers may offer these events only through an external Service Provider with its own risk mitigation/waiver. The COC has no immediate plans to offer it solely through our volunteers.
    3 Moderate Guided moderate trail ride Transfer
    COC volunteers may offer these events only through an external Service Provider with its own risk mitigation/waiver. The COC has no immediate plans to offer it solely through our volunteers.
    4 Moderate to Difficult Unguided horseback riding for experienced horsemen Transfer
    COC volunteers may offer these events only through an external Service Provider with its own risk mitigation/waiver. The COC has no immediate plans to offer it solely through our volunteers.
    5 Difficult Competitive Transfer
    COC volunteers may offer these events only through an external Service Provider with its own risk mitigation/waiver. The COC has no immediate plans to offer it solely through our volunteers.
    6 Difficult to Advanced Advanced terrain, experienced riders only Transfer
    COC volunteers may offer these events only through an external Service Provider with its own risk mitigation/waiver. The COC has no immediate plans to offer it solely through our volunteers.




    Gym

    Difficulty (D) # Name Specs Notes Safety/Risk Mitigation Strategy
    2 Easy to Moderate Activity at official gym facility Baseline
    COC volunteers may offer these events, following our Baseline Risk Mitigation practices. No elevated risk mitigation required.




    Hike

    Hikes are rated on a grid according to distance and elevation gain. Additional considerations include:
    • Remoteness (access to assistance, if needed)
    • Terrain, including unmaintained trails
    • Route finding
    • Creek crossings
    • River fords
    Hikes posted that include any of the additional considerations listed above may be rated at a higher difficulty level than just the distance and elevation would indicate. Any hike involving a river ford must be posted at a minimum of D6.

    Note: Hover your mouse over the D links in the chart to see examples of which hikes fall into this category. For the examples given, elevation gains were based on actual measurements, rather than on net elevation gains provided by many guide books. They are also rated according to our "actual" end point on typical events rather than just to the end of an official trail (which is frequently all that is provided in the guide books).

    Hike Distance
    Elev.
    Gain
      0-6km 6-12km 12-18km 18-24km 24+km
    0 - 350m D2 D2 D3 D4 D5
    351 - 700m D3/D4 D3 D4 D5 D6
    701 - 1050m D5 D4 D5 D6 D7
    1051m+   D5 D6 D7  
    Rating Codes
    Difficulty (D) # Name Safety/Risk Mitigation Strategy
    D2 Easy to Moderate Baseline
    COC volunteers may offer these events, following our Baseline Risk Mitigation practices. No elevated risk mitigation required. Note: River fords not allowed at D2 level
    D3 Moderate Baseline
    COC volunteers may offer these events, following our Baseline Risk Mitigation practices. No elevated risk mitigation required. Note: River fords not allowed at D3 level
    D4 Moderate to Difficult Baseline
    COC volunteers may offer these events, following our Baseline Risk Mitigation practices. No elevated risk mitigation required. Note: River fords not allowed at D4 level
    D5 Difficult Baseline
    COC volunteers may offer these events, following our Baseline Risk Mitigation practices. No elevated risk mitigation required. Note: River fords not allowed at D5 level
    D6 Difficult to Advanced Elevated – Accept
    COC volunteers may offer these events, and must follow an activity-specific Risk Mitigation Plan.
    D7 Advanced Elevated – Accept
    COC volunteers may offer these events, and must follow an activity-specific Risk Mitigation Plan.




    Hike - Backpack

    Backpack event difficulty ratings apply only to hike+camp events. Backpacking in general carries risks similar to hiking but on the more advanced trips, route finding, difficult creek crossing and sanitation skills may be required. Overnight events for other activities (e.g., snow shoeing, backcountry skiing, cross-country skiing, biking, boating) are covered under those activities.
    Difficulty (D) # Name Specs Notes Safety/Risk Mitigation Strategy
    3 Moderate Maximum D2 Hike with pack to "base camp" with hub-and-spoke day hikes returning to "base camp" on well-marked, signed, maintained trails with maintained campsite. Not remote - access to roads/assistance less than one day.

    Suitable for beginner backpackers.
    Example: Hike to Elbow Lake campground as "base camp", hike to The Forks campground as "base camp". Baseline
    COC volunteers may offer these events, following our Baseline Risk Mitigation practices. No elevated risk mitigation required.
    4 Moderate to Difficult Maximum D3 Hike packing each day for a max of three days OR D3 Hike to "base camp" with hub-and-spoke day hikes on well-marked, signed, maintained trails with maintained campsite(s). May involve simple creek crossings. Easy access to water and accessible exit points. Not remote - access to roads/assistance less than one day.

    Suitable for beginner backpackers who are strong, experienced hikers.
    Example: Tombstone (because of creek crossings), Ribbon Lake from Buller Pass. Elevated – Accept
    COC volunteers may offer these events, and must follow an activity-specific Risk Mitigation Plan.
    5 Difficult Maximum D4 Hike packing each day for a max of five days. Hiking on maintained trails and camping at maintained campsite. Trip may involve a one-way route with vehicle shuttle.

    Not remote - access to roads/assistance less than one day.

    There may be challenges with access to water, lack of exit points, creek crossings.

    Not suitable for beginner backpackers.
    Example: Skyline one-way, Egypt Lake one-way, Whaleback, Skoki, Berg Lake, Rockwall Elevated – Accept
    COC volunteers may offer these events, and must follow an activity-specific Risk Mitigation Plan.
    6 Difficult to Advanced Trips may involve more than five days of packing. Hiking may involve unmaintained trails with routefinding. Camping may involve unmaintained campgrounds or random camping. Trip may involve a one-way route with vehicle shuttle.

    Trip may be remote with significant distance from roads/assistance.

    There may be challenges with access to water, lack of exit points, creek crossings, ocean tides.

    Not suitable for beginner backpackers.
    Example: West Coast Trail, Brazeau Loop, Willmore Wilderness (without river ford), Sparrowhawk Tarns (random camping), Devon Lakes, Grand Canyon Elevated – Accept
    COC volunteers may offer these events, and must follow an activity-specific Risk Mitigation Plan.
    7 Advanced All from D6, plus may involve river fords. Depth and speed of river must be considered and crossing place agreed by all participants.

    Coordinator and participants must be skilled and knowledgeable with river fording while carrying a backpack.
    Example: Willmore Wilderness (with river ford), North Coast Trail Elevated – Accept
    COC volunteers may offer these events, and must follow an activity-specific Risk Mitigation Plan.




    Hike - Urban

    Urban hikes (walks) are rated easier than mountain hikes because of the extra considerations introduced by any activity in the mountains.
    Difficulty (D) # Name Specs Notes Safety/Risk Mitigation Strategy
    1 Easy Less than 8km distance and negligible elevation gain For example, Inglewood Sanctuary Baseline
    COC volunteers may offer these events, following our Baseline Risk Mitigation practices. No elevated risk mitigation required.
    2 Easy to Moderate Approx 8-12km with gentle elevation gain (100m-150m gain to 1km distance), or less than 8km with more cumulative elevation gain and steeper slopes (150m-250m gain to 1km) up to 500m total gain. For example, Weaselhead Baseline
    COC volunteers may offer these events, following our Baseline Risk Mitigation practices. No elevated risk mitigation required.
    3 Moderate More than 12km, more than 500m of cumulative gain, or hill-training events with constant steep elevation gain, regardless of total amount For example, Glenmore Reservoir or Douglas Fir Trail Baseline
    COC volunteers may offer these events, following our Baseline Risk Mitigation practices. No elevated risk mitigation required.




    Learn

    Learn events are rated according to required skill level and/or risk.
    Difficulty (D) # Name Specs Notes Safety/Risk Mitigation Strategy
    1 Easy Classroom, Seminar, no hands-on For example: Cycle-touring presentation Baseline
    COC volunteers may offer these events, following our Baseline Risk Mitigation practices. No elevated risk mitigation required.
    2 Easy to Moderate Classroom or seminar with hands-on For example: First Aid course Baseline
    COC volunteers may offer these events, following our Baseline Risk Mitigation practices. No elevated risk mitigation required.
    3 Moderate Moderate hands-on For example: Wilderness First Aid course Baseline
    COC volunteers may offer these events, following our Baseline Risk Mitigation practices. No elevated risk mitigation required.
    4 Moderate to Difficult Challenging hands-on For example: Avalanche Rescue training Transfer
    COC volunteers may offer these events only through an external Service Provider with its own risk mitigation/waiver. The COC has no immediate plans to offer it solely through our volunteers.




    Meeting

    Difficulty (D) # Name Specs Notes Safety/Risk Mitigation Strategy
    1 Easy Meeting/discussion with no physical activity component Baseline
    COC volunteers may offer these events, following our Baseline Risk Mitigation practices. No elevated risk mitigation required.




    Scramble

    Scrambles are rated according to technical difficulty, degree of exposure, and length of the route. For all scrambles, there will be significant elevation gain (usually at least 1000m, but more commonly around 1500m, and occasionally upwards of 2000m). Routes that are not in optimal condition (dry and free of snow) will be rated more difficult than the same route under ideal conditions. Specs below are from Alan Kane's "Scrambles in the Canadian Rockies".
    Difficulty (D) # Name Specs Notes Safety/Risk Mitigation Strategy
    5 Difficult
     
     
    Difficult hiking on scree, loose rock and/or slabs with minimal exposure and a lot of elevation gain
     
     
    A scramble that is rated "Easy" in Kane's book. For example, the south peak of Mount Indefatigable Elevated – Planning
    COC volunteers may offer these events, however, at this time they must involve a paid Service Provider with its own waiver. Planning is underway so that COC volunteers can run the activity without a paid Service Provider. Check again soon!
    6 Difficult to Advanced Frequent use of handholds required, possible exposure but not usuallyenough to be a fatal. Some route finding involved
     
    A scramble that is rated "Moderate" in Kane's book. For example Eiffel Peak or Mt. Temple Elevated – Planning
    COC volunteers may offer these events, however, at this time they must involve a paid Service Provider with its own waiver. Planning is underway so that COC volunteers can run the activity without a paid Service Provider. Check again soon!
    7 Advanced
     
     
    Much use of handholds required, sections may be steep, loose and exposed, or rock could be smooth and downsloping. Fall distance may be significant enough to be fatal. Route finding skills are generally necessary to determine the most practical and feasible way for specific sections. Anyone with vertigo or a fear of heights should avoid these scrambles A scramble that is rated "Difficult" in Kane's book. For example Mount Whtye or Mt. Stephen Elevated – Planning
    COC volunteers may offer these events, however, at this time they must involve a paid Service Provider with its own waiver. Planning is underway so that COC volunteers can run the activity without a paid Service Provider. Check again soon!




    Skate - Ice

    The degree of difficulty in ice skating generally is affected by conditions only - each participant can, of course decide how fast/hard they want to skate. Beginners are always welcome on ice skating events.
    Difficulty (D) # Name Specs Notes Safety/Risk Mitigation Strategy
    2 Easy to Moderate Groomed ice For example, Olympic Oval Baseline
    COC volunteers may offer these events, following our Baseline Risk Mitigation practices. No elevated risk mitigation required.
    3 Moderate Outdoor ice For example, Bowness Lagoon Baseline
    COC volunteers may offer these events, following our Baseline Risk Mitigation practices. No elevated risk mitigation required.




    Skate - Inline/Roller

    Inline Skating is rated according to trail conditions, hills, traffic exposure, intended distance covered and intended pace.
    Difficulty (D) # Name Specs Notes Safety/Risk Mitigation Strategy
    2 Easy to Moderate Intended for beginners. Small distance, smooth flat trail with little/no hills/traffic. For example, Carburn Park Baseline
    COC volunteers may offer these events, following our Baseline Risk Mitigation practices. No elevated risk mitigation required.
    3 Moderate Not intended for beginners. Greater distance, some experience required for dodging debris, children,
    traffic. Some hills. Also includes indoor roller skating.
    For example, Glenmore Inn to Chestermere Trail
     
    Baseline
    COC volunteers may offer these events, following our Baseline Risk Mitigation practices. No elevated risk mitigation required.
    4 Moderate to Difficult Experienced skaters only. Greater distance, faster pace. Debris, children, traffic and some hills. For example, Edworthy Park Elevated – Planning
    COC volunteers may offer these events, however, at this time they must involve a paid Service Provider with its own waiver. Planning is underway so that COC volunteers can run the activity without a paid Service Provider. Check again soon!
    5 Difficult Experienced skaters only. Greater distance, fast pace. Debris, children, traffic and significant hills.; For example, Glenmore Reservoir
    Circuit
    Elevated - Future
    COC volunteers may offer these events, however, at this time they must involve a paid Service Provider with its own waiver. Before COC volunteers can run the activity without a paid Service Provider, we need a Risk Management Strategy for them. Want to help? Contact us!




    Ski - Backcountry

    Backcountry Skiing is rated according to distance and elevation gain.
    Difficulty (D) # Name Specs Notes Safety/Risk Mitigation Strategy
    5 Difficult Shorter (ie. under 10km) distances and moderate elevation gain (under 1000m). For example, Highwood, Gypsum Mine, Bow Summit Elevated - Future
    COC volunteers may offer these events, however, at this time they must involve a paid Service Provider with its own waiver. Before COC volunteers can run the activity without a paid Service Provider, we need a Risk Management Strategy for them. Want to help? Contact us!
    6
     
    Difficult to Advanced
     
    Longer (ie. 10 - 20km) distances and greater elevation gain (1000m - 1500m).
    Easier overnight trips.
    For example, Black Prince(steeper
    and treed terrain)
    Elevated - Future
    COC volunteers may offer these events, however, at this time they must involve a paid Service Provider with its own waiver. Before COC volunteers can run the activity without a paid Service Provider, we need a Risk Management Strategy for them. Want to help? Contact us!
    7
     
    Advanced
     
    Very challenging (ie. 20+km and/or 1500m+ elevation) and/or more challenging
    overnight trips.
    For example, Burstall Pass, Commonwealth Creek
     
    Elevated - Future
    COC volunteers may offer these events, however, at this time they must involve a paid Service Provider with its own waiver. Before COC volunteers can run the activity without a paid Service Provider, we need a Risk Management Strategy for them. Want to help? Contact us!




    Ski - Cross-Country

    Cross-Country Skiing is rated according to terrain, trail conditions, distance, amount and type of hills, and expected pace.
    Difficulty (D) # Name Specs Notes Safety/Risk Mitigation Strategy
    2 Easy to Moderate Intended for beginners. Groomed trails, green (easy) trails only. For example, green trails at Kananaskis Village Baseline
    COC volunteers may offer these events, following our Baseline Risk Mitigation practices. No elevated risk mitigation required.
    3
     
    Moderate
     
    Not intended for beginners. Generally on groomed trails, green and blue trails, expectation for pace and distance posted. For example, blue and green trails around Peter Lougheed Info Center
     
    Baseline
    COC volunteers may offer these events, following our Baseline Risk Mitigation practices. No elevated risk mitigation required.
    4 Moderate to Difficult Experienced skiiers only. Often trails are ungroomed, significant distance and hills. For example, Brewster Creek Elevated – Accept
    COC volunteers may offer these events, and must follow an activity-specific Risk Mitigation Plan.
    5 Difficult Experienced skiiers only. Often trails are ungroomed, significant distance and hills. Greater distance and elevation gain. For example, Chester Lake Elevated – Accept
    COC volunteers may offer these events, and must follow an activity-specific Risk Mitigation Plan.




    Ski - Downhill

    When downhill skiing, it is generally up to the individual how difficult the day will be. They choose which runs to take and how many of them.

    Note that any events planning to ski out-of-bounds should be classified as a backcountry ski event (not downhill) and all COC safety and avalanche policies apply accordingly.

    Difficulty (D) # Name Specs Safety/Risk Mitigation Strategy
    3 Moderate Beginner to blue runs, or all levels welcome. Baseline
    COC volunteers may offer these events, following our Baseline Risk Mitigation practices. No elevated risk mitigation required.
    4 Moderate to Difficult Mostly blue runs Baseline
    COC volunteers may offer these events, following our Baseline Risk Mitigation practices. No elevated risk mitigation required.
    5 Difficult Mostly black to double-black diamond runs Baseline
    COC volunteers may offer these events, following our Baseline Risk Mitigation practices. No elevated risk mitigation required.




    Snow Shoe

    Snow Shoe events are rated on a grid according to distance and elevation gain. Although terrain is not considered in our grid, coordinators will adjust their difficulty to reflect special terrain considerations.

    Note: Hover your mouse over the D links in the chart to see examples of which trails fall into this category. For the examples given, elevation gains were based on actual measurements, rather than on net elevation gains provided by many guide books. They are also rated according to our "actual" end point on typical events rather than just to the end of an official trail (which is frequently all that is provided in the guide books).
    Distance
    Elev.
    Gain
      0-6km 6-10km 10-14km 14-18km 18+km
    0 - 200m D2 *D5 D2 *D5 D3 *D5 D4 D5
    201 - 500m D3 *D5 D3 *D5 D4 *D5 D5 D6
    501 - 800m D3 D4 *D5 D5 D6 D7
    801+   D5 D6 D7  
    * Difficulty rating higher due to avalanche terrain
    Rating Codes
    Difficulty (D) # Name Terrain (Avalanche) Safety/Risk Mitigation Strategy
    D2 Easy to Moderate based on Distance and Elevation Terrain considered to be generally free from avalanche hazards per COC Winter Safety policy Baseline
    COC volunteers may offer these events, following our Baseline Risk Mitigation practices. No elevated risk mitigation required.
    D3 Moderate based on Distance and Elevation Terrain considered to be generally free from avalanche hazards per COC Winter Safety policy Baseline
    COC volunteers may offer these events, following our Baseline Risk Mitigation practices. No elevated risk mitigation required.
    D4 Moderate to Difficult based on Distance and Elevation Terrain considered to be generally free from avalanche hazards per COC Winter Safety policy Elevated – Accept
    COC volunteers may offer these events, and must follow an activity-specific Risk Mitigation Plan.
    D5 Difficult based on Distance, Elevation and Terrain Simple (Class-1) Avalanche Terrain (per COC Winter Safety Policy) allowed when avalanche risk is low Elevated – Accept
    COC volunteers may offer these events, and must follow an activity-specific Risk Mitigation Plan.
    D6 Difficult to Advanced based on Distance, Elevation and Terrain Simple (Class-1) Avalanche Terrain (per COC Winter Safety Policy) allowed when avalanche risk is low or moderate Elevated – Accept
    COC volunteers may offer these events, and must follow an activity-specific Risk Mitigation Plan.
    D7 Advanced based on Distance, Elevation and Terrain Simple (Class-1) Avalanche Terrain (per COC Winter Safety Policy) allowed when avalanche risk is low or moderate Elevated – Accept
    COC volunteers may offer these events, and must follow an activity-specific Risk Mitigation Plan.




    Social

    Difficulty (D) # Name Specs Notes Safety/Risk Mitigation Strategy
    1 Easy Social gathering with no physical activity component Baseline
    COC volunteers may offer these events, following our Baseline Risk Mitigation practices. No elevated risk mitigation required.




    Sport - Golf

    Difficulty (D) # Name Specs Notes Safety/Risk Mitigation Strategy
    2 Easy to Moderate Recreational golf outing Baseline
    COC volunteers may offer these events, following our Baseline Risk Mitigation practices. No elevated risk mitigation required.
    4 Moderate to Difficult Competitive golf outing Baseline
    COC volunteers may offer these events, following our Baseline Risk Mitigation practices. No elevated risk mitigation required.




    Sport - Miscellaneous

    Difficulty (D) # Name Specs Notes Safety/Risk Mitigation Strategy
    2 Easy to Moderate Recreational sport outing which does not fall under our other Sport categories Baseline
    COC volunteers may offer these events, following our Baseline Risk Mitigation practices. No elevated risk mitigation required.
    4 Moderate to Difficult Competitive sport outing which does not fall under our other Sport categories Baseline
    COC volunteers may offer these events, following our Baseline Risk Mitigation practices. No elevated risk mitigation required.




    Sport - Racquet

    Difficulty (D) # Name Specs Notes Safety/Risk Mitigation Strategy
    2 Easy to Moderate Recreational racquet sport (e.g., Pickleball, Tennis) Baseline
    COC volunteers may offer these events, following our Baseline Risk Mitigation practices. No elevated risk mitigation required.
    4 Moderate to Difficult Competitive racquet sport (e.g., Pickleball, Tennis) Baseline
    COC volunteers may offer these events, following our Baseline Risk Mitigation practices. No elevated risk mitigation required.




    Sport - Run

    Difficulty (D) # Name Specs Notes Safety/Risk Mitigation Strategy
    2 Easy to Moderate Run activity - beginners allowed, no expectations of attendees Baseline
    COC volunteers may offer these events, following our Baseline Risk Mitigation practices. No elevated risk mitigation required.
    4 Moderate to Difficult Run activity with expectations for distance/pace/ability Baseline
    COC volunteers may offer these events, following our Baseline Risk Mitigation practices. No elevated risk mitigation required.




    Sport - Swim

    Difficulty (D) # Name Specs Notes Safety/Risk Mitigation Strategy
    2 Easy to Moderate Swim event at supervised pool Baseline
    COC volunteers may offer these events, following our Baseline Risk Mitigation practices. No elevated risk mitigation required.




    Sport - Team

    Difficulty (D) # Name Specs Notes Safety/Risk Mitigation Strategy
    2 Easy to Moderate Recreational team sport activity Baseline
    COC volunteers may offer these events, following our Baseline Risk Mitigation practices. No elevated risk mitigation required.
    3 Moderate Intermediate team sport activity requiring some skill/experience Baseline
    COC volunteers may offer these events, following our Baseline Risk Mitigation practices. No elevated risk mitigation required.
    4 Moderate to Difficult Competitive team sport activity requiring skill/experience Baseline
    COC volunteers may offer these events, following our Baseline Risk Mitigation practices. No elevated risk mitigation required.




    Volunteer

    Adventure events are rated according to required skill level, physical challenge and/or risk.
    Difficulty (D) # Name Specs Notes Safety/Risk Mitigation Strategy
    2 Easy to Moderate Community Service with little physical challenge For example: Garage Sale, Food Bank Baseline
    COC volunteers may offer these events, following our Baseline Risk Mitigation practices. No elevated risk mitigation required.
    3 Moderate Community Service with some physical challenge and/or hazard For example: River Clean-Up Transfer
    COC volunteers may offer these events only through an external Service Provider with its own risk mitigation/waiver. The COC has no immediate plans to offer it solely through our volunteers.
    4 Moderate to Difficult Physically challenging activity For example: Kananaskis Trail Maintenance Transfer
    COC volunteers may offer these events only through an external Service Provider with its own risk mitigation/waiver. The COC has no immediate plans to offer it solely through our volunteers.




    Water - Canoe

    Canoe trips are rated according to distance, hazards and technical difficulty. Our ratings for canoe trips are Difficulty Descriptions are based on the International Scale of River Difficulty
    Difficulty (D) # Name Specs Notes Safety/Risk Mitigation Strategy
    3 Moderate Short/easy trips on stationary or slow-moving water
     
    For example a few hours in calm or light winds on the Glenmore Reservoir Elevated - Future
    COC volunteers may offer these events, however, at this time they must involve a paid Service Provider with its own waiver. Before COC volunteers can run the activity without a paid Service Provider, we need a Risk Management Strategy for them. Want to help? Contact us!
    4 Moderate to Difficult Rivers with at most Class I rapids: Fast moving water with riffles and small waves. Few obstructions, all obvious and easily missed with little training. Risk to swimmers is slight; self-rescue is easy For example, the Bow River in Calgary under NORMAL conditions Elevated - Future
    COC volunteers may offer these events, however, at this time they must involve a paid Service Provider with its own waiver. Before COC volunteers can run the activity without a paid Service Provider, we need a Risk Management Strategy for them. Want to help? Contact us!
    5 Difficult Rivers with at most Class II rapids: Straightforward rapids with wide, clear channels which are evident without scouting. Occasional maneuvering may be required, but rocks and medium-sized waves are easily missed by trained paddlers. Swimmers are seldom injured and group assistance, while helpful, is seldom needed
     
    For example the Kananaskis River between Canoe Meadows and Seebe under NORMAL conditions
     
    Elevated - Future
    COC volunteers may offer these events, however, at this time they must involve a paid Service Provider with its own waiver. Before COC volunteers can run the activity without a paid Service Provider, we need a Risk Management Strategy for them. Want to help? Contact us!




    Water - Kayak

    Kayak trips are rated according to distance, hazards and technical difficulty. Our ratings for kayak trips are similar to the American Canoe Association or British Canoe Union systems of awards, but does not follow these exactly.
    Difficulty (D) # Name Specs Notes Safety/Risk Mitigation Strategy
    2 Easy to Moderate Beginner classes only Transfer
    COC volunteers may offer these events only through an external Service Provider with its own risk mitigation/waiver. The COC has no immediate plans to offer it solely through our volunteers.
    3 Moderate Paddling on calm, flat water in winds not exceeding 5 knots. Scenic estuaries, calm bays, flat water, rivers and other protected waterways. Paddlers should be comfortable paddling forward at a 2 knot pace, using forward and reverse sweeps to turn the boat, launching and landing on shallow grade beaches, and swimming next to a boat upon capsize. ACA Level 1 Elevated - Future
    COC volunteers may offer these events, however, at this time they must involve a paid Service Provider with its own waiver. Before COC volunteers can run the activity without a paid Service Provider, we need a Risk Management Strategy for them. Want to help? Contact us!
    4 Moderate to Difficult Paddling on water ranging from flat to waves 1 foot or less, and winds not exceeding 10 knots. Along shore paddling and small crossings (2.5nm or less). Paddlers should be comfortable paddling at a 2 knot pace in calm conditions, rotating their boats 360 degrees with sweep strokes, performing a wet exit, and re-entering their boat with assistance. Paddlers should also have the beginnings, but not mastery, of strokes such as the low recovery, controlled reverse paddling, and drawing. ACA Level 2 Elevated - Future
    COC volunteers may offer these events, however, at this time they must involve a paid Service Provider with its own waiver. Before COC volunteers can run the activity without a paid Service Provider, we need a Risk Management Strategy for them. Want to help? Contact us!
    5 Difficult Paddling in waves to 3 feet and winds to 15 knots. Paddling along semi-exposed coastline,in tidal areas, and crossings up to 5 nautical miles. Paddlers should be comfortable paddling at a 3 knot pace in moderate conditions, have solid boat handling skills on flat water, be able recover from capsize using a hip snap and brace, reverse paddling, drawing, performing a Eskimo rescue, T-rescue and self rescue on flat water. Paddlers should also have the beginnings of the following skills: using a tow rig, a roll, bow rudder turn, low brace turn, draw on the move, hanging draw, and the stern rudder as well as some experience paddling in small waves. ACA Level 3 Elevated - Future
    COC volunteers may offer these events, however, at this time they must involve a paid Service Provider with its own waiver. Before COC volunteers can run the activity without a paid Service Provider, we need a Risk Management Strategy for them. Want to help? Contact us!
    6 Difficult to Advanced Paddling in waves to 5 feet and winds to 20 knots. Paddling along exposed coastlines with crossings up to 8 nautical miles, tidal currents to 3 knots, navigating by chart and compass, and starting to learn good judgement and leadership while at sea. Paddlers should be comfortable paddling at a 3-4 knot pace in moderate conditions, have the beginnings of good boat handling skills in rough water, using a tow rig, be able to roll, prevent capsize with a brace/hip snap, perform paddle, bow and stern presentation Eskimo Rescues, and have good awareness of other boaters. ACA Level 4 Elevated - Future
    COC volunteers may offer these events, however, at this time they must involve a paid Service Provider with its own waiver. Before COC volunteers can run the activity without a paid Service Provider, we need a Risk Management Strategy for them. Want to help? Contact us!




    Water - Raft

    River rafting trips are rated according to distance, hazards and technical difficulty. Generally, a river rafting trip is rated one level easier than the canoeing rating. Trips rated higher than Moderate must be organized by a certified river rafting company.
    Difficulty (D) # Name Specs Notes Safety/Risk Mitigation Strategy
    3 Moderate Rivers with at most Class I rapids: Fast moving water with riffles and small waves. Few obstructions, all obvious and easily missed with little training. Risk to swimmers is slight; self-rescue is easy
     
    For example, the Bow River in Calgary under NORMAL conditions Elevated - Future
    COC volunteers may offer these events, however, at this time they must involve a paid Service Provider with its own waiver. Before COC volunteers can run the activity without a paid Service Provider, we need a Risk Management Strategy for them. Want to help? Contact us!
    4 Moderate to Difficult Rivers with at most Class II rapids: Straightforward rapids with wide, clear channels which are evident without scouting. Occasional maneuvering may be required, but rocks and medium-sized waves are easily missed by trained paddlers. Swimmers are seldom injured and group assistance, while helpful, is seldom needed
     
     
    For example the Kananaskis River between Canoe Meadows and Seebe under NORMAL conditions Elevated - Future
    COC volunteers may offer these events, however, at this time they must involve a paid Service Provider with its own waiver. Before COC volunteers can run the activity without a paid Service Provider, we need a Risk Management Strategy for them. Want to help? Contact us!
    5 Difficult Rivers with at most Class III rapids: Rapids with moderate, irregular waves which may be difficult to avoid and which can swamp an open canoe. Complex maneuvers in fast current and good boat control in tight passages or around ledges are often required; large waves or strainers may be present but are easily avoided. Strong eddies and powerful current effects can be found, particularly on large-volume rivers. scouting is advisable for inexperienced parties. Injuries while swimming are rare; self-rescue is usually easy but group assistance may be required to avoid long swims
     
    For example the Middle Canyon of the Kicking Horse River Elevated - Future
    COC volunteers may offer these events, however, at this time they must involve a paid Service Provider with its own waiver. Before COC volunteers can run the activity without a paid Service Provider, we need a Risk Management Strategy for them. Want to help? Contact us!
    6 Difficult to Advanced Rivers with at most Class IV rapids: Intense, powerful but predictable rapids requiring precise boat handling in turbulent water. Depending on the character of the river, it may feature large, unavoidable waves and holes or constricted passages demanding fast maneuvers under pressure. A fast, reliable eddy turn may be needed to initiate maneuvers, scout rapids, or rest. Rapids may require "must" moves above dangerous hazards. Scouting may be necessary the first time down. Risk of injury to swimmers is moderate to high, and water conditions may make self-rescue difficult. Group assistance for rescue is often essential but requires practiced skills
     
    For example the Lower Canyon of the Kicking Horse River Elevated - Future
    COC volunteers may offer these events, however, at this time they must involve a paid Service Provider with its own waiver. Before COC volunteers can run the activity without a paid Service Provider, we need a Risk Management Strategy for them. Want to help? Contact us!

     
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