Scrambling Grades Explained

The Scrambling Grading system puts routes into four categories.

Grade 1

A rough climb or exposed hike. There may be occasional difficult steep steps where you will certainly be required to use your hands. Route finding should be obvious in the whole, but there are some notorious grade 1 scrambles with difficult route finding.

Ropes will only be required by the extremely nervous.

Prime examples in the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks mountains are sections of the Brother O’Sheas gully route, The Bone of Maolán Buí, or the steep North east ridge of Cnoc na Péiste.

Grade 2
The scrambling is more difficult and longer. A rope may be advisable on short sections. A broad varied experience of scrambling is required. Route finding can be difficult, and escape from the route, also, may not be easy.

The classic Binn Chaorach ridge, Coimín na Péiste ridge and Stumpa an tSaimh/Hags Tooth ridge are fine examples of grade two climbs aswell as the classic Faha ridge of Mt Brandon and the spectacular east ridge of Brandon Peak on the Dingle Peninsula.

Grade 3
More pitches of simple rock climbing on which rope protection is strongly advised, for safety. Dry conditions may be essential. Skills in rope work are required because of lack of escape routes.

Grade 4
This grade should only be undertaken by the most experienced of scramblers and denotes a particularly serious scramble. This route will contain exposed passages on steep rock or poor vegetation. Routes of this type will require the skill of rock climbing up to a v diff and mountaineering skills where the use of rope and other climbing equipment would be used for passage on key areas. Escape on these routes is extremely difficult and could probably only be escaped from by means of an abseil. Exposure will be high in many parts along the route.

Howling Ridge & Pipit Ridge on Carrauntoohil, and the super impressive Mystic ridge of Mt. Brandon (over 1000 feet of scrambling ascent!)
Winter conditions change everything, snow and ice can transform a summer grade 1 scramble to a much harder winter climb of almost Alpine proportions.