Ski Grading

Toponeige grading system

Made popular by Volodia Shahshahani, the grading system includes three grades: a technical downhill (skiing) grade, an up-hill grade and an exposure grade.

Grades give a relative indication of the requirements of a route or itinerary, under normal conditions. Actual difficulties are of course highly dependent on the conditions (weather, ice…) as well as on the fitness and technical abilities of the party. Unlike a grade, which is constant for a given itinerary, difficulties can thus change considerably from one day to the next.

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Ski Grade

Technical skiing grade for the downhill portion of the itinerary.

The grade includes 5 levels. The first four have three subdivisions. ie 2.1 or 2.2 or 2.3

Ski 1


Slopes do not exceed 30° with no narrow sections. Vertical descent is less than 800m.

Ski 2

Few technical difficulties

Slopes do not exceed 35° with no narrow sections. Vertical descent is less than 800m.

Ski 3

Some technical sections

Long slopes at 35° with very short sections at 40-45°

Ski 4

Couloir or
steep skiing

slopes between 40 and 45° over more than 200m vertical

Ski 5

More than 300m vertical or above 50°

Starts with slopes of 45°-50° during more than 300m vertical or above 50° for more than 100m vertical


Alpine rating

This is the traditional rating system used for mountaineering on snow-covered terrain based on the UIAA system. It can be useful for ski tours especially on steeper ground especially if covering ground that is not skiable such as rock bands etc.

R (Randonnee)
Basic walking:

ski 1 and 2.1, 2.2 (in certain cases 2.3).

F (Facile)

ski 2.1 if on a glacier, otherwise from ski 2.3 to 3.2(sometimes 3.3).

PD (Peu Difficile)
Not very difficult:

ski 3.3 to 4.2 (sometimes 4.3).

AD (Assez Difficile)
Fairly difficult:

ski 4.3 to 5.2.

D (Difficile)

ski 5.3.


Exposure Grade

Exposure grade covers the exposure and ski of the route

The grade includes 4 levels.

Exposure 1

Exposure is limited

Exposure is limited to that of the slope itself. Getting hurt is still likely if the slope is steep and/or the snow is hard.

Exposure 2

Some obstacles

As well as the slope itself, there are some obstacles (such as rock outcrops) which could aggravate

Exposure 3

Highly exposed

In case of a fall, death is highly likely.

Exposure 4


In case of a fall, the skier faces certain death.

Not sure?

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If you are not sure about this then we recommend taking a course or hiring a mountain Guide.

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