Safety and Skill Level Ratings

Activities and Outings Skill Level Rating Codes

A skill level rating is applied to all outings. The Chapter Safety Committee has established the following classifications for all Chapter sponsored outings to differentiate the levels of skill required of participants and the event leaders. This classification does not relate to outing strenuousness. Strenuousness is described in the write-up with these terms: easy, moderate or strenuous. The trip description for an easy hike at the O level may also say: "easy-paced," or "not for tigers" or even "fast-paced, not for beginners"; while a multi-day backpack might say: "moderate pace, strenuous" and a mountaineering climb might note "strenuous, not for beginners, climbing resume required." Askng the leader is one way to find out if a trip is suitable for you.

C For events conducted by a non-Sierra Club entity (i.e. Concessionaire)
O Applies to a variety of uncomplicated outings (i.e., city walks, bike rides, trail hikes, car camping, backpacking on trail, and some multi-day trips). May involve simple off trail hiking not requiring navigation skills. Climbing level: "Class 1" terrain. Backpacking at the O level is on-trail and designated as O-2.
I Applies to outings that involve cross-country travel where navigation and route-finding are necessary. Rougher ground than "O" outings may be traversed, and the use of hands for balance may be necessary. Includes outings that have snow travel or skiing on easy terrain. Climbing level: "Class 2" terrain.
M M indicates Moderate level climbing: "Class 3" terrain. On rock, the hands are used for climbing. Some participants may want a safety belay. On snow, safety dictates the use of ice axes and the ability to self-arrest. For leaders, M is also divided into M-Rock and M-Snow. Some outings are Restricted (MR) and special requirements are set, including Club membership and appropriate skills.
E More exposed than an M outing, this is climbing on "Class 4" terrain. Rock climbs will use a rope for all in the party. On snow, steeper terrain than M outings is permissible, and safety dictates the use of crampons. E-Rock and E-Snow are ratings hat leaders can attain. These are all restricted outings. 
T Technical outings requiring specialized skills as identified in the sponsoring group’s safety policy.

About the Chapter Safety Committee and Outings Leadership 

What's so special about the Chapter's outings program? Safety, monitoring, training and more go into the conduct of all of our outings at each level. We adhere to Leave No Trace principles and aim to provide educational opportunities where possible. Most of our outings have two certified leaders to ensure that there is a leader in the front as well as a sweep in the back. We've been doing it this way for decades. 

The Chapter Safety Committee reviews and approves outings procedures; monitors all outings when they are published to ensure that leaders are qualified and outings are appropriate; investigates outing incidents and some complaints from participants; and grants ratings to leaders who complete the leadership training program.. 

The Leadership Training Program is sponsored by the Leadership Training Committee (LTC) - established in 1973. LTC offers training courses for aspiring Sierra Club leaders and others wishing to improve their skills and sponsors the Leadership Training Seminar required for all leader candidates as well as training in first aid, navigation, rock and snow.  We produce the Leader's Reference Book (the LRB) and provide guidance throughout a candidate's certification process. The Leadership Training Committee can give you the preparation you need for certification by the Angeles Chapter Safety Committee as a qualified leader of safe, enjoyable outings.

Interested in becoming a leader?

Take that first step and attend an Leadership Training Program Seminar!  Offered just twice a year, usually in April and October. Visit our Leadership Training website for more information on the program, guarantee a spot at the next Leadership Training Seminar and learn all about our best leadership practices.  Applications are due two weeks prior to the seminar date.  Contact our  LTC Registrar for more information and registration.

[Header photo: A WTC Navigation "Noodle" © Jane Simpson, all rights reserved]

Outings Skills