Hiking and Mountaineering
IMR groups hiking, peak bagging and mountaineering trips together. We use several criteria in our trip descriptions to classify our various types of trips, focusing on round-trip mileage and total elevation gain. No classification system is perfect, and trip difficulties can vary greatly depending on the season and other factors. If after reading the trip description you have any questions about a trip's difficulty, contact the trip leader.
Hiking trips (including some trips that require rock-climbing skills) are normally classified as A through D, with “A” being the easiest and “D” being most difficult.
Hiking and Mountaineering Trip Classifications
- Class A: Up to 8 miles round trip and 1200 ft. elevation gain. Prior hiking experience is usually not necessary; some level of physical fitness is helpful.
- Class B: Up to 8-12 miles round trip and/or up to 2500 ft. elevation gain. Moderate to strenuous physical activity. Some prior experience is beneficial.
- Class C: Up to 15 miles round trip and 3500 ft. elevation gain. This is Strenuous to very strenuous physical activity. Prior experience and training is beneficial very, very helpful.
- Class D: Hikes up to or over 15 miles round trip and/or greater than 3500 ft. elevation gain. These require very strenuous physical activity often including exposure or requiring use of technical skills. Knowledge based on prior experience and training is highly beneficial.
Additional Hike Information
If you also see the letter "E" after the classification (such as C-E or D-E), the trip involves exposure (i.e., risk of falling) and may require advanced climbing skills. If you have fear of heights or are unsure of your ability to handle exposure, you may wish to go on a different activity, or consult with the Trip Leader to get input from them.
Within each of the above letter classifications, hikes may also be described subjectively as Easy, Moderate, and Difficult in comparison to other trips of the same classification. Thus, a Difficult B hike is harder than an Easy B hike, but easier than a Moderate C hike.
“Exploratory” in the trip description simply means the leader has researched the route, but has not been there before. Participants should expect potential route-finding and not a clearcut/known trip.
The following shorthand descriptions may also be used to describe the difficulty of the terrain on a hike:
- On Trail: The trip is mainly on improved trail in reasonable condition. Any portion of the trip not on trail is easy "like trail" conditions.
- Off Trail: Below timberline (about 11,000 in Idaho), the trip may involve bushwhacking or travel through forested terrain. Above timberline, the trip may cross open tundra or involve
- Class 2 hiking under the Yosemite Decimal System: i.e., moving on or around small boulders where the use of hands may be used, but only to maintain balance. No special hiking or climbing skills are required. Exposure is usually minimal or nonexistent.
- Scrambling: The trip involves Class 3 climbing: i.e., climbing that is relatively easy with plentiful handholds. Although a rope is rarely required, Class 3 climbing may be intimidating for less experienced mountaineers. Always consider bringing and wearing a climbing helmet to ensure your own safety. A fall on a Class 3 route usually results in a minor injury, but can on occasion result in serious injury or death.
- Semi-technical: The trip involves Class 4 climbing: i.e., within the realm of technical rock climbing, but with relatively plentiful handholds. Some people will desire a rope, but usually just for protection on the descent. Participants must wear climbing helmets. A fall without the protection of a rope on a Class 4 route usually results in serious injury or death.
Hiking and Mountaineering Trips
Starting on Friday, April 27 and ending on Sunday, April 29, this self-supported 3 day, 2-night backpack trip starts at Lake Owyhee, the Eastern Terminus of the Oregon Desert Trail, and ends at Leslie Gulch. Trip leaders are Renee Patrick, the Oregon Desert Trail Coordinator, and Jon Dennis from Friends of the Owyhee. The hike is a distance of 26 miles. A shuttle from Leslie Gulch to Lake Owyhee will be provided to get you back to your vehicle on Sunday.
Lake Owyhee is about a 2-hour drive from Boise. The drive from Leslie Gulch back to Lake Owyhee will take about 5 hours.
Join IMR for an overview of basic glacier and snowfield travel skills on Saturday, 14 April 2018 and run from 9am to noon. Participants will have the opportunity to practice ice axe self-arrest, glacier travel on crampons, and rig a Z pulley system for a simulated crevasse rescue. This workshop is open to both the novice and to those looking to refresh their glacier travel skills. Bring your glacier gear if you have it, but if you do not there will be opportunity to borrow gear for hands-on practice.
What do you do when you turn 50? Commit to a climbing project that includes all of the major Cascade Volcanoes, that's what. IMR member Scott Arnold has been chipping away at his goal for the last six years and he is looking forward to sharing his experience on Mt. Baker with you. In his presentation, Scott will offer a few of his pictures from the climb, provide route information, teach a few basic knots useful to mountaineers, and he will bring some of the gear that you might want to have on hand when you make your attempt on this Cascade giant.
This trip we will be guided by Sammy Castonguay, a geologist with Treasure Valley Community College and Andrea Bowen a geologist for the BLM. Some equipment to survey the geology will be provided.
Expect 3-6 miles of hiking in rocky terrain/uneven ground with an elevation gain and loss of 1000 feet . Expect cool day and chilly nights. Expect to have mud in spots on the trail.
Come and join the Friends of the Owyhee to work with the Bureau of Land Management to repair an old corral that is on the National Register of Historic Places at Birch Creek Historic Ranch located on the Owyhee River. This event runs from Friday 27 October at 4pm to Sunday 29 October at 4pm.
For more information and to sign up please go to