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October 17, 2016 in Listings

Waterfalls of Malaysia

Here is a little list of mine of waterfalls in Malaysia that require some form of hiking to get to. Their relative inaccessibility helps to thin out the crowds a little, and gives you a little bit of space for yourself whilst also sparing you from the rubbish that the throngs tend to always leave in their wake. View project

April 16, 2015 in Listings

Hiking Classifications

After receiving several inquiries about the difficulty of hikes, I began a long search for a system that would help to describe the difficulty that one would encounter on any given trail. I ended up stumbling upon quite a few systems but they all tended to be overly simplistic or were very specific to a certain terrain, like the Australian Standard that was designed for the Australian outback, or the SAC (Swiss Alpine Club) scale that was designed for Swiss alpine conditions.

I instead decided to try and formulate a system of my own, one that would be almost completely based on data that had been accumulated by my Suunto Ambit, in an attempt to ensure that the ratings were derived from the plethora of quantifiable factors rather than personal or subjective experience. I began by trying to determine what categories contributed to the difficulty of a hike and how they could be quantified, and ultimately ended up with five : distance, duration, ascent, elevation, and terrain. Each of these categories were then assigned ratings from 1-10 to measure how challenging they were. The ratings from each of these five categories were then averaged out to give a final rating that then corresponded to one of the ten classes in order to indicate the overall difficulty.

Example : Stirling Ridge.

Average daily distance : 9 km (rating 4)

Total duration : 3 days (rating 7)

Average daily ascent : 1200 m (rating 5)

Terrain : Scrambling (rating 7)

Average elevation : 740 m (rating 2)

Average rating : 5.0 (Class 7 - Challenging)

I have to admit however, that no system is perfect and that the difficulty of a hike is also very dependent on unquantifiable factors such as the conditions of the trail and the prevailing weather, as well as the physical abilities of the hiker. Just be sure to take each of these ratings with pinch of salt and be very aware of your own personal limitations when reading the trip accounts.

The Classes

There are ten different classes that range from 'Extremely straightforward' to 'Abominable'. These classes encompass a range of difficulties that is almost twice as wide as almost every other system out there. The classes are determined by averaging out individual ratings derived from five different categories, namely distance, duration, ascent, elevation, and terrain. Clicking on each of the classes will bring you to a list of hikes that fall under that class.

Category Class 1 Class 2 Class 3 Class 4 Class 5
Difficulty Extremely straightforward Very straightforward Straightforward Fairly straightforward Moderate
Rating <2.0 2.0 - 2.5 2.6 - 3.1 3.2 - 3.7 3.8 - 4.3
Category Class 6 Class 7 Class 8 Class 9 Class 10
Difficulty Fairly challenging Challenging Very challenging Extremely challenging Abominable*
Rating 4.4 - 4.9 5.0 - 5.5 5.6 - 6.1 6.2 - 6.7 >6.7

* A very apt term that has been borrowed from the 'ABO' grade of the French Alpine System

The Ratings

Rating 1 2 3 4 5
Distance <2.5 km 2.5-5 km 5-7.5 km 7.5-10 km 10-12.5 km
Duration <2 hours 2-4 hours 4-6 hours 6-8 hours 1 day
Ascent <250 m 250-500 m 500-750 m 750-1000 m 1000-1250 m
Elevation <500 m 500-1000 1000-1500 m 1500-2000 m 2000-2500 m
Terrain Paved or Wooden Walkways Gradient <5% Gradient 5% - 7% Gradient 7% - 9% Gradient 9% - 11%
Rating 6 7 8 9 10
Distance 12.5-15 km 15-17.5 km 17.5-20 km 20-25 km >25 km
Duration 2 days 3 days 4-6 days 7-10 days >10 days
Ascent 1250-1500 m 1500-1750 m 1750-2000 m 2000-2500 m >2500 m
Elevation 2500-3000 m 3000-3500 m 3500-4000 m 4000-4500 m >4500 m
Terrain Gradient >11% Scrambling Climbing Roped Technical


The Categories

Distance

Distance is one of the major categories that contributes heavily to determining the degree of difficulty of any given hike - the longer one hikes, the harder the hike gets. Occasionally one comes across a hike that has a daily mileage that is so large that the corresponding category rating overwhelms most of the other factors. One example of this is the Cape 2 Cape hike, a week-long hike that requires walking over 30 kilometres a day over multiple days, but has almost no elevation gain and is on fairly easy terrain, yet has an assigned difficulty rating of "Challenging".

Example : Cape 2 Cape (class 6)

Total distance : 136.5 km

Average distance over 6 days : 22.8 km (rating 9)

Duration

Duration is another category that is closely linked to distance. This category however, is highly dependent on a whole range of other subjective factors, the biggest being the walking speed of the hiker. If you are concerned about your own speed, it might be advisable to plan accordingly and to take a more conservative estimate by adding on to the time (as seems to have been done here).

Example : Mount Stong, Mount Ayam, Mount Baha (class 6)

Total duration : 5 hours 57 minutes (rating 3)

Ascent

Ascent is not the elevation of the summit, but rather the accumulated elevation gain. Certain hikes have multiple undulating ascents and descents prior to reaching the final summit and this category takes that into account. The Pine Tree Trail for example, begins at an elevation that exceeds 1300m and has a peak elevation of 1448m, yet the elevation change exceeds 900m, a number that is far higher than the net elevation.

Example : Pine Tree Trail (class 5)

Ascent : 910 metres (rating 4)

Elevation

Elevation is the average elevation of the entire hike. Since atmospheric pressure decreases exponentially with elevation, so does the amount of oxygen in the air (since the ratio remains fairly constant). Oxygen has approximately half of its sea-level value at 5000 metres, the altitude of the Everest Base Camp; and only a third at 8848 metres, the summit of Mount Everest. Aside from possible medical problems such as acute mountain sickness (AMS) and the potentially fatal high-altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE) and high-altitude cerebral edema (HACE), the body also responds to this decrease of oxygen with altitude acclimatization.

Example : Everest Base Camp & High-Altitude Passes (class 8)

Average elevation (over 15 days) : 4222 metres (rating 9)

Terrain

Terrain is a rough categorisation of the range of terrain that one might encounter. The ratings start with easy and broad, modified surfaces such as paved, cemented or wooden walkways; and then goes on to dirt trails that steadily increase in gradient (calculated by dividing the ascent by the distance and then multiplying it by 100) from the second rating to the sixth. The ratings then progress up to scrambling up and down rocks or scree (such as Tabur), and actual unroped vertical rock climbing, such as sections of the Western Arthurs; and ultimately culminates with roped climbing and technical climbing on the extreme end.

Example : Western Arthurs (class 8)

Average distance : 96560 km

Ascent : 5055 metres

Gradient = (5055/96560)*100 = 5.2% (rating 3)

(The Western Arthurs has completely vertical ascents however, which upgrades the terrain rating to an 8)

April 21, 2014 in Listings

Taxonomy Map

Here is a list of the common names of flora and fauna that have been mentioned in posts, along with their respective genera (plural of genus) and species. The tables have been divided into their respective Kingdoms (I use Cavalier-Smith's six-kingdom model) as well as their conservation status under the IUCN Red List (if known). Please hover over the species name for the tooltip that displays the common name. View project

April 8, 2014 in Listings

Top Trails of Western Australia

Here is a portion of the list that the website TrailsWA has compiled after asking Australians to nominate the trails that they felt "had the ‘wow’ factor". Other types of trails such as mountain biking, 4WD trails and urban walks have not been included here. All the trails have been arranged in alphabetical order.

View project

February 19, 2014 in Listings

Mountains of Australia (Aussie10)

The 10 highest peaks can all be found in Australia's Snowy Mountains, also known as 'the Snowies'. The range is located in southern New South Wales and is part of the Australian Alps and the Great Dividing Range. View project

June 11, 2013 in Listings

Mountains of Indonesia (G100)

Here you will find a list of the 100 highest mountains in Indonesia along with both the Movescount Pages with the details of the treks as well as the routes that were extracted from each completed trek.

The list of the 100 highest mountains in Malaysia can be found here.

View project

February 26, 2013 in Listings

100 Items or Less

The fact that I just relocated has proven itself to be an excellent opportunity to embrace this challenge. Surprisingly, being somewhat of a minimalist, the number of items that I owned didn't surpass 100 by much so I was able to cut down to the target fairly quickly. I did find choosing what was to be disposed of and what was to remain to be harder than I had originally anticipated though. View project
February 19, 2013 in Listings

UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Sites Visited : 15/962

The World Heritage Site List includes 962 sites that form a part of the cultural and natural heritage which the World Heritage Committee considers as having outstanding universal value. I haven't included this list on my bucket list due to the sheer number of UNESCO Heritage Sites. View project

February 10, 2013 in Listings

Mountains of Malaysia (G100)

After the Everest Base Camp trek, I realized that there were plenty of mountains much closer to home that I had yet to explore and a lot of challenging targets that were auspiciously absent from my personal lists of goals. Here is a list of the G12, the 12 highest mountains in Malaysia. View project

January 1, 2013 in Listings

Bucket Lists

My bucket lists help to keep me motivated and inspired and help to keep my sights fixed on actually living and experiencing life, and not to fall into the trap of routine and mundane day-to-day activities... View project

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