Bushwhacking ratings

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Mark Straub

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Bushwhacking ratings

by Mark Straub » Fri Sep 11, 2009 6:09 am

Came across these today after hearing about them a while before on a scramble; these would be really helpful when describing a route!

http://www.alpenglow.org/themes/subalpi ... tings.html

They apply especially to the Cascades, but I suppose they would work anywhere brush is encountered.

Difficulty Ratings

These apply to the "free" difficulties (no aid used) and range from BW1 to BW5, where BW stands for "bushwhack." Difficulty ratings apply to those areas of worst brush that can't be avoided.

BW1 Light brush. Travel mostly unimpeded, only occasional use of hands required (e.g. mature open forest).
BW2 Moderate brush. Occasional heavy patches. Pace slowed, frequent use of hands required.
BW3 Heavy brush. Hands needed constantly. Some loss of blood may occur due to scratches and cuts. Travel noticably hindered. Use of four-letter words at times.
BW4 Severe brush. Pace less than one mile per hour. Leather gloves and heavy clothing required to avoid loss of blood. Much profanity and mental anguish. Thick stands of brush requiring circumnavigation are encountered.
BW5 Extreme brush. Multiple hours needed to travel one mile. Full body armor desirable. Wounds to extremities likely, eye protection needed. Footing difficult due to lack of visibility. Loss of temper inevitable.

The worst I've hit is BW3 on Mt. Baring (we were kind of off "trail"), what about you?


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Peak Freak

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by Peak Freak » Fri Sep 11, 2009 6:19 am

I love this :lol:

Recently did a bushwhack from Squamish to the Pitt River Hot Springs. My regular adventure partner & I were trying to evaluate bushwhacking levels for our friend who had (perhaps foolishly) joined us. We used a scale from 1 - 10 but fairly similar concept.

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Peak Freak

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by Peak Freak » Fri Sep 11, 2009 6:23 am

Ooops..... forgot to answer the question.

According to the scale in your post, I've definitely done BW5. Fortunately not on my last trip though. The first attempt of the Squamish to Pitt River Hot Springs that we did was pretty close to a BW5. Usually it's bushwhacking in adventure races or similar situations that can get the most intense.

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Sierra Ledge Rat

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by Sierra Ledge Rat » Fri Sep 11, 2009 8:07 am

In Yosemite I did some utterly henous bushwhacking is off the scale. After climbing El Capitan, we descended the canyon that ends at Manure Pile Buttress. In that canyon we ran into the worst bushwhacking I have ever experienced.

The bush was so thick that we couldn't even get to the ground. We were in the tops of the bushes. In order to make any progress, you had to throw your haul bag ahead of you. The bag would get caught in the branches, and then you had to climb through the branches to get to the bag. The process was repeated in agonizing slow motion, over and over.


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Mark Doiron

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by Mark Doiron » Fri Sep 11, 2009 1:55 pm

BW3 exiting the north summit of Sunset Peak, bordering on BW4. Don't need leather gloves, but there's plenty of greenbriar, poison ivy and, in the right season, ticks. You'll also circumnavigate to keep your less than one mile per hour pace up. Hiked this with Alan Ellis and The Lower Marmot last year, and it was definitely the worst I've seen (Trip Report). --mark d.

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Pyramid peak

by cdog » Fri Sep 11, 2009 2:37 pm

a couple weeks ago, we encountered BW4 conditions descending from Pyramid Pk to State Route 50, in CA. Luckily it wasn't far enough to earn BW5, but there was loss of blood due to no "leather gloves and heavy clothing".

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Sierra Ledge Rat

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by Sierra Ledge Rat » Fri Sep 11, 2009 2:54 pm

Dingus Milktoast wrote:BW4 when I started, BW1+ when I finished. Took 6 or 7 days work, total.


There is nothing worse than bushwhaking through manzanita, eh DMT?

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Bill Kerr

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by Bill Kerr » Fri Sep 11, 2009 3:20 pm

Vancouver Islander did an article on bushwacking here


Similar rating system.

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by SpiderSavage » Fri Sep 11, 2009 3:41 pm

I've done some BW3 in Yosemite. Back in N. Idaho I've definite done BW4. It should be added to the definition that at BW4 you no longer are touching the ground.

Sometimes in the California chaparral you have to tunnel. Get down and crawl and slide through the rattlesnake zone.

Some people fail to see the aesthetic experience of bushwacking. I've often pondered starting a glossy magazine like "Climbing" and calling it "Bushwhacking." Or, how about "50 Classsic Bushwacks of North America."

Hand in hand with the BW rating would also be the "tick count." eg: BW3/TC105.


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