Terrain Classification, Climbing Exposure, and Technical Management


  • Jeff Rose University of Utah


climbing, guiding, mountaineering, risk, spatial cognition


Better understanding terrain in mountainous environments can lead directly to improved communication and management during outdoor recreation, education, and leadership experiences. Theories of risk and spatial cognition help explain why terrain and exposure are inextricably connected. However, popular constructions of terrain in a wide variety of literature sources problematically conflate often unrelated determinations of climbing terrain difficulty and climbing exposure, a measure of both space beneath a climber and consequences of a fall. Explicitly separating these two constructs likely provides clearer and safer experiences during mountain travel, perhaps directly improving professional practice in outdoor recreation, education, and leadership. More concrete definitions of terrain classifications and levels of exposure are proposed, in addition to potential terrain management techniques.



Regular Papers