Useful Information

Trip Leaders

In June 2014, the Executive of the Ottawa Section of the ACC formally adopted the Trip Leader Manual and Activity Guidelines which were developed in consultation with our Membership. These guidelines now form the foundation of our practice. It is important to acknowledge that we have a long history of running safe, well organized and fun trips for our members.  These guidelines put down in writing the minimum standard that trip leaders and participants would expect when participating in ACC Ottawa activities.  They will be especially important for new trip leaders and new Members but it is important to remember that we all can use reminders about best practice when we engage in club activities as all have an element of risk in them.  All Members are encouraged to take some time to read through the materials, especially the specific sections that apply to activities that you are most involved in.  These practices are presented as guidelines; there are very few hard and fast “rules”. The Club Executive and especially activity coordinators will continue to work with trip leaders to develop on-going training and skill building sessions with the guidelines as the foundation of this training.  We will also take time to evaluate and update guidelines so that they continue to be useful tools for our members, both trip leaders and participants.

Trip Leader Manual and Guidelines

Two resource documents are available for ACC Ottawa Trip Leaders in pdf format at the following links. 1) A Trip Leader Manual which is a consolidated source of information for Trip Leaders regarding club organization, administration and policy. 2) Trip Leader Guidelines providing “best practices” guidance for all those involved in running Section trips. Specific guidelines are tailored to each of nine trip categories. Each guideline is self-contained.

Quick links to other Trip Leader resources (extracts from the TL Manual and Guidelines):

Editor’s Corner Extensive input and feedback from a large number of experienced Trip Leaders was instrumental in developing the manual and guidelines.  Thanks to all those who contributed. These are living documents which will be updated periodically based on experience, evolving best practices and club policy changes. Suggestions for improvements are welcome and can be directed to the Editors at any time. The Point-of-Contact on the ACC Ottawa Executive for these documents is Bill Barrett. He can be reached at The editors (Bill Scott and Hai Pham) can be reached at

First Aid Kits: Trip leaders, the Section has first aid kits for your use on trips. There are four small kits (yellow) for day trips and one larger kit (blue) for use on overnight trips. The kits have recently been restocked. A list of contents has also been included with each kit. They are stored in a blue bin with the Section gear at Alan Dimond’s place. Please contact Alan if you need a kit for your trip. Please let me know if there is anything missing when you use the kit and also if you have suggestions for additional items.

ACC Ottawa Leadership Recognition Awards
Award Criteria:
  1. The member must be in good standing with ACC Ottawa.
  2. The member takes on the challenge and responsibility to lead three ACC Ottawa trips chosen from the following activities: mountaineering, climbing, ice climbing, hiking, back packing, snowshoeing, alpine skiing, cross-country skiing or nordic back-country skiing. It can be a mixture of these activities.
  3. The member is knowledgeable about the challenges (planning, logistics, scheduling, etc) for organizing a Section trip and is competent to lead the activity they select. The member should be familiar with the ACC Ottawa Trip Leader Manual and ACC Ottawa Trip Leader Guidelines Manual (for their selected activity).
  4. All trips will be reviewed and approved by the appropriate ACC Ottawa Activity Committee. If a trip is approved by the committee, it will be published in the Section’s e-letter and web calendar.
  5. To receive an award the member must lead and complete three trips and provide the activity committee(s) with the signed trip wavers. The activity committee(s) will be responsible for recognizing the completed individual trips – towards to the recognition of three trips.
  6. Trip recognition is not grandfathered; rather starts February 22, 2016 and finishes on the date of the ACC Ottawa 2016 Annual General Meeting.
Note: The ACC Ottawa Executive and Activity Committees for 2015/2016 manage these criteria and associated administrative duties.


The ACC Ottawa Safety program has two main thrusts:

  1. improve safety awareness and good safety practices in all section activities, particularly higher risk activities such as climbing, backcountry skiing and mountaineering camps, and
  2. improve emergency response capabilities through dissemination of emergency protocols, broadly-based Wilderness First Aid training, self-rescue training, and acquisition of emergency supplies and equipment.
The development of the Trip Leader Manual and Activity Guidelines has been a major project undertaken over the past few years.  The goal of these guidelines is to provide a resource for trip leaders and participants so that safe and enjoyable activities can be run by the club.  By taking time to review the guidelines and using them to plan out well organized activities, trip leaders can ensure a higher likelihood of having a safe trip.  Preparation and planning are two keys to safety in the outdoors.  All members are encouraged to review these guidelines. Download the Trip Leader Manual here and  Trip Leader Guidelines here. Another major project of the club has been increasing the first aid certification of trip leaders and the general membership. In particular, we are encouraging as many members as possible to get  Advanced Wilderness First Aid certification.  This course, which is often subsidized by the club, helps members develop a preventative approach to injuries in the outdoors.  Think about signing up for our next course or refresher if you are already certified!


You are encouraged to give consideration to the following 16 questions which were developed based on a review of “Accidents in North American Mountaineering 2014”.  The questions speak to the principal causes of accidents during that year.  Preparing adequately is the best way to prevent an accident and to increase your chances of having an enjoyable outdoor adventure.

    1. Rappelling was the #1 identifiable cause of the accidents.   Have you put a knot in each end of the rappel rope? are the rope halves even? do both ends reach the ground or your next belay ledge? what are you using as a backup? have you and someone else checked your whole climbing set up, including your harness attachment, before you put weight on the ropes?
    1. Are you roped up when travelling on a glacier? do you have crevasse rescue gear with you when you are travelling on a glacier?
    1. Are you wearing a helmet?
    1. If contemplating a glissade, is the route safe, not icey, can you see to the end?
    1. Is the route within your ability level: experience, physical fitness, experience with the objective hazards that you will encounter? are you able to move quickly enough to do the route in the planned time? (sometimes in the mountains “speed = safety”).  do you have sufficient and accurate information about the route (do you need a guidebook or topo)? do you know the descent route?
    1. If contemplating climbing/hiking on your own: is the route within your ability level, does someone have detailed info about your route and trip plans? is solo ice climbing safe?
    1. Are you carrying what you need for the trip: adequate water, sufficient clothing, climbing gear, headlamp, equipment to stay out overnight if needed?
    1. Are you leaving early, giving yourself sufficient time in case the unexpected occurs?
    1. Does your climbing/rappelling anchor meet the SERENE test: Strong, Equalized, Redundant, Efficient, No Extension?
    1. If working in an exposed position are you anchored in?
    1. How well do you know your climbing partner(s): Will they be able to deal with things if you are injured? If this trip is a new challenge for you or members of your group have you built up your experience level on easier climbs? Have you seen them belay before? Have you discussed the communication that you will use? Have you discussed strategies for dealing with communication once you are out of sight or hearing distance? Do they have any pre-existing medical conditions that may show while they are climbing?
    1. If you are leading a group of less experienced people be aware of the “leader trap”,  where you get focussed on a situation but lose track of the whole group and their position.
    1. Are you making the move from gym climbing to an outdoor environment?  Do you have the experience to deal with the new decision making you will encounter? “…have we raised a generation of 5.12 climbers with 5.5 knowledge of how to deal with predicaments we find ourselves in while climbing outdoors?”
    1. Should you split up the members of your group if they are travelling at different rates of speed?  Should anyone be okayed to turn back on their own if they are struggling to keep up with the group?
    1. If you are bushwhacking or scrambling are you aware of the terrain especially drop offs and exposed moves?
  1. If your climb has an approach do you have adequate equipment to handle the approach and the descent when you have completed the climb?


Practice Avalanche Beacon

Planning a backcountry ski tour, ice climb, scramble or mountaineering this season that may involve avalanche terrain? If so, it’s time to start thinking about refreshing your avalanche self-rescue skills. Groups venturing into avalanche terrain should have their self-rescue skills and team work dialed as this is the only realistic option for live recovery.

Through the kind donation of one of our members, ACC Ottawa now has an avalanche transceiver available for beacon search practice. While the beacon no longer meets recommended technical criteria for personal use in the backcountry, it is perfectly fine for beacon search practice around town. Also available are protective plastic containers as well as plywood probe targets. Contact Bill at for more details or to sign out the beacon for search practice. No cost to club members.

Learning about Winter Safety from Past Accidents

As fall climbing starts to wind down and thoughts turn to ice and snow it is good to take time to reflect on some recent winter accidents in areas that ACC-Ottawa members play in.  If we are aware of what happened in these situations hopefully our members can avoid accidents this winter.
Climbing accidents (source “Accidents in North American Mountaineering 2014”):
  • A climber was injured after rappelling off his ropes at the Chapel Pond Slab, in the Adirondacks in December 2014.  Analysis of the incident suggest that the ends of the rope were uneven and there were no knots tied in them.  Rappelling errors are one of the leading categories of climbing accident causes.
  • In January 2014 a team of four climbers was avalanched off the Central Gully. Mt. Washington.  All members sustained injuries.  The avalanche was triggered by a group climbing above.  Both groups had been in discussion with a snow ranger who warned them of worsening avalanche danger due to continued snowfall (avalanche rating was not mentioned in the writeup).
  • In March 2014 a climber died after being avalanched off Pinnacle Gully on Mt. Washington.  The climber was climbing by himself and it is believed he triggered the avalanche that claimed his life.  Avalanche danger on the day was rated “moderate”.
Winter hiking incidents (source “Adirondac” July-August 2015 and Conway Daily Sun):
  • November 2014: fall in stream, was evacuated by snowmobile (insufficient clothing)
  • January 2015: evacuation of a hiker who had turned around and left his group due to inability to complete climb (unprepared, by himself)
  • January 2015: couple got lost on Marcy due to deteriorating weather, descending into Panther Gorge.  They spent the night out before continuing out the next morning, meeting up with a rescue team.  They had decided not to bring snowshoes and did not have a map or compass but did have adequate gear to survive the night out.  No injuries were sustained (poor weather)
  • February 2015: solo hiker died of exposure on Mt. Adams, New Hampshire.  Her plan was to do the Presidential Traverse in a single day.  She was not carrying gear that would have helped her overnight, ex. sleeping bag or bivy sack, nor did she have snowshoes.  She had activated her Personal Locator Beacon but it took rescuers 20 hours to get to her (poor weather: extreme cold, wind, inadequate equipment, climbing alone in a remote area, too ambitious a goal)
  • March 2015: mother and two children (ages 11 and 7) got lost after  summiting Marcy from Marcy Dam.  They had left their day pack with warm clothing and compass at timberline before starting the ascent.  They began the ascent from timberline at 3:30 pm reaching summit at 4:00.  Family spent the night out despite rescue attempts by rangers.  They were evacuated by helicopter the next day after being found.  No life threatening injuries were sustained.  Analysis suggests that conditions when they began to summit were very poor and other parties in the region had headed down (poor weather, decision to go for summit at late time and in poor weather)
  • April 2015: a couple were walked off of Hurricane by rangers, they were wearing running shoes and jeans, and had gotten exhausted from postholing in the spring snow (inadequate clothing and footwear, now snowshoes)

Let’s learn from these incidents and have a safe winter!

Standard Emergency Response Protocol

The section’s “Standard Emergency Response Protocol” has been widely disseminated to section members in the form of a plasticized card designed to reside in the top pocket of a pack.   It doesn’t replace the need for first aid training but, once trained, it will serve as a memory-jogger in case of emergencies.  If you don’t have one, see any executive member and we’ll see that you get one.  It can also be downloaded from the site in both English et en Français à venir. 


Emergency and Non-Emergency Contact Information

A list of emergency and non-emergency contact information (phone numbers and web sites) has been assembled for areas frequented by ACC Ottawa members in western Canada, eastern Canada and the northeast USA.  Members may wish to add a copy to their personal first aid kit. Download the Emergency Contact List here. Changes can be submitted to the Safety Co-ordinator at


First Aid Patient Assessment and Monitoring Form

A version of the commonly-used “SOAP NOTE” – “Subjective, Objective, Analysis and Plan” – form has been adopted for section use.  The form is invaluable for patient assessment and monitoring while administering wilderness first aid.  Those who have taken a wilderness first aid course will immediately recognize the contents. It is recommended that all members print out the form double-sided and place a copy or two in their personal first aid kit. This has already been done for the Section first aid kits. To download the form, click here.



Managing Cold Weather Risk

Many of the activities that Alpine Club members participate in are conducted in the depth of winter and in the shoulder seasons where the relative temperature can be extremely cold. With cold weather comes a degree of risk for those people who are choosing to be active outside, especially if you become lost, damp or injured. An excellent website developed by Canadian search and rescue organizations with the support of the Canadian government called BICO (Baby It’s Cold Outside) was developed to help inform people about cold weather health risks and precautions you can take to reduce the risk when you are spending time outdoors.  The key player in this effort is Dr. Gordon Giesbrect, professor of thermophysiology at the University of Manitoba who is well known for his research on hypothermia.

Emergency Gear Caches – Gatineau Park Climbing Sites

Update (April 2016): Emergency caches will be restocked for the spring climbing season.  Twin Ribs has no gear at this time.  We are working with the NCC to restock each of the caches.  The emergency gear caches were installed in 2011 at the three authorized climbing areas in Gatineau Park – Twin Ribs complex, Home Cliff and the Western Cwm.  Each cache is centrally located and contains a backboard and other minimal essential gear to package and transport a seriously injured person to an emergency vehicle at the base of the escarpment.  The caches do not contain first aid supplies or technical rescue equipment.  Gatineau Park climbers should be self-equipped with a first aid kit and self-rescue gear plus, most importantly, the associated training.  Each cache is housed in a sturdy culvert.  The end cap is secured with plastic electrical ties to protect the contents from animals and the weather.  In an emergency, the plastic electrical ties can be cut or broken to gain access.  Please report any use or damage to the caches to the NCC phone number printed on the cover and to the ACC Ottawa Safety Co-ordinator at This crucial safety project was a joint collaboration between the National Capital Commission (NCC) and local climbers.  The lion’s share of material costs was funded by the NCC, with lesser but appreciated contributions from the Climbers’ Access Coalition (CAC) and Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC).  Fabrication and installation of the caches was a labour-intensive joint effort of the NCC, CAC and the Alpine Club.  Thanks to everyone who contributed to making this important project a reality.


Avalanche Canada

The Canadian Avalanche Centre is now Avalanche Canada. Their URL is still, but the website has been upgraded with an interactive map and other useful features. Avalanche Canada continues to improve and expand on the professional avalanche observations and forecasts they provide to the public. They are asking for your help in providing field observations. Send them photos, video or messages about conditions you encounter in the backcountry. See the avalanche forecast for your area, take an online course, take an in-the-field course, support Avalanche Canada and stay safe in the backcountry this winter.


National Avalanche Center (US)

The National Avalanche Center (US) has published the North American Avalanche Danger Scale tool. It is used by avalanche forecasters to communicate the potential for avalanches to cause harm or injury to backcountry travelers.  The video below provides an overview of the scale, as well as a quick illustration of how it applies to backcountry risk assessment.

They also have a vast selection of resources available for backcountry users to educate themselves on avalanche risks.


Mountain Safety in Canada’s National Parks

For the latest rescue and safety information for Canada’s National Parks, click here.  Find out more about mountain safety, avalanche information, accident reports, emergency contact information, links to other valuable sources of information and more.


Nordic Backcountry Skiing

The backcountry can be a magical place in winter, but it does not suffer fools.  Anyone traveling in the backcountry should be properly equipped, be responsible and self-reliant and have basic skills in navigation, bushcraft and wilderness first aid.  For additional information on Nordic backcountry skiing safety, see Backcountry Skiing Safety In the East.

Tree wells are a real hazard for backcountry skiers. Visit this link for more information.

What’s in your ski touring pack? “This is the time of year when I typically forget my extra pair of gloves or worse, my skins. If it doesn’t happen to me then it happens to someone in the group I am skiing with. Call it ‘start-of-the-season-stupidity’. How can it be avoided? Start thinking now about your ski touring pack and the gear that ought to be in it. Have it ready to go so when the first touring day arrives you’re ready to roll. Andrew McLean shows us what’s in his pack.”    

Waivers & Forms

ACC National has informed the Sections that there is a new ACC waiver (‘release agreement’) to be used for all ACC trips/events – effective April 2014. The new waiver is a multi-participant release agreement for each trip/event.  ACC National has noted that “a waiver must be signed for each and every activity. ACC National is working towards a single, annual waiver to be signed once on membership sign-up but, as all activities are unique, members have to sign the new waivers for now. ACC National is close to implementing a “single-signed” climbing gym release agreement as most sections do have recurring climbing gym nights.  Trip participants must print a copy of the waiver before a trip, complete and sign, and bring the waiver with them to the trip meeting point and give to the trip leader. Please Note: Trip leaders will not maintain an inventory of blank trip waivers. Paul at Bon Echo Signed trip waivers (original document) should be given to the Trip/Event Coordinator at the start of the trip/event. Trip coordinators will forward the waivers to the Hiking Coordinator, the Climbing Coordinator, the Mountaineering Coordinator, the Training Coordinator or the Section Chair. ACC Ottawa needs to keep the waivers on file for several years (legal stuff). The trip waiver guidelines and the trip waiver are available on the ACC National website.

Incident Reporting

In the event of an accident on any Ottawa Section-sanctioned activity, it is essential that the incident be documented and reported – to the Ottawa Section Chair and to the ACC National Office. In the event of a serious incident, it is recommended that the Section Chair be notified as soon as possible who, in turn, is requested to notify the ACC Executive Director as soon as possible (preferably within 24 hours). Incident reporting forms include: the Field Accident Report – to record information to be passed to medical professionals; and the Incident Report Form – to report the incident to ACC National. Incident reporting guidelines and forms are available in the ACC National website. It is recommended that trip leaders carry a copy of these documents. Further information and guidance on ACC liability insurance, waivers and incident management reporting can be found in the ACC Ottawa, Trip Leader Manual

Waivers & Guidelines

  1. Participant Waiver form:  (English)   (Français)
  2. Trip Participant Guidelines
  3. Standard Emergency Response Protocol & Emergency Scene Management Checklist
  4. Standard Emergency Response Protocol & Emergency Scene Management Checklist (version française à venir)
  5. Safety on Club Beginners’ Days and Trips
  6. Telemark Skiing Level Definitions
  7. Backcountry Skiing Safety In the East
  8. Club Gear Inventory
  9. Club Gear Policy (in the Trip Leader Manual)
  10. Mountaineering Camp Guidelines (in the Trip Leader Guidelines)

Access to Gatineau

ACC members use Gatineau Park for many of their activities through the year. We hike and climb in the summer; cross-country ski and snowshoe in the winter. The National Capital Commission (NCC) has drafted a planning framework that will guide current and future recreational activities in Gatineau Park. The NCC has stated that “managing environmentally respectful recreation is a unique challenge and an important responsibility”. On September 15, they launched their consultative process and hosted a public workshop where they outlined recreation trends and their preliminary assessment and presented an initial strategic framework. Eighty members of the public attended and provided their feedback. The NCC collected the responses and ideas that were presented; and they plan to use the input to adjust and modify the plan. The second and last phase of consultation will take place in spring 2010 and will focus on proposals regarding modifications to the Gatineau Park infrastructure and recreational activities. We remind our members that they have to be diligent and vigilant. We need to be aware of the initiatives the NCC is contemplating and have to be prepared to provide our input (proposals) during their consultation. Otherwise we face the possibility of access limitations – both in terms of locations and activities within the Park. If you have any questions or comments, please email our Access/Liaison Coordinator.

Climbing Sites in Quebec

Montagne d’Argent Climbing & Hiking Park
  • ACC Ottawa members have free access to Montagne d’Argent for climbing & hiking (until April 2023); daily rates apply for camping
  • Members must show proof of current (paid-up) ACC Ottawa membership (card or digital) AND a piece of ID to gain free access
Montagne d’Argent is located 150 km from Ottawa in the Municipality of La Conception in Quebec. There are dozens of climbing routes and kilometers of hiking trails. More information here.
For the past number of years Montagne d’Argent was managed and maintained by the ACC Laurentian Section. Over the past year, there were changes. The Laurentian Section disbanded as an ACC Section and Montagne d’Argent was designated a Municipal Mountain Sports Park.
ACC Ottawa wants to maintain its relationship with Montagne d’Argent and to give our members opportunities to use the Park. We made a financial donation towards the Park’s operation (installation of new anchors) and negotiated free access for our members.
FQME Sites in Quebec
The FQME (Fédération québécoise de la montagne et de l’escalade) provides access to over 100 sites in Quebec. Check out their website for more information.
Some ACC Ottawa members have opted to sign-up for a FQME (Fédération québécoise de la montagne et de l’escalade) membership for a reduced rate of $30 (instead of $65) when they sign-up/renew their ACC membership. This membership gives you access to all FQME sites; otherwise there is a daily fee.

In order to provide increased climbing opportunities for our members, the ACC is offering liability insurance protection for Quebec landowners who provide climbing access to our members. As the ACC moves forward to establish legal agreements with landowners who support increased access for climbers in Quebec, we will keep the community informed and respond to any questions climbers may have. In the meantime, thank you for your patience-and good climbing! The full statement will be published soon.

Indoor Climbing Gyms

ACC Ottawa has agreements with local Climbing Gyms for member nights! Members are encouraged to come out – the chance to get into climbing and to meet other ACC members ‘pulling on plastic’.
The schedule is as follows:
Monday Evenings
ACC Ottawa Climbing Night & Social – Every second Monday Night – Check web calendar for dates
Chance to climb & socialize with ACC Ottawa members
35 Saint-Raymond Boulevard, Gatineau (Québec)  819-205-0959
501 Palladium Drive, Kanata, Ontario  613-903-5989
Altitude gym AltitudeGym2
Fridays – Member rate available all day – $10 for ACC Ottawa members
1731B St. Laurent Blvd, Ottawa
ACC CLUB NIGHTS AT LOCAL CLIMBING GYMS:  ACC Club Nights at local Climbing Gyms are a privilege, not a right. ACC members are expected to abide by and to respect all Climbing Gym rules: pay when you enter the facility; wait in line like other patrons; and get changed only after having paid the day-use fee. We ask all ACC members show respect for our partners and friends at local Climbing Gyms to help maintain our relationships and agreements. Thanks!


There are a number of huts that Alpine Club of Canada members can make use of within a few hours drive of the National Capital Region.   ACC-Montreal owns and operates Keene Farm just outside of Keene, NY.  There is a hut and a campground.  Please note that as of 2021 these facilities are for current ACC members only.  The only exception to this is children under sixteen who are with a member.  Current rates are $15 per person per night to camp and $25 per person per night to use the hut (Canadian dollars). Please check out Keene Farm for more information about this facility.

AlpineClubOttawa Keenefarm3alpineclubottawaAplineClubOttawa Keenefarm2 AlpineClubOttawakeene-farm-hut

Bon Echo, ACC Toronto The Bon Echo Hut is maintained and operated by the ACC Toronto Section.  If you are interested in using the Bon Echo Hut, please call the hut custodian to inquire about the weekend dates you are planning – before Thursday night, to arrange a pick-up at the public dock. Here is the contact list for Bon Echo custodians. For more information on the hut, see the Bon Echo page on the Toronto Section website or contact the hut co-ordinator Ron Rusk at (416)-580-8114.


  The National Capital Region, Gatineau Parc Huts, Gatineau, QC


Our Sponsors

alpineclubottawa  AlpineClubOttawa_Bushtukah           Trailhead

ACC Member Discounts:  ACC members receive discounts on merchandise through these local retailers. Please feel free to present your membership card when making your next purchase to obtain your discount and say thanks!

Bushtukah offers ACC Ottawa members 10% discount on regular-priced merchandise. 203 Richmond Road, Ottawa 613-792-1170 or 5607 Hazeldean Road, Stittsville 613-831-3604

Trailhead / Paddle Shack offers ACC Ottawa members 10% discount on regular-priced merchandise. 2148 Carling Ave (Fairlawn Plaza), Ottawa 613-722-4229

ACC Trip Leader Discounts:  Our trip leaders are exclusively eligible for discounts on Outdoor Research and Black Diamond merchandise. Become a trip leader and you too can obtain discounts through these leading brands.

AlpineClubOttawa_OR       AlineClubOttawa_BlackDiamond

Activity Difficulty Levels

The following table describes the difficulty levels for ACC Ottawa Section hiking, ski touring and showshoeing trips.

Level Distance Elevation Gain Duration Description
1 Beginner Less than 6km Less than 100m Up to 3 hours Rolling terrain, established primary or secondary trails
2 Low Intermediate Less than 9km Less than 200m Up to 4 hours Rolling terrain, established primary or secondary trails
3 Intermediate Up to 12km Up to 400m 5 to 6 hours A mix of established trails and some back-country paths, may involve some bushwhacking.
4 Strong Intermediate Up to 15km Up to 600m Up to 8 hours Generally travel over rough ground, steep sections, faint trails (tertiary) bushwhacking or Level 3 at faster pace and with fewer breaks
5 Advanced Up to 20km Up to 1,000m Up to 10 hours Rough and/or steep terrain, bushwhacking and/or primitive trails and strenuous elevation gain or Level 4 at fast pace
6 Difficult and Strenuous Up to 25km 2,000+m Over 10 hours Very rough or steep terrain. Very strenuous elevation gain or Level 5 at very fast and sustained pace.


  1. Trip ratings should allow participants to self-assess trip suitability for their personal goals and ability level.
  2. The scale is approximate as many variables are involved i.e. required fitness and expertise level, terrain roughness, elevation gain/loss, completion time, weight of pack to be carried, remoteness, navigation complexity, hazard exposure, length.
  3. Some rating factors are variable. Adverse developments during a trip can significantly increase objective hazards, trip completion time and effectively raise the difficulty level. Examples include adverse weather conditions (i.e. precipitation, wind, fog or low cloud), health or fitness problems or injuries (particularly leg or foot) and equipment failure (i.e. ski or snowshoe bindings).
  4. For hiking and backpacking, security of footing is a major consideration which can be altered by rain, ice, snow, mud, vegetation. In winter, snow conditions are the major determinant. These are highly variable (depth, icy, breakable crust, prior tracks). Other factors include equipment robustness (touring vs. telemark gear), terrain steepness, vegetation density and avalanche hazard.
  5. Ski touring does not necessarily require proficiency in the telemark style.
  6. Example trips above are for hiking and back packing. Ski touring or snowshoeing in the same terrain may have a different rating.
  7. Select trips within your current capabilities. See Trip Participant Guidelines.
  8. You are responsible for your own safety at all times.
  9. Trail definitions
    1. Primary = NCC & ADK Trails
    2. Secondary = Clearly established paths, well worn or well marked
    3. Tertiary = Faint path, mixed visibility on ground or irregular frequency of markings
    4. Primitive = Bushwhacking or deer track.
  10. Most local hikes in the Gatineau Park would fit into the class of Levels 1 through 3
  11. A few hikes in the Gatineau Park such as the Traverse and the North-South Trek would be classified as Level 4 or 5
  12. Most hikes in the Adirondaks would be classified as Level 4 or 5
  13. Some long traverse hikes like the Great Range in the ADKs and most hikes in the White Mountains of New Hampshire and the Canadian Rockies would usually be in the Level 5 & 6 category

Is this the right hike for you?

The Club organizes hikes suited to a wide range of skill and fitness levels. Through the season, we work hard to make sure there are lots of hiking opportunities for everyone. If you are new to the Club, or to hiking, it is important that you are familiar with our hiking ratings.  Heading off on a hike that is beyond your fitness or skill level is not safe, and it will have a negative impact on everyone else in the group.  If you are not sure if a hike is right for you, contact the hike leader by e-mail or phone, and talk about it.  Also consider participating in some of the beginner or easy hikes first, to get an idea of how our ratings work. Note that for hikes rated Level 3 or higher, participation requires the approval of the trip leader.  If you register for one of these hikes, and the leader is not familiar with your capabilities, they will contact you before accepting your registration.

Why some hikes have limits on the number of participants

For all of our hikes, the Club’s goal is that members have fun and be safe.  Depending on the specific hike, this can mean setting a limit on how many members can participate.  Our volunteer leaders set these limits based on their experience, knowledge of the route and judgment about how large the group can be to complete the hike, have a great day, and stay safe. That’s why it is important for members to register for hikes early, rather than just showing up at the meeting place and hoping there is still room. However, if members register early enough and there are sufficient number of hikers the leader will attempt to arrange two hikes with different routes and different Levels.


The Archives Committee of the Ottawa section is actively collecting and digitally preserving documents, reports and images from its earliest history through to the present day.

If you are in possession of anything related to our section activities over the years that you would like to donate to or share with the archive, please contact

We are particularly keen to complete our collection of club newsletters. We are missing issues from throughout the 1950s. Additionally we are either missing issues or they didn’t publish certain bulletins in 1970, 1972, 1977, 1979, 1991, 1994, 2006, 2009 and 2010. If you have a full set from any of these years, we’d love to hear from you.

Beginning in January 2017, our committee will be participating in a Living Histories project with local university students, in which live interviews with past or longstanding club members will be recorded for posterity. Let us know if you would like to contribute to this effort in any way.

A link to the archive from this page is “coming soon” and some day, a proper history will be written. Until then, please enjoy the following glimpses