The SAC (Swiss Alpine Club) scale is a widely used rating system in hiking and mountaineering to assess the difficulty of a hiking route. It provides valuable information for hikers to gauge the technical skills, physical fitness, and experience required for a particular trail. The SAC scale is commonly used in Switzerland and other Alpine regions, helping hikers make informed decisions about the level of challenge they are comfortable with.

The SAC scale consists of six grades, labeled T1 to T6, each representing a different level of difficulty. Here’s a breakdown of the scale:

  • T1 – Touristic: The easiest grade, suitable for beginners and families. These trails are well-marked, generally wide, and have a gentle incline. No special hiking skills or equipment are required.
  • T2 – Mountain Hiking: Moderate trails suitable for beginner hikers. They often involve steeper sections, uneven terrain, and narrower paths. Hiking boots and basic navigational skills are recommended.
  • T3 – Demanding Mountain Hiking: More challenging routes requiring good fitness, experience, and sure-footedness. The terrain can be steep, with exposed sections, scree, and possibly some easy scrambling. Navigation skills and proper equipment are essential.
  • T4 – Alpine Hiking: Difficult alpine terrain that may involve exposed ledges, steep ascents, and technical sections. These routes require solid mountaineering skills, experience with exposed terrain, and proper equipment.
  • T5 – Demanding Alpine Hiking: Very challenging alpine terrain with exposed climbs, difficult scrambling, and potential exposure to glaciers. Knowledge of rope techniques, mountaineering experience, and proper equipment are necessary.
  • T6 – Extreme Alpine Hiking: Extremely difficult and demanding routes with highly exposed and technical sections. These routes often require advanced mountaineering skills, climbing equipment, and ropework. Only experienced climbers should attempt T6 routes.


It’s important to note that the SAC scale focuses primarily on the technical difficulty of a trail and does not account for other factors such as length, elevation gain, or weather conditions. Hikers should consider these additional factors when planning their hikes.

While the SAC scale provides a general indication of difficulty, personal fitness, experience, and comfort level should always be considered. It’s advisable for hikers to start with easier grades and gradually progress to more challenging routes as their skills and confidence improve.

Hikers should also check local trail conditions, obtain up-to-date maps, and seek information from local authorities or experienced hikers to ensure a safe and enjoyable hiking experience.

In summary, the SAC scale is a valuable tool for hikers to assess the difficulty of hiking routes in the Alps. By understanding the grading system and considering personal abilities, hikers can choose appropriate trails and challenge themselves safely in these magnificent mountain landscapes.