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Yosemite versus Vegemite March 18, 2012

Posted by Jenny in bushwhacking, hiking, Smoky Mountains.
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I don't mean this...

This post is not about that terrible stuff that Australians spread on their toast. You pronounce “Vegemite” to rhyme with “Yosemite,” as in the national park. “Veg-em-i-tee,” with the same emphasis as “hegemony.”

So what on earth is this word I’ve invented? It’s a rating system for mountain travel where vegetation is the main obstacle. It runs parallel to the Yosemite rating system, which is concerned with rock more than vegetation.

Here is the Yosemite System:

Class 1 is walking on a maintained trail.
Class 2 is travel over a difficult trail or off-trail where minor scrambling is required.
Class 3 is scrambling where the use of hands is necessary for upward progression.
Class 4 is climbing where handholds and footholds are abundant but if you fall you might die. A rope may be used for safety.
Class 5.0 – 5.13b is technical climbing with increasingly minute holds where most people would use a rope.

Translating to vegetation, I would think the Vegemite System might go like this:
Class 1 is walking where there is no vegetative obstruction.
Class 2 is walking where branches need to be pushed out of the way and blowdowns need to be climbed over.
Class 3 is pushing through continuous vegetation but still standing up most of the time.
Class 4 is crawling on hands and knees through vegetation.
Class 5 is crawling on stomach through vegetation.

The rhodo I pushed through to get to this log is Class 3.5 in the Vegemite System.

Vegetation is not always the enemy in places like the Smokies. Sometimes it can be your friend, as Seth discovered in the gully pictured below.

And this gully points out the need for yet another rating system, one that deals with the usefulness of vegetation for handholds. Of course, real rock climbers scorn the use of “vegetable holds.”

Thoughts, anyone?

The vegetation here was a help rather than a hindrance.