Should we strive for a global or regional consensus for things like trail visibility & difficulty?

My understanding is that the sac_scale is the global standard for describing the difficulty of moving over terrain for trails/paths/wilderness ways/etc. This isn’t ideal as mappers in areas that don’t use SAC aren’t familiar with it, and users that come across it don’t really know what it means. I can mentally map T1-4 pretty easily, but don’t feel like I have a good grasp on where the lines between 4-6 would be (and to be fair, there will never be a 100% consensus, but having been on trails rated a certain way would help).

Two possible approaches I can see to this:

  1. It seems like adding some sort of osm_scale (inspired by @Hungerburg) that maps onto various regional ratings systems would be useful. sac_scale would still exist as is. This isn’t necessarily what I would propose for this osm_scale, but it’s an example of the concept.

I was spitballing in the failed highway=scramble thread to try and come up with a cross-cultural set of buckets and came up with:

highway=path - what any person able enough to walk and moderately fit is capable of doing.

Class 1 YDS, SAC T1-2, Austria Blue, SWW Yellow, CAI T & E

highway=demanding-path - might need hands for balance, or require some upper body strength (I guess a ladder or mantle would fall in here?) but you’re not climbing rock or have any significant direct exposure. having some experience hiking is highly recommended, but you don’t need to be a climber.

Class 2 YDS, SAC T3, UAII 1, Austria Red, SWW White-red-white, CAI EE

highway=scramble - requires use of hands to pull yourself up terrain. it’s generally simple climbing that is done without a rope but may be uncomfortable to people without technical experience and have fatal consequences. While far simpler than technical climbing, having climbing experience will help greatly. No extra equipment (like ropes, harnesses, etc) is expected to be used. Simple Via Ferrata routes with anything complicated than a ladder or a railing would probably fall into a scramble due to technique and physical strength required?

Class 3 YDS, SAC T4-6, UAII 2, Austria Black, SWW White-blue-white, BMC Grade 1, Schall Scale A, Hüssler Scale K1

  1. Add different rating systems for different countries - add in the British scrambling system, Austrian numbers, US YDS, the sales with umlauts in them, CAI, etc. Mapping applications would have to support this, but many mapping applications are region specific (AllTrails, Gaia, Caltopo in the US. OsmAnd, LocusMaps, etc in Europe). There’s a Russian system for rating passes in there already.

A related issue has come up in the (epic in a perhaps not good way) trail_visibility thread. Obivoiuslly differing opinions may differ, but there could just be opposing views on what an excellent visibility would be given norms and what people are used to. If people in a country or region are used to a heavy handed approach to trail construction, they might feel uncomfortable with what people in another region would view as excellent as it isn’t as obvious or unambiguous as they are used to.

While having, say, different sections for what the trail_visibliity tag means in different countries (or just creating new visibility tags as needed, say austria_trail_vis) would lead to an inconsistent experience for travelers, it could make localized results more consistent and people are using examples and descriptions that would match their lived reality more closely and not have to try and make an abstract fit.

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