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MIDE What is it and how does it work?

Some time ago an acquaintance told me with some bitterness about his experience on a hiking route. He explained to me how he had prepared and chosen the route, and how how to be already involved in work of it he realized that the difficulty of the route was much higher than he had initially been led to believe. I then asked him about the MIDE evaluation of the route, his face told me everything, the MIDE, what is it and how does it work?​​

MIDE What is it and how does it work?
Image by Iliya Kolodeznyy at Pixabay

When looking for information about a route, who hasn't been told that it is easy and when he finds himself on it he realizes that for him it is not? Of course each person has his own perception of the different parameters that mark the difficulty of a hiking or mountain route, and to try to unify these criteria was born in 2002 the MIDE system, a tool that allows us to show the degree of difficulty of a route in a homogeneous and fairly accurate way.

What is the MIDE?

With the support of the Government of Aragon and the Aragonese Mountaineering Federation, this free tool was created to unify the criteria for assessing the difficulty and commitment of a route. A tool that serves both those who describe a route, as well as those seeking information about the route.

The Excursion Information Method (MIDE) we could say that the main parameters it takes as a reference are:

Medium, takes note of the environment where the activity takes place.

Itinerary, difference between the type of route to be taken.

Displacement, assesses the degree of difficulty that the terrain brings to the march.

Effort, estimates the level of general physical demand of the route.

MIDE What is it and how does it work?
Image by Guduru Ajay bhargav on Pexels

However, as we shall see, these four factors in turn encompass a large number of parameters that this system takes into account to give us its final assessment.

The great advantage of the MIDE method is that, in addition to unifying criteria, it allows both inexperienced hikers and experienced mountaineers to get a better idea of the difficulties of the route, and thus choose the one that best suits the capabilities of each. Obviously this data must be complemented with all the information we can find about the route to be able to assess it correctly.

MIDE What is it and how does it work?
Image by Siggy Nowak at Pixabay

How does MIDE work?

The data on which this method is based are based on three pillars, through which a series of questions are asked about the route and its environment, to subsequently issue its assessment broken down by sections that will be useful for those who are looking for information about the route, so it is important to know what each degree of difficulty of each section of the final MIDE report shows.

MIDE What is it and how does it work?
Image of MIDE report of Montaña Segura

The reference information

In this first section the tool will ask us for key data to analyze the route, among them are:

The name of the excursion or route.

The time necessary for the completion of the same, without taking into account stops or the physical preparation of the person, or possible setbacks that may arise.

The slope total, both uphill and downhill.

The distance total of the course from start to finish.

The type of route it is, i.e. if it is a circular route, we return to the same starting point by a different route; if it is a round trip or linear route, i.e. we return by the same itinerary by which we arrived; or if it is a route that ends in a different place from where it started.

MIDE What is it and how does it work?

The valuation information

In the previous section we collected specific data that in theory are not subject to the perception of the person providing the information. In this section, the tool quantitatively assesses the different questions that are asked. For this purpose, a numerical scale from 1 to 5 has been established, where 5 is the degree of greatest complexity. We also have an explanatory table that brings together the different criteria that we must observe for the tool to set the numerical grade that it will give to each section, thus reducing in part the possible error of personal perception that we may have.

This time the tool will ask us about:

Severity of the natural environment, here we must set the level of exposure of the route. Factors such as possible landslides, crossing of ravines and streams, weather conditions, distance to the nearest inhabited point, etc. are taken into account.

Orientation on the itinerary, on this occasion we will have to evaluate the signposting of the route, its condition with regard to the number of crossings, paths, trails and how well defined or easy to follow they are.

Difficulty of displacement, this section refers to the actual state of the terrain and the difficulties that will arise and that will prevent us from walking and advancing easily.

Amount of effort, basically the time it will take us to complete the route, but taking into account slopes and distances.

The valuation information

This section of the MIDE method is more focused on routes that require the use of climbing or mountaineering techniques, explaining the necessary tools to overcome the obstacles that we find on the route.

This section is divided into the following sections:

Steps of climbing, level II and higher steps are taken into account.

Rapel, is warned if in order to follow the route it is necessary to make a descent in which it is advisable or necessary to use this technique.

Snow slopes, refers to parts of the route that cross or run through snowy slopes.

MIDE What is it and how does it work?
Image of MIDE report of Montaña Segura

Once this has been done and all the steps have been completed, the tool will issue a graphical report that will serve as a reference to better understand the difficulties involved in the route. If we have the necessary information we can perform this process as one of the previous steps in the route preparation phase.


With this method we can get a better idea of the difficulty of a route. But in order to carry out our activity in the safest and most effective way possible, it is necessary to complement the information with guides, books and publications on the Internet that allow us to evaluate if the route is adapted to our capabilities.

Of course it is vital that you equip yourself correctly and according to the activity you are going to do, that you consult the weather information to avoid unnecessary problems and that you let someone know where you are going, how long you are going to stay and of course when you finish let them know that you have already returned.

Remember that there is no such thing as zero risk, but it is up to you to minimize existing risks as much as possible, be prudent, use common sense at all times and enjoy the activity and nature to the fullest.

Here is the link to the tool MIDE


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