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jP
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  Quote jP Replybullet Topic: River classifications...
    Posted: 28 Apr 2009 at 3:19pm
Sparked from the news recently that Tyler Brandt just ran 186' Palouse Falls sucessfully, I want to crack this open for everyone here to chew on...
 
There's always been a split camp about the class VI and its definition, although most guidebooks I've seen describe class VI as runnable if rarely run. I know that the "never been run" qualifier is prevalent throughout the west (then downgrading it into class V once it's run--and AW actually lists this along with the criteria of a class VI rapid in their description:  
 You may have to scroll through some other stuff to view it at that link).
 
but check the guidebooks for Idaho and Washington, or the Cassidy/Calhoun  guide to Western Whitewater, and they all define class VI as runnable if rarely run. It seems weird then that the generations that follow would step in the other direction and say class VI is synonomous with U (unrunnable, or "Off the scale" ).
 
I don't think the Little White (taken as a run) is easier than class V. But the stuff in Rush Sturgis's  video of African Bigwater seems to me to be of a whole other class, and not just because it's in a remote expedition style setting, though that factors in for sure.
 
And The weird thing about the sub-V  decimal system is that one man's V.3 is another girl's V.1. I can see that myself looking at the inconsistant decimal ratings attached to several of the class V runs on the Guage Page. And then I ask- is 10 slots enough to keep packing new whitewater rapids and runs into over the next 100 years?
 
I mean, I don't really care. I'm content with our fuzzy rating system the way it is. I just want to watch everyone debate about it. I suppose it's the range of opinions that interests me. Humor me here...
 
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  Quote hutchm Replybullet Posted: 28 Apr 2009 at 4:54pm
Everything is class 1 flatwater with a possible ripple here or there.
 
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jP
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  Quote jP Replybullet Posted: 29 Apr 2009 at 1:52pm
that IS one way to look at it.
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  Quote ThrowYaMittsUp Replybullet Posted: 29 Apr 2009 at 1:55pm
Just rocks and water moving down hill.
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  Quote jP Replybullet Posted: 05 May 2009 at 11:55pm
well that settles that.
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  Quote tradguy2 Replybullet Posted: 06 May 2009 at 8:48am
A closed scale certailnly makes things difficult.  I think this is part of the reason that things get downgraded so much. For example, there are a lot of rapids that are routinely run now that were considered class VI at on time (Exit for example).  If Exit is now class V does that make POW a class IV?  Depends on who you ask.  I thing using the V.1, V.2, V.3 ... system as an open ended scale is a good solution.   
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  Quote James Replybullet Posted: 06 May 2009 at 9:02am

I don't want to chime in and get everyone riled so I will just point out the fact. V8 is really good for you!!!


 
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  Quote explwhore Replybullet Posted: 06 May 2009 at 2:28pm
Seems like there would be a better solution by going to the decimal scale eventually.  But it seems so subjective.  East Coast Class V Gauley River is by western standards a class IV river and so on.  Different regions seem to have their own variety of difficulty even, making it more muddled.
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  Quote ThrowYaMittsUp Replybullet Posted: 06 May 2009 at 2:34pm
I think only the raft outfitters call the Upper Gauley a V now, but I do agree with you. There are some regional differences, mainly cold water, sharp rocks and WOOD!
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  Quote Larry Replybullet Posted: 06 May 2009 at 2:53pm
Just to chime in hear, as I am quite passionate about one of the points brought up in this thread. Though I cannot argue that it is "good for you", V8 SUCKS! I would rather dig the socks out of the laundry that I played basketball for 3 hours in last week, ring them out into the booty that has been sitting in the back of my truck for weeks, pour that into my climbing shoes that often get worn by other people, add some rain water from the compost bin, and drink that.
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  Quote Larry Replybullet Posted: 06 May 2009 at 2:54pm
OOPS!, forgot to sign in under my "fake" name.
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  Quote James Replybullet Posted: 06 May 2009 at 3:01pm
Larry.... what has gotten into you...

First you disown the diet of a pioneer by forsaking yourself the wonders of meat, then once the veg head conversion is complete you drop the V8 bomb for some jungle rot joy juice???? What are you crazy... And btw, that little concoction you mentioned above sounds like it might have some pyschotropic properties so you might want to be careful. If it doesn't mess you up somehow you might be-able to use it like Simple Green!!!!
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  Quote JoesKayak Replybullet Posted: 06 May 2009 at 3:06pm
Originally posted by Larry

Just to chime in hear, as I am quite passionate about one of the points brought up in this thread. Though I cannot argue that it is "good for you", V8 SUCKS! I would rather dig the socks out of the laundry that I played basketball for 3 hours in last week, ring them out into the booty that has been sitting in the back of my truck for weeks, pour that into my climbing shoes that often get worn by other people, add some rain water from the compost bin, and drink that.


Isn't that what alot of the sports/energy drinks basically have in them? Kudos on making your own and saving the landfills another bottle or can.
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  Quote Meghan Replybullet Posted: 06 May 2009 at 3:39pm
Originally posted by explwhore

Seems like there would be a better solution by going to the decimal scale eventually.  But it seems so subjective.  East Coast Class V Gauley River is by western standards a class IV river and so on.  Different regions seem to have their own variety of difficulty even, making it more muddled.
I paddle with transplanted east coasters and they do refer to the difference in difficulty/ratings between the east and west coast.  And what about those crazies in BC?  Hardest class II I've ever seen lies up there.
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  Quote James Replybullet Posted: 06 May 2009 at 4:02pm
I certainly love the old addadge that was posted years ago by Water Wacko

If East Coast Class V = Colorado Class IV
& Colorado Class V = PNW class IV
& PNW Class V = BC Class IV

Then wouldn't East Coast Class V = BC class II ???
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  Quote JoesKayak Replybullet Posted: 06 May 2009 at 4:12pm
They call it "grade" in BC, not class. But are grades and classes the same thing? In school they are not. So why would they be in river classification. I think the whole thing needs further investigation.
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  Quote James Replybullet Posted: 06 May 2009 at 4:21pm
You do get graded in class...

And if your in a class over your head you still get F'd up!!!


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  Quote slickhorn Replybullet Posted: 06 May 2009 at 4:22pm
I might be wrong here, but "grade" seems to be the general average rating for a run, where class refers to the difficulty of a particular rapid or set of moves. 

Thus, the Sky is  a grade III run with a IV+ drop.  Or, if it were in BC, a I- run with a II rapid.

Basing this on descriptions fro Stu Smith's guidebooks, so take with a grain of salt and some of Larry's Bootie Brew.
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  Quote dblanchard Replybullet Posted: 06 May 2009 at 4:31pm
I'm surprised no one else has mentioned this, but Corran Addison has created a very good scale:
http://www.2imagine.net/construction/addisonscale.html

It reports the skill level needed to run something, the severity of not making it, and how far you are from full-on medical help.

The only downside is that no one knows it. I've heard it argued that it is too complex or takes too many cycles to understand, but if it were more commonly used, it would become more natural.
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  Quote NOMADIC WORLD Replybullet Posted: 06 May 2009 at 5:19pm

If East Coast Class V = Colorado Class IV
& Colorado Class V = PNW class IV
& PNW Class V = BC Class IV
Then wouldn't East Coast Class V = BC class II ???
-Water Wacko


LOL, I like this. My heads been spinning a while trying to figure it out. It's like kayak sudoku or something.
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  Quote James Replybullet Posted: 06 May 2009 at 5:48pm
I'm not to keen on the addison scale. 1 & 2 are still pretty similar arguements, danger vs difficulty, after all difficulty generally makes the danger, and only in select cases are the two seperated totally. The proximity of help is also pretty silly because it really only matters if your A. Road side or close to a road, and B remote and out of contact. In most cases I would imagine if you can hang for 2 hours you can hang for 24 hours. The scary thing is if your in a back woods zone and you have to get out on your own power. But do you really need a seperate scale for that, I mean now we need a sub class for the level of severity of injury, ie bump & bruise vs broken rib vs impalment & limb loss.... I guess  I see the need to have a rating structure to more accurately identify class V not to describe the full on picture of a rapid with a single rating.

If you went the addison route you would quickly need a 6th decimal for legality, Is the drop legal, and do you have police factor, which I assume would be a P for police, a L for land owner and an O for open/public.

Temp/Weather?
Approach/Leadin?
Snacks/Treats?

If addison had his way we would soon see boulder drop as a 2.1.A.55.1.Yum.+50k=P


Edited by James - 06 May 2009 at 5:51pm
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  Quote PowWrangler Replybullet Posted: 06 May 2009 at 6:40pm
Originally posted by James

I certainly love the old addadge that was posted years ago by Water Wacko

If East Coast Class V = Colorado Class IV
& Colorado Class V = PNW class IV
& PNW Class V = BC Class IV

Then wouldn't East Coast Class V = BC class II ???


It's all subjective but I'd lean toward saying that Colorado and the PNW (standard Washington runs) are similar in difficulty.  Colorado is shallower, sharper rocks, and no "collection pools" at the bottom of rapids.  Washington has more cfs and some stickier keeper holes.  Clear as mud right? 

From what I've heard Cali and BC have on average a higher class V spectrum.
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  Quote matta Replybullet Posted: 06 May 2009 at 8:20pm
After spending 15 years rock climbing and coming to kayaking relatively recently, I prefer the broad, general 5 classes that boating uses. It preserves the adventure. Additionally of course, the water is just plane less predictable than rock and defies particularly fine gradations, so I doubt that boating will ever go climbing's way.

The brits divide up danger and difficulty in their trad rating system. It makes sense if you truly want to know what to expect, but it's to complicated and reduces the mystery. Mystery is good.
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  Quote jP Replybullet Posted: 12 Aug 2009 at 1:23pm
Originally posted by James


I don't want to chime in and get everyone riled so I will just point out the fact. V8 is really good for you!!!


 
 
Dude, I'm SO all about getting people riled! That's one reason I started this thread!! But more importantly to get people to at least read what has already been established as a standard. This topic has recently aggitated me again (not really, but you know what I mean). It's as if 90% of the whitewater population really has no understanding what the
I-VI rating system is.
 
So I'm coming back swinging harder than last time:
Get with the program: AW is a great place to go to see it in writing. It's not up to YOU and YOUR puny opinion- no matter who you are, who you think you are, how many class V's you've run ect.
 
Why did the contemporary public lop off the class VI rating? why is it never used, and why do people consider it unrunnable? I've said it before: when Tyler ran Palouse Falls, he transformed it from an unrunnable drop (U) to a class VI. When Leif runs it it'll be ok to down grade it to class V.  Until then, it's class VI. In an era where more and more radical drops, rapids and sections of rivers and creeks are being run for the first time, doesn't it seem silly not to use that last number at the high end of the scale to accomodate newly run drops and rapids? If anything we should be adding numbers for future generations to fill with their as of yet unaccomplished feats!
 
The book "River Recue", a classic by Slim Ray and Les Bechdel, printed the rating system with permission of AW (AWA at the time) in the 2nd edition (1989 publication) that I possess in my library of whitewater literature.
 
It states (in 19F*ckin89!!):
"Class VI: EXTREME. One grade more difficult than Class V. These runs often exemplify the extremes of difficulty, unpredictability, and danger. The consequences of errors are very severe and rescue may be impossible. For teams of experts only, at favorable water levels,after close personal inspection and taking all precautions."
 
and, here's the defining sentence that is suspiciouisly absent from AW's current defintion of Class VI:
 
"This class does not represent drops thought to be unrunnable, but may include rapids which are only occasionally run."
 
Look in the Bennet Book. The wording is exactly the same.
 
Yeah, I know the conception of a Class VI in 1989 is totally different than today's. But why would you take away additional numbers. It doesn't make any sense. The decimal system isn't a bad idea, but come on- you can't expect to cram all of tomorrow's record breaking feats into a single container. Sooner or later you'll need that VI, if not already. It's just funny how many people (some of which are VERY accomplished paddlers) act as if they didn't even know a VI existed at the upper end of the scale.
 
Grade vs. Class huh? Well everyone knows I got no class, but still, most of us need to go back to class on this. It's all about communication.
Educate yourselves. There was an article written by Doug Ammons on this subject, within the last year or two, but I can't find it. Basicly suffice to say I agree with his conclusions on this topic.
 


Edited by jP - 12 Aug 2009 at 1:27pm
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  Quote tradguy2 Replybullet Posted: 12 Aug 2009 at 1:36pm
IMHO the issue of whether class V or VI is the top of the runnable scale is interesting but not all that important. (For the record, I agree with JP, class VI is defined as runnable and should be included.)  The bigger issue is that the scale is closed as standards continue ti rise the compression of grades will only get worse.  We should not only consider using class VI more, but allow for the possibility of class VII and continue to call rapids that have yet seen a descent U. 
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