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River classifications...

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Printed Date: 30 Oct 2020 at 5:58am


Topic: River classifications...
Posted By: jP
Subject: River classifications...
Date 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:  
http://www.americanwhitewater.org/content/Wiki/do-op/id/safety:start#vi - http://www.americanwhitewater.org/content/Wiki/do-op/id/safety:start#vi  
 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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Replies:
Posted By: hutchm
Date Posted: 28 Apr 2009 at 4:54pm
Everything is class 1 flatwater with a possible ripple here or there.
 
Morgan


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Yaris power baby


Posted By: jP
Date Posted: 29 Apr 2009 at 1:52pm
that IS one way to look at it.

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Posted By: ThrowYaMittsUp
Date Posted: 29 Apr 2009 at 1:55pm
Just rocks and water moving down hill.


Posted By: jP
Date Posted: 05 May 2009 at 11:55pm
well that settles that.

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Posted By: tradguy2
Date 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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... preparing for a river beating!     


Posted By: James
Date 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!!!


 


Posted By: explwhore
Date 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.


Posted By: ThrowYaMittsUp
Date 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!


Posted By: Larry
Date 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.


Posted By: Larry
Date Posted: 06 May 2009 at 2:54pm
OOPS!, forgot to sign in under my "fake" name.


Posted By: James
Date 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!!!!


Posted By: JoesKayak
Date 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.


Posted By: Meghan
Date 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.


Posted By: James
Date 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 ???


Posted By: JoesKayak
Date 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.


Posted By: James
Date 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!!!




Posted By: slickhorn
Date 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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Posted By: dblanchard
Date 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.


Posted By: NOMADIC WORLD
Date 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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In The Business of Doing Things.


Posted By: James
Date 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


Posted By: PowWrangler
Date 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.


Posted By: matta
Date 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.


Posted By: jP
Date 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.
 


Posted By: tradguy2
Date 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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... preparing for a river beating!     


Posted By: James
Date Posted: 12 Aug 2009 at 2:30pm
I disagree... I think it is important.

And since JP is callin me out over and over I will reluctantly admit; I was one of the Class VI naysayers. I always thought that class VI was defining an unrun feature. Then once it was run it was downgraded to a V.X rating. I will gladly change, but I think its important to realize another interesting fact. The majority of a groups opinion while not making something right or wrong can in fact add value to it.

Example: Just because American Whitewater makes a rule does not apply that rule to everything and everyone. Europe to my knowledge in several places uses a grade 1-10 scale and they being diverse in borders call it the "international scale" which might be very true since many countries there adhere to it. On american whitewaters page it says "VI. International Scale of River Difficulty This is the American version of a rating system" Don't get me wrong other countries use the "American Scale" also, like canada and mexico. But guess what ... we might piss off a bunch of Buryats if you said all the gnar they run is not grade 9 because we made an "offical" decision for the world of paddlers on rating.

Simple where you go is what its called and you should do your checking up before accepting or passing on the details. As far as AW's system goes, I concur and will adhere to it in hopes that it is the majority round these parts, but you won't catch me in Siberia telling a group of paddlers to change for the sake of a world standard, maybe we should be the ones changing...... No?! 

J


Posted By: up4air
Date Posted: 12 Aug 2009 at 3:34pm
I go back and forth on ratings being in an aquatic sport rather than a nautical one, in that my other riverboarding buds tend to downgrade rivers based on the fact that riverboarding is way easier than kayaking.

However.

I must say that V8 has a ton of sodium. Read the label! Not that healthy. Better to eat your veggies raw and enjoy the fiber. I also don't think I'd ever run a V.8 ...

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More water, please.


Posted By: fiddleyak
Date Posted: 12 Aug 2009 at 4:31pm
I disagree.
I don't think using VI is useful. The way you describe it JP you'd keep having to redefine what "VI" is. That's the whole reason an open-ended system is useful, it doesn't have to constantly be altered to the times.
There is a big difference between "unrunnable" and "unrun". Just because no one's stepped up and run a rapid doesn't mean it's unrunnable or Class VI.


Posted By: James
Date Posted: 12 Aug 2009 at 9:58pm
Just got off the phone with a friend... he refused to share his witty response online in fear of ridicule ... (I think hinting that we need hugo back to control the gomers) his response was this.

"Could someone... anyone please tell me what the fuck unrunnable is or means?"


Posted By: rainpaddle
Date Posted: 13 Aug 2009 at 3:38pm
JP,
 
the article was in the AW mag called the art and artifice of rating whitewater. Good read and it's online at the AW site.
 
Rob G


Posted By: SupaSta
Date Posted: 14 Aug 2009 at 3:40pm
Originally posted by James

..."Could someone... anyone please tell me what the fu*k unrunnable is or means?"
 
IMO, "unrunnable" means that 'as of today', no one has attempted or been able to run it clean.  Where "clean" means still in your boat at the bottom with a smile on your face.
 
I don't see the problem with changing drops from (U) to (VI) when some yahoo successfully runs them.  So the number of class VI drops will increase with time, why is that a problem?  For example, if Leif runs Snoqualmie falls, it gets downgraded from class (U) to class VI.  That doesn't mean Eagle falls is now bumped from class V to class IV, or that Boulder drop is now a III-, it just means there's a new class VI rapid in the mix, nothing else should be affected.  Does that make any sense to anyone besides me?
 
Dan


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Life is short, paddle hard!


Posted By: huckin harms
Date Posted: 16 Aug 2009 at 10:55am
dude, u callin McGibbon a yahoo?! lol


Posted By: James
Date Posted: 16 Aug 2009 at 12:07pm
So what your saying Dan is that a class II riffle in the middle of the mountains that has never seen boats is therefore Unrunnable?

Has anyone kayaked on the duwamish down by harbor island, or Is that unrunnable? What about the section of the cedar river up past the gates where it is class II-III but behind barbwire unrunnable?

There is a big difference between unrun and unrunnable, its the implication that it can never be run, not that it has never been run.

oops just echoed what ben wrote .... echo echo


Posted By: SupaSta
Date Posted: 16 Aug 2009 at 11:12pm
Originally posted by huckin harms

dude, u callin McGibbon a yahoo?! lol
 
Yeah, I'm waaayy out of line on that one 
 
http://www.professorpaddle.com/uploads/bin/2/useruploads/388/792.jpg - http://www.professorpaddle.com/uploads/bin/2/useruploads/388/792.jpg


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Life is short, paddle hard!


Posted By: SupaSta
Date Posted: 16 Aug 2009 at 11:27pm
Originally posted by James

So what your saying Dan is that a class II riffle in the middle of the mountains that has never seen boats is therefore Unrunnable?

Has anyone kayaked on the duwamish down by harbor island, or Is that unrunnable? What about the section of the cedar river up past the gates where it is class II-III but behind barbwire unrunnable?

There is a big difference between unrun and unrunnable, its the implication that it can never be run, not that it has never been run.

oops just echoed what ben wrote .... echo echo
 
I thought we were talking about stuff at the bleeding edge of the sport.  Class II riffles in BFE hardly count as such.
 
Of course, unrun and unrunnable are not the same thing, and I think you've got all the gear you need to prove it. 
 
Dan 


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Life is short, paddle hard!


Posted By: jP
Date Posted: 19 Aug 2009 at 12:17pm
James, I'm not "Calling you out" about this subject, I just happen to like V8 (probably because of all of the sodium in it!), and I like the many graphic aids you provide from time to time.
 
It just seems that on a website devoted to whitewwater kayaking, if people stop arguing about classifying this or that, something is wrong. I just wanted to stir it up, and it seems to have worked!! Ha!
 
Of course I have an automatic "Disagree With Ben No Matter What" policy.
 
seriously, The rating system is something that I think is healthy to debate and think about. What really amazes me is how we could go so long without a better standard.
"The American version of an International system" WTF does THAT mean? sounds like a cop out. Like, Feet and Inches are our version of the Metric system or something. Lame.
 
Fukkit. I know Unrunnable when I see it,Hope y'all do, too.
I can see a horizon line, and I can catch a mean eddy. Hope y'all can too.


Posted By: jP
Date Posted: 03 Feb 2010 at 12:12pm
Originally posted by tiziak

I know this is almost off topic now, but the way I had the V.1, V.2 etc, scale explained to me was that the difference in a creek or river that is V.1 is proportional to the jump in difficulty or danger as class IV is to V. So a V.3 rapid would be 3 stops or grades (?) higher in difficulty or danger than a normal class V drop.
 
- I've also heard that explaination for the point system. But I have three main problems with it that make it confusing and therefore invalid:
 
1) Ben Hawthorn seems to be the only person I know who seems to understand it, and I sure a shell can't trust his opinion!  just kiddin- my real point is that it seems to come out of California, like Ben. But he's pretty much the only Cali Product I know of, so I don't know of anyone else using the point system, and it remains cryptic to me.
 
2) I think that whole "let's slice the Class V rating up into a bunch of tiny peices" approach only allows more room for confusion. If V.2 is a whole class harder than class V why not just call it class VI? Call V.3 class VII then. But The Cascade sure as hell ain't no class VII. What would that make the Carbon and the Ohanepecosh (go take a quick peak at the rivers page)? Class VIII?  Not to mention the fact that I've had days on Robe that felt like I was paddling class IV and other days at the same flow where it felt like V. Subjectivities are here to stay, my friends. Better to just leave the system vague and live with it.
 
3) Corran Addison had his own scale where he attempts to rate difficulty, consequence, and access (like, he'd probably cll the Cascade a IV.3b or something.) while this is noble to try to imrove a rating system that is left wanting, it fails becuse there are too many people using the existing system and his method doesn't corresponfd to it. All it will do is add confusion. That's why I just go back to AW and the Bennett Book (because it's a local guidebook and we're talking about local runs)
 
I guess until AW makes some huge campaign to refine or revamp the existing system, I'm going to continue using it as it's been traditionally applied. Knock on wood, but It's served me well enough over the last three decades.


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Posted By: slickhorn
Date Posted: 03 Feb 2010 at 12:20pm
Originally posted by jP

 
2) I think that whole "let's slice the Class V rating up into a bunch of tiny peices" approach only allows more room for confusion. If V.2 is a whole class harder than class V why not just call it class VI?



if the difference between 5 and 5.1 is the same difference between IV and V, are you really "slicing the V rating up into a bunch of tiny pieces?"  I'd argue that right now V spans a range of difficulty broader than that contained in the III-IV+ range.  So, the pieces aren't tiny, in fact, pieces are needed.  It seems consensus has left class VI as an invalid rating, even though VI is by definition runnable. 

How does one try to rate Palouse Falls?  Alpine Falls?  V? V+? VI?  5.3? One is easier than the other, and the other is more dangerous than the one.  But just calling them V's would indicate to me they are no more difficult than Big Brother, which is of course rubbish. 

The Addison scale is intriguing, but no one seems able to keep the various factors straight.  We already argue about +/- version of the ratings, can you imagine the carping about a three-variable rating?  lol it'll never fly.


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Posted By: James
Date Posted: 03 Feb 2010 at 12:50pm
I still like the decimal system myself. The factors and letters to me just start complicating things. I mean a rating is meant to be a simple explanation for how difficult something is. If you need the greater details you get beta, talk to sources or read a TR. Don't try to pack all the detail from those sources into a difficulty rating because your going to end up with a complex equation that most people will find takes more time than just reading the TR.

Unlike climbing boating does need a top end. A definitive symbol of doom. As in sure it might be run someday but until then, beware. Climbing is backed up with safety that boating does not have. So you can describe a super wicked route, but going to check it out is not going to put your life in un-reverseable danger.  Boating is different. A run with an unscoutable, un-portable class VI and was spotted from a video capturing whitewater homing pigeon on a mission to ruin obscure runs by posting beta to the internet is good details to have. Ok I just lost myself...


Posted By: huckin harms
Date Posted: 03 Feb 2010 at 5:42pm

two cent chime in:

For my part, old school is as easy to understand as a system of quantifying can be.  The current system is simple enough to comprehend even for a non-boater.
If there were changes, I'd keep'em to how a 'run' is rated as opposed to how individual rapids are rated.  There seems to be plenty enough subjectivity in this 'sport' as it is, and complicating ratings only makes for more confusion or contention. 
 


Posted By: franzhorner
Date Posted: 03 Feb 2010 at 6:39pm
Here's my rating system:

Relate it to another river.

Maybe on our Rivers page there is a spot of how a river relates to another river. We could maybe have 5 rivers that a lot of people have run that are compared to each river. (damn my science/statistics brain!)

Another approach might be to have a spot that lists the MOST comparable river......

I guess there could be some variation in people's opinions, but I'm not convinced it would be anymore than our current system of labeling the river with a label-number.

Conversation is the best way to relate the classification. Here's a scenario:

1: What class is the Nahatlach Canyon? I'm from Europe.

2: What have you run in the area?

1: I ran the Cascade last weekend and it was a blast.

2: The Nahatlach Canyon is a lot shorter than the Cascade and is a little easier. If you had fun on the Cascade you should have fun in the Nahatlach canyon.....

Its important that folks know to consult forums like our own for most recent and modern classifications and warnings of hazards.

I'm grateful for what James has given us....

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MORE RAIN PLEASE


Posted By: dave
Date Posted: 03 Feb 2010 at 8:36pm
Heres my rating system:
 
If it looks like its going to kill me, I am not going to run it...


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Nomad


Posted By: JayB
Date Posted: 04 Feb 2010 at 3:36pm
I use the "Drunken Tuber in Jeans-Shorts" scale to rate rivers. E.g.- Imagine a drunken tuber in the said attire drifting towards a rapid, then contemplate what's most likely to happen to him.

Class I - Stays asleep.

Class II - Wakes up but spills beer.

Class III - Wakes up. Beer spillage rate of 50% or higher likely. Potential to fall out of tube and cling to it with one arm while giving the "rock-on" wave to observers on shore. 50% or higher.  High potential to retrospecitvely describe experience as "bitchin."

Class IV - Wakes up. Beer loss of 100% with probable loss of container. Probability of de-tubing 80% or higher with permanent loss of tube high. Clinging to tube with both arms likely if tube retained. Possibility of giving "rock-on" wave to onlookers dramatically reduced and approaching zero in many cases. Probability of serious injury or drowning high but not certain. Permanent aversion to circular rivercraft likely upon reaching shore. Subsequent description of events transpiring in the rapid likely to include words "F*cked" and "Up" for many years afterwards.

Class IV+ - Near instantaneous de-tubing upon entering rapid with immediate loss of beer and container. Probability of life-threatening injury or death a near certainty.

Class - V: Death. 


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-Jay


Posted By: SupaSta
Date Posted: 04 Feb 2010 at 7:25pm
That is the best rating system I've ever heard! 
 
I say we all switch to the "Drunken Tuber" system immediately
 
Dan


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Life is short, paddle hard!


Posted By: jP
Date Posted: 05 Feb 2010 at 3:52pm
 Yeah, I'm totally an adherent to that system as well!
 
But Brian, I have to respectfully disagree with you:
Pieces may be needed as you say, but how do you split hairs that finely?
 
I feel really confident calling both Sunset Falls and Palouse Falls class VI drops. Regardless of what either of the paddlers who ran those drops has to say about it. That's right. I said Regardless of what either of the paddlers who ran those drops has to say about it.
 
Both drops fit the definition of a class VI. I don't even see how one could dispute this, unless they haven't read the definition of class VI.
 
Back to the point system though: To this very moment, despite me asking the question of how to define the verious "points" along the class V spectrum, no one on this site (or anywhere else) has been able to define it for me in any satisfactory manner. So how can it hold ANY validity? I've been told that each point represents the same scale of steps as that between IV and V. But what does that mean? Not much. How many numbers are in there? V.1-V.3?
V.1-V.5?
V.1- V.9?
Or V.1-V.13?
 
Look, as imperfect as the rating system is, at least you can say one thing: It is written down in an attempt to try to define itself. And just like the Constitution, or the Bible, it is subject to interpretation and it's meaning will continue to be debated. But at least it is writtin down. So what are the written definitions for each decimal point? saying each decimal is like a whole class in and of itself isn't enough. You have to define what each "class" is. Here's where paddlers roll their eyes if they haven't done so sooner. But then, are you serious about understanding how sh*t is rated? Rob don't give a F*ck. He just paddles the sh*t whether it's V or Vi, he doesn't stop to wonder. Me? I just like to ponder it. That's all. The existing system doesn't give me any problems, nor do the added ambiguities of the so-called point system.But I've been paddling long enough to feel confident that I can go into a canyon and at least stay out of trouble (usually! ).


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Posted By: jP
Date Posted: 05 Feb 2010 at 3:56pm
My last few comments, and then I'll shut up for awhile- i promise.
 
Paddlers got no business trying to patch and peice-meal some jacked up half concieved rating system if they aren't willing to adequately define it.  A half assed  "improvement" is worse than no improvement at all. It takes an imperfect rating system and makes it totally worthless if it's inconsistant.
 
Class V boaters will say here: "Well if you're paddling Class V you should be able to just deal with it" . Well I agree, but clearly others don't.


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Posted By: slickhorn
Date Posted: 05 Feb 2010 at 3:57pm
jP,

Not quite sure what you are disagreeing with.  To me, the difference between the VI drops you list a benchmark V like say Big Brother is considerably bigger than the difference between IV and V.  Maybe I said it badly, but my point was the the V rating spans a much broader range of objective difficulty and hazard than any other single rating.  Thus, it is not hair splitting at all. 

Also, I always thought the 5.x system was open-ended, which never made sense to me, because where does VI fall in that scale? 

-b


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Posted By: slickhorn
Date Posted: 05 Feb 2010 at 3:58pm
Originally posted by jP

 
Class V boaters will say here: "Well if you're paddling Class V you should be able to just deal with it" . Well I agree, but clearly others don't.


your statement works fine ... for V boaters.  The problem is for those aspiring V boaters-to-be.  and I can speak from experience ... painful painful experience lol


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Posted By: jP
Date Posted: 02 Mar 2010 at 3:14pm
hey sorry to resurrect this.. (I'm under the assumption that this thread is one of those ongoing subjects that can go on and one, so every so often the posts wil continue to grow a bit more...)
 
Yeah I hear ya. I think we all agree that the V rating does span that broader range- My opinion is that due to the subjectivity, it's very hard to accurately define all of those little incremental steps.
 
And the statement you quote, just to clarify where I stand with it, was meant to point out the prevailing sentiment among my peer group. I don't necessarily agree with that attitude myself, but perhaps somewhat.
 
I guess I feel like a lot of the IV+ runs in the Bennett can feel like light V's. It'll always be hazy no matter how you try to define it. So IV+ boaters venturing into class V need to be going there with people who they can trust, get beta they trust, and go from there. A suggestion fo those people on the cusp of the Gnar would be for them to make the rounds on all of the popular, more often run V- trips first until they get their footing. If you want to do exploratory class V, let's face it: you need to be prepared to find V+.
 
"Splitting hairs" can't ever work too well due to the vague subjectivities-the nature of the beast. It's like sizing a guy up for a fight, or sizing up a woman you want to pick up- you don't really know until you get into it.
 
Taoists say "The Tao that can be named is not the eternal Tao" But the Tao Bergman that can be named is... well, Tao Bergman. (Two different Taos here and the statement of course refers to the acient eastern philosophy Taoism, based on the Tao Te Ching)


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Posted By: water wacko
Date Posted: 02 Mar 2010 at 5:26pm
JP, maybe it'll help to define further diffeent types of class V and in that way, as all of this becomes more defined so it is. Here are a couple: waterfalls, pool and drop, boulder gardens. I've also noticed that some runs have much more powerful holes and standing waves/cross-currents than other runs. Top Tye has some big holes at the bottom of some of those drops. Maybe that's a style also, or at least a characteristic of class V that can be thrown in the mix. Maybe eventually all runs will be so defined they will have multiple letters signalling these different characteristics as a rating. Don't like PAD (pool and drop)runs, so much? Try Jefferson, it's a CBGB (continuos boulder garden) run. Maybe it starts PAD turns FALLS, then CBGB like the Truss. Or maybe it's a BCT (box canyon time) run like the Carbon. Who knows.


Posted By: Alphacyber
Date Posted: 02 Mar 2010 at 9:10pm
There's one question I still have after reading this thread. What is the exact purpose of the rating system?

I'm very familiar with most of the arguments above, and think that understanding the purpose of the system would help decide which one is better.  If the point of the system is to tell the uninitiated how tough you are, the system will never be adequate.   If the point is to let someone decide if they are tough enough to tackle a section, we're oversimplifying things.  This is especially true of class V.  There comes a point when you just have to know what you are getting into and be OK with only having bragging rights with others who also know.

I'm curious what others think the exact purpose of the system is.  I'm not really decided myself.


Posted By: water wacko
Date Posted: 02 Mar 2010 at 9:40pm
I don't really care one way or the other. For me it's just fun banter. The general rating system is good enough for me. But the idea of becoming more specific is interesting to talk about. Either way, I'll scout when I can't see where I need to get to.


Posted By: James
Date Posted: 02 Mar 2010 at 9:48pm
Originally posted by Alphacyber

What is the exact purpose of the rating system?


A standardized method of communicating difficulty. Wether or not additional changes should be made is arguable but the purpose of a the rating system is rather obvious. The distinct difference in class V from other classes has me agreeing but then again listening to all the dumb talk has me wishing I were by a campfire laughing over a beer about the days wonderful happenins...


Posted By: water wacko
Date Posted: 03 Mar 2010 at 6:52am
here here Let's go find a river and paddle it. I'm thinking of Robe Canyon. All river classes in one run!


Posted By: JP the Elder
Date Posted: 03 Mar 2010 at 7:22am
    I agree with wacko lll,  lV,  or V just lets you know your at the right put in.
    When in doubt get out and scout.



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