White Water rafting – Grading system

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The expression white water is created in a rapid, when a river’s incline increases enough to disturb its laminar flow and generate turbulence, i.e. form a bubbly, or aerated and unstable current; the foamy water appears white-colored. The saying is also used loosely to refer to less-turbulent but nevertheless agitated flow

Essentially the most frequently used grading model is the International Scale of River Difficulty, where whitewater (either a singular rapid, or the total river) is categorised in six kinds from class I of white water grading system (the easiest and safest) to white water class VI (by far the most difficult and most hazardous). The whitewater grade reflects both the practical difficulty and the hazard associated with a rapid, with whitewate grade I (river) referring to flat or slow moving water with few hazards, and grade VI referring to the most difficult rapids that can be very dangerous even for pro paddlers, and are rarely run. Grade-VI whitewater rapids are occasionally reduced to grade-V or V+ if they have been run with success. More challenging rapids (for example a grade-V rapid on a mainly grade-III river) are often portaged, a French term for carrying. A portaged rapid is when the boater lands and carries the boat around the hazard.

A rapid’s grade is not fixed, since it may vary greatly depending on the water depth and speed of flow. Although some rapids may be easier at high flows because features are covered or “washed-out,” high water usually makes rapids more difficult and dangerous. At flood stage, even rapids which are usually easy can contain lethal and unpredictable hazards

  • Class 1: Very small rough areas, requires no maneuvering. (Skill Level: None)
  • Class 2: Some rough water, maybe some rocks, small drops, might require maneuvering. (Skill Level: Basic Paddling Skill)
  • Class 3: Whitewater, medium waves, maybe a 3–5 ft drop, but not much considerable danger. May require significant maneuvering. (Skill Level: Experienced paddling skills)
  • Class 4: Whitewater, large waves, long rapids, rocks, maybe a considerable drop, sharp maneuvers may be needed. (Skill Level: Whitewater Experience)
  • Class 5: Whitewater, large waves, continuous rapids, large rocks and hazards, maybe a large drop, precise maneuvering (Skill Level: Advanced Whitewater Experience)
  • Class 6: Whitewater, typically with huge waves, huge rocks and hazards, huge drops, but sometimes labeled this way due to largely invisible dangers (e.g., a smooth slide that creates a near-perfect, almost inescapable hydraulic (see ‘Holes’ below), as at Woodall Shoals or Chattooga). Class 6 rapids are considered hazardous even for expert paddlers using state-of-the-art equipment, and come with the warning “danger to life or limb.” (Skill Level: Expert)

Comments and Suggestions(0) Aug 03 2014

Whitewater rafting safety tips

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Whitewater rafting continues to grow in popularity. Like so many outdoor activities, people tend to forget that whitewater rafting necessarily entails an element of risk due to the elements of nature. In fact, some might point out that because of the inherent thrill seeking element of whitewater rafting, the sport includes a greater-than-average risk factor.

Whitewater rafting outfitters all over the world have their own unique risks in the trips that they provide. These can range from the easily treatable (someone catches sick on a trip) to the incredibly and exotically dangerous (a rogue hippo attacking rafters on the Zambezi in Zimbabwe). There are several dangers that are involved in all whitewater expeditions, however, no matter how short or how long, or where you are in the world. Here are some tips when it comes to making sure that your expedition is as successful and safe as possible.

Prepare Beforehand:
If you have never been on whitewater rafting trip before, don’t try to shoot the moon on your first trip out. Having a rafter who is unfamiliar with the water is a guide’s worst nightmare, so make sure that if you are going on an advanced run that you are secure in your swimming ability. You should also be honest with yourself and the outfitter you are going with when it comes to your physical ability; not all people can expect to be able to run Class V rapids all day, due to lower physical health.

Listen to Your Guide!
Guides that work for whitewater rafting outfitters are experienced and educated outdoors enthusiasts who know exactly what they are doing and what to expect on the rivers they run. Despite this fact, many people still presume that they know better than their guide what to do out on the river. Don’t make this mistake. Consider that most guides have specialty training that the average person, even the average outdoors enthusiast, will not have the chance to obtain. Guides who run the Colorado River for River Runners in the Colorado, for example, are required to take Swiftwater Rescue training when they take rafters down Class IV or higher sections of rapids.

Betty, of W.E.T. River Trips in California, mentions that guides are also able to help rafters avoid stress injury by offering paddling techniques. “Men and women guides often have different styles of paddling”, so be sure to use the one that is appropriate to your strengths!

Select Age-Appropriate Trips:
Most whitewater rafting trips are available to people of all ages, but both parents of young children and senior citizens should choose the type of rapids they tackle according to realistic criteria. Eileen Datka of River Runners, an outfitter based in Colorado, points out that their trips are limited to people four years old or forty pounds. Kids in this group are restricted to the Class III rapids, and most parents will probably agree that this is more than sufficient for a thrill.

Duke Bradford, of Arkansas Valley Adventures (also in Colorado) notes that his company offers several trips for children as young as two, as long as they are accompanied by their parents. Several outfitters agree with this perspective and offer float trips along easy Class I and II rapids that even young families can enjoy.

Outfitters also note that even older kids might not be suited to all runs. For example, both River Runners and W.E.T. River Trips in California state that during high water, the minimum age on Class IV rapids should be 16 years. Betty of W.E.T. takes the age limit one step further, encouraging those under the age of 18 to defer from going on trips that involve a lot of Class V water.

Safety comes first in any outdoor recreational activity, and whitewater adventures are certainly no exception. To make sure that you have the most enjoyable excursion possible, follow the steps above and contact the outfitter you are going to use before hand to see if they have any additional advice.

Comments and Suggestions(0) Aug 03 2014

White water rafting preparation tips

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We provide your river wear, personal safety equipment, first aid, camping and food. All you need bring are clothes and a few personal belongings. Your gear will be kept safe and dry in a water tight drybag. A full gear list of what is required for your expedition will be sent out prior to your departure. Alternatively download a copy here.

It is important to ensure that you have two distinct sets of clothing. One for on the river, and a second for off the river.

Swimwear, runners (with laces, like Dunlop volley. No wet suit boots, since they generally do not provide sufficient support when moving around on wet rocks), thick woollen or thermal socks, thin thermal top, medium fibrepile/fleece top, lightweight sun hat for under helmet.

Warm underwear, lightweight boots, 2x warm socks (3 for 10 day expeditions), sandals, shorts, long pants (cotton unsuitable), 2x T shirts, long-sleeved shirt, woollen jumper or fleece top, thermal or woolen balaclava/beanie, waterproof jacket (not padded/quilted).
Other things

Down sleeping bag (can be hired for $20), small towel (pref a pack towel), small torch (with spare bulb & batteries), sunglasses (with retaining strap), toiletries, sunscreen, personal medications, camera, small amount of money.

Should we be confined to a camp site on the river due to bad weather or high river levels, a deck of cards or a good book is an excellent addition to the equipment list.

Comments and Suggestions(0) Aug 03 2014