About Whitewater Rafting
International Scale of River Difficulty
Easy – Waves small; passages clear; no serious obstacles.
Medium – Rapids of moderate difficulty with passages clear. Most open canoeists should never tackle anything tougher than class II.
Difficult – Rapids are longer and rougher. Waves numerous, high, irregular; rocks; eddies; rapids with passages clear though narrow, requiring expertise to maneuver; scouting is usually needed. Requires good operator and boating equipment.
Very Difficult – Rapids are generally longer, steeper and more heavily obstructed. Waves are powerful, irregular; dangerous rock; boiling eddies; passages difficult to scout; scouting mandatory first time; powerful and precise maneuvering required. Demands expert boatman and equipment.
Extremely Difficult – Long and violent rapids, following each other almost without interruption; riverbed extremely obstructed; big drops; violent current; very steep gradient; close study essential, but often difficult. All possible precautions must be taken.
Class VI or U
Whitewater Rafting Terms
Moving water, not a measurement
Measured in feet of elevation loss per mile of river. Tells the “steepness” of a river.
River flow is above an expected average.
Where water flowing over an obstacle flows down, then back onto itself.
Water flowing upstream behind a rock or other obstacle. Eddies often provide a safe place to get out of the current.
Where the water flowing upstream passes the water flowing downstream.
The amount of water passing a point in the river, measured in Cubic Feet per Second (CFS).
A wave or hole peeling off an obstacle at an angle.
River flow is below an expected average.
The path between two obstacles or between each rapid
Where a river trip begins.
A type of river in which rapids are separated by calmer pools of water, often more forgiving than continuous gradient rivers.
Where the water churns it is either shallow, the flow is constricted, or the river has a steeper section and those are the rapids.
The right side of the river when facing downstream.
The left side of the river when facing downstream.
A measure of the difficulty of a rapid or a river on a scale from I-V.
The section of river that a boat can float through.
A wave in a river formed by obstacles on the river bottom, where the wave stands still relative to the bank.
Where water can flow through but a boat cannot, making it a dangerous place to get stuck.
Where a river trip ends.
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