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Old 11-29-2005   #21
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Mountains on the river!!!, Idaho
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Kyle- thats a great way to say it all. After reading your post and mine, I will have to disagree with my post as well. The lumping of V's in Col. is deffinetly a problem. question: the ratings in climbing have continued to increase to 13, 14, a, b, c, d,. so should we(in general) start changing the general rating of rivers? 1-III is basicly the same but the IV's and Vs are very different. You just cant compare V super max to V oh-be-joy to V gore. Just because we can run one, doesn't mean we can run the others ( or at least not cleanly---running tunnel sideways just doesn't work as well) So should V's be increased to VI and VII is not considered unrunable?? just thought I would ask, curious to the replys..

kyle-- side question-- Lucky 7 gate closed, any clue who to contact to find out if the dam will re-raise the gates??


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Old 11-29-2005   #22
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This is a great discussion and a lot of good things have been brought up so far. Lumping is a big problem (especially the lumping you get in your favorite slippers after wearing them for too many years). Over-rating puts the guy who ran the over-rated V thinking he can run all V's. While under-rating puts the guy who knows he can run IV potentially in over his head on a run that's rated a IV but actually a V. In addition, it causes problems when trying to compare runs in different areas (is a Colorado IV a West Virginia V and Montana III?). The LE (Lumping Effect) is a direct result of the closed rating scale we have been using. With VI being considered unrunnable, V has to be the most difficult gnar. Not only does this cause crowding in the III's and V's, but it also makes comparing rivers on different scales more difficult. I have met people who were adamant that the Grand is a V and people who say it's no harder than a III (personally I call it III-IV; AW calls Lava the hardest rapid at V- or 5.0). We definately need to change the way we rate rivers. I liked Corran Addison's method but there was so much to remember that I don't even know what it is anymore. Therefore, I think the most practical method so far is the rating system AW is using, where rapids of V and higher are rated as 5.0, 5.1, 5.2, etc., where each tenth increase is equal to the difference between a IV and a V. This way Pine Creek is a 5.0 and Rigor Mortis is a 5.3. Here two rapids that are currently rated the same are actually three classes apart (we could call Rigo an 8, too). I don't know if "unrunnable" should even have a place on the scale. Rather we should call those runs "unrun" because they may someday be considered 5.0's (many people considered the Grand to be unrunnable before JWP returned from his trip).


"The world would be a better place if everyone kayaked."-Brad Ludden (Valhalla)
"You only get one chance to run a drop blind."-DD
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Old 11-30-2005   #23
pnw, Washington
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Deepsouth, good post. Being an intermediate paddler, I agree with your feelings about the buzz.
Should we bring up the Zoom Flume debate about some people saying it is a IV? Sorry just trying to start trouble.
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Old 12-03-2005   #24
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Deepsouth- you are right on with using the local guide book as the basis for a rating system, because generally each books rating system is consistent from run to run, even if it isn't from book to book. Therefore a paddler just has to run one river from the book, and then he will know the rating of that river relative to that book and can safely explore from there (assuming other factors are partially controlled, such as water levels, etc.)

COUNT, I agree in theory that going to a 5.0, 5.1, 5.2 and up rating system would be the best option, but I don't think it would work as well as the climbing system does, because the river environment is so much more dynamic and changing. Correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems that climbing is easier to judge because the routes generally stay the same over time which makes it easier to compare route to route. I also agree that Corran's system is too complicated, but parts are excellent. The best advantage of Corran's system is that it seperates remoteness, consequence, and technical difficulty. I think it is good to leave consequence and technical difficulty together (see other post about risk, and unable to know the true consequence). But I don't think remoteness should play a part in the difficulty rating. It should be listed serperately.

Josh, I think everyone answered your first question. As for the Lucky 7 gates, I don't know who to contact, but I had a friend that had a number. I would try the Grand Valley Canal authority and ask them when they open the gates, because you like to fish downstream and when they are open the fishing is worse (muddy). Historically the gates were open for only 2 weeks in late fall, and 2 weeks in early spring, for cleaning, and washing out the silt.

If you are jonesing, check out the wave/eddy line at 28 1/2 rd and Patterson on the canal. I used to get busted there all the time by the canal guys, but it is a decent spot, especially with a longer boat.
Kyle McCutchen
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Old 12-03-2005   #25
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Englewood, Colorado
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Lots of good thoughts already here. I totally agree that class V is very different at Oceana, Supermax and Gore. AW already has a multilevel rating system for class V. It actually makes a lot of sense. But even in that system there is some real variance -- the following rapids are all 5.0 according to AW:

*Pine Creek on the Ark (1500-2100 cfs)
*Stateline Falls on the Watauga (200-400)
*Sock-Em-Dog on the Chatooga (1.8-2.3')
*Insignificant and Lost Paddle on the Gauley (@ release)

These are VERY different rapids with different hazards:

*Pine Creek - cold, potentially long swim, hypothermia, but it's close to a road
*Stateline Falls - remote area, technical approach to a big staging eddy, but really one very simple move, screw it up and you drop 18' and hit a rock
*Sock-Em-Dog - remote area, basically no approach, just fight to hold your line and boof hard, but there is a wicked hole with a double hydraulic (undercut behind the curtain - some boat have disappeared never to return)
*Insignificant - long swim with big pool, remote, but usually lots of people on the river
*Lost Paddle - long swim, lots of undercuts, but probably easy to avoid if you know how to swim

The same can be said of the class 5.1 rapids - take Chief on the Green Narrows and Supermax at Bailey. If you screw up at Supermax, you take a beating and that's it unless you get a foot entrapment (the undercut is not really that bad if you see it at low water, I really doubt it would do more than force a swim). And Supermax has lots of moves. But Chief is one move and if you miss it you could very easily die. Most regulars will tell you it is easily the most dangerous of the big rapids there. Heck it's even true of class III - compare Nantahala Falls (the SE textbook class III) and half the drops on Westwater - very different kinds of rapids. Or class IV - compare the little-to-no-move-required Power Slide on the Green (AW says 5.0, but I think it's a IV+ at best at least at 100%) to the first rapid in the Steeps or Number Five.

My point is that ratings can be improved, but they will always be an approximation. You absolutely have to rely on your own judgment to decide how hard a drop really is - and that comes only from experience and the time necessary to become adept at reading water and the factoring in of your own preferences and comfort level (Are you as good in low-volume and technical class V as you are in fast and pushy class V?). The goal should be consistency across the board. Locally and nationally. I mean, how many of us only boat in CO?
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Old 12-04-2005   #26
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Lakewood, Colorado
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As I understand it, the Addison scale was pretty simple, though more complex then what we use now. I think showing the difference between a technically hard rapid with smaller consequences and one which has an easy move but high consequences is important. Take for instance a rapid like Four Falls on Bailey, the first drop in particular, a drop which I have seen more people portage the SuperMax, even though its easier. Now, its a pretty easy a drop and I don't think anyone has managed to screw it up too badly, but if you did, you would be in a very very nasty situation that would probably kill you. Compare this to any rapid on the Numbers section of the Ark and you have a more technical rapid, that will be less likely to cause you harm. Trying to get that information over in one piece of data is hard, so I think its important to expand the system a bit.

Part of the risk of a drop is involved with the remoteness, which is quite another issue beyond the actual consequence and difficulty. Even runs that are near a hospital can cause problems if you have to hike out of a gorge to get people to help.

As I remember it, the Addison scale went as follows. A.Bc where A is the skill it takes to run the rapid on a scale from 1 to 5, B is the consequences on scale of 1 to 6, 1 being nothing and 6 being death if you screw up the correct line/s for the rapid. The last one is the remoteness indicator, A being days away from help or if you do find help its undesirable, say the rural parts of South America for instance. Within a day and with good health and safety services at your disposal, C is within hours. For most people, B and C is all you'll use (except for maybe parts of WV and Alabama.....kidding), but when you talk about the Tsang Po gorge or the Zambezi A is definetly the rating.

So for instance, Bailey (and this is what is personal opinion here) is a 4.4b, since it takes some skill but you can still get down it as person new to technical creeking, you could get hurt but would likely not die or get seriously injured if you went off course (except in a few places like First Falls of Four Falls). Gore is about the same. Lake Creek of the Ark is a 5.5.c for me, since its got some seriously hard rapids that you could seriously get hurt in (its borderline 5.6c) but its right along the road and you could get to a place that could give emergency care within a couple hours of the incident at the most (I've never run but I've driven over independence pass and it seems pretty close to the road, though it is in a gorge in places). Same could be said of Death Falls/Upper Barrel SPrings. That one I would give a 4.6c, since its very roadside, takes skill but not beyond the call of an advanced boater, but if you go in the wrong place it can kill you, as it has several people.

So that seems pretty simple to me. I think the last thing I have to say is this. Some people seem to have a good grasp of what is true for most and can easily seek a common ground. Others have a hard time seeing that what may be easy and no problem for them may be quite a problem for others when it comes to boating. Even I find myself trivializing runs like the numbers and SBC, just as some of the more advanced guys trivialize runs like Bailey, Gore, Gilman Gorge, Middle Clear Creek and many others. With that in mind, it would be interesting to see what the outcome would be of a survey done on rapid ratings and what people thought it would take to get down these runs. I think it would offer a much more reliable way to rate a rapid, but only as long as people took it seriously and that it wasn't skewed towards a certain group (say if only hairboaters voted or only begginers). Just an idea, but it might be cool to see. Ok, enough writing and ranting.

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Old 12-04-2005   #27
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Thanks for the refresher on Corran's system. I remembered that skill and consequences were seperate and seemed to recall the #.#A pattern but couldn't get it exactly right.

"The world would be a better place if everyone kayaked."-Brad Ludden (Valhalla)
"You only get one chance to run a drop blind."-DD
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Old 12-04-2005   #28
GWS, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1992
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I don't understand why some of you are calling for a more precise rating system. Are you trying to insulate your own responsibility and liability to use good judgment. Are you looking for someone else to tell you what you can run? If there was a very detailed rating system would you stop scouting all rivers below a certain rating?

To me you are all being a bunch of tech wennie tools. Take the rating with a grain of salt and use your own judgment.
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Old 12-05-2005   #29
oh yeah
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the one flaw i see in corran's rating system is his difficulty rating of 1 to five. this eliminates class 6 (or -VI for purists). so now class 5 is the hardest imaginable move/s. as corran himself stated on "i've only run a handful of class 5's" he doesn't rate the green narrows a five. so, now it seems that we have to change our thoughts on class 5's. also, he said that you can't handpaddle "his" class 5. this brings lake creek and most other "hard" runs in colorado down to class 4. yule might be class 5 (i haven't seen it), also maybe the animas at like >5000cfs (again, haven't seen it). so, this system seems simple but it will require a thought shift on everyones part.
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Old 12-05-2005   #30
pnw, Washington
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Maybe it takes in account a compression of the current class I and II into one class, as the new 1. Leaving the other classes, just moved downward by one notch.

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