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Old 05-25-2015   #21
Join Date: Aug 2014
Posts: 149

Welcome to MountainBuzz and internet kayaking in general. Ratings arguments have existed since the imperfect rating system was invented. And they aren't arguments that anyone can win or that there's any real value in "winning" or that any alteration of the rating system can fix.

You see it here: one man's III is another man's class IV, or in FastFXR's case class VI. Take everything you read with a grain of salt and scout it yourself and decide whether you're going to run it. My assessment is that at this crazy high level (2000+), Waterton, which is normally a III to III+, enters the realm of other class IV runs I've boated (lower clear creek, Pineview, Numbers, MFS at higher flows, etc.) and is in some ways more consequential. And its clearly in a totally different category than Foxton, up stream, which some rate a IV- at high flows but I'm comfortable calling a III. Also the fact that I would not recommend anyone that normally runs class III without scouting run this without a hard look and can't think of anyone I know any one who considers themselves a class III but not IV boater that would run it.

A far as authoritative sources go: one older guidebook supports my assessment (Colorado Rivers and Creeks says IV > 900 cfs), American Whitewater says its "III-IV (for normal flows)", Riverbrain calls it a "Short class III-IV", the other (Whitewater of the Southern Rockies) says its a III+ and doesn't really talk about flood stage, but they are notorious sandbaggers (tongue in cheek if you know your Mountain Buzz ratings arguments history). But clearly, more experienced guys than me disagree slightly.

The fact that some guy disagrees with me on Mountain Buzz is OK. I'm happy calling it a "class III+ with class IV consequences" right now if that helps us reconcile.

Just wanted to provide some context for internet kayaking, since this is a newby-oriented thread.

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Old 05-25-2015   #22
behind the 2nd flatiron, Colorado
Join Date: May 2015
Posts: 33
Newbie oriented thread- yep. Let's not spread the "it's high water it must be class V mentality" similar to rock climbing grade inflation. In whitewater it's easy-

American Whitewater - Safety Code of American Whitewater

Class I Rapids
List of Class I thru III Rated Rapids
Fast moving water with riffles and small waves. Few obstructions, all obvious and easily missed with little training. Risk to swimmers is slight; self-rescue is easy.

Class II Rapids: Novice
List of Class I thru III Rated Rapids
Straightforward rapids with wide, clear channels which are evident without scouting. Occasional maneuvering may be required, but rocks and medium-sized waves are easily missed by trained paddlers. Swimmers are seldom injured and group assistance, while helpful, is seldom needed. Rapids that are at the upper end of this difficulty range are designated “Class II+”.

Class III: Intermediate
List of Class III Rated Rapids
Rapids with moderate, irregular waves which may be difficult to avoid and which can swamp an open canoe. Complex maneuvers in fast current and good boat control in tight passages or around ledges are often required; large waves or strainers may be present but are easily avoided. Strong eddies and powerful current effects can be found, particularly on large-volume rivers. scouting is advisable for inexperienced parties. Injuries while swimming are rare; self-rescue is usually easy but group assistance may be required to avoid long swims. Rapids that are at the lower or upper end of this difficulty range are designated “Class III-” or “Class III+” respectively.

Class IV: Advanced
List of Class IV Rated Rapids
Intense, powerful but predictable rapids requiring precise boat handling in turbulent water. Depending on the character of the river, it may feature large, unavoidable waves and holes or constricted passages demanding fast maneuvers under pressure. A fast, reliable eddy turn may be needed to initiate maneuvers, scout rapids, or rest. Rapids may require “must” moves above dangerous hazards. Scouting may be necessary the first time down. Risk of injury to swimmers is moderate to high, and water conditions may make self-rescue difficult. Group assistance for rescue is often essential but requires practiced skills. A strong eskimo roll is highly recommended. Rapids that are at the lower or upper end of this difficulty range are designated “Class IV-” or “Class IV+” respectively.

Class V: Expert
List of Class 5 Rated Rapids
Extremely long, obstructed, or very violent rapids which expose a paddler to added risk. Drops may contain** large, unavoidable waves and holes or steep, congested chutes with complex, demanding routes. Rapids may continue for long distances between pools, demanding a high level of fitness. What eddies exist may be small, turbulent, or difficult to reach. At the high end of the scale, several of these factors may be combined. Scouting is recommended but may be difficult. Swims are dangerous, and rescue is often difficult even for experts. A very reliable eskimo roll, proper equipment, extensive experience, and practiced rescue skills are essential. Because of the large range of difficulty that exists beyond Class IV, Class 5 is an open-ended, multiple-level scale designated by class 5.0, 5.1, 5.2, etc… each of these levels is an order of magnitude more difficult than the last. Example: increasing difficulty from Class 5.0 to Class 5.1 is a similar order of magnitude as increasing from Class IV to Class 5.0.

Class VI: Extreme and Exploratory Rapids
These runs have almost never been attempted and 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. After a Class VI rapids has been run many times, its rating may be changed to an apppropriate Class 5.x rating.

There are no "must make" moves in Waterton. At high water the nature of the run changes to more of a "big water feel" which most people in Colorado probably aren't used to but I will argue (my opinion of course but I'll back up why) it doesn't get any more difficult, possibly even easier.

S turn rapid (the first rapid)- is a big wave train. There are no rocks to bounce off of (what gets most beginners here), there are no retentive holes. There's a big eddy behind the large boulder on river left at the bottom of the rapid. There's also fast moving flatwater between S turn and green bridge.

Green Bridge- at highwater everything goes- the normal tongue on far river left through the wave train runout. You can punch the hole to the right of it (it isn't retentive) You can boof the big ledge, you can run far right and skirt everything. There's a large eddy on river right at the bottom of the rapid. Rocks and rebar is all covered.

Avalanche- The seivey rock in the center of the river at low water is covered. At low water the line is to the right, this line is harder now with multiple lateral waves. The semi-sticky pour over right under this is gone now though. The left line (harder at low water- boney) is now a mellow wave train where your face will stay dry.

The no-name wave/hole underneath this is not sticky and looks like a playpark feature. It's very straight forward. It was swam a couple weeks ago by a group doing a swiftwater class repeatedly. You can keep your face above water swimming through it.

Vertical blender- is gone. It's flat water.

There's a big lake at the bottom. Yes it's a slow current but it's still a lake. If you swim in any of the rapids there is ample time to get out anywhere if you swim like you are supposed to. You can collect your gear at the bottom. III+ for volume and continuity only if you aren't used to "big water".

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Old 05-25-2015   #23
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1995
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 2,239
You both make good arguments and clearly know the run well..there is just a helluva lot of subjectivity to ratings influenced by your personal experiences,frame of reference,likes ,dislikes,what's intimidating to you,etc....I pretty much always went by the standards set by CRC for Colorado and especially the Front Range..the guy that wrote up Waterton as IV at 900 was a notorious badass. that ran the shit at crazy flows,yet over the years it has been downgraded to III by many Joe schmoes ....same on Foxton you've got people calling it a beginner run and others say IV- over 600....some like the Boulder Garden best ,I like the middle semi continuous part with good flows...assuming medium high flows I'd give Foxton 3+ and Waterton 3+/4-....that video did kind of make Waterton look pretty washed out and more like big water 3 -3+...but I bet it felt fast and pushy compared to pool droppy low...and swim would be longer but less abusive...harder to corral a boat by a long shot...and consequences factor into ratings not just technicality...I did think maybe saying just be careful makes more sense than claiming Waterton and especially the Chutes are some deathtrap...I would retract advising beginners to do the Chutes, just wait a week...
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Old 05-25-2015   #24
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1995
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 2,239
also. ..seems like on runs that tend to wash out really high,there is a point ,usually med high where they are gnarliest because they've got push but still retain technicality..higher they clean up and pad out ..lower you've got more reaction time ...I posted about a drop on local seldom run creek that I called IV because of brevity and class1 above and below even though the actual drop was gnarlier ,that was at 300ish when it is starting to crank but ugly rock is still exposed..then it is about weaving between rostertails on bony boat abusive lines,class 3+ skill wise V- intimidation factor...looked at it at probably 450/500 3/3+ skill IV- intimidation factor..low it is slow motion boat abuse 3 skill 4 intimidation scale..high is not always harder...
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Old 05-25-2015   #25
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2010
Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 265
Some overly sensitive kayakers here...

Thanks for the video, but the flow must have been about half of what it was on add 2-3' onto that. I figure with all the dick measuring going on around here, someone must have ran it at this flow.
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Old 05-25-2015   #26
behind the 2nd flatiron, Colorado
Join Date: May 2015
Posts: 33
Originally Posted by FastFXR View Post
Some overly sensitive kayakers here...

Thanks for the video, but the flow must have been about half of what it was on add 2-3' onto that. I figure with all the dick measuring going on around here, someone must have ran it at this flow.
In that case class VI for sure. Deathtrap... makes black rock look like the milk run. If you run it make sure you have 6 gobros running to document your radness.
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Old 05-27-2015   #27
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1995
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 2,239
Stuff is already high and then it rains hard..maybe FastFXR saw it during a spike..should be reflected on a graph would be interesting to know how high it maxed out
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Old 05-27-2015   #28
Lakewood, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2011
Join Date: Apr 2013
Posts: 329
I agree that high water class 3 doesn't elevate the ratings, it just gives it a big water character. Fast, big features, less eddies. This needs to taken into consideration by people running it, but I think the rapid class rating should more reflect the difficulty and technicality of the run. A newbie without much control but a decent roll can survive class 3 big water. But once you start having must make lines and technical moves, this is where they will get hung up.

Also for foxton - other than the boulder garden crux and the couple of drops, nothing else on the run seemed very challenging when I did it at about 500-600 cfs. There were a few good surf spots downstream, but other than it was pretty easy with a couple short rapids. Does it get the higher rating because of the boulder garden in the beginning?
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Old 05-27-2015   #29
Sacramento, California
Paddling Since: 2012
Join Date: Jul 2014
Posts: 232
I'd like to point out, as it seems to be over looked by everyone so far, in this description of Class 4, it says, "Rapids may require “must” moves above dangerous hazards."

Being that is says it "may" require must moves, does not mean it has to require them to be considered Class 4.

As far as my thoughts on it, I have no idea, just thought I'd point out something that seems to be overlooked.
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Old 05-27-2015   #30
Join Date: Aug 2014
Posts: 149
Also, what makes a move a "must" move?

I must make this move or else I:

Pin? or

If I smoosh off the pourover on Green Bridge sideways, I'm pretty sure I swim an unpleasant arguably dangerous swim after an unpleasant beat down, but probably not die. Not really different than Cripps hole or Elbow falls on screaming quarter mile or the moves in Pineview rapid.

One of the more prominent must moves I can think of is the left chute on Boulder Garden because the right side has a nasty seive. I guess that's why that one is a class IV- but not Waterton since there's no comparable sieve even though Waterton at flood is a significantly more challenging run than Boulder Garden IMO.

A true "must" move, at 0:36


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