Rapid class change - Mountain Buzz
 



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Old 11-29-2018   #1
 
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Rapid class change

Can the classification of a rapid change, cause I remember paddling a rapid in the deschutes river on a raft down a rapid down big eddy which I thought was a class iv and I even have a shirt about it being a class iv, now read that it’s a class 3, can a rapid be down graded from class iv to 3, or was big eddy and boxcar always a class III. Meaning shotover was the only time I rafted class iv and class iv+ rapid

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Old 11-29-2018   #2
 
Apache Junction, Arizona
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Class of a rapid is always subjective. One place you will read it is class 4 and another will say 3. It can also change based on flow of the river.
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Old 11-29-2018   #3
 
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Raft companies love to overstate the rating of rapids to make their customers think they are doing something more extreme. Guide books also tend to be conservative with their ratings as well so that people don't get in over their heads after reading it.

I agree...its very subjective though...so it is what it is. As people become more comfortable and gear gets better, stuff gets easier so I think it is pretty common for things to get down rated over time.
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Old 11-29-2018   #4
 
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Originally Posted by Electric-Mayhem View Post
Raft companies love to overstate the rating of rapids to make their customers think they are doing something more extreme. Guide books also tend to be conservative with their ratings as well so that people don't get in over their heads after reading it.

I agree...its very subjective though...so it is what it is. As people become more comfortable and gear gets better, stuff gets easier so I think it is pretty common for things to get down rated over time.
Often raft companies will try to keep a rapid classification a 3, when it is really a 4(-), as it helps them with cheaper insurance.

You may also find that runs that are really old, tend to have higher ratings then more recently rated runs. You often hear about the difference between west coast and east coast ratings, and how west coast ratings won't get as high of a classification as older east cost runs. That's due to when these runs were first discovered and the equipment available to them at the time.
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Old 11-29-2018   #5
 
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And ratings can change after rocks shift or flash floods dump big boulders into formerly tame rapids.

Rapids also change class rating with flow - sometimes high flows make rapids more challenging, sometimes gnarly features get washed out at higher water. levels and the rapid is easier to run. This is why we scout...
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Old 11-29-2018   #6
 
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Originally Posted by Electric-Mayhem View Post
Raft companies love to overstate the rating of rapids to make their customers think they are doing something more extreme.
This is so true. I have an old River Runners T shirt that names the five class V rapids in Browns Canyon.
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Old 11-29-2018   #7
 
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Originally Posted by bystander View Post
Often raft companies will try to keep a rapid classification a 3, when it is really a 4(-), as it helps them with cheaper insurance.

You may also find that runs that are really old, tend to have higher ratings then more recently rated runs. You often hear about the difference between west coast and east coast ratings, and how west coast ratings won't get as high of a classification as older east cost runs. That's due to when these runs were first discovered and the equipment available to them at the time.
Maybe that is what the company owners tell their insurance agents and lawyers...but in my experience what the raft guides tell the customers is over-exaggerated to increase the drama and seeming difficulty. As the old joke goes "how do you when a raft guide is lying" (when their mouth is open ).

I agree about the rest of what you said...though I do see a trend of things getting downgraded overall.

I haven't rafted much on the east coast, but I've talked to people who have bought a commercial trip down the Gauley and others and have told me the guides told them it was the hardest commercially run river in the country. I haven't run it, but with the shenanigans I've seen on videos during Gauley fest causes me to question its "Class V" categorization. I know there are a few runs in Colorado and California that get run commercially all the time that have much higher consequences.
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Old 11-29-2018   #8
 
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Rapid class can change a lot from erosion or construction two seasons ago I was paddling barrel around 800 all the time no problem then last season when I did it a rock had moved and a new wave pushed me off line. its still IV+ but its more difficult although a while ago before I was boating it the crux of barrel changed a lot
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Old 11-29-2018   #9
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Originally Posted by caverdan View Post
This is so true. I have an old River Runners T shirt that names the five class V rapids in Browns Canyon.
Oh wow! Never new some of the rapids in Browns used to get the class V title.

I used to be a class V guide, back in the Royal Gorge like 10 years ago, we all called sun shine and sledge class V, now a days a lot of folks call them a three. It IS a little harder to run with a paddle boat full of folks challenged as far as listening and co-operation goes, as opposed to being in a Kayak or Oar rig. But compare the run to Big Gore Canyon, which gets run all the time now, and the Gorge gets down graded.
But basically like other people just said, as equipment gets better, and over all boater skill improves, ratings tend to go down, and rapids also change.
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Old 11-30-2018   #10
 
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I used to be a class V guide, back in the Royal Gorge like 10 years ago, we all called sun shine and sledge class V, now a days a lot of folks call them a three.
Sunshine actually did physically change. A large boulder at the last ledge that forms the hole rolled over at high water about a decade ago. It significantly altered the difficulty of the rapid. The AHRA used to classify it as a V. After the change they call it a IV.
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