Question from new member

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rr14049
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Question from new member

Post by rr14049 » Sun Apr 09, 2017 3:37 pm

Hi guys,

I'm brand new to the forum and white water rafting in general (have only been kayaking on an artificial watercourse once before). I just wanted to ask a few questions and get some feedback from more experienced rafters.

An ambition for many years now has been to run a grade 5 section - basically because it looks like awesome fun and is a great achievement in itself! Although it might sound a bit nuts/wanting to run before walking, but realistically how much time/prior experience would you guys estimate I needed before taking on the challenge? My plan was:

- do some more sessions on the artificial course in Cardiff to build techniques
- head up to the river Tummel in Scotland to practice and get a general feel for grade 3 and 4 sections of a natural watercourse, see what it's like and get some experience
- if appropriate, head up again in winter to raft some of the grade 4 and 5 sections of the Orchy (all of the above in a commercial context with a guide)

Do you reckon this is jumping the gun a bit? I realise grade 5s are generally the domain of experts but the reason I ask is that many operations around the world (US and Europe) offer commercial runs down grade 5s with experienced guides for individuals who don't necessarily have much (if any) significant whitewater experience. Any thoughts/advice/suggestions etc would be greatly appreciated! Thanks for reading.

Best Wishes

Rae1
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Re: Question from new member

Post by Rae1 » Sun Apr 09, 2017 8:07 pm

Rafting or kayaking?
To kayak Grade 5 safely, you'll need a lot more experience, especially in natural rivers (though the Tryweryn would be a good choice to practice, it's a dam release river with lots of features of grade 2/3).
Cardiff is great, but it isnt very natural, you do have to work to stay upright, but the rocks are not in the middle of the flow, and you dont need to hug (say) the left bank to get past an obstacle, then immediately go right to miss another obstacle.
I'd say 6 months out every week getting good practice would be OK, if you have the relevant natural ability. I've been kayaking 3 years, and am only comfortable on Grade 2, despite trying lots!

rr14049
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Re: Question from new member

Post by rr14049 » Sun Apr 09, 2017 9:22 pm

Hi Rae1,

Thanks for your reply! Definitely rafting not kayaking! Without doubt to kayak a grade 5 safely would require a lots of experience (i.e. a couple of years) but it would seem that with rafting the skill margins are not so tight - many commercial operations (even in the U.K.) will run trips down grade 3/4 rivers with teams of novices (even though the difficulty classifications are 'intermediate' and 'advanced' respectively). Having said that, grade 5s are another animal altogether and really do represent the pinnacle of difficulty/technicality. So even though the skill margins appear be more lax in rafts vs kayaks (although I am no authority whatsoever) common sense would indicate that prior experience is necessary before attempting the pinnacles of difficulty in anything. It's just trying to gauge how much experience is advisable to be safe but still present a tough challenge

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Re: Question from new member

Post by purelandexpeditions.com » Sun Apr 09, 2017 11:04 pm

As a provider that runs kayak trips - we offer a 6 week zero to hero package class 2 to class 4. We find this intense, on the river daily.
In real terms class 5 is not going to be an easy task with only a few hours in a boat, not only will skills be at a low level but safety and rescue methods will be limited.

If you are talking about rafting, yes this is possible with limited experience with a suitable company and expert guide. Mostly single class 5 rapids within a longer trip rather than a class 5 river.

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morsey
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Re: Question from new member

Post by morsey » Mon Apr 10, 2017 12:45 pm

If you are talking about being a raft guide, then you'll need more time. If you are talking about going on a raft an being a passenger, then yes. Speak to CIWW, they do rafting specific sessions, above the normal rafting days sessions. They also use real rivers as well for rafting, without having to head to Scotland.

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banzer
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Re: Question from new member

Post by banzer » Thu Apr 13, 2017 12:53 pm

Hi, further to other replies, if you just want to raft grade 5 as a passenger, get yourself to the Zambezi before they dam it. That's about as good a single days rafting trip anywhere in the world, with three or four rapids in grade 5 territory. You don't need to be an 'experienced rafter' to do it, but you do need to be comfortable swimming in lively water. Best training for this is messing around in the surf (ideally with a buoyancy aid and friends and a knowledge of rip tides!) You can even have a go on the Zambezi on a river board.

Is there any gd 5 commercially rafted in mainland Europe / Iceland / Norway? Not sure but they certainly have the water for it.

In the UK, that's not a lot (any?) 5 that gets rafted regularly with clients, AFAIK. The Linn of Tummel on a big dam release probably counts but I'm not sure if they take clients down when it's running big?
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Re: Question from new member

Post by PaddyW » Thu Apr 13, 2017 1:33 pm

I suspect that the question is about running Grade 5 solo in the middle of nowhere and very hostile environment as part of a major solo expedition. I had a similar conversation with someone, with serious expedition credentials, but no kayaking/raftting experience. So you may want to clarify your responses.

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Re: Question from new member

Post by KaitsuH » Thu Apr 13, 2017 1:39 pm

I beg your pardon, but what class 5 sections are commercially rafted in Europe? I do not know any! (This question must be a troll.)

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TechnoEngineer
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Re: Question from new member

Post by TechnoEngineer » Thu Apr 13, 2017 2:30 pm

You'd probably enjoy rafting the Ubaye Racecourse in the French Alps.
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morsey
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Re: Question from new member

Post by morsey » Fri Apr 14, 2017 2:56 am

PaddyW wrote: So you may want to clarify your responses.
Don't be silly now, this is UKRGB you'll get unqualified response and be grateful.

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Re: Question from new member

Post by PaddyW » Fri Apr 14, 2017 12:10 pm

morsey wrote:
PaddyW wrote: So you may want to clarify your responses.
Don't be silly now, this is UKRGB you'll get unqualified response and be grateful.
Original Poster could contact a commercial rafting/kayaking outfit to meet and discuss your objectives.

Here is a "silly" way to run Grade 5 for first time:


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Poke
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Re: Question from new member

Post by Poke » Tue Apr 18, 2017 9:30 am

This is a few years old, but popped up on Facebook recently.
Very relevant (if you're wanting to kayak grade 5 anyway), and worth a read.
http://www.sitezed.com/pushing-it/

Rafting grade 5 is a different beast, but as has been mentioned above, you’d be hard pushed to find any (in this country at least). You also generally need very little experience (assuming you’re joining a commercial trip). If you’re buying a raft and going for it with a bunch of mates, you’re back to needing lots of practice.

I guess Guardian Angel Gorge on the Guil (French Alps) might fit the bill for a commercial trip, I’m sure there might be other stuff elsewhere in Europe. As Banzer has said though, if you want the one of the best rafting experiences in the world, head to the Zambezi before it is dammed. That should tick all the boxes for an adrenaline junkie without requiring any prior experience.
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rr14049
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Re: Question from new member

Post by rr14049 » Fri Apr 21, 2017 2:27 pm

Hi guys,

thanks for all your responses! Just to clarify a few things which were raised in various responses:

- the question definitely pertains to rafting NOT kayaking; kayaking a grade 5 requires lots of experience to be conducted relatively safely. My question was about going down a grade 5 with an experienced guide as part of a well-established commercial operation (i.e. not in the wilderness or with inexperienced friends or both etc) and if this is possible given limited/no experience in rafting.

- secondly, having done a bit of research I'm aware that there are no 'grade 5 rivers' in the UK (i.e. rivers with extensive sections of grade 5 whitewater). For this it seems you would need to go abroad (i.e. the Zambezi in Africa, the Futaleufú in Argentina or Cherry Creek in the USA to name but a few). However, there are spots in and around the UK and Europe where, weather permitting, you could certainly get a flavour of what grade 5 is like. For example, the River Orchy for in Scotland in winter is a grade 4/4+ river but has two waterfall drops (i.e. Easan Dubha and Eas a' Chathaidh) which are grade 5 at high flow. The company Splash operate commercial trips from Oct-March down the Orchy at high flow and so traversing these two falls would certainly give you some idea (albeit brief) of what grade 5 whitewater is like. Obviously for the ultimate experience you would need to go abroad to one of the aforementioned meccas of big whitewater but at this point in time that's not an option for me so it would have to be closer to home.

So, to re-frame the original question: is it possible/advisable to attempt traversal of a section of grade 5 of whitewater in a raft with little or no experience, but in the context of a commercial operation overseen by an experienced guide?

Many thanks

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Re: Question from new member

Post by Poke » Fri Apr 21, 2017 2:50 pm

rr14049 wrote:So, to re-frame the original question: is it possible/advisable to attempt traversal of a section of grade 5 of whitewater in a raft with little or no experience, but in the context of a commercial operation overseen by an experienced guide?
Yes, absolutely!

Also, no matter where in the world you do it, you won't find any "continuous class 5" rivers that are rafted. Flipping a raft in continuous class 5 water is a not something anyone wants to do! I'd say all the "class 5 rafting rivers" are pool/drop, meaning many will only have a handful of class 5 rapids on them. Case in point - whilst the Zambezi is big - and awesome - most of the rapids aren't actually grade 5, despite what the rafting companies marketing material may say.

As you have found out, the Orchy has 2 raftable drops at that 'guidebook' grade. Also, as a rookie, you'd probably get the same kind of buzz out of the last drop on the Tummel as its higher than one (maybe even both) of the Orchy drops, especially if you can catch it in high water.
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rr14049
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Re: Question from new member

Post by rr14049 » Fri Apr 21, 2017 4:07 pm

Hi Poke!

Thanks for your answer and clarification. Just want to ask, how do you mean when you say 'guidebook' grade? Does this mean that although they are classified as grade 5 few rafters/paddlers would consider them so?

Many thanks again

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