Do we even need a grading system any more?

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DaveBland
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Do we even need a grading system any more?

Post by DaveBland » Mon Jan 21, 2019 3:00 pm

As the title says, are river grades now obsolete?

1. Most stuff has been paddled. It's pretty moch all been filmed too. Surely a bit of footage is a way better indicator of a river's character than a grade?

2. Folks are paddling harder and harder. Grade 5 had become so stretched it meaningless. Andlet's faceit, at thehigher end of difficulty, no-one really takes any noticeof the grade attached to it.

3. Grades encourage trophy hunting for developing paddlers and give a false sense of capability. We've all seen thepaddler who's desperate to knock off their first "Grade 5" and then is aparently a "grade 5 paddler"

4. Grades are so subjective. One paddler's low volume grade X is way easier/scarier than another's high volume grade X. Then there are different locations and grading variations.

5. And of course there's the level and conditions. Just because the guide says grade X, levels and changes to the river can make it a tad different when on.

Maybe we should scrap grading altogether?
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Re: Do we even need a grading system any more?

Post by Poke » Mon Jan 21, 2019 3:09 pm

DaveBland wrote:
Mon Jan 21, 2019 3:00 pm
1. Most stuff has been paddled. It's pretty moch all been filmed too. Surely a bit of footage is a way better indicator of a river's character than a grade?
Because go-pro always gives a reliable indicator of how hard a river is.
Much of Aniol’s ridiculous solo Stikine descent looked good to go from my armchair. ;-)
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Re: Do we even need a grading system any more?

Post by DaveBland » Mon Jan 21, 2019 5:28 pm

You have a point, but I think I can tell from the footage that I'd still give it a miss. Whereas if it said "Grade 5", I may thnk it's worth a look. After all I've done some other BC grade 5s so what's the difference?
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Re: Do we even need a grading system any more?

Post by Franky » Mon Jan 21, 2019 6:00 pm

Grading is probably more useful to intermediate paddlers than advanced ones. I paddled the Grand Eyvia in Italy last year. I was with a guided group and I didn't get wind of what grade it was before we got on. I had somehow formed the impression it was Grade 2! I wasn't prepared for continuous, fast-flowing, rock-strewn, shallow Grade 3+/4 without any large eddies, and my lack of mental preparation is part of the reason (alongside lack of skill) that I had a rather unpleasant swim.

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Re: Do we even need a grading system any more?

Post by Jim » Mon Jan 21, 2019 6:28 pm

I kind of agree, grades 1-4 are still useful for new paddlers.

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Re: Do we even need a grading system any more?

Post by DaveBland » Mon Jan 21, 2019 6:31 pm

...more useful than a video or images? Just did a 15 second google on "Grand Eyvia kayak" and got far more of an idea of the river than from "Grade 3+/4 without any large eddies".

C'mon... I need a better argument than these. I'm sporting for a fight. I'll see you outside...
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Re: Do we even need a grading system any more?

Post by roo » Mon Jan 21, 2019 7:38 pm

viewtopic.php?f=3&t=10866&hilit=dulux&start=30#p79674

We didn't need one in 2005, or did we?

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Re: Do we even need a grading system any more?

Post by roo » Mon Jan 21, 2019 7:45 pm

DaveBland wrote:
Mon Jan 21, 2019 6:31 pm
...more useful than a video or images? Just did a 15 second google on "Grand Eyvia kayak" and got far more of an idea of the river than from "Grade 3+/4 without any large eddies".

C'mon... I need a better argument than these. I'm sporting for a fight. I'll see you outside...
Right then, Dave "I've seem em run it on YouTube" Bland......

I'll see your Youtube line, got it V It was Bren Orton throwing some inverted super kick-flip thingymijig of the run in to #9 on the Zam. It looked easy enough, not sure why it has a grade, I could (and probably would), do it with my eyes shut......

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Re: Do we even need a grading system any more?

Post by roo » Mon Jan 21, 2019 7:46 pm

DaveBland wrote:
Mon Jan 21, 2019 5:28 pm
You have a point, but I think I can tell from the footage that I'd still give it a miss. Whereas if it said "Grade 5", I may thnk it's worth a look. After all I've done some other BC grade 5s so what's the difference?
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Re: Do we even need a grading system any more?

Post by DaveBland » Mon Jan 21, 2019 8:08 pm

roo wrote:
Mon Jan 21, 2019 7:45 pm
DaveBland wrote:
Mon Jan 21, 2019 6:31 pm
...more useful than a video or images? Just did a 15 second google on "Grand Eyvia kayak" and got far more of an idea of the river than from "Grade 3+/4 without any large eddies".

C'mon... I need a better argument than these. I'm sporting for a fight. I'll see you outside...
Right then, Dave "I've seem em run it on YouTube" Bland......

I'll see your Youtube line, got it V It was Bren Orton throwing some inverted super kick-flip thingymijig of the run in to #9 on the Zam. It looked easy enough, not sure why it has a grade, I could (and probably would), do it with my eyes shut......
What is it with the nicknames all of a sudden? I got named "Nascar Dave/ by my daughter's water polo team last week.

Hey, I'm not saying that you use youtube for scouting, just saying it gives a paddler a far better idea of whether a river is for them, than a grade or even a written description does. Even on easier rivers.

I've yet to hear a good argument t'other way.
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Re: Do we even need a grading system any more?

Post by G7AFM » Mon Jan 21, 2019 10:08 pm

As an ageing newbie i use you tube to check out up coming trips as far as possible rather than the grading.

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Re: Do we even need a grading system any more?

Post by Franky » Mon Jan 21, 2019 10:12 pm

DaveBland wrote:
Mon Jan 21, 2019 8:08 pm
I've yet to hear a good argument t'other way.
Dave, you don't want to hear a good argument the other way, admit it :)

Videos and photos aren't always a good indicator of how difficult a river is. GoPro footage misrepresents the real character of a river because of the fisheye lens. I'd watched lots of videos of the Upper Dart before I ran it, but when I did run it, I was surprised how steep it was. What prepared me for it was not so much the videos as (i) the grading, (ii) the write-up in English Whitewater and (iii) the advice of a fellow paddler who said if you could paddle in a controlled way on the Upper Tryweryn, you were probably ready for it.

Also, watching a video of an expert paddling a river makes it look easier than I'd find it.

Photos can be some use, sure, but they don't give a sense of how fast the water flows, and of how continuous a rapid is.

Without wanting to be provocative(!), it seems to me that the calls for a re-evaluation of grades generally come from advanced paddlers who want to differentiate between the levels of difficulty of rivers that 70% of paddlers will never run.

In the end, it's a lot easier to look at the grade of a river to decide whether you'd consider running it, and if you do what you can expect, than to pore for hours over videos.

However, if Grade 5 holds no fears for you, then of course you're not going to be interested in grades. Most of us - maybe not on this forum, but in the paddling community in general - aren't at that level and never will be. You just have to take my word for it that as an (I think) competent intermediate paddler, I find the grading system useful.

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Re: Do we even need a grading system any more?

Post by Jim » Mon Jan 21, 2019 10:57 pm

The grade gives you an idea which videos to bother watching.

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Re: Do we even need a grading system any more?

Post by jmmoxon » Mon Jan 21, 2019 11:25 pm

As Jim says, you can't view every river on film to see if it's sensible, you'll still need a grading system to decide which ones are worth looking at...

& how do you know a video actually shows all the features or even in the right order?

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Re: Do we even need a grading system any more?

Post by DaveBland » Tue Jan 22, 2019 1:22 am

Jim wrote:
Mon Jan 21, 2019 10:57 pm
The grade gives you an idea which videos to bother watching.
I may have just literally spat a little tea there. Splendid.

Franky, absolutely... of course I want to hear t'other argument.

Good points. I dont agree about the higher grade thing - i feel its the same for all.

I guess my point is if you could paddle a river youve not seen or heard of before, would you rather see a vid of it to get an idea or heat that its a grade x of whatever character?
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Re: Do we even need a grading system any more?

Post by Mark Gawler » Tue Jan 22, 2019 7:48 am

DaveBland wrote:
Tue Jan 22, 2019 1:22 am
I guess my point is if you could paddle a river youve not seen or heard of before, would you rather see a vid of it to get an idea or heat that its a grade x of whatever character?
As the exploration side of running a new river is the main goal for me, I would go with the aproxiamte grade and character. I don't want a video ruining the fun.
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Re: Do we even need a grading system any more?

Post by Chalky723 » Tue Jan 22, 2019 8:31 am

DaveBland wrote:
Mon Jan 21, 2019 8:08 pm

Hey, I'm not saying that you use youtube for scouting, just saying it gives a paddler a far better idea of whether a river is for them, than a grade or even a written description does. Even on easier rivers.

I've yet to hear a good argument t'other way.
I do this - if we're going away, I'll look at different YouTube videos of different people paddling at different levels (mostly available) - it gives me a much better idea of what to expect than the rather minimal descriptions in the guidebooks.

It definitely gives me a sense of whether I'll be paddling within my abilities or whether to pack my snorkel...

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Re: Do we even need a grading system any more?

Post by Chalky723 » Tue Jan 22, 2019 8:34 am

DaveBland wrote:
Tue Jan 22, 2019 1:22 am
I guess my point is if you could paddle a river youve not seen or heard of before, would you rather see a vid of it to get an idea or heat that its a grade x of whatever character?
As per my previous, I see vids as an extension of the Guidebooks or a "pre-scout", they generally show a lot more than you'd see otherwise.

I'd rather have a visual idea of what I'm getting into.

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Re: Do we even need a grading system any more?

Post by jmmoxon » Tue Jan 22, 2019 9:16 am

I guess not many paddlers actually do stuff as a first (to them) descent, they are following someone who has done the river before, so the grade is literally unimportant, as long as the "expert" is correct in their belief that they can do it...

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Re: Do we even need a grading system any more?

Post by Duncan Stewart » Tue Jan 22, 2019 9:27 am

I don't think everything has been done, and certainly not all that much has been actually filmed. Grades are great for sections that have been done once or twice, or scouted but not paddled regularly.

Scotland for example, is regularly paddled in and it's true there's thousands of videos of the etive/orchy etc. But there's 318 sections in the new guidebook and I'd struggle to easily find video footage of more than 50-60 of those. There's a few more photos but not many. The grading system gives you a really good idea of whether the drive/effort will be 'worth it' for the many runs that there's no online footage of.

A friend and I paddled the Upper upper Meig way up at the end of the glen a few months ago for example, awesome run, looks flat from the bottom of the walk in, and it's pretty hard/impossible to find any footage of. Only decided that as the guidebook said grade 4/5 that the walk was probably going to be worth it, and it was! Similarly a couple of weeks ago I went with a mixed ability group to the river Kirkaig in north west Scotland. 4km walk in, really deep gorge and tricky to access, graded as 3/4. If i didn't already have a rough idea of the difficulty already i'd never have gone in with a mixed ability group as if the river had been full of grade 5 it would have involved loads of portaging for them, not much fun and not worth the effort. As it was, knowing it was 3/4 meant we got to have an awesome wee adventure paddle in the back of beyond.

Saying that you need to be happy on grade 5/any grade before doing something that adventurous is a bit elitist. Loads of great grade 3/4 adventures off the beaten track, and knowing the rough grade before making the effort is pretty useful. Although, if it's something like the lower Cuileig, knowing that there's an unportageable grade 5 is also pretty useful!

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Re: Do we even need a grading system any more?

Post by Adrian Cooper » Tue Jan 22, 2019 10:32 am

I saw a GoPro of the Fairy Glen the other day. I could absolutely do that in my trad canoe. Every now and they there was a glimpse looking back upstream which looked a bit challenging but then I'm not going that way.

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Re: Do we even need a grading system any more?

Post by Jim » Tue Jan 22, 2019 10:38 am

DaveBland wrote:
Tue Jan 22, 2019 1:22 am
I guess my point is if you could paddle a river youve not seen or heard of before, would you rather see a vid of it to get an idea or heat that its a grade x of whatever character?
I've pretty much given up paddling new rivers and rarely paddle the ones I know any more so I don't say this with any particular modern outlook or experience, but I have never researched a river (for touring puroses) by video, only by guidebook. I have probably occasionally seen rivers in film before I have run them, but I couldn't say I have necessarily known what they were, never mind tried to identify which bits are which.

There are still rivers in Scotland I never got round to doing, for a good few years friends from England used to visit looking for rivers they hadn't done before and eventually I ran out of stuff which I knew and they didn't so we started picking off stuff I didn't already know which was new for all of us. No video research. Even before that I'd done any number of trips with Scottish paddlers to rivers none of us had ever done before, some of them are still rarely done as far as I know.

Racing is different, I am not especially competent in WWR and I do have to admit to looking up videos of some race courses - all of which I would happily paddle in a playboat or river runner, but in a wobbly 4.5m composite boat that turns slowly and carries enough speed to massively reduce my thinking time... its a different story!

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Re: Do we even need a grading system any more?

Post by DaveBland » Tue Jan 22, 2019 12:16 pm

Okay, okay... you bunch have convinced me.
dave

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Re: Do we even need a grading system any more?

Post by roo » Tue Jan 22, 2019 12:41 pm

Jim wrote:
Mon Jan 21, 2019 10:57 pm
The grade gives you an idea which videos to bother watching.
What he said

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Re: Do we even need a grading system any more?

Post by roo » Tue Jan 22, 2019 12:46 pm

Jim wrote:
Mon Jan 21, 2019 10:57 pm
The grade gives you an idea which videos to bother watching.
Tonight on Armchair Paddler we bring a selection of videos of rivers you'll never get to run.

So, as your time is precious watch this instead and then strap yourself into your Zwift* powered Kayak Zone VR (TM)



*other VR experiences suppliers are available (i just picked that one because I couldn't be bothered to be impartial today)

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Re: Do we even need a grading system any more?

Post by G7AFM » Tue Jan 22, 2019 1:48 pm

roo wrote:
Tue Jan 22, 2019 12:46 pm
Jim wrote:
Mon Jan 21, 2019 10:57 pm
The grade gives you an idea which videos to bother watching.
Tonight on Armchair Paddler we bring a selection of videos of rivers you'll never get to run.

So, as your time is precious watch this instead and then strap yourself into your Zwift* powered Kayak Zone VR (TM)



*other VR experiences suppliers are available (i just picked that one because I couldn't be bothered to be impartial today)
Here you go

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/865 ... ir_Paddler

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Re: Do we even need a grading system any more?

Post by SimonMW » Thu Jan 24, 2019 4:37 pm

How about having a grading system with a baseline?

For example for play features you could have a scale that goes;

Hurley on Valium <-- Hurley on Tramadol <-- Hurley Weir baseline (3 gates) --> Hurley on weed --> Hurley on heroin --> Hurley on speed --> Hurley on spice and so on.

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Re: Do we even need a grading system any more?

Post by jmmoxon » Thu Jan 24, 2019 7:35 pm

Some guides already do - if this suits try this, if too hard how about this, if too easy then...
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Re: Do we even need a grading system any more?

Post by Peter Brown » Thu Jan 24, 2019 7:58 pm

If one person says they're going to paddle something 3/4 on Saturday and another says they're going for 5 then I have a great idea of the different days that will involve. I'd only consider video scouting if I'd heard the grade was at the top of my comfort zone, why spoil the surprise otherwise.

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Re: Do we even need a grading system any more?

Post by Chalky723 » Fri Jan 25, 2019 5:52 pm

Peter Brown wrote:
Thu Jan 24, 2019 7:58 pm
I'd only consider video scouting if I'd heard the grade was at the top of my comfort zone, why spoil the surprise otherwise.
So you never watch videos of people paddling rivers that you haven't (yet)??

It was watching videos of Scotland that made me want to go there....

D
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