White Water Trip Levels

For safety reasons we limit participation on whitewater trips to those paddlers with appropriate levels of experience and skill.  Because a large number of people boat with us, it is impossible for Trip Leaders to personally  know everyone’s paddling ability.  Therefore, we use a paddling skill rating system, ranging from Class I to Class IV based on the difficulty of the river (see aside for description of river difficulty).
Note that neither the Whitewater Paddler River Ratings nor the International River Classification Guide, aligns with the AMC Activity Rating System.  This is due to the technical nature of whitewater paddling and the variability of rivers and rapids.  Always check with the Trip Leader regarding the actual trip difficulty level and how that aligns with your own skills and equipment.

White Water Trip Ratings

Trip Leaders require participants to have a Boston Chapter Paddling Skill Rating or the experience and skills equivalent to the class of river the trip plans to run.
For most beginners the best method for receiving a paddling skill rating is by attending an Instruction Trip.  However, we also have river rating process where experienced leaders can observe and rate paddlers on a recreational whitewater trip.

Paddler Skills

Class I - Beginner

Paddling: Able to pick out and paddle route competently in Class I rapid – can go straight, turn left and right.

Safety/Rescue: Knows river signals and demonstrates group awareness. Can recognize and avoid obvious river hazards: rocks, strainers, dams.

Self-Rescue: Can wet exit, swim safely holding paddle, and swim to shore. When swimming knows how to safely accept boat-assisted towing.

Class II - Novice

Can perform all Class I skills competently in Class II rapids, skillfully in Class I rapids.

Paddling: Can do eddy turns, peel outs, ferries competently in Class II rapid. Recognizes and understands the dynamics of eddies, waves and holes.

Safety/Rescue: Knows what to do if boat broaches. Knows how to accept rope-assisted rescue.

Self-Rescue: When swimming, knows when to let go of the rescue boat and/or her own boat and equipment.

Class III - Intermediate

Can perform all Class II skills competently in Class III rapid and skillfully in Class II rapid.

Paddling: Able to select a route while scouting a rapid. Paddler can use eddies and occasionally waves and holes to help get the boat where the paddler wants to go.

Safety/Rescue: Able to use throw bag for rescue, including proper placement and set-up. Able to rescue others with the paddler’s boat and help recover equipment in Class II rapid.

Self-Rescue: Able to perform a “combat roll” in Class III rapids.

Class IV - Advanced

Can perform all Class III skills – including self-rescue and throw bag rescue – competently in Class IV rapid, skillfully in Class III rapid. 

Can perform a boat-based rescue of a swimmer and help recover equipment in Class III rapid. 

Able to competently use eddies, waves, and holes to get the boat where paddler wants to go in Class IV rapids.

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