Rafting and white water rafting are recreational outdoor activities which use an inflatable raft to navigate a river or other body of water. This is often done on whitewater or different degrees of rough water, and generally represents a new and challenging environment for participants. Dealing with risk and the need for teamwork is often a part of the experience. The development of this activity as a leisure sport has become popular since the mid-1970s, evolving from individuals paddling 10 feet (3.0 m) rafts with double-bladed paddles to multi-person rafts propelled by single-bladed paddles and steered by a tour guide at the stern. It is considered an extreme sport, and can be fatal. The International Rafting Federation (IRF) is the worldwide body which oversees all aspects of the sport
Otherwise known as the International Scale of River Difficulty, below are the six grades of difficulty in white water rafting. They range from simple to very dangerous and potential death or serious injuries.
Grade 1: Very small rough areas, might require slight maneuvering. (Skill level: very basic)
Grade 2: Some rough water, maybe some rocks, might require some maneuvering. (Skill level: basic paddling skill)
Grade 3: Whitewater, small waves, maybe a small drop, but no considerable danger. May require significant maneuvering.
Grade 4: Whitewater, medium waves, maybe rocks, maybe a considerable drop, sharp maneuvers may be needed.
Grade 5: Whitewater, large waves, large volume, possibility of large rocks and hazards, possibility of a large drop, requires precise maneuvering.
Grade 6: Class 6 rapids are considered to be so dangerous that they are effectively unnavigable on a reliably safe basis. Rafters can expect to encounter substantial whitewater, huge waves, huge rocks and hazards, and/or substantial drops that will impart severe impacts beyond the structural capacities and impact ratings of almost all rafting equipment. Traversing a Class 6 rapid has a dramatically increased likelihood of ending in serious injury or death compared to lesser classes.
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