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International River Classifications


Class I : Easy

Flatwater to occasional rapids characterized by low, regular waves. Obstructions such as rocks are easy to avoid. The best route down the river is easily recognized and easy to manoeuvre through.

Class II : Medium

Frequent rapids characterized by high regular waves up to three feet in height. Easy to medium chutes, ledges, or falls. Back eddies and different currents are easy to negotiate. The best route is easy to recognize and manoeuvre.

Class III : Difficult

Numerous rapids with high, irregular waves, rollers, breakers, and back eddies. This will require skilled manoeuvring. Chutes, falls, and ledges are considered difficult.

Class IV: Very Difficult

Long, difficult sections of rapids with high irregular waves, breakers, powerful back eddies, whirlpools, sharp bends, and constricted canyons. Chutes, falls, and ledges have powerful rollers and undertow.

Class V: Extremely Difficult

Long sections of continuous violent rapids with very high irregular waves. Most of the waves are unavoidable. The current is usually very fast with powerful eddies and whirlpools. River routes are usually complicated.

Class VI:

All whitewater Class VI rapids are considered nearly impossible and extremely dangerous. These rivers are run only in the best of conditions.