The difficulty of a river is classified on a international scale of I to VI, with Class VI indicating an unrunnable stretch of river.
The difficulty of a river may vary significantly with fluctuations in water level. For example, a river that is normally Class II, may increase in difficulty to Class III+ in times of high water. The ratings usually listed refer to the rivers’ difficulties at normal, summer levels.
Take care: Don’t judge a river by it’s put-in pool and take-out, know what’s downstream. Know the rating class for the river you’re traveling on.
Class I: EASY
Waves are small; passages clear. No serious obstacles.
Class II: MEDIUM
Rapids of moderate difficulty with passages clear.
Class III: DIFFICULT
Waves are numerous, high, irregular; rocks; eddies; rapids with passages clear though narrow, requiring expertise in maneuvering.
Class IV: VERY DIFFICULT
Long rapids; waves powerful and irregular; dangerous rocks, boiling eddies; powerful and precise maneuvering required.
Class V: EXTREMELY DIFFICULT
Long and violent rapids following each other almost without interruption; riverbed extremely obstructed; big drops; violent current; very steep gradient