Whitewater Rafting: Definitely Not For The Faint-of-Heart
Whitewater Rafting: The Serious Adrenaline Boost
What do the Whirlpool Rapids Gorge and the Celestial Falls have in common save for the fact that they have cool-sounding names?
They just happen to be two of the world’s most notorious rapids classified as Class VI – the most dangerous and strictly off limits to anyone, even extreme professional athletes. You will never know the true meaning of a close call until you come face to face with a Class VI whitewater river system. With the sheer height of vertical drops reaching as high as 50 feet punctuated with boulders as huge as a two-story house and whitewater that is as tall as a London double-decker, this is the stuff that makes legends.
And this is the reason why whitewater rafting in certain locations around the world is considered an extreme adventure sport, however not commercial whitewater raft trips in Grand Canyon. One exception to this rule and despite some of the funnest rapids including a few class V rapids (Class X on a I to X rating scale in Grand Canyon) Colorado river trips in Grand Canyon are NOT considered an adventure sport. A good tip to keep this in mind when purchasing trip insurance.
Adventure Sport or Extreme Sport?
Many individuals get lost in the meaning of the term adventure and extreme. While many individuals think of them as one and the same, experts believe that they are different. Adventure sport is any activity that is done in natural environments such as open fields, lakes, rivers, seas, and mountains, among others.
Extreme sports are sports that are characterized by danger, speed, highly specialized equipment or gear, height, a level of physical exertion that is exceptionally high, and / or incredible stunts. Not all adventure sports are extreme and not all extreme sports are adventuresome. This distinction is necessary to define whitewater rafting.
A Matter of Both
Since whitewater rafting is carried out in natural environment, that rightfully classifies it as an adventure sport. However, whitewater rafting also entails a certain degree of danger unlike canoeing, with considerable height from the vertical drops of falls, and speed that can reach up to 20 miles per hours on some of the fastest rapids in the world. Whitewater rafting also requires a specialized set of gear and equipment and an extremely high level of physical exertion in order to maneuver the oar, paddle, dory or hybrid raft through the rapids. Something professionally handled by your expert guides when on a raft trip in the Grand Canyon.
This makes whitewater rafting a truly one-of-a-kind extreme adventure sport because nature itself is the one that provides the element of danger that makes it extreme. And it is this nature that only the brave dare face the fearsome Class VI. Technically, they can only face Class V because Class VI rapids are definitely a red zone.
Not for the Faint-of-Heart
There are fundamentally six classes of white water rivers. The first two are basically for beginners while Classes III and IV already have considerable danger – fast rapids, considerable waves, sufficient amounts of obstacles and hazards, substantial drops, and significant physical exertion in maneuvering. Class V will be the ultimate in legal whitewater rafting. Legal because the highest and most dangerous class of rapids, a Class VI, is strictly off-limits. Class V will be for the extreme athlete, – one who can punch through a towering wave, survive a 30-foot drop, and navigate through sharp turns and twists.
Whitewater rafting is truly a one-of-a-kind sport. By offering yourself at the mercy of Mother Nature’s wrath, you are not only crazy, but you are, in essence, putting a nail in your own coffin. But if you do survive a Class V, the accolade of the world will be yours forever.
Commercial raft trips in Grand Canyon are not considered an adventure sport, and certainly not an extreme sport. Additionally, they do not require passengers to have knowledge or experience in rafting, as the expert guides employed by the outfitters will be handling navigating down the Colorado River. They are all trained in First Aid, and carry a satellite telephone to be able to call for help should a problem arise. Grand Canyon raft trips are heavily regulated by the National Park with strict safety guidelines. There are 16 commercial rafting outfitters represented by a company called Advantage Grand Canyon are licensed outfitters and they are only allowed to bring passengers down the river due to their excellent safety records.