Difficulty of river

This information refers to the difficulties and its scale. We did our best to adapt to the European valuation and the world development. The marking of difficulties is always partially a subject matter and serves to compare various places. Anyway, the actual water terrain has the main influence for the solitary waterman.



Most of difficulties there is related to minimal (sometimes optimal) water circumstances.

Would you pay attention always at higher water situation.  The difficulty of terrain can arise of two scales WW.

What is the scale of difficulties like ? To what purpose is serving ? The  summary of various obstacles, the measure of danger, slant and passage across , all this is necessary to mark for the beginner, in order not to set to a river with waterfalls. The marking of river difficulties developped in different way. We follow the Alps system – now with relative quiet water

stand – marked ZW and six scales of wild water marked WW I up WW VI – this is to be understood in dimensions  of Czech Republic. As to marking in the other countries – it is similar but it can be ,owing to distant rivers of the civilisation and hard access to it –extended.

(especially in Russia and United States). Moreover, it is to be compared something what  cannot be compared at all.  The river where there are same sights on water terrain , but has passage – for instance 30 m3 and other river approx. 1000m3, can be marked as WW II.

From the point of view of  very sailing it will be enormous difference. The further difference

can be found at valuation of  stream which is narrow and immense. The solitary marking of difficulty of the section or place does not show its real rate of danger.   The other rate of danger will be at rapid WW II, which is long 50 m and other at  5 kms long quick section of the same difficulty scale , but containing the glacier water and  inaccessible pass. The borders of each scale of wild water is further divided  with marking „+“ and „-„ for other scales – more finest articulation. In case of one or two more difficult places on otherwise  easier section, this is marked as !! as a danger with the indication about the difficulty of a place , or it is higher difficulty of short section  indicated  by the scale of difficulty in brackets.

More detailed description can be then stated – at the indicated kilometer – in the descriptive part of  kilometers  data.

ATTENTION for those water areas – for instance the lake-level can be during big wind marked as WW II. You have to choose the terrain  with more reflection owing to personal experience and and not to exaggerate. Most of watermen  are using  the terrains WW II-III (IV) , only those most experienced watermen use WW V and more. The valuation of the difficulties we did not stated by ourselves. This was made on base of consultations with many inland as well as foreign watermen.

Scales of Difficulties of Water Streams

Scale of Difficuilty


Riverbed Character

Pretentions on Rider and Risk

Necessary  Equipment

Example at Water Stand (Situation).


Quiet, running water

Clear, streamspeed up to 2m/sec, without obstacles and rapids

Knowledge of essential  contacts  and driving of a ship , no risk at  capsizing, easy selfrescue

Open ship with  bags against  submersion , life-waistcoat for youth



Small rapids with regular waves, clear, narrow turning streams with new woods  along banks

Knowledge of  ship- ruling on running water , minimal risk while swimming, easy selfrescue

Ship secured  against submersion, life-waistcoat and helmet recommended


Slightly difficult

Bigger rapids with waves, wide good legible passages in more blocked waterbed, the waterbed is more narrow with small rapids , the quicker reactions are recommandable,

the occasional obstacles are good to see and it is easy to avoid it  ( certain training is necessary), the inspection is not necessary, the risk while swimming is small, the selfrescue is possible, the help of  comrades does not matter

Knowledge of ship-ruling on rapid waters , the knowledge of  landing while returning  necessary, training and experience recommandable

Open ships good secured against submersion, better are closed ships, life-waistcoat, helmet



Rapids with higher irregular waves , easier rollers and middle blocked  terrain, rapids in  turning water , smaller clearness, narrow  unclear places with obstacles. On a river with higher  passage across can be found also sharp edges (turning points) and „ cauliflowers“ ¨

(karfioly) in  „returning manoeuvre“ , but there are not many.

It is possible to avoid more difficult places. The inspection is recommandable  in places where we are going down for the first time  or  there are oft changes ( trees). The danger of injuries while swimming  is not critical yet, selfrescue is possible to be done, but help from comrades is good , otherwise you have to swimm for longer time.

Knowledge of technics as well as of  tactics of  ride on wild water, practise, necessity of quick ruling of a ship on such type of water

WW IV    

Very difficult

great and hard rapids with big waves , rollers, „cauliflowers“, whirlpools, water multitudes on obstacles, hard blocked waterbed with narrow passages with scales and slippings, less clear but foreseen. The enormous waves and rollers can occure, however, you have to go through.

The inspection is necessary in case of the first ride and always recommandable. The risk for swimmers is middle up to high, selfrescue is complicated. The help of comrades is necessary but  the experience is asked for.

The complex knowledge of technics and tactics on hard (heavy) water , training and experience are necessary. The terrain is requiring quick manoeuvres  under pressure.

The necessity to run into returning passage and think over the next procedure. Rapids can move up to the risk-limit. The Eskimo turn is a must.

All as in case of WW III, practice in rescue and use of equipment, psychical resistance.


Extreme difficult

Great waves, rollers, high scales,  big speed of stram, extreme immense blocks.

The rider is exposed to high risk. The rapids are immediately starting, turning manoeuvres are

few and it is necessary to know it in advance. The inspection is very, very important but iit is hard. The swimmimg is very danger , the rescue is problematic

The reactions under the pressure as quick as lightning required, the  course in special groups with enormous experience and practise is a must. A must is also the knowledge of Eskimo turn as well as  100%  equipment and practice in rescue activity and guarantee.

Same as in case of WW IV, stable experts groups, high psychical and physical condition.


Limit of  passage

Troubles with water terrain and obstacles is  multiplied,  passage is possible under certain water situation (circumstations) and ideal conditions including a special preparation for a passage.

Same as in case of WW IV

Same as in case of WW V

Places on upper or lower of each scale  are marked  with marks „+“ or  „-„

We wish to draw your attention to the conclusion of this chapter – attention for a momentaneous  water situation and momentaneous  situation of  swimmers. The  situation of a swimmer is subjectively influenced by a perception of  stream difficulty.  An experienced expert  who is not feeling O.K.  on the certain day, can have hard problems with quiet waters.



Czech republic


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