Reviewed, refreshed and renewed – IRF GTE Instructor resources

Reviewed, refreshed and renewed – IRF Instructor documentation and resources (in English and now also in Spanish)

There is now a wealth of resources that the IRF provides to our certified Instructors and Assessors which are all aimed at assisting them to simplify the processes, administration and implementation of assessing Guides, Trip Leaders and Instructors.

The updated and new documentation includes:

  • IRF GTE Award System – the overarching document the system is based on
  • Assessment Guidelines for Workshops – setting out what and how Instructors / Assessors are to assess for each certification
  • A detailed letter for all Instructors and Assessors explaining the administration processes of the IRF GTE System so that it is clear how it works and can be referred to at any time
  • A template to create a PDF or poster to advertise courses / workshops
  • A standard letter Instructors can adjust and send to candidates before they attend their workshops so as to ensure the candidate knows what to expect, what to bring, and how the IRF GTE System works
  • Templates for recording the strengths and weaknesses of each candidate, whether they are being assessed as a Guide, Trip Leader, Safety Kayaker, Safety Rafter, Site Specific or Instructor certificate
  • A throwbag test to use during assessments
  • The minimum content for an IRF GTE compliant Guide Training Program
  • The IRF GTE award level overview as a Power Point presentation, or as a flow chart
  • Guide’s log sheets for recording their rafting trips – in pdf format and in excel format
  • CLAP = Communication, Line of Sight, Avoidance and Positioning and is a tactic used to have a structured river running best practise. This is in a Power Point version, Word doc version and a printable pdf version
  • IRF Youtube videos on common knots including hitches and prusiks

IRF Instructors and Assessors are continually working to add to the resources available – we thank all those who have translated documents in to other languages, who offer us their instructional videos, and who continually assist us in improving the IRF GTE System in general.

IRF Instructor resources are available on a password protected page on the IRF website. Certified Instructors and Assessors can request access: gte@internationalrafting,com

#RaftersAreAwesome #AreYouReady #internationalrafting

8 Things to Ask a Rafting Company Before You Book

8 Things to Ask a Rafting Company Before You Book

Getting the most out of your next river rafting trip

How many miles is the trip?

An average commercial rafting trip will be between 8 and 15 miles for a day trip. In general the tougher the river the shorter the trip. Some commercial outfitters on particularly tough rivers may only offer a few miles, but Outfitters run all kinds of trips on all sorts of rivers, but some outfitters try to gain advantage over each other by offering more miles. Getting more for your money sounds great, but you’re not buying bus tour. Remember, rafting is a physical workout. Like running marathons? Because that’s what a 21 mile trip is going to feel like. Focus on the river trip as a whole not just the number of miles.

On average, how many hours is the trip?

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More important than miles is time on the water. How many hours will you be on the river on average? An 8 mile class III trip can be on the water 1.5 hours or 4 hours. If the river is rated class IV or class V that couple of miles may take all day so they can have extra time to get you down the river in case anything happens. The length of time that you spend on the river is directly related to how much paddling that your guide will make you do. Less time often means your vacation will end up being more work than fun. This all ties into our next point.

Do you have a set take out time?

“Professional” Guides often feel like they are in a race to get down the river. They think that takeout is a time not a place. If the outfitter that you are thinking of using has a set takeout time that is typically a sign the company has lots of arbitrary rules in place for their guides or have a lot of people packed on one date. Continue reading 8 Things to Ask a Rafting Company Before You Book …

#AreYouReady #RaftersAreAwesome #guide #raft #rafting #raftguide #whitewater #StrongerTogether #internationalrafting #RiverFamily #WeAreIRF

DISCLAIMER: The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs, viewpoints or official policies of the IRF.

Top 10 rafting spots in California

If you are a thrill-seeking nature lover, then there are tons of whitewater rafting spots in California that will give you the best experience.

California is heaven for those who love the waters. There are tons of watersports you can enjoy in the area, from surfing, windsurfing, jetskiing, to kayaking, among others. If you want to experience the thrilling adventure of rapids, there is a lot of that in California too.

Whitewater Rafting Spots in California

A day whitewater rafting in the impressive rapids in California is a must-have experience for an active and stimulating vacation, especially in the summer. It wouldn’t be an experience you will easily forget.

If you are looking for the best whitewater rafting spots in California, here are ten of the most impressive destinations that should be on your list. Continue reading Top 10 rafting spots in California

4 Types of Guides You Will Meet Rafting

Hopefully you did your homework with the outfitter and selected an outfitter that actually lets you have fun rather than the cattle-car of a raft trip that you could buy on a daily deal site. This is the first step to having a good trip and you can find out more about outfitter selection in our 8 things to ask a rafting company article. Next you want to understand who your guide is.

The Trip Leader

First you want to know if you are in the Trip Leader’s boat. The Trip Leader is generally the most experienced full time guide on the trip, but this is not always a good thing for you unless you are rafting with the kids or grandma. Since the Trip Leader is responsible for almost every aspect of the trip including every guest, there is a really low chance that this person will be able to relax enough to let you play on the river. While you are having fun jumping off rocks and swimming rapids, the Trip Leader is watching the flock like an overprotective shepherd. Luckily unless you are a group of hot girls, weak-looking paddlers, or rich-looking people, odds are you probably won’t be in the Trip Leader’s boat. Trip Leaders tend to cherry pick their crews since they are the ones who get to assign them. The good Trip Leaders (like the one pictured above) pick up the slack for the other guides, while the bad ones pick the crews that are most likely to tip or get them laid.

The Professional Staff Guide

The Professional Staff Guide is the core of the guide crew they work commercially sometimes 7 days a week throughout the summer and usually 3-5 days a week in the shoulder season. Typically these guides also do one of three things in the winter: travel, work at a ski resort, or work at another rafting company on the other side of the world. The good news is that Continue reading 4 Types of Guides You Will Meet Rafting ….

DISCLAIMER: The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs, viewpoints or official policies of the IRF.

#AreYouReady #RaftersAreAwesome #guide #raft #rafting #raftguide #whitewater #StrongerTogether #internationalrafting #RiverFamily #WeAreIRF

The principle of SMILE

By Mark Hirst of Lapin Koskikoulu

The principle of Smile & the big 3

During this brief post I wanted to share the tips I use to reduce the chances of my raft customers panicking during a swim.
I am getting on a bit now, I will be 43 this year! I first went kayaking when I was in primary school in my home city of Manchester in the UK. As most school kids one of the first things we were taught is that if we go upside down when the kayak capsizes is “TRY NOT TO PANIC”. Yeah right I know, sit upside down in plastic lunchbox in cold dark water that is around 10 degrees C in an oxygen poor environment wearing nothing more than a thin long john wetsuit with no dry top and try not to panic! Dream on – I don’t have wide shoulders for that!!
I eventually overcame the urge to panic and as the years passed by I found myself pleading with my guests not to panic when, as a result of my poor guiding skills, I would inevitably flip sending all of my customers for a swim. I am sure many raft guides will agree with me there is the twinge of guilt you feel when you see a customer panicking in the water as a result of a mistake made by yourself.
In 2007 I was lucky to work with a team of exceptional guides in Iceland on a demanding river that has a habit of making people (guides included) panic during a swim. Most of the guides quickly realised that panicking customers is bad for business for the following reasons:
  • Panicking creates added stress for all concerned parties, customers and guides, in a potentially stressful environment.
  • A panicking customer is not likely to return or become an advocate for your trips.
  • In the dawn of TripAdvisor and social media bad reviews are not good for business.
As a team of guides we asked “what can we do to stop our guests from panicking when they swim?”. Step forward Mr Chris from Canada. In a moment of clarity Chris said “Instead of telling the customers what we do not want them to do, lets tell them what we want them to do”. Bingo I thought!

Continue reading The principle of SMILE

Rafting Operator Accreditation (ROA) – what is it?

The IRF has for many years discussed the merits of developing an accreditation for operators that offer whitewater rafting guided or instructional services. Simply put, this process would provide a means of recognizing operators that meet or exceed internationally accepted safety and quality standards. In September 2019, a committee was created to address this need and draft an accreditation program for the IRF Board approval. The Rafting Operator Accreditation (ROA) Committee has now achieved this stage and is ready for input from stakeholders.

Throughout early 2020, the ROA Committee will be interviewing leading rafting companies around the world to gather feedback on the ROA draft. So far, 20 operators from 18 countries have been invited to participate in the interview. Their responses will be themed, and the findings will inform the review of the ROA draft.

The ROA will be launched in Costa Rica in the fall of 2020 with a selected group of companies going through a pilot test. Following the pilot tests, we will make final adjustments to the process before we make the ROA available internationally.

Continue reading Rafting Operator Accreditation (ROA) – what is it?

IRF’s GTE System upgrades make it cheaper

The IRF Guide Training & Education (GTE) System has recently had its cost structure, certification and card issuing process overhauled

In the days before social distancing – GTE course in Romania

In this time of so much bad news we’d like to bring you some good news. The cost of IRF GTE certifications has reduced!

The system has been simplified so that guides get their cards and certificates much faster. From now on each person who has completed the certification process will be sent, by GTE Admin, a certificate combined with a card. This will allow those who need cards or certificates to present to employers or put up on walls as proof of certification to have them sooner.

The really good news is that by simplifying the process we can reduce the fees we are charging by US$20! So the new fees will be (and remember, this is for a 3 year period!):

  • Guide Assessment fee – US$40.00
  • Trip Leader Assessment fee – US$70.00
  • Instructor Assessment fee – US$130.00

Renewals for Guides and Trip Leaders, however, will go up by US$5 to US$30, but they will receive their personalised certificate/card immediately when they complete the renewal requirements.

Where guides have multiple assessments at one time they are to be charged the higher fee for their assessment plus US$15 for the second qualification. For example: Raft Guide with Safety Kayaker – US$40 plus US$15 = US$55.

This change-over came into effect from 1 Feb 2020.

The hope is that reducing the certification fee will make it even more accessible by many around the world, especially  in developing countries where the need to increase river running and safety standards is paramount so as to ensure the health and sustainability of the rafting tourism industry.

#RaftersAreAwesome #AreYouReady #StrongerTogether #RiverFamily #WeAreIRF

Ropes for River Use

In this article Rafting Magazine takes a look at rope used for rafting specifically static line. For this article they reached out to both Sterling and BlueWater ropes to get some technical insight on what works best for river rescue use. There is a lot to know and a lot to understand about what rafters need on the river. If you are looking for throw ropes or throw bags you can find more info on that here. They also will be bringing you some of the top contenders for best ropes on the market.

Ropes are a pretty complex topic in the river community. Both static and dynamic ropes find their way into our gear. It’s Important to know what they are and when to use them if you are unfamiliar with the purpose of each type of rope. Another important piece of terminology is what the difference between rope and line is.

What is the Difference Between Rope vs. Line?

A rope is a rope right? Not exactly, as we increase our mastery over a topic, it requires greater degrees of specificity to accurately describe and understand the topic. So the best way to understand this is: a rope is a rope, unless it’s on a boat, then it’s a line. Throw ropes are used on shore, perimeter lines ring a raft, static lines pull a raft off of a wrap, flip lines (which generally aren’t even rope) flip the boat over, but a strap secures gear to the boat. Like any sport as the community has gained mastery we have borrowed some terms from sailing, kayaking, and oceanic navigation, as well as sprinkling in some other terms of our own. So a rope is a rope, until it’s not a rope, but does that make all rope equal?

Static Rope in Rafting

Now that we understand the difference between rope and line it is important to note that not all rope is equal or the same in rafting. There are two main uses for Static line in rafting: perimeter lines and static lines for rescue applications. When rigging perimeter lines some folks prefer ropes and some prefer webbing, largely it is a matter of preference, however Continue reading Ropes for River Use

DISCLAIMER: The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs, viewpoints or official policies of the IRF.

Save the Karnali – Nepal’s last and most pristine free-flowing river

by Megh Ale and Karen Bennett

The mighty Karnali, Nepal’s longest, largest, and least known river system is in peril. Of the three major river basins emerging from the Nepal Himalaya—the Koshi, Kali Gandaki, and Karnali—the Karnali is the only river that remains free-flowing. All others have been dammed for hydropower generation reflecting an increasingly intensive pattern of hydropower development across Nepal. There are currently three mega hydropower dams planned for the Karnali River with 28 more sites being surveyed. Construction of any one of these dams will forever change the essence and flow of the Karnali River. The construction of all three will devastate the river system and the cultures, endangered species and economies that depend on it. A dedicated group of people are working to protect the free-flowing Karnali. In spring 2018, a group of scientists, river adventurists and a film crew undertook a 44-day expedition along its entire length. Together, they documented the river’s values and used what they learned to educate the public and decision-makers about the importance of protecting the Karnali – Nepal’s last and most pristine free-flowing river.

The Karnali River starts near Holy Mt. Kailash on the Tibetan Plateau as do three other great Holy Rivers of Asia, the Indus (Sutlej) into Pakistan, the Ganges through India and the Brahmaputra to Bangledesh. Hundreds of thousands of worshipers travel to Holy Mt. Kailash each year for a spiritual renewal.

Continue reading Save the Karnali – Nepal’s last and most pristine free-flowing river

Should We Be Classifying Rafts?

This article is a reprint from our friends at ‘RAFTING MAGAZINE’

Kayaking has taken an interesting trend over the years by classifying boats. Given the crossover of many paddlers between these sports it is surprising that rafting hasn’t picked up the stratification of boat classes into broad categories. As we get more experienced with a topic we require greater degrees of specificity to describe similar yet functionally different concepts. So, we thought we would take a crack at some boat classification for rafts.

How does classifying rafts help?

We get a ton of questions about what boat to take out in which river. Different boats have very different performance characteristics. Everyone has their preference for style of boat and different regions will see greater popularity from different designs due to local conditions.

One of the more particular parts of our industry is that boat design and popularity varies regionally since rivers in different geological zones are slightly different despite the fact that water tends to create similarly predictable features in general. A good thing to pay particular attention to is how the locals boat and customize their boats.

Raft classifications

It’s important to note that not every raft fits perfectly in each category. While you can certainly get down a big water section of river in a play boat, it may not be the most enjoyable experience as something like that can leave you pretty exposed. Here are our thoughts on how to categorize rafts generally. You can click the links below to take you to the gear shed to see more about what’s out there on the market.

  • Play boats

  • Creek Boats

  • River Runners

  • Big water boats

  • Gear boats

Outside of these categories there are a few specialty categories that we haven’t covered like J-rigs and sweep boats as they tend to be less common, especially for the average boater. Also we are not covering catarafts in this piece as we would like to cover those crafts in a separate article.

Continue reading Should We Classify Rafts?

DISCLAIMER: The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs, viewpoints or official policies of the IRF.