Is Chamberlain a good first class 4 section?


I’ve been confident on chili bar, the gorge and other class 3 runs (including the middle ocoee) and have had a reliable roll. I’ve also run a couple 4s and have been looking to step up. Some people have told me Chamberlain is a good first class 4 section and I was wondering if anyone anyone else had advice.

What would be a good indicator of readiness (prerequisites, skills I should be confident with, etc.) and what would be a good flow for a first run down chamberlain (or other class 4 sections if that’s the case)?



Here’s some good info for you to chew on.


Chamberlains is a great first class IV run. If your roll is solid and you’re with people that know the lines it should be ace. Chamberlains (flow depending) sounds like it’ll be your first run that has a couple sieves. They’re all pretty much out of play though.

You could always try it at lower flow. Around 1000 cfs or lower should be good for your first time.



Wow, I had seen never seen that page on Darin’s site. That’s a great list.

Chamberlain’s is often the step up class IV for NorCal paddlers. At lower flows it is not super difficult, but it has more hazards (sieves, pin spots, etc) than the SF American or middle ocoee. Obviously a knowledgeable group is required for the first few trips. Portage’s are possible for some of the bigger rapids. Bring a breakdown paddle.

Did you paddle the upper ocoee? If not, why not? I’d consider the upperO to be less dangerous and about the same difficulty as Chamberlain’s.

In terms of readiness, Chamberlain’s requires better eddy & ferry skills and comfort with making multiple moves. A roll is necessary but good bracing skills to prevent a flip is even better.

Self assessments are always tough. What kind of lines are you running on class 3? How many eddie’s could you catch in grumpies and still run the main drop (or are you avoiding it?). Are you catching eddies in meat grinder, troublemaker, Fowler’s or Satan’s? Trying rock boofs? If you’re “going for it” on III you’ll likely have fun on IV.

+1 for NF Mokelumne “Tiger Creek” @ lower flows (roughly 800 cfs). Less difficult rapids and less hazards but good opportunity to work on creeking skills. Much easier shuttle than Chamberlain’s so many laps are possible.


Chamberlains is an awesome run overall. At 800-1000 cfs, it is technical and the overall pace of the rapids slows, without bringing in too many extra hazards. This is the flow I would look for the first few times. At higher flows the pace of the rapids pick up and the rapids themselves are pushier with bigger hydraulics. Regardless of flow, there are easy lines and hard lines to all of the rapids to make them more interesting if desired.

As for readiness, its hard to say without having boated with you. However, a good test may be challenging yourself to catch all of the most difficult eddies in Meatgrinder, Troublemaker, Racehorse (along the wall), and any other eddies that may be challenging to catch. Being able to stay calm and surf out of a hole, if you find yourself in one, is also a very good skill to have when pushing your skills.


Since then, I have still not yet run Chamberlain’s, but ran the Upper Ocoee a lot last summer in an axiom, while boofing at most places (alien, let’s make a deal, olympic section, roach motel, etc.) and catching most eddies in all the rapids, including the olympic section. In Grumpy’s, the most challenging line I did was boof whiteface, catch the house rock eddy, and ferry to the rafting tongue. Generally, I would catch at least 3-4 in total in that rapid. For Broken Nose, I’ve caught the first six eddies of the eight eddy line, in addition to the elevator move (done the elevateor move both here and at the top of the olympic section.)
On the middle, I boof just about everything.

As far as the major rapids on Chili Bar and the Gorge, I’ve caught about every eddy I can and probably all the ones worth catching in Meatgrinder (I’ve lost track) and I’ve caught nearly every eddy along the wall in Racehorse. With Troublemaker, I usually catch the eddy that’s slightly above the hole and then the big one that most people catch right below, before ferrying out to boof Gunsight. I have boofed over the big hole. With Fowler’s, I catch about every eddy I can and certainly the important ones. In Satan’s, I usually catch a couple eddies along the right before catching the river left setup eddy (but I have run all the holes straight). Then I ferry across the second wave to catch the river right eddy.

I’ve run the Tellico (several times from the put in, below baby falls and down to the end of Jared’s, with no portages) and the Cain Creek to North Chick stretch (putting in below the class 5’s on Cain and walking The Falls and Cyclops on North Chick). I’ve also done the Middle Ocoee with just my hands (no hand paddles, either) and have practiced paddling with my hand paddles a lot (I was forced to once, when I broke my paddle on the Upper.) My roll is solid - I’ve also developed an offside roll.

I was going to paddle Chamberlain’s with some people, including an emerging class four boater. His boof is a little suspect, but his roll is good and he’s generally confident catching lots of eddies in Meatgrinder, Racehorse, Fowler’s, and Satan’s, and surfed out of the Troublemaker hole.

How necessary is a boof on Chamberlain’s? Also, what section(s) would you recommend to challenge me, or is Chamberlain’s one that should keep me occupied for a long time?


If you had fun on the Upper Ocoee, you should enjoy Chamberlain’s. A decent boof is advised, but I’ve seen people do well without one. Portaging the two hardest rapids is very doable if they don’t look appetizing.

Also check out: SF Yuba - E2P, SF American - Kyburz


I also advise E2P. Maybe try some sections on the feather. Virgilia is a mix of 3/4 with one rapid that most portage because of a sieve that could be in play. Lobin section is a good boof-drop class 4 but has sieves. Definitely go with a boater who knows the lines, but much of it is read and run.

Pit 1 is a good 3/4 and has a fun vertical slide and a relatively low-consequence waterfall if you’re feeling brave. Pit 5 is a good step-up class IV run with one or two harder rapids early on and fun, continuous water from there down.

I feel like Kyburz is a step-up class IV. I’ve run it a number of times and most of the moves are not too bad, but swimming is not advised. Higher flows make it a more exciting venture, and it can be run many times in one day as it is roadside.

Just my $.02