How To Talk Like An ACE Guide


Hanging around ACE, especially at the Lost Paddle or the Big Top Video Tent, there’s a secret language that permeates the air, incomprehensible to most.It’s not Elvish or Klingon, but it’s still just as mysterious; it’s all the slang the guides throw around, describing their gear, the river and anything else rafting-related. Here’s a mini-glossary so the next time you go rafting, you too can sound like a rafting aficionado.

Hole (aka Hydraulic) – Where water flows over a rock and creates an eddy, while the water underneath circulates like a washing machine. If you fall out in one of these, ball up and you’ll pop right out.

Hit – 1) Any spot in a rapid that’ll give you a good thrill, like a tall wave or a hole; 2) When the raft hits a great wave or hydraulic dead on, making for some good footage for the video.

Eddy – Area of water where the river goes downstream, hits an obstruction and proceeds to circulate back upstream. These are often found on the sides of the river or in a hole.

Surfing – When the guide and crew paddle upstream, into the eddy of a hole, and the guide steers the boat inside the eddy, keeping the raft facing upstream. A large curtain of water flows over a rock, coming downstream, directly in front of you.

Paddle (Not an oar!)- A paddle is a single stick that you have both hands on. Oars are found in pairs and are often locked into place. Call it an oar and we’ll call you a river dork the entire day.

Guide Stick – Rafting paddle the guide uses to help steer the raft down the river. Normally, a guide stick is longer and more durable than the paddles guests use on their river trips.

Note: When speaking “Guide,” always start a story off with “And this one time, when I was rafting,” even if it has nothing to do with the river. That line always makes a story cooler and makes you sound hard core.

Have any other river slang you’re curious about? Drop a line and look for it in a future blog!

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