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Old 06-22-2005   #21
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 8
Re: Bottomline is.....

I would liken running the Upper A right now without a serious wetsuit or drysuit to flying in IMC conditions using only dead reckoning and an ADF in the mountains below FL140 MSL, just a plain stupid idea.


Reminds me of my freight running days.....

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Old 06-22-2005   #22
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 1
Commercial Upper Animas

My name is Casey Lynch and I own Mountain Waters Rafting in Durango. I have been running the Upper Animas commercially for 22 years. I have been acting as spokes man for Mild to Wild Rafting during this tragic time. I received 4 phone calls yeaterday asking me to respond to this forum sooo here goes.

First: I would like to thank the hundreds of phone calls and e mails that we have received here in Durango. The boating community is a great community and the Durango Boating community is the cream. I consider myself very fortunate to part of it.

Second: I would like to thank the people in the forum. During this tragic time is a good time to re-evaluate personal priorities and for those of us in the business we need to reevaluate professional priorities.

Third: Kayak safety boat vs raft safety boat has been debated in our company for the past 22 years. In an ideal world a safety kayaker for each guest would be the best.

We have found that a safety Kayak works best with 3 or fewer swimmers in a section of river that has eddies with customers who are concious, calm and able to assist in the rescue.

Safety rafts work best in high water in section of river where the eddies are few and far between with swimmers who are not able to assist in their rescue. The raft can stay in the current and be with the lead swimmer and not have to go to shore with each customer.

2 years ago my company had set up safety below No Name (The largest Rapid on the Upper Animas), I was a paddler on a safety raft we were using. Another company had a kayaker acting as safety. The other company had a swimmer and the kayaker took off after the swimmer. We followed in the safety raft. The swimmer could not hang on to the kayak. The kayaker ended up dropping his paddle and grabbing the swimmer and popped his skirt in the process. Our safety boat caught up and one of the paddlers grabbed the kayakers by the life jacket and the safety boat pulled the whole mess to shore. It is a judgement call as are most things on a Class V river.

In our company we let the trip leader decide which safety they need.

My head guide Juan Cullum wanted me to add that the brotherhood of commercial guides on the Upper Animas is as strong as anywhere in the country and we all look out for each other. That is whay some of the comments in this forum are so emotional. We are looking out for each other.

Fourth: Are customers prepared for a class V river and do they know what they are getting into? We do our best to allow our guests to make an informed decision. Please feel free to pull our liability release from our web site and take a look at it ( I would be happy to discuss the details of how we inform our guests if any one would like. my personal cell phone is 970-749-1388 and my email is if you would like more information.

I do not know of a way to prepare someone for the feeling of being trunneled in a class V swim other than doing it. I don't know how to prepare someone for a car crash at 60 miles per hour either. Classs V outfitters do extensive paper work, lectures and practical evaluations of our guests tohelp them make an informed decision.

I believe the thousands of guests that we have taken on the Upper Animas are smart enough to make informed decisions and not have some one else impose their opinion on them.

Fifth: Mild to Wild had an experienced, strong crew on the Upper Animas with all the required safety gear. What happened was an accident. Accidents do happin in Class V Whitewater. The your men on that trip are struggling with guilt and other emotions and right now they need our support. If you want to debate theory call me, or you can come to our national America Outdoors meeting, or Our Colorado Rive Outfitters Meeting.

Colorado Division of Parks is conducting an investigation as is required by law. I think it would be great to wait for all the facts to be reported before people make a decision about what happened.

Sixth: I would like to put this loss in perspective. The Upper Animas has been run commercially for 22 years and this is the first commercial death.

If you live in a metro area and comute to and from work 20 minutes a day and once a year take a class V raft trip your are more likly to die in a car crash than on the class V river.

If you have a poor diet and do not exersize and take a class V trip once a year your are more likly to die from your lifestyle than on a Class V river.

Seventh: Should we stop running class V rivers? You can create a lifestyle with very few risks. I believe that most kayakers and skiers think that calculated risks are what make us alive. I also think I can make decisions for myself and not have someone decide for me how much risk I am willing to take.

I plan to continue running class V commercially. I know what Daryle would say. Daryle's close friends are struggling with this decision right now. I hope they decide to keep running.

I have a saying on my wall "All ships are safe in a harbor but that is not what ships are made for"

I will kayak the Upper Animas later this year and I will drink a beer to my friend Daryle. A man who died doing what he loved to do in one of the most magic places on earth.

Casey Lynch

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Old 06-22-2005   #23
no tengo
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Baytopia, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1876
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 1,768
Re: hey Dana

Originally Posted by mania
as far as I know we are the only company providing drysuits to customers up there. so i would say no. i can tell you its expensive and thats why they (the other comapanies) probably dont do it, but andy got on me to buy em.
a correction, Casey does provide a dry top and dry pants combo when needed which is just about like a dry suit. not sure about M2W.
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Old 06-22-2005   #24
Pagosa Springs, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1987
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 137
Thank you Casey Lynch. Keep up the good work.
To all the commercial guides -hang in there,we need you on the river.

Hope I see you on the river.
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Old 06-22-2005   #25
Lakewood, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1992
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 30
A look at another companies safety system


I just thought that I would throw in my two cents. I know the way our system worked cost the raft companies a fair amount of money.

I have been a commercial raft guide and safety boater for 6 years (3 in Colorado and 3 in Upstate New York). I am an EMT-Intermediate and have swiftwater rescue like many guides.

In New York, on the Black River at high water (10,000-20,000cfs in the canyon (with sunami's-a dam related release effect of giving up to a little more than doulbe river flow)) we would team up with other companies to provide more rafts, safety boaters and include a safety raft of five guides. This cost the companies each two safety boaters and 2-3 guides in a safety raft. The safety raft had full swiftwater rescue gear, each guide had a throw rope and the safety raft had at least one EMT. The levels of the river were huge. We never had any fatalities(Not to say this isn't possible) and we were more prepaired with additional safety boaters and a safety raft full of guides. (These trips had 7-15 commercial rafts and were much shorter in length than the Upper A.)

With the additional rafts by joining two companies it gave a swimming cusomer, or an entire flipped raft more options to swim to and be rescued from. Getting out of the water while inside the canyon was nearly impossible.

In addition to this, the cost to the raft companies were split in half between the two. If two trips are going out on the river why not combine the efforts of both companies for safety. Just a thought and comment on how we handled higher risk on our river in New York. I know you guys are in business to make a profit and have to weigh the cost of safety reasonably-i.e you can't expect to hire four safety boaters for a single raft trip.

My prayers go out to all effected by this tragic event,
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Old 06-22-2005   #26
ski/kayak bum
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 460
I debated about whether to say something here or not but since i like to hear myself type, here goes.......
I've never been a river guide of any kind.....
I haven't run the Upper A at high water....
so basically I'm not qualified to say anything....

so I'll just ask questions...

would you take an unproven skier to "no fall" zones?

do skydiving clinics allow people to pack their own chute and jump solo without many, many jumps under their belt (by solo i mean noone else in the air to assist in an emergency)? or even BASE jump without many previous skydives?

how about likening this situation to race car drivers rather then your everyday driver? how many years of success in documented races do they have to have?

people who pay to climb the tallest peaks, do they have to have thorough background checks and extensive training?

finally where does paddling class V for twenty eight or so miles in freezing cold water with a safety talk but no proven track record (the customers) compare with these above situations?

on the flip side of course is....
how many people in "22 years" have died there? sounds like none up until now.
how many people have gotten the opportunity to see the area like that because of guides? countless
how many people have gotten to feel a slice of what its like to be alive because of these outfitters? countless

you can pay to do all of these activities but most of the time money alone isnt enough to allow stupidity.
then again as my mom used to say (kind of), jumping off a bridge is free, the bungee cord and the knowledge of how to rig it is what costs money.

maybe a tracking system so that paying customers have to have a history of running progressively harder water? just as guides do with logging their time.....

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Old 06-22-2005   #27
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 112
here's a link to an article on the memorial service for Daryle - the guide

my condolences to everyone affected by this.

can anyone explain to someone whose boated the upper a 2x where "ten mile rapid" is?
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Old 06-23-2005   #28
Golden, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 490

Guidebook shows it between Garfield and NoName. Uh, yeah. I just remember 26 Mile rapid was good.
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Old 06-23-2005   #29
no tengo
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Baytopia, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1876
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 1,768
Re: A look at another companies safety system

Originally Posted by PJ
With the additional rafts by joining two companies it gave a swimming cusomer, or an entire flipped raft more options to swim to and be rescued from. Getting out of the water while inside the canyon was nearly impossible.
Thanks! As a matter of fact, just today 4 Corners and Mountain Waters both had trips on the Upper (Needleton to Tacoma) and we teamed up to run Broken Bridge together for extra safety. Went smooth - and it was BIG and FAST!
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Old 06-26-2005   #30
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 1
I just learned of this tragedy today. As a rafting customer I am grieved that one of those who was out there putting his life on the line to provide me with my vacation thrill was required to pay such a terrible price. My deepest condolences are with his young widow and his friends and family.
As one who has enjoyed rafting the upper animas on a commercial raft I say thank you to all of you who take us on those trips. They are highlights of our lives. We only wish we could be out there weekly or daily. When I rafted the upper in June of 94 there had just been two deaths, (non commercial) the week before my trip. I was duly warned by my rafting company that my trip could result in my death. My previous rafting experience was limited to the Royal Gorge and two trips on the lower A.
I did understand I could fall overboard and die. My safety kayaker did tell me if I panicked and endangered him he would knock me off his kayak. I know my raft company helped me to understand that the trip could become life threatening. I am sure that most trippers are at least exposed to that message. I still love the river and have been rafting other white water since that time and longed to have the opportunity to run the upper again.

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