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Old 11-13-2008   #11
Chip's Avatar
SE, Wyoming
Paddling Since: 1986
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 1,098
my first real trip. . .

On Deso, muchos años pasados, with Mark & Ellen Meloy. Mark and I were in duckies, with Ellen rowing the monster BLM Avon. August and screeching hot, with vicious gusty winds.

My only tactic was to paddle as hard as I could, which got me through the top hole in Three Fords Rapid, but in the wave train that followed, a gust of wind caught the bow of my duckie and slapped it sideways: arse over teakettle.

Ellen was watching me (some geek relative of hers had flipped there and broken his foot on a rock and I guess she had me in that same category). She saw me take the big dive, then turned around to keep the raft out of trouble.

I had a deathgrip on my paddle and managed to hang onto the Pack Cat with my other hand. We whoomped into a trough, boat first, and over the next crest— I noticed the boat was below me. Aha!

I got a breath in the next trough and on the next crest I rolled back onto the boat, stuck my feet in the brace, and straightened it out. Painless. When Ellen looked back, I was ramping the waves like a natural.

At camp that night she asked me if I'd dumped or was she imagining things. I let her suffer for a while, before telling the truth.

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Old 11-14-2008   #12
tellutwurp's Avatar
Longmont, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2004
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 260
Well, I have kept away from bad situations river experiences thus far, but it was August in the Tetons. We hiked up during great late summer weather and set up camp in between the middle and Grand teton in preparation for a 4 days climbing fest.

First day out, we are midway up a route on the middle teton and the weather turns a bit colder and clouds start moving in. Not a big deal right, after all it is the dog days of summer. We continue on as there are only a few more pitches left. My buddy is leading and somehow wedges the rope behind a cam and can't advance. He decides to set up a impromptu belay and I climb up to free the rope. Unfortunately the rope is caught by the cam and it had walked back and is now over cammed an stuck.

As this struggle ensued the wind was picking up and flurries were falling. After finally getting to the belay we talked over our situation. It was snowing harder and getting colder and we weren't really prepared for snow, high winds, and these temperatures. On the other hand, we were so close to the top and a walk back down on the south seemed a quicker option than rapping off the face. We continued...

It wasn't long before our gloveless hands couldn't function that well and we were getting real cold. Although we are only a pitch away from the top, we could see a shorter rap into a gulley to the north east and decided to bail thinking it would be the quickest way out... yeah right.

Trying to balance both safety and loss of gear for both the expense and the potential need later, we begin wrapping with a combination of slings, fixed gear and single pieces.

Rapping on some shaddy ass gear we find an overhanging cave to warm up in, but we can't stay too long as it is getting harder to see and dark is enevitably closing in. While pulling the rope for the next wrap our rope gets caught in a pinch above forcing me to climb up and free it. After freeing the rope I set it in a different place and rapped back to the cave to pull the rope. The fucking thing is stuck again and I am wet mostly from climbing a chimney in the snow and cold as hell. I climb back up. I'm surely not going to rap again and get it stuck so I begin my slippery free solo descent in the snow. Reaching the cave, we quickly set the next rap and descend to relatively safe terrain.

It is dark, snowing, and windy; the gulley seems to have three times as much snow as they ledges above. We begin descending the gulley and what we thought would be a walk turned into a series of 10-20 foot raps. We can't tell how far away we are and can barely make out the features in front of us. We decide that we need to hunker down for the night. We excavate a small depression in the Taluss/skree and prepare for a long night. to preserve warmth, my buddy and I cuddle... for some reason I got the top.

After a long night of trying to stay awake as to not freeze to death in my sleep and hallucinating rescuer lights below, we start heading down at first light. to our surprise, we are only 150' from the valley floor and probably a 30 minute hike from there to our tent.

As we reach the valley and begin trekking back, my feet began to thaw out and a slight pain ensued. arriving at our tent we sleep for the rest of the day and night. The next morning I can hardly walk. My feet were fine while stuffed up in climbing shoes and frozen, but once thawed the tissue damage became apparent; the front half of my feet were useless and balance was impossible. My buddy grabbed me two walking sticks and we started on the really long and painful hike out that ended with me in the emergency room getting treatment for frostbite and trench foot.

Later we learned that another group had slipped and fallen from the the grand because of the snow and had a helicopter evac. I guess I was lucky.

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