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Old 08-23-2013   #151
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Denver, Colorado
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Originally Posted by JCKeck1 View Post
Amazing Baileyfest Ian! I had a spectacular time!

One thing I did want to bring up was the junk show safety scene that I witnessed at Foley Falls (1st falls). I know there were lots of lines and lots of various safety setups over the weekend, but when I came through it was ugly.

By far the biggest problem was people throwing ropes that were either completely unneeded because the swimmer was coming into the eddy already or people throwing ropes at swimmers that were not looking for a rope. I also saw a throw where the rope was draped across several paddlers.

I witnessed one boater swim and as soon as his head was above the surface in the hole, he was hit by 4 ropes. He was unable to grab any of them because he wasn't looking and completely disoriented. After setting down my camera, I calmly yelled rope at him until he looked up and then bagged him out of the hole.

Everyone wants to get their buddy out of a jam as quickly as possible, but the most important thing with throwbags is patience and judicious use.

So in that vein, I present a blog post from a few years ago with some pointers: Huckin Duckie with ropes.

Great to see everyone and come on up to the PacNW - we're still paddling!
damn i'm glad i dipped out to run 2 laps before this bullshit went down. keep your ropes in check. usually when i know there's more than one group, or people i don't know so well in a group, i ask one of my homies (not some dude i don't know) to set safety for me at a rapid. i have been in situations where i had to tell people, "wait, don't throw yet," or "wait, that's my bro, i'll throw the rope."

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Old 08-23-2013   #152
Denver, Colorado
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Thanks for the rope wisdom Joe. Good blog write up, and awesome pic of the throw at whiteline!

Having a large number of paddlers on the river can present a challenge we don't often encounter. There is some good, some bad, and always something to learn from and get better.

Over the last couple of years at Bailey Fest I have seen more awesome saves by random people than I have safety bloopers, but its a great point to get people to think about safety in large groups.

Coordination at the Foley swimmin hole is probably the biggest takeaway. My take is that the guy furthest out on the rock should be bag #1 if needed, and the guy behind him should be ready with bag #2 if needed, or to backup the first guy as he reels in a swimmer. If you want to set safety for your specific crew, get out on the rock and communicate with people as your crew comes through. What I know I can do better next year is communicate with people on the rock more to talk about who will be first throw, second throw etc. Obviously a swimmer in the hole typically needs to be bagged out. I think its good to bag swimmers who are along the rock wall and out of the hole, because its tough to swim into the eddy from there, and once in the eddy, the current pushes back upstream and back into the hole, so it helps get folks out. I personally think getting swimmers and gear out on the big rock is harder than getting them out where portagers put back in, but thats just me.

Another issues is getting boats out of the pothole after a swim. Creekboats like to stand up vertically and just sit in the pothole, and getting a rope on them is difficult and backs up traffic on the river. I've fished out boats at two Bailey Fests using a biner on a stick trick, but man, its time consuming. Next year at Bailey Fest my plan is to bring in a more solid telescoping pole with a biner on it to snag boats in the pothole to keep things moving.

Another thing to work on is Supermax safety. Spectators in key spots like the catchers spot on river left at the crux are in critical safety positions to be able to catch boaters about to go for an undercut tour. The folks around tampax should be ready to scramble down and pull surfing paddlers out of the 2nd to last hole of tampax, and folks at the bottom should be ready to help fish out gear. One other issue I saw was rafts eddying out on river left just below tampax. I saw two swims from Kayakers as the big boil pushed them on the rafts while upside down and they were unable to roll.

One of the best safety stories of Bailey Fest happened last year. Once of the Tennessee West (idaho springs) boys was getting bitched at by the neighbor landowners as he stood at second falls. He was telling that that they need to set safety... and just then, some random guy swam out of second falls, and he instantly bagged him out of the river. Solid work!

Thanks to all the folks that did a great job on safety this year, and looking forward to tightening it up for next year.

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Old 08-23-2013   #153
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Ian, the catch to throwing ropes at people coming out from under the wall is that there's 10 kayakers in the water right there. The swimmer can grab on the stern of any of them. If a rope gets thrown, it presents a safety/swimming hazard to all of the kayakers in the water.
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Old 08-23-2013   #154
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I think it depends Joe.

I bagged someone out from along the cliff wall when there weren't other boaters there for the stern grab, and I'm pretty sure he was really happy to get a rope, so I'd argue a rope is good when there aren't 10 boaters in the way. Agree that a rope is not needed if a swimmer is out of the hole with a boater waiting to tow and that throwing ropes into a pile of paddlers could cause problems.
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Old 08-23-2013   #155
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I was bagged out of first falls. If I had resurfaced and seen everyone standing with ropes in their hands and nobody threw one I would not have been happy. The fact that a rope rescue may have been slightly more inconvenient was not on my mind at all.
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Old 08-24-2013   #156
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I agree to both sides of the story, but lean towards the side of the swimmer on a few cases. I would be less concerned if ONE rope were thrown without my attention assuming it did not affect other boaters (I.e. swimming by yourself in Foley's Fishbowl, aka 1st Falls). Maybe the sound of the water keeps you from hearing the word 'rope'..... and you're disoriented at the same time from being chundered. Maybe you're facing the wall and you see a rope bounce down right in front if you. You will be saying thank you at that point, not saying ' I can't believe some asshole just threw a life line at me'.

It depends on the circumstances. If someone's experiencing their first resurface and they appear to have some control under the situation you don't want 4 ropes thrown at him like Spider-Man. If they are struggling and near blackout you aren't going to sit by without trying something to save you're friends life. If the boater is not trapped and safety boaters are accessible the rope is probably not warranted at all.
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Old 08-25-2013   #157
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Here's the DeepSouth to Craven bag toss. You be the judge.

From my perspective, not only was the bag the right call, but perfectly executed as well. The Falls were closed for business until the creekboat was retreived anyway, so there was absolotely no delay for upstream traffic whatsoever due to the rope.
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I've a suggestion to keep you all occupied...learn to swim!
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Old 08-25-2013   #158
Hood River, Oregon
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It seems like the rope in that video wasn't really needed, especially from that angle. You were out of the hole and the undercut, with nothing but a large eddy on one side of the rock and class 2 on the other.

With the angle of that rope, you actually got pulled a few feet upstream towards the hole again... Obviously you didn't go back in, so who is to say it was wrong. I just probably wouldn't have thrown right there. OR, if I did, I would have liked to throw from downstream so as to pull you away from the hole into the bottom of the eddy instead of into a rock wall right next to the hole.

It is easy to scrutinize these things after the fact, but the split second decisions in the moment are what counts. It worked out fine in this case, so I guess there isn't really that much reason even to write this post...

On the more general subject of first falls safety, it seems odd to me that everyone always stands right next to the hole with a rope. Where are you going to pull someone if you are standing right next to the hole? Well, you will pull them close to the hole. Standing a little bit farther way (or being ready to move down after your throw) seems like if would put you in a better position to pull someone away from the hole/undercut once you bag them, if you are even able to bag them before they pop out the other side.
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Old 08-25-2013   #159
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Standing next to the hole makes the throw easier, but then he did have to walk away to pull him away. Worked fine. SWimmer likely could have dealt solo, but if it ws me id appreciate the rope. I see nothing to complain about the rescue. Anyone upstream should be paying attention to clues and signals from below. If you run Foley falls into a rope scenario you were probably not paying much attention.

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Old 08-25-2013   #160
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Originally Posted by David Spiegel View Post
I just probably wouldn't have thrown right there.
If that's the case I would not be excited about you setting safety for me at first falls. The "large eddy" you mention has a significant boil in it that pushes most of the outflow along the left wall and around the corner. Around the corner lies an easy spot to get out on the left, away from boats and gear. Or swimming over shallow rocks and around a rock wall to get to shore on the right. Neither one is as good as simply getting roped to the side, comfortably within the eddy.

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