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Old 03-03-2009   #21
no tengo
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Baytopia, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1876
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Posts: 1,768
Originally Posted by jaansdornea View Post
Do other boaters really feel that solo boaters are stupid as one individual poster called me?
I did not call you stupid I said 'not real bright' (big difference) and I would not call all solo boaters not real bright - just ones who are at or above their skill level. I ran the piedra solo it was pretty cool.

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Old 03-03-2009   #22
Hood River, Oregon
Paddling Since: 2163
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 295
Solo boating is your personal choice. That being said, you should think about a few things.

First of all, I read a lot of AW accident reports. If I run across one that says "paddled solo," I think to myself, man, what a fool. It would suck to end up on that page because you were too proud or impatient to bring your buddies. (if you don't mind this then go for it). Of course, some people will call this something other than pride.

Vanatta: The idea that you are 'usually paddling class V solo because no one can help you in there' is a complete fantasy.

1) There is almost always some way to set some form of safety.
2) Even if you can't set safety, there is someone to give you signals and watch your back, help boat scout, etc.
3) Someone is there to help you scout, someone who will see what you do not, help you see your line, and help you keep yourself in check.
4) Try doing big time first aide on your self. Then try hiking yourself out.

So with all that being said, I think no one can argue that paddling class V (or anything) solo is as safe as having your buddies there to watch your back. I personally believe this holds true even in big water/wide channels as well as boxes.

So, with the added danger factor (class V is already dangerous enough, as is the rest of paddling), consider what your possible death/injury/SAR extraction does to the community's credibility. When we ask for more access rights to rivers what will authorities say? "Oh yeah, you are the guys we have to pay lots of money for to do body recovery and SAR missions."

Bottom line is, if you want to paddle solo, go for it, it is indeed your choice. You should, however, consider it more carefully before doing it. The river is a more powerful force than any of us can handle alone. Admittedly, it is tempting to paddle alone when your buddies won't rally. But is it worth it to increase your risk exponentially just because you are too impatient to wait for your buddies? The river is patient and so should you be.

I draw my line at moving water. If it has a riffle, I want a buddy to paddle with. My heroes in paddling are those who run rivers safely, work as a team, and respect the river's power.

People always talk about the 5 essentials, 1) boat 2) paddle 3) skirt 4) pfd 5) helmet. IMO the 6th is your buddy and you shouldn't put on without him/her.

since this is the internet, feel free to flame...

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Old 03-03-2009   #23
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Bozeman, Montana
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david. great. soloing is great but bailey class 4 gore is class 4 with some 5 and poudre is class 4 with 5 come on freak? soloing 5's all day everyday. you would never live to ed conning out of cody's age. unless say you never fuck up or have to be pulled out of anything. never knocked unconscience. and freak take a acc coarse somebody can benefit other than you in a class 5 situation with the hand of god.
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Old 03-03-2009   #24
Mad Scientist/Creeker
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Great points David about the added margin of safety with a competent crew. I believe that was really needed after what Ken said. I also agree with Ken though on the head space you need to be in to run hard whitewater. Your team is there to help you and set up the best safety that they can, but when I drop into a run or a rapid of serious difficulty, my mindset is that I've got to be confident enough to run this solo. Even to get on it with my team there.

That mindset is what I like to call the "don't blow this under any circumstance mindset." It is the same head space you need to be in if you're going to run hard whitewater solo. Problem is that sometimes, and for some people more often than others, you do blow it and that's when having your friends there could make all the difference. At least with your team you've got a chance. Even in Gore, imagine a bad leg injury while paddling solo in there. Think you're getting out very quickly on your own if you have to crawl?

My guess is that Ken has been paddling soooooooo long that he knows exactly where his limits are and what he can paddle safely and confidently whether with a crew or solo. He is extremely confident in his ability to get certain runs done without mishap and is willing to take the risk. He isn' out there running an exploratory run at high flow solo or even a half a grade harder than he is ultimately comfortable with. Solo boating can provide some amazing experiences but you've got to *know* that you are going to make it. Since you can't always know, and your frieds can help you, there is added risk.

Be confident. Know your line. And stick it. One of the keys to running the hard stuff is just having enough experience under your belt to know you've got what it takes.
Evan Stafford
Cub boater: "What do the spiders mean?" Old fart boater: "Trust your intuition." CRCII
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Old 03-03-2009   #25
Park City, Utah
Paddling Since: 1985
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 700
Solo Boating

I solo boat (infrequently). I ski in the backcountry solo (3-5 nights per week). It is not a victimless crime. If I am hurt, a search party will be sent, and risks will be taken to find and get me out. I weigh the risk versus my personal sanity. My kids could be left fatherless. My wife would probably be better off, as I do have ample of life insurance! Knowing and weighing the risk has been bantered here often. For a person to take their first trip through gore in late winter having acknowledged that they are not a class V boater is not reasonable. Calling him out is wise. Respecting his personal informed choice is as well.
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Old 03-03-2009   #26
Fred Gnarquist
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carbondale, Colorado
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Solo boating is one of those things I like to stay away from if I am not confident. For instance, I solo shoshone in the winter all the time, I am comfortable with it after running it hundreds of times, however I would not solo any run that I feel uncomfortable with. I have been in a few situations where if my buddy wasn't there, I could have been in serious trouble. These situations are what makes me weary of running hard whitewater by myself, I know I wont stomp every rapid that I run, therefore having my buddies there is key. It applies to a lot of sports also, imagine skiing in the backcountry without a buddy, if you get caught in an avalanche, you are screwed. Same with kayaking, imagine getting pinned with your head under, no way to get out, nobody there to save you. Remember that bad stuff happens to good people, the death of my friend Max Lentz helped me realize that even when your friends are there, you could still die. You have to accept that risk. And always remember, the river is more powerfull than you are. Drink your booties, and respect the river. Evan and Eli had really good points also.
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Old 03-03-2009   #27
Fred Gnarquist
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carbondale, Colorado
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forgot... what is the ice situation like down there? anyone probed it out yet?
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Old 03-03-2009   #28
Eldorado Springs, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2007
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 62
I'm not proud or stupid (at least I don't see myself as proud or stupid). I'm in agreement with the consensus -- I'd be an ass to do this solo. That said, i feel bad about hijacking this thread. Back to the heart of the matter for those who asked -- what's the ice like?
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Old 03-03-2009   #29
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Bozeman, Montana
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Somebody needs to get on that train.
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Old 03-03-2009   #30
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Boulder, Colorado
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One additional comment: I agree with David's point that it is almost always safer to be in a situation with a group than solo. You can envision certain situations - a one boat eddy above a major hazard or dropping in on someone surfing a hole, where you might be better off solo, but these are corner cases and we're playing the percentages.

However, I think it is excessive to draw the line at moving water. I would contend that most anyone (class V boater or not), is safer soloing lower clear creek above Golden (III/IV) than dropping into Vallecito(V/V+) with a group of solid boaters. Point being, boating solo ups the ante, but it can be a reasonable risk to assume on a run you are very familiar with, well within your ability level, and with a reasonable expectations of no unexpected hazards. I say the avalanche analogy is: not cool to go alone on unknown terrain on high risk avalanche aspects, but probably cool to go alone on really low incline with super stable snowpack in a well known area.

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