The more I think about this video the more grateful I become that it happened. First my friend Baer is still here. Second, this video is the greatest preventative short of a drowning to others whom might be attracted to this drop now known as a high potential killer. Eventually, one might predict someone else would drown on this rapid. The graphic footage has served a greater good.
The video is emotional for the community because of it's controversy and the added respect value of what happened to Juan Dugarte, a dear friend to many. Conditions were different chiefly with lower flows. And that likely played into Baer's, Aeon's and Mark's decision.
Two issues I want to mention: self-decision and this learning opportunity for proper safety.
Trust Baer understood the risk taken. That's his decision to "Baer." It's apparent in his Gopro footage. At least 50% of this rescue is self-rescue. Baer's aggressive pro-active swim moved him several meters downstream. His fast moves on the wall advanced him another few meters downstream to where when he was stuffed under the wall that his chances of popping out in downstream current were higher. That swim must have been part of their pre-run rescue plan in case of problems. Without his own proactive swim he would not have been reachable by rope and may not have survived.
Mark's rope attached to his own body arriving to Baer is a remarkable point and almost seems like chance. Baer points out that he took several long arm strides on the rope meaning he was deep. Mark attached a rope to his body with a plan to throw rope into cave and paddle paddler out. That too was their plan of action and risk taken. Sketchy to some. But it worked. Worth noting is how solid of a boater Mark Taylor is. Thankful they got the job done.
As the owner of Pucon Kayak Hostel and leader of Patagonia Study Abroad we see lots of crews coming through to charge. Including this team just two days prior. This video will likely become one of our greatest teaching tools for assessing safety and decision making. If nothing else the video illustrates to chargers the many things that can go wrong with boat rescue even with the most solid of boaters. For that I thank the team. But I am not an instructor that wants to say, "Don't take the risk." Where's the self-discovery and learning in that? Rather, would it not be more impactful to have a set of principles for your own decision making of what you will and will not allow yourself. The questions to contemplate might be:
- What is the basis for your reason to run this rapid?
- What could possibly go wrong on this rapid?
- What are the worst case consequences for any failure?
- What is best case scenario for 100% rescue scenario?
- What would issue 100% rescue safety? Is 100% rescue attainable here? Are you willing to set that 100% rescue safety?
The event happened. Baer survived. And in my opinion I believe this controversial video has served a greater good and saved someone from drowning in the future. Please learn from it what you will.
Thank you Baer for the courage to take the heat and I look forward to paddling with you on the Gauley or Nevados next round.