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Old 06-29-2009   #51
Golden, Colorado
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 831
Originally Posted by Force View Post
So here's my observations,
2. Chasing a swimmer through a long 5+ rapid probably wasn't the best decision. Even though I've paddled lowers at that level, was planning to run on that lap, and know about every rock, wave, and hole in their the added pressure of a good friend swimming was over the top. When I made the decision to run it my thought was it was, someone should be in the water to possibly get to the other side of the river or place inaccessible from the right bank or worst case pull and unconscious swimmer from the water but I came close to being another victim. I don't remember much from that run other than rolling a couple times and being offline at the bottom. A better option would be to have run with my boat down the right bank and get back in at the bottom of the rapid to help as needed.
I think you made the right decision. If one of my team swam into a rapid that was within my skill level my instinct would be to follow them down in my boat, especially if someone else was already running down the bank.

I think the reasons you list for making the decision to paddle it are the same things I think about when I am chasing a swimmer. I would have been thinking he was going to be drowned by the time he reached the bottom and that someone needed to be in a boat so they could bail at the bottom and swim him in.

It is probably a tough call which way to go (paddle or get out and run) with a rapid that intense, but I really think you made the right one. If it were me I would have had to get out and run but that is only because V+ is way over my head. You made it down fine.

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Old 06-29-2009   #52
adrock's Avatar
Fort Collins/GWS, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1995
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 208
Along those same lines Theophilus, I helped a swimmer through a very long CV- swim on the Clearwater in Idaho years ago (I was in a playboat and had never run this section but did roadside scout). She missed a bag and could have flush drown but I was coaching her through the rapid and staying as close as possible, and then I was able to help get her to shore when things calmed down about a 1/2 mile later. I think here again, an intuition call. You are taking a big risk but the risk is yours to take and great experience helps you manage big risk. She mentioned that what gave her hope in the water was having me in the water with her. Sometimes you just have to make that call on the fly...

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Old 06-29-2009   #53
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 157
We were obvioulsy very lucky with the turn-out.
I didn't read all of the above posts, but it looks like almost everything was covered.
We were fortunate/unfortunate to be on our local run/with roadside. It allowed us to roll 9 deep, blue angel style. (which was so sweet for 2.9 laps). 9 deep can be a cluster when things go bad. It allowed for Swimmer 1 to know were to swim and what hazards were downstream in a class 4+ rapid, that would probably be read and run. Swimmer 2 was so comfortable in the class 2-3 runout, (entrance) he made a bad decision. It also allowed us to push our selves down three runs, which was fun but tiring. The road provided easy and fast availability for rescue attempts, by being able to sprint downstream even with boats. The road also provided a false sense of safety as our group seperated very quickly from each other, with very little communication.

To me this exposes many things to consider as the Big South season comes into play soon. There are often large groups with lots of familiarty, high comfort levels, little communication and fatigue. Which means lots of fun but the need to be aware in there.

I do have to credit Marty, who made some of the best decisions of the day. One of which was staying in the middle of the green bridge rapid to communicate with both, the paddlers with the swimmer and the paddlers coming down into a rapid with a new hazard, a boat in the landing zone and giving extremely sound advice. Thanks for watching my back.

There were other great, sound, experienced, instant decisions made by the group, which is why it is so great to paddle with this crew.
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Old 06-29-2009   #54
Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1991
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 83
Reading this, the last thing that comes to mind is that the group 'imploded'. It sounds to me like things went bad on a stout stretch of river at high water, and everyone came out OK. Had you guys not been as on the ball as you were, you easily could have lost at least one life.

It's always a dynamic situation, and you made the best of it. There are always lessons to be learned, good decisions and bad decisions made, but the fact that you're all here to talk about it speaks volumes.

Thanks for sharing the situation.
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Old 06-29-2009   #55
Golden, Colorado
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 1,012
Originally Posted by Force View Post
2. Chasing a swimmer through a long 5+ rapid probably wasn't the best decision. Even though I've paddled lowers at that level, was planning to run on that lap, and know about every rock, wave, and hole in their the added pressure of a good friend swimming was over the top.
On the other hand that may have been what saved his life. As other people have stated here, just being there often gives the swimmer what he needs to not give up. I know one guy who pulled through on a near death swim only because he wasn't going to give up when he saw his paddling partner risking his life to stay near him. Not saying that anyone should risk their life to go after a swimmer, but your gut instinct may have been the right one.
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Old 06-29-2009   #56
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x, x
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Happy Birthday Leif, you guys are good boaters.
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Old 06-29-2009   #57
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Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1995
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 2,727
On tethers:

Originally Posted by Dave Frank
I have been removing my tether if I am paddling class 5, and I would probably want 3 minus to warrant clipping in. I usually just float along side the boat and wait for it to pin, unless it is super mellow, or I REALLY like you.
I do think they are useful for unconscious swimmer rescues and backup lines, even on class 5 runs (but in manageable water/situations).

Just to be clear, I sometimes remove the tow system, for harder woodier runs, where i would not be likely to use it.

Be safe out there.

I do NOT remove the chest harness.

(seven two 0)-298-2242
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Old 06-30-2009   #58
AKATief's Avatar
Littleton, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1997
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 39
"There is an inherent risk in living..." "I know what I am capable, others must choose for themselves" - Mark Twight. I would gladly risk everything rather than standby and watch a freind flounder on their own, much less drown. You guys are bad ass... nice work taking care of each other. At the Fire House we always say "Everyone Goes Home..." You made that happen.
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Old 06-30-2009   #59
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Lakewood, Colorasta
Paddling Since: 1997
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 843
Thanks for sharing guys. Big water swims are horrifying. Lower Narrows is very powerful at high water. I was stuck in the 2nd hole below airplane once at high water and it scared the hell out of me. Luckily I did not swim and managed to claw my way out. The river gods were on your side that day it sounds like. Sounds like we've all learned some important lessons.

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Old 06-30-2009   #60
Golden, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 490
Originally Posted by Meng View Post
One question I have (which may have been covered) - was the tether catching and/or not releasing under pressure? Or was it just pilot error, which seems unlikely - if you are trying to drag a full boat to shore (and its downstream of you in current) with the tether released in solid current, it should go.
Good question. I've had a tether-caused swim before and I felt like a real dipshit for it because someone more experienced than me told me right before I did it that it was a bad idea. I think what happens to people is that the tether doesn't release as easy as you expect, you panic a little bit because you know you're being dragged towards something with teeth, then you flip or miss a stroke and lose momentum, then you and the towed object, your dangling tether, and the rest of your shitshow are all headed downstream at the same speed. If you flip, the tether cockblocks your roll, then you swim.

I'm with Dave on this one. My tether stays in my bag more often than not nowadays. The only time I drag it out is total beginner runs where you're just going to be picking up pieces all day long, or, and frankly maybe this is a bad idea, when it's continuous fast water and I can potentially foresee needed to pluck an unconscious swimmer from the water. Still, I almost think that laying an unconscious swimmer over your cockpit and paddling for it might be a better option than clipping into dead weight (no pun intended). Fortunately I have never had to do either though.

On another note, Casper mentions something (it hurts me to say this) that I have thought about before and I actually think it's a good idea. If one of the admins reads this, could we setup a safety forum? I have a bunch of experiences that I could post to it -- assuming I can setup an alias!

Damn it feels good
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