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Old 12-03-2004   #41
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 26
Hmmm. Solo boating. This is something that comes with time, respect and some confidence in your ability. I have boated many times solo, anywhere from class III-V and let me tell you the more you do it the less you push your limits you start to weigh the consequences. I wouldn't recommend boating solo until you know in your heart that you are safe and you always tell someone where you are going. Anything can happen. Have a plan for safety, don't hesitate to scout, and know your limits. Something to keep in the back of your mind is if you don't feel comfortable doing something solo (or with friends) then don't, come back when you have more experience and have a deeper appreciation for something that can take your life. Now don't get me wrong, I am absolutely passionate about boating have been for 13 years. I have been on expeditions, run some amazing class V but I have also enjoyed Class II and III, just bouncing along with friends and family. Don't rush experience.

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Old 12-03-2004   #42
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Jackson, Wyoming
Paddling Since: 94
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No worries Matt,I did'nt take it that way at all,I was just saying I was on the other side of the fence in,I have been saved by a friend...You know the side that people say if you solo your doomed to die...

I remember hearing and seeing your gear wondering what was going on..Heard from someone that day...

Waterboy I 100% agree,solo'ing comes with experience and time...Not to be taken lightly yet can be done as safe as if you were a group...I'm not talking about walking everything either,as I rarely walk when I'm out alone...I seem to walk more with friends then not...Anyway,everyone have happy holidays and be safe

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Old 12-04-2004   #43
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crested butte, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1990
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experience, mood, tolerance level for excitement and desire.....when you solo you pay more try harder and you do better...sometimes doing your best is not enough... you get beat down....HOPE only comes into effect durning "crunch" times....and you say,"i hope i get out of this mess ok"....but that is "sporting" isn't it??...if you go into the run hoping it all goes well.... then back to the thing called FATE....which i leave nothing to(except love) last solo i had a good scare....if i would have given up(swam) or have waited for, say, a crew member to get to me i would have been toast...while taking the beating(rocks included, the longest and most harsh with the least amount of O2..... of my kayaking career)i thought not of being SOLO, not that i wish my friends could have been there to watch it(help), but that i needed to roll up and get back on was a struggle and because i tried harder it paid off!!! i made a mistake..... missed my little, itty, bitty boof....with at least 7 hours of sporting activity to go...I thought about what my kayaking hero(r.dastin) once told me....."SOMETIMES YOU GOTTA FORGE ON".... so, i did........and in the back of my head i was already planning my next multisport-solo-mission....
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Old 12-04-2004   #44
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 8
I lost a very dear friend a few months ago. He was paddling solo. It was an exploratory run coming off of Mt. Ranier in Washington. Would it have made a difference if there were others with him that day? Yeah, probably. They would've died too. It was the nature of the beast. A hidden, unrunnable falls around a blind corner with no opportunity to stop.

I hate to say it, but I lost another dear friend of mine ten years ago almost to this day. He wasn't solo. I was with him as were several other close friends. The Upper Wind River at floodstage, also in Washington.

What's the point? Well, unless you're in a tandem boat, you are the master of your own craft. Nobody is forcing anyone to do something they don't want to do. That's the beauty about paddling kayaks. You and you alone are in charge. My bros knew the dangers and accepted them. Of course they didn't know they wouldn't be coming back and if they did...well, things would be different.

I was paddling solo on the Upper Restonica in Corsica a few years ago. I came to a gorge that I thought I should probably walk, but I ran it. I got vertically pinned in a tight 3m slot. I was pretty sure I was going to drown, but by some stroke of luck I made it out. This made me think very seriously about my actions. It scared me.

But look, we are kayakers for a reason. And that reason might very well be the camaraderie that we feel on the river, the wild and remote places we can visit, or the pure and untainted sensation of having adrenaline pound through your body. Perhaps you're like me, and it's all these things together. The point is we are the masters of our own destiny and we rely on our own judgment, our own feelings and our own responses.

Things can go wrong, and then sure, if a buddy is there to throw you that crucial line or give you the magic tug, all the better. But to get into your boat at the put-in with that thought coursing through your head, well then maybe it would be better if you step into a raft.

Solo kayaking is a way to shed light on our lives and to see things for what they really are. We are all responsible for our own actions and in the end we are nothing but mere mortals.

Cheers, and thanks for reading my rant.
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Old 12-10-2004   #45
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Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 10
Nice post. I’ve seldom shared my solo experiences with others…for me, discussing the actual event almost defeats the very purpose. I'm not a fan of soloing cause I can't find a paddling partner.

Sharing the experience can be special too, but I’ve only done it with a couple people. I don’t mean that others sharing their experiences are wrong or that they paddle solo for the wrong reasons…I’m speaking only about me.

I’ve stayed in the “closet” about solo mountaineering, climbing, and paddling for twenty plus years not for fear of being considered irresponsible or being political incorrect; but rather for fear of pushing someone else to try it who otherwise wouldn’t. Given the number of people who say they are doing it now…maybe discussing how to make it as safe as possible is the best thing. Like Safe sex!

I believe if you have to ask about solo paddling, you’re probably not ready to do it safely. You’ll know when you’re ready. I think the peer pressure not to solo paddle is key to keeping it safe. It is not something to be taken lightly and seeking the experience too soon is unsafe. Solo paddling skills depend far more on judgment and judgment only comes from experience…experience only comes from mistakes. Making those mistakes in a paddling group may not kill you. Making those same mistakes will kill you solo. Don’t mistake paddling skills for judgment.

I think each person has unique reasons for paddling the things they do. My reasons for seeking the solo experience may not/don’t justify the added risk(s) to most others. While I respect other’s opinions and certainly consider them when assessing why I solo; in the end choosing to solo comes down to simple honesty with the man in the mirror: honesty about why I do it, honesty about my skill, and honesty about my judgment.

I agree that if you’re not willing to run a drop solo you shouldn’t be running it. Meaning the safety net provided by the group shouldn’t be a factor in your decision to paddle a drop. That said the mental aspect of the sport has such a big impact on performance that it is easy to understand why having that safety net for mental reasons is so important for some. When ones mind is right, they can paddle to their full potential. But no matter how skilled one is, when the mind is not right…things will go wrong.


Rationalizing the risk away changes only your state of mind and your perception of the risk(s). Doing that for your specific individual mental needs is fine, but we should not help others rationalize the risks away.

Don’t use Rachel Moldover’s article about the "Dangers of Boating with Others" to justify solo paddling. Her “tongue-in-cheek” article points out only that many groups paddle unsafe. Such rationalization doesn’t make solo paddling any safer…only that we need to improve paddling safety in general. No doubt Rachel’s solo paddling is safer than that of many groups, as she points out, but that doesn’t reduce the risks of solo paddling.

So how can one make solo paddling safer:
1. Be honest about your ability and judgment.
2. If you find yourself trying to rationalize away the risks, then know you’re only fooling yourself.
3. Don’t take any shortcuts! Just because something is a “normal” paddling habit on a river you’ve run 100’s of times doesn’t mean it is a safe practice. Use the AW Safety Code as a guideline. By ignoring guidance to boat with a minimum of three we should adhere even more to the other proven risk reducers.
4. Paddling in control means knowing what is around the corner or beyond the horizon line…take a quick look!
5. Be prepared, if you don’t have it or know it, you can’t help yourself.

The pearls of wisdom I rediscover each time I read the safety code or a book/article on paddling safety, have no doubt helped me stay “safe”. I would be remiss if I didn’t confess to some close calls though. Almost all my solo close calls have been on class III-IV rapids. Don’t be fooled that boating conservative lines or walking the CL V drops make solo paddling safe.

Solo paddling is not as safe as paddling with others. Solo paddling can be done safely, but the margin of error is reduced. It is even more important if you choose to paddle solo to follow safety guidelines even closer.

Be Safe

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