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Old 03-06-2015   #21
Old Guy in a PFD
Tucson, Arizona
Paddling Since: 1967
Join Date: Feb 2013
Posts: 1,022
Pilots say any landing you can walk away from..............
Any rescue that ends with beer around a fire...................

I've been in that kind of maytag. A simple quick run with a new boat to see if it would float, so no rescue equpment, just life jackets and over confidence. It turned into an ass kicking, two of us being maytagged, rolled down the face of the damn several times and basically beaten into a pulp. In the end, all we had to do was stand up....... but for the first time in many years of running I was felt helpless for several minutes while I got my ass royally kicked.

I empathize with the girl. Credit also to the rescuers; they didn't panic and loose their cool, they approached it methodically. Better communication between them could have helped.

But, again, it worked.

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Old 03-06-2015   #22
Steamboat, Colorado
Join Date: Jul 2014
Posts: 582
I'm sorry... I tried to not, but I just have to say it...
Did anybody think to throw her a turkey leg?

It's a good day to be a duck....
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Old 03-06-2015   #23
Preacher of the Profit Paddling Since: 1990
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 1,062

Sorry "I will ignore the "went into rafter mode" jab and assume it was attempt at poorly timed humor...."

I meant to refer to a commerial rafting customer. As a guide I was always blown away by the ones that would fall out and do nothing to aid in the own rescue.

Didn't mean to offend rafters.
I love to dance, but who needs the music- It throws me off.
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Old 03-06-2015   #24
cedar city, Utah
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 1,929
No worries. I had a friend claim she was a Class III boater so we took her down a stretch of the Virgin River. She fell out the first 50 yards and did absolutely nothing. Nothing. And we are talking fast, cold water with runout into a continuous section of whitewater. Luckily it wasn't a wide stretch of river and we were able to push her to shore. If we had gone 75 yards further I think she would have been seriously hurt with her behavior. Only time we have had to pack someone out of a stretch. Long day, but learned a lot. Some people understand the safety talk but don't have the practice or muscle response to do what is needed for self rescue. Theory vs. application.

Now I spend more time asking questions about skill level as "class III" boater means a lot of different things to different people. That and I don't think there anything that replaces practicing swimming rapids on purpose. Like I said before, we never know how we respond until we are in that situation so just like technical rope skills for rescue you gotta practice the swimming techniques.

I hope to never see how my crew does on a big, recirculating ledge or hole.

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Old 03-06-2015   #25
Lyons, Colorado
Join Date: Feb 2008
Posts: 22
so is the correct swimmer response here (armchair perspective) to get a full head of steam and charge toward the hole then dive for the bottom and hope to get flushed?

like so many things in kayaking (imho) it's just wildly counterintuitive without proper training and likely some real-world experience.

I must say the rescue crew seemed very cool-headed and although not perfect they didn't freak out and become a part of the scene.

Great video and conversation that can help everybody learn.

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Old 03-06-2015   #26
KSC's Avatar
Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2003
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 2,032

The highlights seem to be:
1) Paddle within your ability. The paddler was obviously inexperienced. As noted above, she was noticeably shaky coming into the drop.

2) Know your run. I don't know this run, but given the playboats and what not I gather it's not considered super gnar. Maybe in warm weather it's more reasonable to step it up a bit here, but not when it's that cold. The hole is deceptively sticky (based on the GoPro) and if you're going to have an inexperienced boater try to step it up there, you ought to have good safety already set up (multiple throw ropes, possibly someone tethered).

3) Throw rope good. I thought the best comment above was practice throwing an uncoiled rope. At some point there, when the uncoiled rope just wasn't reaching, it might have been better to stuff it again with some help. Another rope would have also helped solve the problem. Where's the waist/chest rope?

4) Upstream action. I actually thought the guy with the GoPro did a reasonable job and kept fairly cool. Yeah, he didn't grab his rope right away, but he was already really close to his boat and I'm guess he had no expectation that there was potential for something that bad to happen. He moved quickly once he realized something bad was going down.

He tried hard to get her attention before throwing the rope to her. And I think after several rounds like that, it's not unreasonable to throw anyway, balancing the risk of entanglement with someone drowning. His position was clearly bad, though I could see how in the heat of the moment he might have thought maybe he could pull her close enough to clear the hole.

Since he lacked good downstream communication, I thought the best move would have been for him to have jumped in and swam downstream to his buddies and thrown from there.

As it turned out, he did more damage than good with his rope. Nonetheless, he tried to keep doing something and talking with the people around him.

5) Swim deep. Already mentioned, but the question above about how to do that is an interesting one. I've always found being very directive about your swimming is kind of difficult in a hole. However, simply residing trying to swim up and away from the hole goes a long way. As much as possible swim down, toward the curtain, and if you can do anything else ball up, or at least change your shape. The worst thing to do is to keep struggling towards the surface.

It bears repeating that they should have gotten her out of the water faster. I've seen many many times people resting in ice cold water after a bad swim or injury. That's a bad place to recover.

That's all I got. Glad she made it ok. Looked traumatizing.
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Old 03-06-2015   #27
I'm wrong 50% of the time
brendodendo's Avatar
RFV, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1977
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 857
Originally Posted by KSC View Post
Yeah, he didn't grab his rope right away, but he was already really close to his boat and I'm guess he had no expectation that there was potential for something that bad to happen. He moved quickly once he realized something bad was going down.
I think he moved slow and steady getting out of his boat and then followed standard lifeguard procedure RTRG (Reach, Throw, Row, GO). I believe that when he took his paddle, he was trying to reach for the swimmer. He then realized that he could not get that far out with the paddle and went to get his bag. I think he was in a good position to support a vector pull, but other that, his position was bad for any rope work. The rope around the helmet visor made me shudder.

We should all be repacking our throw bags at least every few trips. When repacking, you might as well do a few practice tosses. Doesn't matter if you toss it across the street or across the river, pick a target and learn to hit it.
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Old 03-07-2015   #28
Abron Cabron
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Santa Fe, Nuevo Mexico
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 594
I think this is mandatory viewing for all of us progressing paddlers, and should serve as a grim reminder of failing to boof. (or sneak, or walk the damn terminal spots...! no shame in living to sneak another rapid... if you arent feeling it, walk it. and forget anyone who says otherwise.)

I like KSCs points, and Brendo's.

I tried to articulate something last night, and ended up deleting it, cause it was more then half daydreaming about SE creeking and a Buffalo Trace distillery tour being in my somewhat near future plans....
which still sounds lovely by golly... Class III/IV creeking. what a concept....

But what I really wanted to reiterate again for all of us, in the non- class V & expedition population, is the need to have the simple skills dialed.
as mentioned above, familiarity with your equipment, and knowing how to rapidly deploy the simplest, fastest, appropriate rescue is invaluable. The situation will dictate how fast or slow you need to respond. A pinned boat isnt going anywhere, but we dont do well without oxygen.

a good throw bag toss, simple rescue swim or live bait with a hip belay anchor can take care of a large percentage of rescues.

Throwing,coiling properly, and re-deploying rapidly and accurately should be second nature, (and is a pass/fail skill for SWT.) knowing when and how to deploy rope is also crucial knowledge, as mentioned in this thread.

So that being said, I gotta plug DSE's courses for motivated kayakers (and rafters...but if you are a custy disregard all this... seatbelts and water wings are provided.) they got some courses coming up in Colorado it looks like.
the Level 2 kayak swiftwater class was an invaluable course IMO, (that is of course, that it is building on the foundation of the traditional FD/Rafting SwiftwaterTech. highly recommended to do that is an essential first step,at a much slower pace.)

It was invaluable for helping to teach me how important Low tech, dynamic aggressive rescue is. It is really is easy to practice, and to utilize with practice..

Nick had us in our 2013 class whupped silly. it was seriously stupefying how many times we were in and out of our boats at every corner and pin rock on the 1st mile of the Pilar racecourse section. doing simple one and two person pin/swimmer recovery/livebait scenarios, with no more then 2-4 people and as many throw bags. we of course had whatever kit we already possessed and paddled with to use. but the main emphasis was simple ideas, rapid deployment and execution. Familiarity with vectors pulls, rapid live bait swims and group dynamic became somewhat like second nature in just two days.

As we all know, leapfrogging rapids and being able to eddy out safely and assist are all parts of becoming a solid paddler, on any grade whitewater. learning how to move your group safely through crux sections is integral to not being a total junk show.
(once again no disrespect to those in the video. i think i am definitely just generalizing at this point)
I have been a junk show on many an occasion. sincere thanks for all the help historically.

So long story longer, take Swiftwater rescue... and thank you Nick and Evan for taking the time to promote the expedition style safe passage techniques you guys have had much practice with. it was an eye opener for me, and i am definitely better for it. (or i is refresher time this
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Old 03-07-2015   #29
Blade&Shaft's Avatar
Roaring Fork Valley, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2008
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 227
That was heinous.

I think enough has been said in this thread in regards to what could or could not have been done, but my main take away, and I'll keep it short, is that there needed to be A LOT more effort on behalf of the swimmer to get her own ass out of that terrible recirc. Her complete lack of self-rescue left me wondering at first if she had already been getting worked for five minutes. She was definitely in complete rafter (customer) deer-in-headlights mode and features like this are far too dynamic to hang out in the dead starfish position praying that something good will happen.

Lots of great constructive criticism and input here, and this is a outstanding albeit terrifying video that we can all learn a lot from. Lots of talk about diving deep and curling into a ball, but the notion of SWIMMING FOR YOUR LIFE comes to mind for me. There were numerous opportunities (especially before she became dead tired) for the victim to turn onto her stomach and swim herself out of the hole. The decision to swim actively needs to be timely and calculated, with the realization that you may have this ONE opportunity to capitalize on your rapidly decreasing energy and adrenaline to get your ass to safety. Commercially, we see the "dead starfish" all the time and oftentimes, you are your own best rescue.

Getting the victim out of the water ASAP after this caliber of beatdown is imperative as well.

I'm glad she's okay and I hope she can fully recover (mentally) and get back on the water sooner than later.

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Old 03-08-2015   #30
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Lakewood, Colorasta
Paddling Since: 1997
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 843
Well that was a shit show. Hope she is ok. You can't just breakdance and surf the hole all day, thats a recipe for disaster. Upstream guy should have thrown the rope and jumped in earlier. Easy to couch jocky this one. Agree with Kevin. Intense.

Nice. . . Townes Van Zandt. Love it.

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