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Old 08-31-2009   #11
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2002
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 585
Thanks for posting that, Ian. Good to hear more from the other crew's perspective.
And holy shit - scary.
Yeah - I was well anchored to make a throw where I thought it would be needed if one of the guys in our crew got into trouble.
But then someone from another crew ended up in trouble - I could see he was gonna swim, but I could tell he was gonna be downstream of me before he pulled.
Seeing nobody else around with a rope and seeing that it looked like he was on pace to swim into Scissors, I decided to act. I went sprinting down the bank to get ahead of him, downstream of him-- but damn he was moving fast.
I got a little ways ahead of him and threw the rope on the dead run, with the plan of setting my feet against a rock and sitting back before the tension hit. I figured I might have 10 seconds from the time I threw the rope until the tension hit, and there are an awful lot of rocks on this bank, and I'll be able to wedge myself in time.
But unfortunately, I didn't have 10 seconds. It was like 4. The bag landed right past the guy's face and he grabbed it immediately, and as fate would have it, I was standing on a big flat boulder. There was NOTHING to grab onto or wedge my feet against, and the force of the rope immediately yanked me off my feet and I landed on my face, holding onto the rope. I started sliding down the face of the boulder, and if I didn't let go of the rope, we were going to have two swimmers.
I had to let go.
I wish SO BAD that I could go back 30 hours and make the decision that I just can't help here. I can't make a throw to this guy, because I'm outta position and I'm not anchored.
I wish I could take that throw back.
If I had been anchored, I'd a been a hero. Would have saved the guy from swimming scissors. But since I couldn't get anchored in time, I simply should not have made the throw.
Now all I can do is pray that the rope gets found quickly, or that it's never seen again and never causes a problem.
I'm really sorry it's in there.

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Old 08-31-2009   #12
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 393
Thanks for the insight peeps...glad everyone is okay.

Shopping for a new river knife right now. I'm sure we've had the "best riverknife discussion" about nine times...can anyone point me to a relevant thread (or just give me the definitive answer re: best riverknife for kayakers?)

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Old 08-31-2009   #13
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 5
My 2 cents

Good account DeepSouth. I was on the bank watching the whole thing and here are some additional points from my take. It wasn't a matter of not being able to hold the rope, the thrower was being dragged into the river and let go only right before he fell in. He was not prepared for the swim because no one in his group was paddling at the time and he reacted as quickly as he could for the situation. lesson learned: anchor down or don't throw. Secondly, the paddling group with the swimmer didn't stop and scout, nor set any of their own safety. They appeared to be a highly competent group who knew the lines well, but they took some very aggressive lines back to back to back. Lessoned learned: set some safety or boat less aggressively (the "sneak") to minimize the carnage.

I was the last of our group to go through Gore/Scissors, and I saw no evidence of the rope in the river.

Keep it safe. I'll see you on the river.

Originally Posted by deepsouthpaddler View Post
Here is an account from one of the boaters on the water during the incident.

"One of our crew hit his head in Gore and ended up swimming. I peeled out and was about 10 ft behind went the rope came in from river right. Great throw and our boy got a hold of it. He started swinging to the bank and then the rope went slack. He got onto the back of my boat through scissors. As I was paddling, the rope wrapped around my paddle and neck. The swimmer had rope wrapped around arm and leg. I lost him off the back in Scissors and then managed to untangle myself. The rope then snagged (I assume the bag end caught on something) and somehow swimmer had a full on knot around his arm which cinched down. He had lost his knife this season but had not replaced it. The next 20 seconds were very bad. He was caught in the backwash of a hole and began plaining under. We could not tell he was still snagged in the rope until he began to plain under. Just as I was about to leap out of the boat and run upstream to try and cut the rope, he came loose. Got him on the back of the boat again while our other kayaker got knife out to cut rope which was again tangled around me and the swimmer with knot on his arm still. The cut section went off into pyrite so it should not be anywhere in Gore rapid.

It was a rather incredible experience. Iíve never seen a rope get that entangled. The lessons that I took from it are all straight forward, but not always clear when stuff is hitting the fan: 1) always replace your knife immediately. We all see a lot of empty sheaths out there. Someone needs to design something that stays on the vest after a waterfall. 2) Donít throw a rope into the rapid unless you can hold onto it. A kayaker paddling through a floating rope will get entangled. I got entangled in it twice within 100 yards of river. The paddle goes under the rope and then wraps around it as you take strokes 4) As a swimmer, never wrap up in the rope and if you feel it go slack then get rid of it immediately 4) I probably should have hit the bank running upstream earlier. If that rope had not come free, those 5-10 seconds could have made the difference."

My two cents... The guy is lucky the rope came free from the snag, as it was still snagged on his arm. I saw red marks on his arm where the rope was wrapped at the takeout. It could have ended really badly if it even lasted for just another minute or so. Scary.

Another thought is that proper anchoring is something that takes some practice and thought, and its easy to lose track of when you are in the thick of it. The guy who couldn't hold on to the rope isn't the first guy to throw a rope at gore and not be able to hold on. One good anchoring technique is to throw the rope, and before the force comes, sit down on your ass with your feet in front of you in the direction of pull, with your feet bracing on rocks in front of you. If its a straight pendulum, I'll put the rope around my back so body friction holds it instead of hands. You can stand a lot of force this way. Of course you need to plan your throw spot with this in mind. In anything with fast water its very hard to hold on to the rope with your hands.

Glad everything turned out ok.
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Old 08-31-2009   #14
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Littleton, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2002
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 39
Mikey, Don't beat yourself up. You tried hard to save a fellow boater. I foolishly didn't have my rope ready. When I saw the swimmer I thought holy shit! then I saw an awesome throw and thought you had him. It was some damned fast acting. I'm glad to have you on the water with me.

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Old 08-31-2009   #15
no tengo
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Baytopia, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1876
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 1,765
we all want to try and help someone so understand why he threw thinking there would be enough time to anchor. also he let everyone know about the hazard. if casper and others give people enough crap they might be afraid to post about the hazard and that would be way worse - so please let people post about hazards without judgement okay!
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Old 08-31-2009   #16
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 5
I just became a member of this thread today because I was informed that my swim through Gore was posted here and that there was a discussion about the scenario that had taken place. I've been boating for a few years and have come to learn that this is a very dangerous sport. Sunday the 30th of August I took one of the worst swims and physical punishments of my life. It is one thing to swim but to be tangled in a rope is another. Mike.....correct me if I'm wrong. When I got out of the water and got my bearings back I realized that there had been some very bad decisions made on my part and yours. I was taking a new line that day and messed it up severely and maybe I didn't fully realize the consequence that Gore can dish out. That rope that you threw caused a lot of trouble for me and my buddy. I'm very lucky that it had come untangled from the river bottom and let me go to paddle another day. From this past weekend I have learned the hardest lesson of all of you that where involved.
At the takeout I wanted to confront you about what had taken place. I had some very mixed feelings about how I should handle the situation. I'm still very shook up. But now that Iíve had a day to reflect on what happened and have read this thread I realize you where putting yourself in danger of becoming another swimmer. You put yourself at risk of drowning to help save another boater, you just wanted to help.......This sport is very different from others, if it werenít for the comradeship there would be far more accidents on the river and I don't think kayaking would be at the level that it is. I'm very privileged to be boating with guys that will risk there neck for mine. My boys from NM really looked out for me this weekend. Thanks Rolf and Andy

I have Ĺ of the rope and the other Ĺ is tangled under the large rock river runners left above Pieright.
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Old 08-31-2009   #17
Longmont, Colorado
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 173
Glad everyone is okay. Just thought I would post this link American Whitewater - -SecurityGadget-explain a reminder.
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Old 08-31-2009   #18
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2002
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 585
Cmac -

I'm damn glad you're okay, as is everybody in my posse. I swam that rapid once upon a time, and it's awful.
I couldn't tell which group was yours at the takeout - I would have been glad to talk with you if I knew who was who.
But maybe it's best we all had a day to think first.
We're all tryin our best out there, and sometimes we do right and sometimes we don't, and when we don't, we learn from it.
You clean up that line and get a knife on your pfd.
And I promise I will NEVER make a throw like that again.
You're right - the best thing about paddling is the camaraderie. I know any of my boys would give their life for me in a heartbeat, and I love them for it. And yes, we'll put it on the line for strangers, too -- and next time, we won't F it up when we do.
One more time, to be clear, I am so very sorry that my throw made things worse - much worse. I would have done anything in my power to help, and to make it right. Glad we all came out okay.
Take er easy.
Let's have a beer and get back in there. Long live boating, beer and Gore.

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Old 08-31-2009   #19
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2004
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 3,095
Just to clarify... the account I posted in quotes came from an email from Rolf who was in his boat and closest to the swimmer, and one of the entangled boaters. My personal thoughts on the near miss nature of the incident and anchoring were the followup.

Also, river knife... I got a bear claw after hearing Roy's story on Bailey. Good river knife with a finger trigger hold, and it stays in the sheath well.

I read through the Gore accident reports linked above. Grim reminder of what ropes can do in the wrong places.

Also, I think its a good thing to share these types of experiences. Many lessons are learned the the hard way, sharing might mean that some folks can learn them a bit easier.
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Old 09-01-2009   #20
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2002
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 585
Does anybody know what year the accident happened in that crackeryaker posted the link to?
I'm gonna get back in Gore and hunt for that rope as soon as possible, peeps.

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