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Old 07-19-2011   #1
Meng's Avatar
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 787

July 18, 2011

There is a terrible pin spot on OBJ. One of our team was pinned under water for almost 30 minutes last night as we tried many ways to extract him. He is alive and well. If he's down with it, I plan on posting an incident report. Many lessons learned and much previous knowledge utilized to get our friend out alive.

We were on the river at about 7pm for maximum flow. It was medium low (you could barely go left on the put-in drop) definitely not bone zone.

The PIN HAZARD is on the river right side of what I've always called the 'Old Growth' drop. This drop is 3 up from the big waterfall. Or, put another way, the sequence goes goes meadows, 8-foot boof, S-Turn Slide, Old Growth Drop, two drops to the left eddy, 25-foot waterfall.

So, hopefully you understand which drop this is. It is TYPICALLY run on the LEFT side - which the way to go. There, it is a nice little slide. The middle is a boof over a hole and is fine. The right side is where the bad pin potential is. Do not run this drop on the right if possible. If you do get pushed that way, do everything you can to keep your bow up (boof).

The 'old growth' drop can be seen here (3rd drop up): NOTE: this image is several years old and at lower water than last night. You can see the wood in the drop in question, which is no longer there. The pin spot is river right of the downstream midriver log (again that log is gone). I will look for a more recent photo but this will have to do for now.

There used to be an old growth tree in the middle of the drop and wood blocking the right, forming an eddy river right and making the only real line down the left. All of that wood was flushed out last year due to super high flows brought on by dust-on-snow and some hot days. Now, its just a riverwide drop with the three distinct characteristics: left: good slide, middle: boof over hole, right: junky chunk with pin potential.

We almost lost a highly experienced class 5 paddler with likely 100's of OBJ runs last night. His semi-vertical, fully submerged pin was almost impossible to access. I had 3 ropes on me from 3 different directions when we got him out. Without a good crew in adequate #'s it could have turned out much worse.

Please take a look at this spot when you go up next year, and stay out of this potentially fatal pin zone. Treat the run with respect and carry your rescue kit whether you consider the run 'roadside plop and drop' or 'full on creeking'.

Rescue report and insights potentially coming soon. SOO grateful my good friend went home to his woman and 1-year old. No fucking way were we going to allow any other option.

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Old 07-19-2011   #2
Durango, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1996
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 808
Holy crap! Thanks for posting and great job helping your buddy. I know that lots of people (including me) were running that drop right at higher water this year. It kind of landed on rocks but I didn't think it was a big deal. I will definitely take a closer look next time.

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Old 07-19-2011   #3
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Yeah, I ran it over there once at high water as well but was not stoked to be there but it went fine. Still, I felt like i did not want to repeat that move too many times. I have been looking at that right side with a leery eye ever since the wood came out, thinking there might be pin potential or underwater wood. This was a bad-luck, specific angle, 1 in a thousand weird thing. Better to stay away if you can...
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Old 07-19-2011   #4
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Evergreen, Colorado
Paddling Since: '92
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Posts: 347
Damn, we all ran that drop right 4th of July weekend. Thanks for the heads up and glad yall are alright.
"We're gonna need a bigger boat"
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Old 07-19-2011   #5
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Jackson, Wyoming
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Nice job getting your buddy Chris.
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Old 07-19-2011   #6
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Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2003
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 2,032
Glad you guys got him out safe. Humbling that even with a strong crew it took so long to extract someone from a pin.

Big thanks for the heads up on that spot and thanks in general for the regular updates on the creeks out there. I was also just kind of read and running that drop without realizing there was any hazard. I know one of our runs I was the last one through and everybody in front of me ran all the way to the eddy above the big drop. There's something that can get funny about the dynamic out there running OBJ - I think because there's always tons of people around, you feel like you can step off the run at any point and everybody's always congregating about. It deserves the standard creeking precautions though in my opinion.
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Old 07-19-2011   #7
East Granby, Connecticut
Paddling Since: 2009
Join Date: May 2011
Posts: 6
Hey, we met one of your crew today at the put in, they were doing some boat retrieval. Anyway, we found said victims paddle on OBJ today, we were going to drop it off but had no time or means to. We have it down at Rocky Mountain Outdoor Center near Salida. Give me a shout at 860-916-1322 or post here.
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Old 07-20-2011   #8
Meng's Avatar
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Cool, thanks Krammen. Where was the paddle when recovered? I'm friends with some RMOC folk so if it's at the shop there I'll be able to get ahold of it.
American Whitewater's website and river stewardship projects are funded by paddlers. Please join, renew, or make a donation to help us protect whitewater rivers in Colorado and nationwide.
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Old 07-20-2011   #9
Join Date: Aug 2004
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Scary stuff, glad everything turned out ok. Pretty sure I went over there at least once over the 4th weekend and never thought twice about it.
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Old 07-20-2011   #10
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crested butte, Colorado
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....i was not kayaking with my boys....i was in town and called by somebody from the fire dept. asking if i was OK......she put the phone up to the radio and all i heard was, "submerged kayaker on ob joyful creek"....i blasted up there beating the rescue crew....felt sick to my stomach to see all my buddies cars at the campground....panic mode hit....i grabbed fleece, pfd, drytop and 5-tennies....i fuking spaced my rope....(dumb)....ran across the slate and started up the hill...i found the police man sitting in his car(he was maybe there for 15 mins)...."i asked what the fuck?"..."are they ok?"...he just looked at me dumbfounded.....there were trees he could not pass in his vehicle....i was rude to him wondering why he was not on foot headed up....he is the biggest and strongest looking dude in our county!!!!...i blurted out something i shouldn't have and ran off....the kayaker was on shore when i arrived....he had just flushed out and was plucked from his boat....the accident report will fill in the details....rescue arrived shortly there after and took over.....afterwards i was invited by the kayakers to go look at the GO-PRO footie....unreal....those dudes are super fukin studs!!!!!!..i have a new respect for my boys....they never gave up, never faltered, never slowed down, always communicated new ideas, traded off in risky attempts, tried everything but throwing in the kitchen individual was overheard saying "we need to do something fukin heroic!!!".....and he did....within a minute the boat flushed and the kayaker was saved!!!!(much clapping and rejoicing)......a happy ending for sure.......when i asked him how he kept it together under water for so long, he just said, "my family".....this is not intended to be an accident report ....and after talking to rescue persons, they said the police man was not under oath to go and jump into a freezing creek.... i feel he should have footed it up to the scene...he had a radio, strength and a fresh mind....not knocking on him but.....when i see him next, i will tell him what i think, while not in panic mode......peace(milozreallynotadik andhereallycanski 420 cb)

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