I took a boat of 5 guests from Dumont down into the Advanced Canyon on Clear Creek and we were doing great… until we entered Double Knife. It was just an unlucky turn of events. We entered the rapid on the left side and a lateral wave in that slot pulled our left tube under and flipped the boat with unsettling ease.
The guest in the front right of the raft got catapulted over the left tube in the flip. In an odd moment before getting pulled underwater he saw the raft crashing down on him and raised his arm up to try and stop it. The force of the boat crashing down dislocated his shoulder, and he was sucked down into the meat of Double Knife along with everybody else.
After that it was all…
Daylight, take a breath, garrrglegarrgegarrgle, daylight, take a breath, garrgglerlgarrrrrgle…
Once every one was out of the water and accounted for we spent the next two hours trying to rescue the guest with the dislocated shoulder. He was in too much pain to walk and trapped on the left side of the creek. Thanks to all of the Clear Creek / Idaho Springs Swift Water Rescue and emergency personnel who helped out, and thanks to Clear Creek Rafting for coming down with a boat of guides and bailing us out of a tough situation.
It could have been a lot worse. Thankfully everyone is o.k. and the guests were awesome about it. The guest with the dislocated shoulder had it put back in place at the hospital and is doing fine.
All I can say is that if you are running a raft in the Advanced Canyon or below, you better believe that your paddlers have a fighting chance swimming class IV water. Scout the major rapids in advance, especially if you haven’t run down there in a while. Run more than one boat and / or have a kayak along for support in addition to shore safety.