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Old 11-13-2015   #61
TakemetotheRiver's Avatar
Durango, Colorado
Paddling Since: 05
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 1,477
I've only been down twice, but both times Hance was the scariest rapid for me- surpassing even Lava. Maybe it's the Jolly Green Giant sized rock garden or maybe because it's the first rapid of real significance when anyone down there, even with experience on other "big water" rivers goes holy shit, this is huge.

Both times, I entered left of the rock in question, from the left side scout because I didn't want any part of the 20 ft waves on river right (I, of course, would become more comfortable with even bigger ones than that in the days ahead).

What I'm saying is that the left line is good to go and it really is just left of that big rock.

As for the article- that is just fluffy bullshit and I'd be surprised if the "experienced boatmen" on that trip either agree with or approve of her perceptions of what happened.

"There is NOTHING--absolute nothing--half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. Look here! If you've really nothing else on hand this morning, supposing we drop down the river together, and have a long day of it?" -Wind in the Willows
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Old 11-13-2015   #62
Grand Junction, Colorado
Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 434
Takemetotheriver, well said!!

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Old 11-15-2015   #63
Salida, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1986
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 728
Originally Posted by Issip View Post
Here's what I tried when I got stuck in the hole for 20 minutes. I do not recommend it - the left to right current pulled me straight into the hole. I was trying to get some right to left momentum but couldn't even keep my line.

Someone mentioned getting to the duck pond from the right of the rock/keeper hole in the video, but I simply can't imagine getting over there from the right entry.

The 'right' run I have seen and executed enters that well defined tongue on the far river right, just about where that shrub in the middle ground appears to extend over the river, and just to the right of said keeper hole. It is a very narrow line, perhaps 2 or 3 or MAYBE 4 boat widths wide, but there is a lot less pulling and fighting strong currents while trying to set up for the giant tail waves. If you are very precise on your entry, and I would think scouting from the right side would really help identify the line being so close to it, you can have a very low stress ride through Hance that will take you clear of those aforementioned tail waves. But ya gotta nail the entry to get the clean line, which kinda stays a consistent distance off the right bank all the way through.

The top of Hance is really wide and a left scout gets you no closer than 1/2 way across the river from where you would enter the traditional line to get to the duck pond. The right scout provides access to see the 'right' line from pretty close. It is still almost 1/2 way across the river to the 'duck pond' line, which is difficult to see clearly from either side.
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Old 11-16-2015   #64
Colo Springs, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1980
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 599
Good comment from DoStep. Sometimes I like the right run, depending on how I feel and who is with me in the boat. A sharp eye for where you're going is very important.
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Old 11-16-2015   #65
Grand Canyon, Arizona
Paddling Since: 1995
Join Date: Sep 2011
Posts: 2
Hello Everybody,

I was made aware of this article a few weeks ago and just saw the post on MtnBuzz. If you've seen the pics in the article I was the rescuer under the helicopter being short hauled out to the boat. I just wanted to clarify some things about that particular rescue.

1. First, the group was great - had good dynamics, had some very experienced people, and they took their time scouting Hance Rapid. But they scouted from the left and so when the boat (that got stuck) entered the rapid they were coming in from the left so they mis-read a pour-over for the mini tongue and bam... they got stuck.

2. The rock they got stuck on is pretty far out from the left shore so getting a rope to them would have been a stretch and time consuming. They were closer to the right shore but running a rope from the right across the main tongue and the mini tongue to the boat would have obviously created a hazard for other trips. The left run of Hance is pretty closed up since Red Canyon flashed a few years ago. But the river will win - eventually, so the left may be open when your kids are rowing through the canyon.

3. When we got the call my first concern was they were stuck at the top of a big rapid that would not be a fun swim regardless of experience; they were 2 older men (but in good shape); and spending the night on a 18' oar raft was not an option (if the boat moved or flipped when the water dropped the response would have been limited, then they would have been swimming Hance at night); my first re-action was to get the 2 guys off the boat and to shore, then worry about the boat and gear.

4. Our first intent when we first heard about the details of the location of the stuck boat was to fly in our sport boat, drive down to them, and pick them up. But when we flew over it was obvious we could not get to them by boat, they were stuck in the middle of a rocky, pour-over mess and one slip and people would have been swimming or pinned. I've never seen a boat get stuck in this location.

5. After we landed I talked to the pilots and suggested a short haul and they agreed. Any heli pilots out there? It's not fun for a pilot trying to keep a heli in one spot while a river is moving underneath, but the pilots and spotters at GRCA are great and we train often and trust each other. So we got the 2 guys off and I stayed behind on the boat for a while with a 4:1 mini pig rig system I carry in my pack trying to taco the boat (which is limited when you're dealing with a row frame and a trailer frame). I got it to shift a little but they got stuck on the high and the water was dropping fast. I called for the heli and we made the decision to wait for the high water (which was due the next morning) and see if the boat would float off without the weight of the 2 boaters. Like the article said the boat did float off the rocks the next morning.

6. Lessons learned: scout Hance from the right (even though in the guide book it shows a scout on the left), you can really see the line from there and when you shove off you're set up to start pulling to the left towards the duck pond; the CO River is wide so getting ropes to stuck boats is difficult so having a plan to self rescue or change the shape of the boat with air pressure variations or moving the heavy gear around (a stuck boat is stable, that's why it's stuck so make it unstable), this is easier said than done with the 1 ton oar raft rigs in Grand Canyon; don't be afraid to call the park dispatch even if you are 99% sure you can self rescue (we always get calls at 4pm for boats that were stuck at 10am; that's really limiting to your group);

That's all. If you're on the south rim please give us a heads up and we will show you around if possible. If you've got a winter trip this year CONGRATS! - enjoy the cool hikes, pick the dry lines, bring a real pillow, and bring a big thermos for the left over coffee at breakfast. And please respect Badger - I've seen too many flips in that rapid. If you flip your rig on the first day you're going to have a lonely trip.

If you have further questions about this topic you can send us a PM.

GRCA Boatshop
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Old 11-17-2015   #66
Salida, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1986
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 728
Best Grand-related Buzz post ever. Hope I never have to meet you guys below the rim, and it's good to know you are there when the caca hits the ventilador. The advice of changing the shape of a stable but stuck boat is invaluable, and could prevent a call to rescuers if prepared for such (no easy task). Thanks for chiming in.
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Old 11-17-2015   #67
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Post Falls, Idaho
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 781
GRCA Boat shop, thank you for your well worded and thoughtful response. I've learned a ton from this thread.

Biggest takeaway is preparation knowing everything thing about each rapid as possible even fact checking river guide/maps.

I'm interested in ways to change the shape of a stuck boat. You mentioned a 4:1 mini pig rig system, is that similar to a z-drag setup?

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Old 11-17-2015   #68
no tengo
mania's Avatar
Baytopia, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1876
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 1,768
Originally Posted by Paul7 View Post
Biggest takeaway is preparation knowing everything thing about each rapid as possible even fact checking river guide/maps.
It's 1000x better to hone river reading skills than memorizing guidebooks. Rapids change you know.
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Old 11-17-2015   #69
Paul7's Avatar
Post Falls, Idaho
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Aug 2012
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Originally Posted by mania View Post
It's 1000x better to hone river reading skills than memorizing guidebooks. Rapids change you know.
Well yeah wouldn't argue that and should have stated so, point being is it seems those two possibly were helpless after ending up on that rock. Not to say that others in the same situation couldn't have done something different.

So.... Any action to remedy the situation would have had to been taken prior to the meeting with the rocks.

Unfortunately river reading skills are hard earned and a newer boater is forced to take some rivers on with less than the desired river reading skills, don't know anyway around that.

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Old 11-17-2015   #70
Grand Canyon, Arizona
Paddling Since: 1995
Join Date: Sep 2011
Posts: 2
Paul7, a pig rig or jigger is kind of like a pre-rigged z drag that lives in a small bag. I like it for river rescues because sometimes boats get stuck near shore where the bow line has already been secured to shore. So with a pig rig you just pull it out of the bag, make an anchor on shore for one end of the system, attach the other end to the bowline by way of a pusik, and gather some people to start pulling.

To taco a raft I attach on end to the stern d ring and the other end to the bow d ring and pull. In a jigger set up (I'll attach a page from our rescue manual) there is a load capturing prusik built into the system which is nice. In Grand Canyon oar raft rigs it's usually the cooler that gets stuck on a submerged rock so you're trying to get the boat to pivot off that point.

Pre rigged systems is a quick and easy way to get things moving in the right direction. Sometimes a bigger, more complex system is needed but first move from simple to complex. A few years ago I drove up on a rescue in progress for a stuck boat in the left side of Hance, at the top. The responders made a 5:1 system and was ready to pull. I suggested let's first try pulling on the throw rope that was attached to the boat with the 20+ people standing around on shore, and fortunately the boat came off and swung right into shore. The 5:1 system (or any MA sytem) was the right idea but a lot of time could have been saved by trying the simple stuff first.

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