To The Buzz of Mountainbuzz
As the paddle-swinging guide of this very raft under discussion, I hope to put this comedy to rest. Why such an event was not left to comical barstool conversation instead of a publicly posted comment, Iíll never know. Over the years, this website has amazed me how it can bring people to spend more time writing about boating than actual time on the water. But, for those of you seeking truth, I offer you first-hand perspective.
From what I see, the comments accumulated here fall from two distinct categories. 1. Comments from guides / former guides. 2. Comments from non-guides. For those of you in the first group, thank you. For the critics in both groups, however, I present one thought provoking question: Have you ever guided customers down Gore Canyon or any other Class 5?... Anyone? BuellerÖ
As a class 5 kayaker myself, I understand the luxury of being responsible for only oneís self. Yet having the responsibility and burden of being in charge of additional lives in Class 5 whitewater is something few can relate to.
Over the last 16 years in commercial rafting (7.5 of them in our canyon of topic), Iíve come across perhaps 6 or 7 special people that have required a physical blow to the helmet or pfd to get them to calm down and listen. That Friday was one of those days. It was a first for me in Gore, and the first time I ever had to swing way out to hit a guy in the front of the boat. And, guess what Boilermaker? - It worked, but only for a few minutes. We had plenty more challenges that day.
I, too, find it a little funny each time Iíve had to actually hit someone, and assure the baseball-bat-comparing critics that Iíve never made it hurt. In Class 3 water, Iíd typically count how many times Iíd have to say the word ďstopĒ before it worked. Nine times is my record. Think about that. In Gore, guides donít have time to say things twice, let alone 9 times. Now, Iíd be willing to bet that Mogur has never seen Gore Canyon, but his oh so educational and rare #1 is true and occurred that day. Typically, Gore customers are of higher-caliber, but there are simply no guarantees. REZ427 - Youíre the man, but Iíve taken countless newbies down there for multiple companies. Customer screening is not always perfect, and none of them have any clue about the dangers there.
The group that Friday clearly had never been introduced to the urgency of a life and death situation until that comical and dangerous moment witnessed at Scissors. These tender young souls earned the title of my 2nd worst group taken down this canyon, and they have no idea how close they came to a brutal beatdown. That day will not exit my memory any time soon.
Iíve seen too much nasty shit go down in that canyon and Iíve been around too many dead people to want to watch MY first customer die there. Equally, I do no want anyone elseís crapulance to get me killed. After years of success and failure teaching many thousands of people how to paddle, Iíve learned how to keep my instructions clear and simple. The level of clarity, sincerity, and intensity I have with my customers in Gore is obnoxiously thorough. No amount of additional explanation was helping these special people become more balanced, calm or capable either. Had those people had a more docile guide, one that didnít end up dropping his 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th F bomb of the season that day, someone could have died. Some people should just stick to board games.
So to all of you bloggers and critics out there, understand this. When my crewís lives are in danger and one guy is about to get us all killed, I guaranfuckingtee, that I will again, without shame, strike another customer with my paddle to regain their attention. If you have any questions or doubts behind this perspective, I suggest you visit this canyon and take a few customers down yourself. You will likely either end up high-fiving your paddle enthusiastically, or want to hit someone with it.
Stubby - Ideal raft flows are 700-1400. 1200 is my favorite. Major props to the guys that paddled it this spring at 9K. By far the biggest successful run ever. Jeuvos gigante.
Studytime - You try it. Iíll film it and blog about it on mountainbuzz.
DeepSouth and friends - You know how I knew you were from Denver?