Lots of "newbies" to high water, excuses?
First let me say I am new to this forum, and I think its great!
Now on to the meaty portion...
I am a Taos area boater who used to be a commercial guide. I have over 50,000 river miles, all whitewater. I am what you would call an "experienced" guide. I started rafting in 1978. Most of the guides nowdays werent even born then. We have had 2 deaths from commercial rafts on the Rio this year and I have heard of many other deaths. This was a high water year for us and also for some Colorado rivers. Some of the things I have read about these river deaths bothers me. Many of them have several common threads such as guide inexperience at that water flow, poor or no ability to swim, lack of knowing exactly what they were really getting into, greedy raft companies out to make a fast buck, etc.
I read about a 25 year old guide who was reported to be the best etc. I read about how a guide was "very experienced" at age 23. I read about how the rafting company did nothing wrong, even though a person in their care is now dead. Are we supposed to take a "shit happens" attitude toward commercial river deaths? Are we supposed to believe that some kid with a few summers of rafting/kayaking is some type of "superguide" with that paltry amount of experience?
We have guides on our river this year who are "very experienced". They have been guiding for maybe 8 years or more, and guess what? They have NEVER seen high water on the section of river they are supposedly "expert" at. How can a guide claim to be "very experienced" when they are running a river at a level they have never seen? I think a lot of people were bascially first year guides all over again this year. You can not learn how to boat high water with 7 years at low water. Sorry its not the same.
And why do people who dont know how to swim go rafting, and why (besides the greed) do raft companies take them? This is the one part that really gets me. Why do rafting companies not properly inform the passengers of the real dangers? Why do they take "questionable" passengers down the river? Is it really worth it for that extra 50 bucks? If you ask a local Santa Fe river rafting company if it was worth it you probably wont be suprised at the awnser.
I left the commercial scene a few years back because of this greed I saw and the people who died for that greed. And I decided I simply couldnt do it anymore.
Paddle crew of deaf non-swimmers who barely speak english anyone?