Quality Whitewater Safety Training - Mountain Buzz

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Old 12-14-2017   #1
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2001
Join Date: Sep 2017
Posts: 13
Quality Whitewater Safety Training

Finally got my first raft this past fall and am now planning on leveling up on skills for my first season this summer where I am hoping to get several multi-day trips in. I have lots of medical training (worked as a professional ski patroller, WEMT, and other outdoor jobs) but no real experience with whitewater safety.

-What course for a newbie like myself would you recommend? Ideally, I am looking for a 2 day, hands-on course that I can take with the other people who I plan on doing the majority of the multidays with.

-Being based in Denver, who/where would you recommend I go with? Cost is a factor but time with our own gear in the water is equally important.

-Any experience with the courses offered by Colorado Whitewater? (Colorado Whitewater - Safety Classes)

-As a recreationalist, does the certification matter? Sponsoring agency (i.e. Rescue 3) matter?

Thanks! I looked for previous threads but most of what I found seemed out of date or didn't answer all my questions.

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Old 12-15-2017   #2
Rick A's Avatar
Henderson, Nevada
Paddling Since: 2007
Join Date: Apr 2016
Posts: 159
I was in the same boat and I decided to take a commercial guide school class. I was kind of torn between swift water rescue and guide school and was very happy with guide school. I did not need a swiftwater certification and they do cover some swiftwater rescue in guide school but you get a lot of time in the boat which definitely gave me a confidence boost. Good luck and enjoy your new boat.
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Old 12-15-2017   #3
WhiteLightning's Avatar
Eagle County, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2002
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 969
Mike Mather teaches some classes in Colorado in the Spring, he is top notch:

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Old 12-16-2017   #4
Randaddy's Avatar
Eastern Slope, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1980
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 2,466
Campy and Eric at Sawatch Rescue offer affordable courses of varying credential and cost. I highly recommend their classes for whitewater boaters! I've taken SRT and WRT courses from several instructors in the state and their classes are the most hands-on, intensive Tech courses I've taken. It's nice to keep up with the less-expensive ACA credential at a minimum. It sets you up for a 3 year schedule of recertification - important for non-professionals and professionals alike!
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Old 12-16-2017   #5
Edwards, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1995
Join Date: Jun 2016
Posts: 10
Thanks for posting this thread! I too have been looking around...seems like most places will be getting schedules together after the first of the year.
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Old 12-21-2017   #6
D-town, Colorado
Join Date: Oct 2015
Posts: 67
I took the spendy route and went to guide school with OARS in Vernal UT. I think it was around $1100 for a week, which in regards to what a week long trip with OARS can cost is a steal!

We ran the SplitMtn daily section on the Green at some pretty nice flows (12-14K) every day for 6 days, stayed in "guide camp" in Vernal, they had a river kitchen pitched and we were fed all meals as if we were on a river trip. This allowed food service type training for the folks in the group seeking employment. I mostly just drank beer in the evenings and rested my weary bones!

The group was split about 50/50 between private boaters seeking education and folks seeking jobs. It made for a really fun dynamic.

Food was great, on river and off river training was top notch, one of the guides/instructors teaches at the remote our outdoor medical school University of UT so you do get a swift water rescue cert accredited by them as well.

I would look for a 3-4day guide school somewhere on the Ark here in Colorado if you live here and dont want to make a bigger commitment of time/money. The knowledge you will gain running the Arkansas River would be priceless.
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Old 12-21-2017   #7
Vail, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2010
Join Date: May 2011
Posts: 66
I would also encourage you to take a course with Mike Mather. Alpine Quest Sports in Edwards, CO can get you in a class usually before the GoPro Games happen in Vail. He's the gold standard for hands-on swiftwater rescue.

I would also encourage you to take a guide class through an outfitter. It is a really great way to learn to read water and learn how to run a trip.
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Old 12-22-2017   #8
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Salida, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1990
Join Date: Oct 2014
Posts: 49
I highly recommend Canyon River Instruction. They do an excellent job! They tailor their courses for Private Boaters.
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Old 01-16-2018   #9
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ebbing, flowing..., CO, NM
Paddling Since: 1985
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 242
https://www.canyonriverinstruction.com/ Here is the website of the company that TuffRiverStuff mentioned. And yeah, they do custom clinics for both rafting & swiftwater.
Journeys of a River Mamma Blog "Ever onward, ever forward, ever down the River!"- Ed Abbey
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Old 01-16-2018   #10
Denver, Colorado
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 300
I can't say enough good about Campy and Eric. Great, knowledgeable, cater the class to the students and very skilled.
Look them up at Sawatch and see when their next courses are, you won't regret it.
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