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This is from the Durango Herald..... sad and it sucks

June 19, 2005

Animas claims local river guide
Witness questions company's procedures


By Jesse Harlan Alderman
Herald Staff Writer

A local rafting guide known for his robust sense of humor and a tourist from Texas were identified by authorities Saturday as the men who died on a commercial rafting trip on the upper Animas River.

Darrel Bogenrief of Durango was about 25 years old and Scott Licona of Lumberton, Texas, was 30, said Butch Knowlton, La Plata County's director of emergency preparedness.

Friends notified Bogenrief's wife of his death Friday after the accident. Knowlton spoke with Licona's parents in Texas on Saturday morning. Licona was not married.

Bogenrief had been a commercial rafting guide with Durango-based Mild to Wild Rafting for at least five years. Local rafting guides said he was renowned for his disarming jokes and his fondness for the challenging upper Animas River.

"He would always ask to go on those trips," said Casey Lynch, owner of Mountain Waters Rafting in Durango. "He loved it up there. When trips went up there, he'd say, 'Send me, send me.'"

Lynch said not only was Bogenrief a capable and certified guide, he was one of the best in Durango.

"If you took all the guides in Colorado and lined them up side-by-side," he said, "Darrel was definitely in the top 10 percent, probably the top 5 or 6 percent."

Four investigators from the Colorado State Parks department came to Durango on Saturday to interview Mild to Wild guides and survivors.

State law requires an investigation whenever there is a fatality, Knowlton said.

High water this year has led to treacherous conditions on rivers. There have been other reported deaths in Colorado this season, Knowlton said.

Two people have died on separate commercial rafting trips since Memorial Day in New Mexico.

The two men died Friday after a raft guided by Bogenrief flipped in the second drop of Ten Mile Rapids, a long stretch of turbulent whitewater north of Needleton in San Juan County.

There were five people in the boat, said Kenneth Blazzard, a tourist from St. George, Utah, who witnessed the accident from another Mild to Wild raft.

Bogenrief briefly turned the raft upright before falling out, Blazzard said. No one made it back into the raft, he said. Three survivors made it to the banks of the river, while Bogenrief and Licona were quickly sent downriver by the racing rapids.

Blazzard's raft, along with a safety raft handled by a single Mild to Wild guide, hurriedly paddled toward the men, leaving behind two other boats navigating the upper portion of the rapids. When the rafts caught up with the fallen rafters, they were likely already dead.

"They weren't breathing," Blazzard said. "They had no pulse and they were as blue as you can get."

A Mild to Wild guide and other members of the trip performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation on both men, Blazzard said.

Nearly an hour passed before a Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge railroad motorcar operator came upon the scene and reported the emergency at 1:34 p.m., Blazzard said. Mild to Wild's cell phone was upriver with the other boats, he said.

The bodies were put on a track car and taken to Rockwood for inspection by Kristina Maxfield, San Juan County coroner.

On Saturday, she said the cause of death was not yet known. An autopsy will be performed Monday in Durango.

Back in Durango, grief counselors from the Southwest Colorado chapter of the American Red Cross were made available to guides and rafters from Friday's trip.

Services were offered to three friends of Licona, but the group left for Texas shortly after the accident.

At other rafting companies, trips to the upper Animas River were canceled or postponed, partially out of respect for Bogenrief and partially because outfitters said water levels may be too high to safely run Ten Mile Rapids.

South West Whitewater in Durango canceled a trip Saturday and Outlaw Rivers and Jeep Tours postponed an excursion for guides only to the northern reaches of the river.

Both companies said the cancellations are only temporary and commercial trips will continue on the upper Animas.

Witness questions company's procedures

By Jesse Harlan Alderman
Herald Staff Writer

A raft drops over the lip of Ten Mile Rapids like a fallingelevator. Then, for nearly one mile there is continuous whitewater – aminefield of harrowing Class 5 rapids.

"It’s like doing your first double black diamond,"said Casey Lynch, owner of Mountain Waters Rafting Inc. "In the upperAnimas when high water hits like this, there are not pools or breaks. It’sdifficult to scout because of length and difficult to maneuver."

Hardly the ideal run for a novice. But on Friday, KennethBlazzard, who had rafted only once, nearly 30 years ago, found himself tumblingfuriously over Ten Mile Rapids, as his boat screamed downriver behind two fallenboaters.

After La Plata County officials released the names Saturday ofDarrel Bogenrief and Scott Licona, two rafters killed in the whirling water,Blazzard wondered why Mild to Wild Rafting allowed beginners to float suchrapids.

"I bought my tickets over the Internet for something for meand my boys to do over Father’s Day," he said. "I had no idea theriver was this raging. If I had, I would not have signed up for this."

Blazzard and two sons came from St. George, Utah, to raft theriver. Blazzard does not believe the Durango-based outfitter was negligent, butsaid he was shocked that the river was so high and the rapids so advanced.

"I printed out their papers and it doesn’t say anythingabout experience," he said.

But Lynch, who was acting as the sole spokesman for the company,said Mild to Wild – like all commercial rafting outfitters in town – screensparticipants for trips on the upper Animas section to ensure the company onlytakes experienced rafters.

"This is a trip for advanced rafting folks," he said.

He said Mild to Wild talks to clients on the phone to make surethey understand the risks involved. He also said the company conducts ariver-safety class the night before a trip on a milder section of the river inDurango.

Blazzard said his group practiced river commands in the waterthe night before and discussed what to do in case a boat overturns. It wasduring the instruction that he and his sons became apprehensive.

"They talked a great deal about what to do, not so much if,but when you get out of the boat," Blazzard said. "It almost made mefeel scared because they said at one time or another somebody is going to fallout of the boat."

Blazzard said Mild to Wild did not test swimming skills orre-create a flipped-boat scenario the night before Friday’s trip.

Lynch said potential rafters are typically asked to get out ofthe boat, swim and then climb back into the raft. This is done to gauge acustomer’s swimming ability and experience, he said.

While shaken by Friday’s incident, Blazzard said he would notgo so far as to call Mild to Wild negligent. However, he said its screening andsafety preparation should be intensified given how unusually high the waterlevels are this summer.

"Training and everything they did in past years seems morethan adequate," he said. "But we’ve had a drought in those years.This summer is completely different."
 

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I am very sorry for the tourist's and guide's family, friends, and communities for their loss.

I guided on the Upper Animas for 7 years during the 90's and the fact that there have not been more deaths on that strecth is a testiment to the guides and companies who run trips up there. The river is not the hardest out there but it is very unforgiving.

I think that it is comendable that Casey Lynch (who owns a raft company that competes with the one that is the subject of the Herald article) has put any competative differnces aside and is acting as spokesperson for Mild to Wild.

I was not present at the scene and have only heard accounts from the paper and some other local guides. The paper stated that the "saftey" for the trip was a solo rafter. I have both a raft guide and safey kayaker on the upper. In my years of guiding I saw many companies use saftey rafts. Often the saftey raft is a rookie upper guide who needs to get some river miles and often there is no-one on the raft to assist. The article in the paper did not state the experience of the saftey rafter but it did state he/she was solo.

What type of saftey can a solo rafter provide? In my mind there is no substitute for a competent saftey kayaker. The Upper A. is an easy run for an experienced kayaker. A kayaker can eddie hop 99% of the river. A kayaker has the speed to move from bank to bank and to chase down the downtream swimmer. A kayaker can get a grabloop to a swimmer and is at the swimers level to shout words of encouragment and instructions on how to proceed. On the other hand a raft is much slower, can't eddie out as easily, can't speed downstream as quick, and in general can't offer the same level of saftey as a kayaker.

Furthermore, when the rafter gets to no-name and/or broken bridge the rafter can't walk the rapid and perch themselfs on a rock at the bottom ready to slide in and get swimmers. A raft either needs to tend to the oars to stay in the eddie or tie up so the rafter can be at the ready with a throw bag, either way the rafter is limited.

If any of the guides, managers or owners of the companies who run trips on the Upper are reading this, I encourage you to stop and think about the pro's and con's of rafter vs. kayaker.

There are many more great kayakers who could run saftey on the upper in Durango than there are raft guides who can run saftey, especially when you take into consideration that the best raft guides will be on the trip with customers.

To clarify for all those reading this, I am in NO WAY saying that the outcome would have been different if a kayaker had been on the trip instead of a rafter.
 

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Take your bullshit somewhere else! This is hard time for lots of us and we do not need your comments on what happened or what could have been done. Just leave it alone and do not point fingers.

Darrel was a fantastic person and a great boater that will be missed.

I'm pourin' a 40 for you hommie. :cry:
 

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There's no need to lash out at Mut, particularly since it's not bullshit. He's talking from experience, and he's entitled to speak his mind in order to hopefully prevent tragedy in the future. I'm sure you're hurting, but Chris knows a lot of past and present guides and is simply looking out for a community that is very close to him. It's not like he's armchair quarterbacking without any frame of reference.

Peace.
 

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Cosurfgod,

Read the post hotshot. I'm not pointing fingers at anyone. I too knew Darrel and it is tragic that he and his customer were killed.

Go ahead and call it bullshit, drink your 40 and continue to surf this site, I'm sure that will help raise the level of saftey that is practiced on the upper.
 

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Ok, it is not bullshit. Sorry. I do think your timing could be better. Comments or recommendations like that should be made to Alex, Casey, Rory and Dana not in a kayaking forum where your post make the rafting company look neglegant. In hindsite it is easy to see that a kayaker could have been able to help. I do agree with what you are saying but I know the guides involved did all they could to help Darrel and the custy.

Pour a little 40 for Darrel and remember the great person/boater he was.
 

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I agree with Mut on his post. How should one change the timing because it has been a sore spot on the Buzz before. Is there an official time to wait before posting or what?

I do think this forum is the appropriate place for discussion on what went wrong and what could have been done differently. Look at the other posts this year about the near death on the Poudre and the death on SBC. It was discussed at length in multiple posts and nobody got all pissed off about it and took it as slams.

I too am sorry about the losses but now is the time to talk about it and get it out in the open.

My 2 cents...
 

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My far from humble opinion.

I strongly suggest that if you offend easily and are very close to this tragedy you not continue reading this post.

This is post is neither designed to trivialize what happened, nor is it designed to add further hurt to those that may be grieving a very close personal loss. It is merely my opinion of this situation and others like it that do not end in tragedy such as this. I speak for nobody but myself and do not claim otherwise. That being said, I am certain that while there are more than one who will read this thread who knows Darrel and could speak to the person that he was and his qualifications as a guide, I doubt that anyone who knew the other person who died would venture across this forum. He, Scott Licona, and the issue of negligence is what prompted me to register and speak my mind.

My knowledge is based upon the fact that I am a raft guide myself and have experience on a few different rivers with strictly paddle boats, stern frames and center frames. The issue of a safety raft versus a safety kayak was brought up and is a very legitimate one. Calling an oar rig with a single occupant in class IV/V water on a commercial trip a safety boat is a joke. Period. Is that the issue of negligence? No. The issue of negligence is a company taking people's money who have neither the skills nor the experience necessary and putting them on class IV+/V rivers. I have never and will never guide class IV+/V rivers with customers. Nor will guides I know who's level of experience ranges from several years to almost three decades. I would not even run class VI+/V rivers with guides in my raft unless they have more than a couple of years experience. I understand that this is an issue of personal choice and that there are plenty of very skilled class V customer guides who have many succesful trips under their belt with many more to come in the future. Keep in mind that there are plenty of experienced class V rafters who would not even consider taking unexperienced people in such water as well. To me, taking customers through such waters is the equivalent of a class V kayaker taking a class II/III boater through Gore.

You can have a customer sign all of the waiver forms you want, spend as much time with safety talks and paddle talks, throw them into a class II river for a swim, but the reality is, unless they have gotten thrashed and had the fear of god put into them from a bad day on the river they have no clue what they are getting themselves into if something goes wrong. Sorry, but the phrase, and I quote, "Wild Whitewater, Adrenaline Rushes!" does not do justice to the very real and very mortal danger of classVI+/V water especially to tourists that have no fucking clue what those adreniline rushes entail when the shit hits the fan and how high the risk of their death is. It is a marketing phrase to make money - to sell a trip. And yes, it is most defintirely is negligence in my opinion. I understand the concept of personal choice and am not saying that a customer should not be entitled to such choices, but the reality is that customers end up for one reason or another in even class III water have not a clue as to the power of water and lack the experience to keep their wits about them during a swim - they react out of fear.

I take very seriously the safety of the people who are paying me to guide them down a river and for me, a major component of that safety is not putting people who have not the experience or knowledge to be on such water in situations they are unprepared for and unexpecting of that can take their life away very easily and takes away the life's of experts as well. And most importantly, I place this onesis upon the owners of companies that take people's money to put them in such a situation based upon the fact that the customers do not have a clue of what they are in for when all does not go according to plan.

Rivers kill. Class VI/V rivers kill very experienced boaters and very experienced swimmers. Boaters that have the experience to boat such water, have swam such water and have assisted in rescues in such water. For those of you class V customer guides that think I am a dick for criticizing commercial trips on such rivers, well, I ask you to look around and ask all of the boaters here who have been boating for years to list the names of their friends, their very competant friends, who have died on the river and then ask yourself if your customers really understand the gravity of a bad day at work for you. If you want to be a class V customer guide, that is your choice and you are certainly free to make it, but you are kidding yourself if you think that the boat full of people you are hoping for a tip from and your boss just sold a trip to with catchy marketing phrases truly understands how dangerous such water is. They are clueless, otherwise they would not be paying you to take them down a river and they have no business on such water under the guise that the rafting industry operates.

If I said I was sorry for offending anybody here I would be lying. My condolances most defintiely do go out to all that were affected by this tragedy. I have no doubt that Darrel understood the risks of what he was doing and made his choice, as we all do, with that knowledge in hand. I do have very serious doubt, however, that Scott understood the risks of what he was doing - he paid for "Wild Whitewater, Adrenaline Rushes!", an amusement park ride.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
it kinda sucks all-around...

What I am wondering is if they were wearing anything remotely resembling protective insulation. The Upper A is notoriusly bitter cold. I would liken falling into it without a wetsuit or drysuit to falling in the North Atlantic or Bering Sea. You'd go into hypothermic shock in around a minute or so.

The rule of thumb I apply for the Upper A is that if you can swim comfortably in Smelter without protective layers, you need a full wetsuit for Upper A, if you need a wetsuit in Smelter, you need a drysuit in Upper A.

It's hard losing a guide, hard for all the liveries when a tourista bites it too. Having met Darrel once, he seemed to me to be a very competent guide.
 

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I have been fortunate enough to boat with Rory and his peers on a number of recreational occaisions. They are exemplary people and boaters. They have pulled me and several of my friends out exceptionally. They've al lived on the river for a number of years and know there shit. Class V boating in heavy water is action / reaction when things go wrong. I know they did their best, and I know it was quick and decissive. I also know that if I wanted to have a rafting experience anywhere, I would be very comfortable with any one of their guidesat the oars.

Facts will come out, and we will all learn from them, but have no doubt that everyone on this crew were people who made heavy sacrafices to live a life style where they are on the water every day, and should be considered in the very elite as relates to safety and ability.

My heart has been torn out. My thoughts and prayers are with all of you on the Durango crew. Does anyone have contact information for family?

Peace,
Ken Canada
 

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....we(kayak competitors) got the news at registration....sad....i am going to agree with catjockey....i talked to the family that was on the other raft....not the type of family that understood the dangers or that would enjoy swimming in class2-3.....they told me they would have never got back on the raft if they'd known the reason why the raft floated past, empty....well informed guests? most likely they were informed of the challenge that lie ahead but did they understand how bad it "could" get?the following day, i had my own concerns about skirts blowin', get pounded in holes(which i did)...and was concerned about how i'd hold up under those conditons if a swim occurred....it was very difficult to get our swimmers out of the water the day prior to the accident...in short, the family looked like they'd enjoy/get a "whitewater rush" out of class 3!....their choice-mild to wild just provided the opportunity....i have never raft guided...but i could plainly see these folks with their children would have plummetted in a wipe-out!!!......$ vs loss of future customer's $?....my sorrows to friends and families of those lost that day....i am sure the guide wanted to give them the safest ride possible....he was very brave to accept the responsibility on that day....BOTTOM LINE....rafters feel a false sense of security in the bouncy rubber thing!!!
 

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I have read a couple posts that have brought up the notion that the customers who either go down the upper or who went down the upper last weekend were not adequately informed of the risk that lay ahead of them.

I, like all of us posting here, was not at the pre-trip safety meeting last weekend and I, nor any of you, have not been privy to any conversations between the raft companies and the rafters who were on the weekend trip, therefore, I (we) have no idea the extent that these people were informed.

I have been involved with and witnessed countless Upper Animas safety meetings with prospective customers. I have heard safety speeches from most of the top guides on the animas and from all three major companies putting customers on the Upper. I can attest that in my experience the people who are about to go on an upper trip are very informed about the risks they are about to take. It has been my experience that customers are told right away on the phone that this is the extreme trip and that there are other trips for people who are not sure they want the extreme version. Customers meet the day before the launch day to pick out and fit all of their gear (helmet, wetsuit, splash top, booties, etc..). Customers are then given a lengthy safety talk that encompasses all aspects of river safety from altitude effect to Z drags. The customers are then geared up and must swim a section of the lower animas to practice whitewater swimming. Yes the stretch that they swim is far less intense than the hardest rapids on the Upper but the exercise is supposed to be more of a training tool not a scare tactic. During the swim the guides are on shore throw bagging the customer to familiarize the customer with the rope. After this safety orientation the customer is told to go home eat a hearty meal and sleep. Then the next day at the rivers edge the whole safety talk is repeated.

I have seen a number of people decide on their own that after being subjected to the safety orientation that they don’t want to go on the river. I have also seen guides and owners tell people that this trip is not for them and they should look at the piedra or the lower.

People who seek out adventure activities must take responsibility for their own choices. It is not possible to get inside someone’s head and determine if they have been fully informed. The average American is clueless as to the dangers in life.

CatJockey: you take issue with the description Wild Water, Adrenaline Rush; What do you propose the add should say “Death Ride- You’ll Never Come Back”? The fat of the matter is that there has NEVER been a commercial death on the upper until now.

My point is that people who seek out adventure must take responsibility for themselves. The Guides and owners of the companies in Durango do not sugar coat the upper, they do an excellent job of informing customers and guiding the river. It is not possible to insulate people from all danger. When a customer reads the Upper description, goes through the safety orientation, signs the waiver, sees the photos on the wall of no-name and broken bridge, and still decide to go rafting, they have made an informed decision and have assumed all risks that are associated with that decision.
 

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Cat,what tourist(rafter)really does understand the risk? 5% maybe 6%,come on man...I started out rafting and took a few beatings and we tip you guides for them,I never had a heavy beating until I got in the water everyday...The way you are talking we should vanish class 4+ class 5 rafting Unless you or someone like you decides they are fit,what the hell does that mean?How do you know how people are gonna react in an avalanche of water?You don't!What is experience,5 trips down the royal gorge and 1 down the numbers?Maybe 1 down gore?I don't get it,how do you monitor people and nature?Everyone needs to point and say "well this is why" the fact of the matter is,water is relentless some variables happened as they do in nature and two people died...That's reality and yes it sucks,why do we have to place blame?We as water folks know the risks more then anyone so why in these cases do we have to come on here and be rightous?

The raft company gave the safety talks and directions like they and all the others have done a million times,and now this time it was'nt enough for us as paddlers to except?Come on!

I do agree that the raft companies should look into safety kayakers at all times in harder runs but one kayaker would have got one person,maybe two after a long swim,so I see where a raft is not an horrible option either...

Heart goes out to the families and friends of the fallen...
 

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First of all I want to send my condololences to all that are involved in this tragedy.

I have worked for Mild to Wild on other rivers (not in Durango) years ago and can attest to the fact that they run there trips with everybodies safety as top priority.

mania, to answer your question.
One final question I have is on a continuous river like this, maybe we should encourage customers to just swim for shore and not stay with the boat? Normally we just list pros and cons and tell them to do whatever they think is best at the time. What do you guys think?
This is just what I have always done whether on a class III section or running class V. I always tell my customers if they find themselves in the river to get themselves out of the river as quickly as possible whether that is swimming back to the boat and getting back in or swimming to shore and staying put where they are. The longer a person is in the river the greater the chances of injury. Whether this is just a bump on the leg, hypothermia or worst case flush drowning.

Not saying this is how it should be done but after over a decade of guiding around the world this is what I found to work best.

The question has also been raised to have a safety kayaker or a raft. I have used both and they both have pros and cons. In a flipped raft situation a kayker can get to a person maybe a bit faster but they can only help 1 person where as a raft properly positioned below a rapid that might flip can potentially pick up everyone. Kayakers are definately faster and more manuervable than a raft and can catch much smaller eddies but again they can only help out 1 person maybe if they are really good 2 people max. In a foot entrapment scenario or wrapped boat situation that lines need to be brought across the river a kayak is definately the better choice.
So maybe on trips with that kind of intensity, length, and harsh enviroment maybe a raft and a kayaker is the better choice?

Keep in mind before I get flamed, I am not trying to be a know it all or saying anything up there was done incorrectly. I am sure everybody there did everything in there power they could do.

All I am trying to do is offer up my opinion as options in the future to think about, so this kind of incident might be prevented in the future.

Now if we could only figure out how to stop people from having heart attacks on the class 2 and 3 river trips which account for most commercial river fatalities.

Again just my 2 cents
Danny
 

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Discussion Starter #16
hey Dana

Dana,

I guess what I would like to know, along with many others, were they wearing wetsuits or drysuits, and if not, why not? You of all people know how damn cold this river is. I know you guys run a solid outfit, but maybe there should be some kind of better vetting of the customers between all the rafting liveries. A swim up there is not a thing of enjoyment, not unless you're some kind of weird ice-water freak eskimo.

I think the biggest thing is the amount of water up there that's coming down. We've been in a drought for awhile and I don't think a lot of the guides have gotten use to it yet. I'm not saying anyone was at fault regarding the deaths, but prudent screening of both guides and customers is not a bad thing. Losing a guide is horrible, losing a tourist doubly compounds the problem by hitting the bottomline for the liveries.

It's still a bummer all the way around losing people
 

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To clarify.

It truly is not my intent to make this situation even more difficult or painful for those close to it, nor to question the legitimacy of safety talks and single out this one company, etc. in this situation, but I want to address a couple of points to clarify my opinion.

What do you propose the add should say "Death Ride- You’ll Never Come Back"? The fat of the matter is that there has NEVER been a commercial death on the upper until now.
It would certainly be appropriate in this case, now wouldn't it? That is exactly what it was for one paying customer. But I am not suggesting that. I am suggesting it irresponsible for companies to even book class V trips and take money from people who really, despite the intensity and warnings of safety talks, don't understand what it means for them when their guide has a bad day at work or they, the customer, are like most and can't paddle worth a shit or when shit just happens. The fact of the matter is that everybody has bad days at work and it is not an issue of if you ever flip a raft in your life it is an issue of when. The fact of the matter is that this will not be the last commercial death in rafting either - somebody taking sombodies money who they know has not the experience to be on the water and is trusting in luck. Custy's have died in Fractions, Brown's, etc. Class V is a big jump up from either one of those streches as are the risks to a customer if they are in the water. Class V guides are very good and very competant rafters and I am not suggesting otherwise in this case. But they are good from their experiences, their years on the river in that enviornment. A customer has no such experience - they are taking a far more dangerous gamble with their lives than they truly understand, safety talk or no safety talk and somebody is taking their money to do this to them; to expose them to risks they will only truly appreciate from years on the river and I guarantee you if most actually understood the risks and experienced nasty swims, which are inevitable for somebody - it will happen on commercial trips the question being who - their would be a lot less class V trips booked.

Further, a couple hours of throwbag experience and practicing the whitewater swim position in much calmer water is hardly a replacement for a nasty thrashing, the experience that gives one and the power and knowledge it provides that person to make a truly informed decision on what they are getting themselves into. I am not questioning this one companies procedures, with the exception of sending an R-1 down and calling it a safety boat, or their intent to make very clear to the customers the risks, or the quality of rafter that Darrel or other class V guides are - I am questioning putting amatures into expert conditions, expert conditions that in every other element of boating the people are there through years of experience and would not be there otherwise. How many yakers go practice kayaking and swimming mild whitewater for a couple of hours and then go tackle rivers like this? They don't, and if they suggested such on this site they would be harshly chastized, because they would be swimming it. A swim with a competant class V guide for any one particular customer is hardly inevitable and dosen't mean that the raft has become unusable at that point like it does with a kayak, I understand this, but a swim for a non particualr customer is inevitable. It happens, it will continue to happen.

Ask yourself this. Of those that apparently understood the risk and real danger of swimming such water from a phone conversation and a pre trip safety meeting that were in the same raft but manged to get to shore, do you think they have their next adrenline wild whitewater trip booked for next summer yet? I would suggest that they will probably never set foot in a raft again after having experienced what it means to swim such water and witnessed how merciless it can be instead of just being told about it.

I certainly know more than one kayaker that has stepped up to class IV after some time on the river, have taken quite the thrashing in a swim and has either never gotten back on the water or never back onto that level of water.

I am not suggesting that this or any other company does not do their best to explain the risks involved - I am saying that despite those best efforts a customer is highly unlikely to truly understand and accept them. And we all know this - it is not the fault of outfitter or guide or customer; it is merely reality. Customers see some XTerra commercial, think they just rafted some gnarly class IV through Brown's, etc. and do not think the risk that something bad can happen to them is as real as we who have daily river experience do. Those of us who have experience on the river have a much better understanding of our vulnerability to the river than a customer does or ever will through our experiences. It is with that knowledge that we make our decisions and it is with that lack of knowledge that a customer makes theirs - and companies knowingly take money from people to put them in that sitaution, where they are truly unaware, banking on the skills of their guides and the chance of bad things not happening. Bad thigs do and will happen and a hapless customer is at a much, much greater risk swimming in class V than say swimming Zoom Flume. Raft company owners love rafting and tend to be pretty cool folks - but they are in it to make money and even though most would be/are selective with who they let on such trips and no doubt turn away money from such trips, the fact remains they are profitting from putting people into situations that they know do not fully understand or appreciate the true risks of what they are doing and lack any experience to handle themselves when shit goes bad. I think that wrong - both in a responsibility for customer safety sense and an ethical one. Merely my opinion.

Cat,what tourist(rafter)really does understand the risk? 5% maybe 6%,come on man...I started out rafting and took a few beatings and we tip you guides for them,I never had a heavy beating until I got in the water everyday...
That is my point dude. They are making an uniformed decision and somebody is taking their money as they do it and is in many ways encouraging it. And somebody is now dead. We can only specualte, but I truly believe that if most people knew the actual risks and dangers and difficulties that exsist surviving in a flipped raft situation in class V and what it was actually like to swim those types of waters, hell if they swam Brown's at high water, they would not be there. I would also be willing to bet that the vast majority of customers that have ended up swimming such water probably have not been rafting on class V again as they had the fear of god put into them unlike what a safety talk can do. It became very real, their understanding of what the brief talk was all about. Exceptions - sure. There are exceptions to everything.

The raft company gave the safety talks and directions like they and all the others have done a million times,and now this time it was'nt enough for us as paddlers to except?Come on!
That is not what it is about for me, and although easy to say now, my opinion would be/was exactly the same despite this incident. Class V guides are typically very quality boaters and they (guides and companies) take precautions and exhibit discretion on who they allow on such trips and I have no doubt that that is true with these parties. Amatures do not belong on class V water, especially when they are there through paying somebody with catchy phrases to take them there that understands what they (the customer) does not understand. Again, nothing more than my opinion.

And again, look at the comments in the article of one who went through such safety talks and milo's conversation with one of them after the experience and I ask you the same question of whether or not you think the people who were in the flipped raft that made it out of the water have their spot reserved for another wild whitewater adrenaline rush trip next summer? Do you think they will even ever go rafting again? I don't.

Two people are dead. And I think it very safe to say that one of those people knew not the risk they were exposing themself to by rafting the Upper A - you pay somebody some money and you are safe. Fuck 'em eh? Their tough shit for wanting an adrenaline rush. Their choice. More appropriately, their uninformed choice. That is my issue.

Enough said by me on this subject and I am not pulling some I told you so attitude or trying to imply that this company is not selective on who they allow on such trips and who they allow to guide such trips. I also understand that the chances are that such trips are going to end up just fine with everyone having a great time. It is industry wide - exposing amatures that have no appreciation for the real risks of class IV+/V water that kills advanced and expert boaters every year. Amatures have no business being put into such situations, situations where they will only gain very real information to be able to make a truly informed decision on what risks they are willing to take through years of experience that they do not have, for the sake of a fucking dollar bill.
 

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Re: To clarify.

CatJockey said:
It is industry wide - exposing amatures that have no appreciation for the real risks of class IV+/V water that kills advanced and expert boaters every year. Amatures have no business being put into such situations, situations where they will only gain very real information to be able to make a truly informed decision on what risks they are willing to take through years of experience that they do not have, for the sake of a fucking dollar bill.
I think this oversimplifies things. the purpose of the guide as i see it is to get people into very cool places, scenarios, experences (in a safe manner) that they could not be in otherwise. the upper is a truly wild experience and place. sure you can take the train to 'see' it but heck you might as well stay on the couch and watch a video of the rapids. something in our DNA needs more excitement than a trip to the mall or even a class III run.

when does an amature become competant and who is to say when? screening is a tool but is not perfect. we do our best. after reading AW i would propose that most whitewater deaths seem to be beginning private boaters, then extreme private boaters, then guided clients.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Bottomline is.....

Be it rafting, kayaking, climbing, mountain biking, flying, etc.... They are dangerous activities. When one does them, the individual participating should be intelligent enough to realize that.

In flying aircraft, I follow one very simple rule (and I apply it to anything I do), the 7-P Rule, which states; Prior Proper Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance. You can apply it to rafting and kayaking. Your equipment should match the given situation> I would liken running the Upper A right now without a serious wetsuit or drysuit to flying in IMC conditions using only dead reckoning and an ADF in the mountains below FL140 MSL, just a plain stupid idea.

Dana,
Andy rocks for doing that!
 
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