Sunday, April 08, 2007

Leading River Trips

A request was made for information relevant to leading trip. I am going to try and post what I can here, however, expect this to be a continual work in progress.

Know How to Lead a Group
1. Test out the basic skills of the group
2. Keep weaker paddlers in the middle, but give them time to lead in flat sections.
3. Have established protocol for swims and rescues
4. Use an iterative approach to assess dangers. I like the SiCP method (Situtaions, Consequences, Probablities) iterated through relevant rescue elements
5. Don't listen to begginers who want challenging whitewater, you're more likely to traumatize paddlers out of the sport than keep them in it.

Know How to Read Water
1. no prescriptions here - just practice by predicting and looking back to verify predictions

Local Considerations
1. Belly River - the first corner around the bridge will almost always flip begginers. To bypass this features beginners have to put in on the west side fo the river and walk down 0.5km past the rapid. The canalon river left about 1.5km into the run is dangerous. Most current now feeds into it, and begginers can bounce off rocks when trying to make it to the old channel on the right. Once in it there are no easy eddies to get out. The last hole can be very sticky. It is a poor trip choice because the rapids are shallow and there is no warm up.

2. Castel Falls Run - the main problem to watch out for is the rapid 500m after Narrow Gate (the 5-6 foot Class IV chute). A hole 1/3 into "Follstols Flop?" between the center and river right always gets people. It flushes but may be a tumbler. The trouble is river left looks big, and river right is a hard sneak. The clean looking line tends to feed into the hole. The sharp right turn after this hole will certainly get weak paddlers who bypassed the hole.

3. Castle Canyon - it will be a long flush if you swim. Lots of rock walls and some holes/boiling eddies on either sides of the chutes make things more difficult. You need good eddy skills for this run.

4. Waterton River (to Olsens campground) - Don't take the small channel on river right by the campground to get out. You will get sucked into a low walkway. Go past the campground into the big eddy after the island. Watch the first big eddy after the Waterton Bridge into the park. Begginers will flip, however things are quite wide open. The swim to shore may be long here.

5. Lower St. - Two main features to watch out for: a relatively river wide weir like pour over some time after? Birch hole, and swimming through run-no run and into Hairpin. The hole river center above Hairpin is very dangerous, and the last ledge after Hairpin can have weir like recirculation.

6. Swiftcurrent - there are now logs going through the forest 1/2 way down. The last rapid before it runs by the shore will flip people and result in a rough swim down the shallow river below.

7. Gap run - get out above the dangerous falls. In the channel before the falls, make sure paddlers are moving left to right, and if they flip swim hard to the eddy on the right.

8. Blackiston - if you haven't checked the church camp bridge for logs do so. This can be deadly. On the corner rapid, make sure paddlers aren't too far left or they could get caught up against the wall. There are lots of logs from Red Rock down, so don't do the upper section.

9. Lower Elk - the water can be extremely squirrely through the canyon and swimmers may be in danger, especially at higher flows. There is no feasible way to walk this section. Near the end of the canyon there is a chute that constantly changes shape. I don't think you want to be in the hole on either side of it.

10. Wigwam - corner pocket can trash paddlers in the hole. The lower rapids are very continuous and rescuing a boater would be very hard.

11. Bull canyon - at low water the swims are rough. The last hole at the end of the run can be hard to miss because of diagonal pressure waves. Setting up safety is time consuming and challenging.

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