Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Tutorial: How To Scout Rapids
#1: Get out of your boat carefully. You do not want to be swimming down the rapid you are scouting.
#2 Store your boat in a safe spot. Oftentimes when creeking, you have to stash your boat in a precarious spot (on a slanted rock, on a log or branches, etc). Before you leave your boat, make sure it is safe and will not float away without you.
#3 After your boat is stowed securely, BRING YOUR THROWBAG! I have seen too many people go to scout and walk down to see the rapid without a throwbag in their hands. I have heard of a few people dying on the river because their partner(s) did not have a throw bag with them. Even if the rapid is inconsequential, bring it because someone could end up slipping and falling in, or, when someone runs the rapid, you might not have time to run up and get your throwbag.
#4: Analyze the rapid. Look at it for a line. Find its hazards (caves, sieves, undercuts, holes, etc). Make sure to look at it from different angles as not everything is obvious from a single angle (a rock could look fine from one angle; whereas, from another angle, you could see the 12' undercut cave in the rapid).
Orion Chapman and Kevin Dombey scouting in California.
#5 Choose your line and stick to it. You should be able to visualize yourself paddling down the rapid even before anyone else runs it. If you cannot visualize yourself running the rapid in your head, you probably should not run it.
#6 Make a "worst case scenario". This should be what would happen if something went wrong. Lets say that you got off line: Where would you go now? How do you get back on line? Where is saftey set for help? Think about questions like these.
Chris Gragtmans scouts trashcan falls.
#7 After you have your line in your head and are confident that you can stick the line, give the rapid one last look and start heading back to your boat. Signal to your friends with hand signals or with a paddle that you will be running it (or not running it).
#8 Look at the horizon line. This is an important step in the scouting process and is often overlooked. You need to know where you are going when you are in your boat. From water level, what markers do you have to reference if you are on line? These could be waves, holes, riffles, trees, how far from the bank you should be, etc).
Find markers on this horizon line.
#9 Get in your boat and make sure you are ready (Skirt is on properly, noseplugs, elbow pads, backband, etc). At this point you will probably have some butterflies in your stomach. All that you should be thinking about is the line that you are about to stick.
Step #10 Ferry out and STOMP YOUR LINE!
Adam Johnson on Celestial Falls, 45'. Photo by Philly Williams.
See you on the river,