Many thanks to Andie, Mario & Iain for the photos!
Your job as a rafting or canyoning guide is quite diverse. You not only have to have the skills and experience to handle whatever the river or canyon has to throw at you. You need to be switched on to each individual needs and safely provide them with an opportunity to experience rafting or canyoning. This means being able to communicate clearly and effectively while demonstrating the skills needed for the activity.
For many people, adventure sports are not a natural everyday thing. The Outdoor Interlaken guides take their jobs seriously and ensure that everyone feels confident and safe before and during the trip.
In order to stay sharp and keep up with best practices, the team get together and work on simulating real-world scenarios during a guide training afternoon in Aosta.
A lot of effort goes into ensuring everyone is safe and everything runs the way it should. This brings the likelihood of anything happening, next to nil. However, the guides still spend time before, during and after the season making sure they’re prepared to handle anything that comes their way.
In Part 2, you read that when the guides are “off the clock”, they can relax into enjoying some down time. This sometimes leads to getting lost. Yet, when it’s go time, the professionalism and focus of these guys is unmatched!
A guide team trip can be the most difficult to organise. Everybody is used to being the leader so nobody takes on the responsibility and assumes each other is independently capable. If we assigned the leadership role to one person the trip might run smoother. This is only true for everyday tasks though. Once the focus of the trip comes to the safety of the customer, the skills and professionalism of the guides awakens.
The team at Outdoor Interlaken are a diverse group of highly qualified guides, which has huge benefits. It allows for a well-rounded panel of the most experienced guides from all over the world who can share their knowledge.
The crew split up into 3 groups, went away to talk through and put together a plan for the best way to handle these situations. After which, each group presented it to the rest of the team for discussion.
The best foot entrapment is no foot entrapment.
We’re so used to putting our feet out to stabilise ourselves on land that this instinct is transferred when we’re in the water. It’s the worst thing you could possibly do, though and could lead to a foot entrapment.
It’s often impossible to see what’s under the surface and some rocks, submerged tree trunks, debris etc. could snag your foot. Then you will find yourself being pushed down by the strong flow of water.
If you should find yourself out of the boat and in the water. The best thing you can do is assume a safety position on your back with your feet facing down-river and simply go with the flow. Using your arms you can backstroke in one direction or the other to bring you safely to the side of the river.
RULE OF THUMB
Don’t stand up or put your feet down in fast moving water
(unless it’s under knee deep or the water is not moving).
A foot entrapment is a very unlikely situation, but Outdoor Interlaken takes safety very seriously and ensures that all the guides are well trained and prepared for anything.
The rescue techniques for foot entrapments vary depending on the situation. A stabilisation line across the river is generally established first and can act as a support to keep the person’s head above water. You can then try and snag the person’s body under the water to free them with another rope. There are also various ways in which you can pull on the person through the use of different rope set ups.
Again, the chances of this happening are very small and always remember… if you fall in, just lie on your back and go with the flow! 🙂
This can happen if the raft gets pinned against a hard object in the river and there is no way to get the water moving freely under the raft. No two wraps are the same but there are general practices that will help free the raft if this should occur.
The most important part of any incident is always the people. The people who are in the raft are looked after straight away. This often involves getting them safely to the water’s edge before attempting to get the raft unstuck.
Before doing anything else there are a number of things you can try:
- Moving weight to a different area of the raft
- Trying to get water to flow between the raft and the object
- Removing some air from the tubes
If none of these work, it’s time to get on the ropes!
You can try first to get water flowing under part of the raft by manipulating some section of it (usually one end). It may be possible to do this from within the raft or from the object.
You can then start working on ways to remove the raft from the shoreline. Simply pulling the raft at different angles should be attempted first before adding leverage. When the raft is seriously stuck, and you need more force to dislodge it, you would then look at using a z-drag setup to give you some mechanical advantage.
After the groups had demonstrated each method, everyone got together for a round table discussion. Sharing their experiences brings light to any real world scenarios that might not have been thought about and builds the knowledge base.
Knowledge is king!
The time had come to leave the Rafting Republic base camp and head back home to Interlaken.
PIZZA ON THE ROAD
The drive takes you high up the valley and through the St Bernard tunnel into Switzerland, passing by Verbier and into Martigny. Steph G. phoned ahead and had La Nonna fire up the ovens ready for an onslaught of hungry guides.
We all sat down on a super long table and as the first pizza was presented, the room fell silent… 38 eyeballs just starring in total confusion at the uncut pizza.
How do we? Uhm… who wants to? What if we just…
The waitress could see the panic starting to set in and quickly removed the pizza and replaced it with beer.
I’ll be back in 5 mins
When she reappeared, she brought two more staff with her and it started raining pizza’s… sliced pizzas!!
10 mins later…
19 large pizzas were devoured! Haha that’s right… Rafting and Canyoning guides eat healthy too 😉
Big thanks and Kudos to the drivers Manu, Andie, Riaan & Beni, who managed to stay focussed on the road while driving at trailer speeds, after mammoth feeds with a bunch of kids carrying on in the back! Not to mention their epic reversing skills and getting us home safely.
COME AND MEET THE CREW
What an epic couple of days away with some of the best humans!!
If you’re passing through Interlaken, drop in and say hello … we get a little tired of each other from time-to-time so we’re always happy to see new faces 😉
See you soon!