Rafting companies prep for big water | PostIndependent.com

Rafting companies prep for big water

John Gardner
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” Geoffery Olsen spends one week each May the same way ” training rafting guides for the upcoming season.

Olsen, co-owner of Blue Sky Adventures Inc., spends one week with his rafting guides training them on river safety and protocol. With the water levels expected to be the highest they’ve been in 12 years, according to Olsen, he’s making sure his guides are ready.

“We go a week of training where the guides will run the river each day,” Olsen said. “We’ll probably run them for another couple of weeks after that.”

River rafting guides are required to have 50 hours of training to be certified in the state of Colorado, according to Olsen. Along with running the river, guides are also certified in cardiopulmonary resuscitation and first aid.

Each commercial rafting company does similar training programs each year with rookie and seasoned veterans who’ve been rafting the Colorado River for years.

Olsen said that the certification is good for up to three years, but he likes to keep every one of his guides fresh.

“Once you’re certified, you’re good to go,” Olsen said. “We’ll send them out for a couple of years, then have them go through the training all over again.”

In some cases, veterans like Steve Ivey help out the rookies, passing on knowledge of the river they’ve acquired by simply running the river.

“Today I’ll be with the trainees teaching them about all the things they need to do to master the river,” Ivey said Tuesday before the guides hit the water. “They won’t be able to master it in one shot, but they’ll get it.”

Proper launching technique, where to “put-in” ” the place where the boat will launch from, what to look for surrounding the launch area to ensure a clean launch and making sure that all the boats are properly spaced floating down the river all things Ivey will teach the new guides.

“These are all things we do before we put the raft on the water,” Ivey said. “There are many things to do.”

Even running down the list of obvious essentials, like making sure each person has a life jacket and paddle are simple steps that can be easily overlooked. But that’s why Ivey is there to help get the point across.

“Once you put-in, you need to have everything,” Ivey said. “Then you raft and hope everything goes all right.”

With all the talk and expectation of high water this year, due to high levels of snowpack, it’s even more important for guides to be at the top of their game. But, Olsen said, they won’t be running one of the more daunting sections of the Glenwood Canyon, Shoshone, while the water flows are over 5,500-cubic-feet per second.

“The guides do have to be on their game, but we move around on the river this time of year and will mostly be lower on the fork,” Olsen said. “We’ll be doing down river training first, then we’ll train for Shoshone.”

The rising water has already closed a section of the Glenwood Canyon recreation path from Grizzly Creek to the Hanging Lake Rest Areas, including the Shoshone section of the river. It’s going to be the biggest water experienced since 1996, according to Olsen.

“A lot of private boaters haven’t seen water like this,” Olsen said. “It’s probably a good idea to go commercial.”

Number one rule on the river; safety first.

Contact John Gardner: 384-9114


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