I did an Advanced White Water Kayak Leader Training course at Glenmore Lodge with Bruce Joliffe who together with George Fell make a fun duo to paddle with. I’ve done this before when it was called 5 Star Leader but I didn’t have enough experience to go to assessment.
We went to the Findhorn Gorge section starting at Randolph’s Leap. I thought Randolph’s Leap looked fun to do and most of the group and trainer agreed but the second trainer asked how we could cover a section of rapid we haven’t considered and given time constraints and that we hadn’t been on the water so didn’t know each other’s capabilities we decided to skip it. This shows how a two overlooked issues, overlooked, can change the whole decision.
When doing a rapid consider ASL – Assess if it’s do-able, Safety set up and finally Line for paddling. Most people consider these in the wrong order.
It can be useful to visulise the rapid once you have looked at it and before paddling it.
When reading a rapid have a look at what could go wrong. If you can’t see the rapid work out what worst-case-scenario hidden tree etc could be in the unseen rapid. Just because there is a route consider what problems may occur and how likely they are. There is a tree stuck in one rapid on the Findhorn and a first drop goes either to safety or into the tree and it would be hard to guarantee which.
3×3 criteria from avalanche and hill danger is also useful for running rivers, considering conditions, character and people against planning, selecting and cataract. I don’t know much more about this, it’s quite involved.
Heuristics means a quick mental way of making a decision based on a rule-of-thumb.
Pertinent means relevant to a situation.
Sit upright and forward, good posture is important when surfing (or anything) and having your blade infront when supporting is essential.
Bruce’s observations were all spot on as well as his knowledge of and use of the river.
One the Sunday we were on the Spean gorge, a low river which annoyingly has no gauge near it. We played at catching eddies and tried more boofs (it’s all about the timing) and lead folks down the rapids.
A fun weekend which highlighted how I’m still now at the standard needed for an Advanced White Water Leader but shows me what I need to do to get there.