Hello, Paddler!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Comments

  • An unnecessary death; reprehensible and irresponsible on the part of OARS.

    From another report:
    "At that point, around 5:45 p.m. June 14, a female guide made a distressed and patchy cellphone call to her boyfriend, an off-duty Yellowstone ranger, not realizing that calling 911 in Yellowstone would directly reach emergency responders. When a Park Service patrol boat arrived 47 minutes later, Conant was pale, not breathing and pulseless. At 7:59 p.m. he was pronounced dead.

    "Investigating Yellowstone rangers determined that the team of Oars guides was not trained and prepared to deal with a coldwater rescue. One of the Oars kayak guides, the rangers would learn, had only been in a kayak five times in her life before becoming a guide.

    “When asked during a follow-up interview [she] stated that she had received no kayak safety training prior to leading trips with Oars,” Yellowstone law enforcement rangers wrote in their report. 'She further stated that she had received no training on what to do if a client or co-worker fell out of a kayak into the water. [She] further stated that she also received no training on how to contact authorities for help in the event of an emergency on the water.'”

    https://yellowstoneinsider.com/2018/03/28/details-surface-kayak-guide-fatality-last-summer/

  • The scary thing is that most tourists trust their guides to know what they're doing.

  • @grayhawk said:
    The scary thing is that most tourists trust their guides to know what they're doing.

    Indeed. I've met both good and bad. Everyone needs to do thier research and ask a lot of questions.

  • edited April 3

    When we were there the wind arrived each day at noon. It was strong and blew up some impressive waves in the 55 degree water. Which the guides said was unusually warm.

    I think we got a more better group for our three day trip. The guide wore hydroskins. They issued spray skirts an splash gear with booties and talked out rescues. But there wasn't any real training.

  • Sad story. Sounds like the outfitter was very unprepared for anything but ideal conditions.

    55* water is certainly cold and dangerous, but 30mins in 55* water shouldn’t kill you (based on the cold water boot camp videos). He had to have been in the water an hour or longer I would think.

    This is one reason I love my surf skis; easy to remount, impossible to take on water. Something like the epic v7 almost seems like a better fit for these type of day trips. Seems there is a larger inherent safety margin for the inexperienced and still wide enough that almost anyone can paddle.

    That huge deck bag probably didn’t help anything when conditions got bad either.

    Hopefully Yellowstone changes their guide policy so that extensive safety training / wet rescue / cold water prep is required. As a kid I went on a wilderness inquiry sea kayaking trip on Lake Superior. The had us in 4mm wetsuits (quite gross to share an outfitter wetsuit, but safe) and it paid off. The wind picked up and 2 boats capsized heading back to camp. Not a big deal though, guide deployed a paddle float, assisted the other person in, got in, and was back on track. In retrospect, a very knowledgeable guide

  • @MCImes said:
    Sad story. Sounds like the outfitter was very unprepared for anything but ideal conditions.

    55* water is certainly cold and dangerous, but 30mins in 55* water shouldn’t kill you (based on the cold water boot camp videos). He had to have been in the water an hour or longer I would think.

    I'm not sure where you sourced the 55 degree water temperature? The air temperature at the time of the incident was 53 degrees. Furthermore, the article referenced above states Reports put the temperature of the lake between 38 and 40 degrees.

    That is d@m cold.

  • Ah. I must have mis-read air vs water. That makes a lot more sense then

    And in that case, WTF was that company doing??? Any “professional” company should have taken at least some precautions. Newbies in 40* water in a large lake, with no skirt, no thermal protection, with conditions known to change quickly is practically a perfect recipe for a cold water death. They are guilty of gross negligence I would say...

  • The guides themselves were newbies. They had zero training from what I read. 5th time EVER in a kayak for one of them.
    Cold water no skirts BUT skirts would have killed grandpa as he would have never gotten out of over turned boat. Same for guides too. Just a bunch of rank beginners with three pretending to be experts. Sounds like there only qualifications is that they new were to paddle to and from. .

  • A point of order. My trip out there was in July.

  • @dc9mm said:
    The guides themselves were newbies. They had zero training from what I read. 5th time EVER in a kayak for one of them.
    Cold water no skirts BUT skirts would have killed grandpa as he would have never gotten out of over turned boat. Same for guides too. Just a bunch of rank beginners with three pretending to be experts. Sounds like there only qualifications is that they new were to paddle to and from. .

    I don't think they were pretending to be experts. They just didn't know what they didn't know and did their best...and that was good enough to save the older tourist who fell out of his boat and get him to shore, under some tough circumstances. Given that Conant, the deceased, was wearing street clothes and did nothing to try to get back into or on his kayak makes me think he suffered from cold water shock when he first went in. It's a tragedy that never should have happened.

    The National Center for Cold Water Safety filed a FOIA and obtained the official report (redacted). It's about 102 pages long and has a lot more detail than the news reports.

    The tour operator, OARS, is the guilty party and should have its license revoked, if it has one for 2018.

  • edited April 5

    I have always disagreed with that "120 degrees total" notion on air and water temps for safety. There are often early Spring sunny days when there has been snow melt in the mountains and air temps are 75 but water is barely 45. Would YOU go paddling on a windy lake in those conditions w/o skirt and immersion clothing? I would not. I think if you are going to use a questionable "formula" it should be more like 140 degrees. Even that is marginal. I would not paddle in street clothes on an 80 degree day with 60 degree water nor a 90 degree day with 50 degree water especially with newbies who could not reliably self rescue or roll. But I have paddled (and been immersed) in just hydroskins on a 60 degree air day with 80 degree water and been OK. So that is not a great planning formula.

    I agree that Conant's death timeline likely started with cold shock and not "hypothermia". A lot of very fit guys, even younger ones, are vulnerable to mortality from cold conditions as they have little fat on them and high metabolic heat loss to begin with. I learned that on land when I used to teach winter backpacking and mountaineering skills. I'm well padded and women's metabolism tends to be core-heat conservative (probably an evolutionary adaptation to protect a fetus). We get cold hands and feet faster than men do, but that's because our bodies react to cold by conserving heat in our trunks and slowing down our metabolism. Men's warmer hands and feet are radiating more heat so they will get hypothermic faster and are more statistically susceptible to frostbite as their reserves drain. Muscles are not great insulators.

    When I was responsible for relative newbies in cold conditions I had to monitor them for behavioral signs of hypothermia and incipient tissue freezing and it was most often the most fit athletic guys who exhibited symptoms early on -- signs were stammering and shivering or acting disoriented, belligerent or apathetic. I used to dread when I would find out that enrollees in the courses were former military or semi-pro athletes. The majority of the cold ailment caused rescue evacuations that I participated in during my years of guiding trips were the big strapping confident jocks. Not only physically vulnerable to cold, but psychologically resistant to asking for or accepting advice and aid, also more likely to become dehydrated and hypoglycemic due to not consuming enough steady calories.

    Eventually I added a key part of class orientation that taught students how to be aware of early signs of cold-related ailments in themselves and in their companions. As in SCUBA diving, we assigned a "buddy system" where class members had to continually check on their partner while trekking. And I would always force a stop IMMEDIATELY by the whole group to get warmth back into somebody who was starting to show even early signs of body heat deterioration, even if it was myself -- it can be easy to neglect one's own safety hygiene when focused on that of students, something that apparently was a factor in Conant's unfortunate demise. I realize that water immersion is a different animal (acute cold shock is not much of a factor in winter backpacking, except when somebody breaks through ice during a stream crossing) but I think the training and precaution principals are the same.

    The gross lack of training and preparedness by that group is really unsettling.

  • When I saw the headline, I was thinking it was another misguided complaint that the "Outdoors" should be a risk-free Disneyland? So much for my assumptions.

    Wow.....just, WOW! I too would assume the "Guide" would be an experienced, expert paddler experienced in paddling the area they're "Guiding?" And the lack of preparedness and seemingly arrogance on a lake that is notorious for cold water and high winds? Unless they've removed the signs, Yellowstone, et al those lakes have warning signs regarding the cold temperatures and high winds lest the "Guides" forget?

    And Willowleaf has some excellent points; there is NO exact "Formula" as there are so many variables besides air and water temperatures. Wind speed, sunshine or cloudiness, humidity, precipitation, and (as she astutely pointed out) body fat content all must be taken into account. I simply dress for a swim and that means sometimes I may be a bit warm. Too bad the "Guides," (it just KILLS me to call them that) did not have a modicum of the experience and forsight of Willowleaf! Like any other tourist, I would have assumed otherwise.

  • 5 times in a boat; you're good to go as a guide..............
    My daughter would have qualified when she was in kindergarten.

    BOB

  • My dogs would be ready to run the company.

  • edited April 16

    A guide with the skills of Michael Phelps can only do so much for customers who've been drinking during the night and hardly sleeping... Not a definitive statement but factual info doesn't always come from the victim's side of the story...who is often ready to seek monetary gains, through the legal system, as the first option rather than getting in top shape(physically) beforehand. Not any excuse for the guide but just sayin'.....I do get an idea of how lax some of the locals can be...to say the least.

  • @BigSpencer - um, the victim in this case was a guide. Thankfully the customers all survived.

  • Yeah, but a big part of being an experienced guide with good judgement is self-protection. If I assess that one or more clients is not sufficiently capable of NOT being a liability to ME and others, either due to lack of cognitive or physical fitness or an uncooperative attitude, they simply don't get to go on the trip. I'm never willing to risk my own safety and even life for some bumbling jerk with a hangover or a Rambo fixation. And I know from what my outing club went through trying to formulate a "liability release" form that such documents are rarely any sort of defense if a client or their survivors elect to sue.

  • edited April 17

    so sad that this happened. A tragedy for the fellow guides, clients, rescue workers, and of course Conant's family. This reminds me a bit of the Patagonia fatality (Doug Tompkins) where water temperature and a lack of proper clothing (multiple insulating layers under a dry suit) resulted in a fatal outcome. It seems cold water and its numbing chill cares not about title (guide) or reputation (a founder of North Face.) So let's dress for the water temp, spending the money necessary to do so on proper clothing, and understand that just "getting by" can end tragically when cold water is involved. These folks simply weren't prepared for a swim.

  • Nice thing about cold water is that "overdressing" need not be a problem. If you get hot, just dunk yourself. If you are underdressed you can be really screwed, though.

  • @willowleaf said:
    Nice thing about cold water is that "overdressing" need not be a problem. If you get hot, just dunk yourself. If you are underdressed you can be really screwed, though.

    That works if you’re in a kayak and have a reliable roll. Canoeists and those without a roll are out of luck.

  • repeatedly dunking your hat is a great way to cool off, I used that technique this past saturday to stay cool in the semi-drysuit, since my roll is sketchy.

  • @willowleaf said:
    Nice thing about cold water is that "overdressing" need not be a problem. If you get hot, just dunk yourself.

    Amen to that. It's almost more important for me to roll to cool off than to self-rescue.

  • edited April 18

    I don't have a reliable roll yet but I'm very comfortable doing a static balance brace (sort of a half roll). When I've canoed mild whitewater in cool water/warm weather (encased in a sticky wetsuit) I just scoop up water with my hat (usually an OR Seattle Sombrero) and dump it over my head and down my neck.

  • @willowleaf said:
    I don't have a reliable roll yet but I'm very comfortable doing a static balance brace (sort of a half roll).

    off subject, but this is confusing to me.
    the '1/2' roll you have it the 'hard' part, I think you really have a full 'roll' capability.
    when upside down, you should just be able to 'float up' to a balance brace position, then 'come on up'.

    maybe my thinking is because I learned a roll first, then much later the "balance brace".

  • You're right, but I don't practice rolling as I should, now that I have mastered coming up out of the full balance brace. My reluctance to voluntarily roll has nothing to do with fear of submersion or lack of knowing the sequence. I have permanent inner ear problems on my left side due to a bike crash and fractured skull 40 years ago and rolling can trigger very uncomfortable vertigo and sustained nausea (had to drop out of Aikido due to that and can no longer happily ride roller coasters). Doesn't always happen, and I can still function when it does (so I am not going to drown or have to be rescued if i had to do a combat roll) , but it pretty much ruins my day. So I am not ever going to be inclined to roll just to cool off.

  • for me i can still do head dinks all day long on the back deck of a ww kayak, but have no forward flexibility. I expect my ability to lean forward to improve with time and rehab and again reacquire a roll. Heck, I got two new hips to wear out, it's been a couple of months since they put the last one so it won't be long before I'm trying that, right now though just focused on paddling. I do routinely paddle class II and III in a kayak without a roll but I'm always thinking "Am I willing to swim this?" That's my upen boat mentality.

    You won't catch me far from shore on a cold lake (like Yellowstone) in a kayak. With a group of canoes, I might consider it. We could raft up if things got rough and pull swimmers into the uncapsized boats. I've got more personal experience with that type of rescue/situation (groups of canoes). I'd be dressed for the water temp as well. In general, yellowstone lake is a place I've "respected". I've driven right by it with a kayak on the car because my personal skillset wasn't up for the environment. Someplace else I'l like to visit and paddle is crater lake- my understanding is that it is another deep cold lake with some areas where it is impossible or difficult to get out onto shore. A roll will be on my essential skill list If I attempt that.

    I've heard of others getting nauseau or vertigo rolling over. At one time I developed sinus and ear problems from kayaking. Ended up getting the surgery (got reamed and straightened out) which helped but made me more allergic to pollen (now I give myself shots). Still remember how it felt when they pull the strings and pop the tampons out of your nostrils after surgery.

    If I felt nauseau while kayaking it was from swallowing my dip or getting flipped around while bein' upside down in a big rapid or a combination of both. I did video boat (for a commercial raft trip) once badly hung over- ahhh the glory days, some of them definately ain't worth repeatin'.....

Sign In or Register to comment.
Message Boards Close

Hello, Paddler!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!