Bad swims

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Mark R
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Bad swims

Post by Mark R »

Arguably there are no good swims...

Can anyone come close to this fellow's experience?

www.kayaking.peak.org/pub...s_ten.html


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neilfarmer
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Re: Bad swims

Post by neilfarmer »

now that is not very nice!
now I feel "lucky".

This quote caught my interest "I believe it is how you play the cards that you are dealt that matter. ". Quite right.


"I choose to ante up and play the next round." . Brave Man!

And then, I have felt this several times before "that had me on edge. Not antsy or gripped, but not on my game.", not recognised it fully, still paddled harder drops and got stuffed! What is the secret for pre-recognition?!

mathewr20
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Swimmers

Post by mathewr20 »

I do feel sorry fot that guy. I haven't ever had an experience like that, thank god. I was watching the swimmers today at serpants tail on the river dee. Nasty!

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Randy Fandango
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Horrible

Post by Randy Fandango »

Can't say what happened to me was quite the same (no total physical pasting by an angry river-God!) but I did have a rather nasty time Easter '99 in Scotland as I was the guy rescued using a helicopter from a tiny tree mid-river on Inverlair Falls on the Spean running 4 pipes.
It was total luck my half-drowned body draped itself around the tree too as I'd already proven to myself that even the most frantic swimming was taking me nowhere but over the falls and had kind of resigned myself to that, though I do remember being EXTREMELY angry with myself at that point.
The next day I borrowed a boat (my Inazone was never seen again - at least not by me)and paddled the Coe hating every minute of it but I was fairly sure if I didn't get right back on the bike I never would. This would have been very inconvenient not least because I teach the noble art for a living!
Since then I've boated as much as before, often on some reasonably silly stuff but generally found myself doing it with a dry mouth and a grim expression, certainly not in the happy carefree way of all the years leading up to Scotland.
It wasn't until just before I went back to Nepal this last Autumn that I finally felt the grip loosen and found I could actually relax on a river and have real fun.
The incident left me scarred in funny ways. I've found myself far more cautious about most things in my life, dating from exactly that point.
Previously I thought I performed fine on rivers because I was an OK paddler who took it seriously and left as little to chance as possible.
Afterwards I've wondered how many of the times I thought skill and sense had won the day when in fact I had simply been lucky to get away with things.



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neilfarmer
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the full Spean experience!

Post by neilfarmer »

Good on you for getting back into kayaking! Glad 'your back'!

A small tree above inverlair falls ..... 4 pipes ..... that brings me out in 'chills' just thinking about it! I sort of remember the incident (was not there), the river is too wide for throwlines, isnt it? Were they not worried that the helicopter draft might knock you back in? Did they not try to turn the dam off? Did you swim the entire final gorge or at the end in the nasty hole?

To get over the 'chill effect' - a funny(ish) story. Back at christmas / new year 1998/1999, I was returning from watford and my Schlegels had realy worn out complettely, so I dropped in at Carlisle canoes and bought my first set of 60degree feather werners. I also got a pair for Gregor (Ft William dentist). Jan1st, deep hangover and rain, Jan2nd, the warm up river to 'try out the 60degree feather' was ..... upper spean at 6 pipes. We get there, I give Gregor a marker to write his name on them, off we go. I end up chasing a boat down all the top bit, we arrive at the gorge. Most walk, me, 2 of my friends and 3 other guys run the gorge. All the others have all the throwlines at the bottom. In we go, follow the tounge, miss the boily recircing eddy right, smear the wall and avoid the one on the left as well. Sitting in the eddy at the top of the gorge, with 2 people I barely know, we watch in horror as the other 3 all congregate in the recircing LH eddy, the crash into each other, capsize, swim and all of them are flushing round with all kit! We have 1 line, guy jumps out, they grab the wall, get out and all their kit goes down! We chase...... got 2 boats and 2 paddles, the 2ndlast boat I got in the trees on the RHS just above inverlair, pinning myself between 2 trees, I watched the last one go over. Well scarey!

We then went back to Gregors, he (having lost his blades) had to write a cheque for me and explain to his wife why he was writting me a £180cheque!

Did you or your mates get any photos? Hope to meet you there again sometime soon!

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Re: the full Spean experience!

Post by Jim »

I seem to recall several different stories from that season about kit being lost over the falls and people being helicoptered off a tree or rock on the lip (hence my warning to Tom the other day that it is actually harder than it appears from above). I'm really not surprised that it was a defining moment for Randy!

I was also the absolute last chance throwline when Neil was busy rescueing Gregors boat, on the opposite side (well out of range) and getting ever closer to the lip. Unfortunately the noise of the falls drowned out my screaming at him that it was just a boat and to leave it, although he did rescue it, but barely!

I've only tried that gorge once, I think on 6 pipes as well, and I ended up in the left eddy on my own. It was pretty frightening, every time I tried to ferry out of it I got splatted on the cushion, backlooped and rolled up back in it. The only thing I knew for sure was that I was not about to swim the gorge on account of the falls being so close. With vertical walls, nothing much to grab hold of and my audience watching with great concern from directly above I just had to keep on trying. I was absolutely exhausted when I finally ferried across just far enough that after my splat-loop-roll I was on river right. I spent 5 mins in the flat eddy just recovering my breath/strength before paddling 100 yards or less to somewhere to take out!!!

Did it affect me? Just a little. Never summoned up the courage to do it again since, and have learned to recognise those "headwall eddies" (the ones upstream of a wall with a huge cushion that forces the water to eddy above it). Unfortunatley I met one on my first California trip, a grade 5 rapid on the Stanislaus (name will return to me) which I decided would go (the eddy and cushion were much larger). Unfortunately I looped in the boil below the fall and rolled up heading for the eddy (I'd seen my mates kendo being splatwheeled against the wall by now) so I paddled like mad to miss it. Eventually the boil line capsized me again, and convinced I was heading for the wall I kicked hard away from the boat - I had done enough to miss the wall but had gone to pieces in memory of the Spean!

I still need to find time to read the original link...

JIM

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Mark R
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Re: Horrible

Post by Mark R »

Randy - I was also up there when you had your helicopter epic that week in '99.

Being English, we were sought out mistakenly on a few occasions by SCA types looking for you. As best as I recall, their intention was to find you and - having survived Inverlair - kill you.

However...by the sounds of your report, you were more angry with yourself than they were. Great story, glad you are still here to tell it.


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Chris Sladden
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bad swims

Post by Chris Sladden »

That poor fellow, misguided as he undoubtly was, pulled out of the Bladnock seems to have had the worst swim!

Chris

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Simon
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Ultimate Bad Swims

Post by Simon »

Someome said

"that brings me out in 'chills' just thinking about it!"

The one that does it for me is Mr Wheeler's descent of Conway falls minus boat. I shivered and winced when I first heard of it, and I still shiver and wince thinking about it now.

Simon

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Re: Ultimate Bad Swims

Post by Mark R »

Chris has recently written this long-ago event up for a UK mag.

Superb and excruciating article, I think Chris was motivated to 'go back there' by some of this summer's Norway happenings.


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Re: Ultimate Bad Swims

Post by Poke »

Yeah... I was in scotland easter '99 too... Didn't hear anything about it at the time but a few months later heard that someone had run the falls (intentionally) as the rescue was being carried out (the level was dropping to a 'good' level as the pipes were shut off??) Is this true?

Also, where is this nickname inspiring article on conway falls epics? My dad told me that story a few years back when I was starting to run more difficult stuff than he was - presumably in an attempt to stop me doing anything really stupid!

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Stupid places

Post by Randy Fandango »

Yeah I did pick a right duff place to swim I have to say.
The river is indeed that bit too wide for throwlines and to my eternal shame, but eternal gratitude too, the nice man did have to turn the whole dam off to rescue my stupid hide.
The helicopter as I recall was some sort of ambulance type not fitted with a winch so the pilot's very brave attempt to actually come right down and pluck me off James Bond style was curtailed when the down-draught almost blew me from my very precarious perch.
People (all the other kayakers present, the police, mountain rescue, walkers, Uncle Tom Cobbley and all) kept giving me thumbs-ups from the bank, then staring mesmerised over the falls whilst shaking their heads in a way that wasn't all that encouraging as I remember!
I swam trying to run that last river left drop having had no troubles in the gorge at all. Three of us were paddling together and we'd reached the last break-out possible before the drop.
One friend said he was getting off there. I said I'd run it if we set up cover and my other friend said "faggots" and plunged off down stream.
I headed off straight after him as a knee-jerk reaction as I was supposed to be the experienced and qualified one of the group and my instant (and stupid) reaction was to stay with the "group" on the river.
I watched him frantically clearing the tow-back in a rather faster boat than mine and then I was in it.
I believe it unintendo'd me for quite a while before I bailed sogily knowing I was heading for the falls.
I tried swimming to the left bank but it wasn't happening so I thought I'd try for the rocks in the middle but my hands slipped off and I assumed that was that. I was so damned furious with myself. The next I knew I came back to vague awareness snagged around a small tree mid-river.
I would certainly suggest anyone running the Upper Spean look long and hard at the last gorge and be ABSOLUTELY sure (whatever that means) that they won't swim and really just give that final drop a miss. Mind you I'm not sure I'm the least biased person when it comes to running this bit of river, which incidentally I've never re-run since.
I will always feel an enormous debt of gratitude to everyone involved in hauling me out of the spot and cannot speak highly enough of what a superb job Fort Bill's and obviously all mountain rescue services do every day.
But enough of my yakking...
I know I came off really lucky compared to that poor fella in Scotland over the weekend. Tragedies like that certainly put your own experiences into perspective I guess.


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Inverlair Falls

Post by neilfarmer »

Indeed, the exit from the gorge LHS forms a kicking hole at most higher levels, we ran it to the RHS of the rock.

I had heard that someone else was rescued from a similar place that month as well!

I am also prety sure that Inverlair has been run, will try and confirm that ..... I think the line is over a 'flume/chute' on the left. So, if you are ever unlucky enough to be approaching them in a boat, look for the chute on the rhs of a small rock, mb15feet from the bank?! When the water is off, you can walk right across them..... scarey.

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Back on topic

Post by Jim »

I finally remembered to read the link - ouch!

I have some idea what must have been going through his head as he missed the eddy, after that my experience was way different!

The first time I ran the Orchy we were not sure of the order of the falls (and it was quite high). The group broke out right to inspect "End of Civilisation" thinking it was "Eas a Chataidh", I tried to break out left and then ferry to their eddy. Being in a squashed spud, I missed it, and was forced to turn and face the rapid, not knowing if it was a 4 or a 5 or where the line should be. A friend saw what had happened and followed me, we made a line down the right side of "End of Civilisation", which isn't possible very often, and soon realised by the way we hadn't dropped off the end of the world that it wasn't the 5! We were kind of relieved, I was scared and tired. I walked out from Eas a Chataidh when we finally got there!

It must be so much worse knowing you are going over a 5+, as for the beating, I can't come to terms with that - I know I don't have that much lung capacity. I have a feeling I wouldn't like it very much.

Randy, I wouldn't say it was a duff place to swim at all, it's a very ballsy place to be and getting wasted there is nothing to be embarrassed about. Like Neil, I think the easier side of that last rock is the right side, but I got out above it when I was there, and no-one was making chicken noises - well not at me anyway :) A couple of other lads had been planning to run it but watched me and altered their plan.

Neil - Inverlair has been run. Mark Lyons pal Iain has definitely done it, not sure what level. He seemed to describe some hideous takeout though, something about having to pin yourself on boulders and jump out quickly. Not one that gets run often, but definitely has been done.

JIM

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Conwy Falls

Post by magic knees »

The article's due to be published within the next 3-4 weeks. I just figured that 14 years on, it was time I wrote about it. I'll be intersted to see what reaction it generates from the younger guys.

Chris W.

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Reaction from the Younger Guys

Post by Simon »

Probably a lot of respect for the fact that you are still out there paddling.

(By the way Chris - does the article involve the story of your journey back from Bangor to Oxford. The things I heard about that wre a bit disjointed so I would be interested to get the whole story).

Simon

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Bad swims

Post by Snooky »

If Mike Moxon picks up this thread while he is away in Chile, he has a good swim/waterfall descent to recount rom Wales.................

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callwild
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Inverlair

Post by callwild »

Inverlair has indeed been run by Andy Jackson, Al Collis et all. On three pipes and by the far left chute. This still lands you in very powerful boils and undercurrents which are way nasty. Dave Kwant landed but got sucked out of his boat for a rare and scary swim down the gorge below.
Whilst on the Spean.Some have queried whether Monessie Gorge has been run. I do know Al Collis and Ben Starkie had a go in low flows and although eventually coming out the bottom it involved lots of nast falls, climbing, swimming around boulders with ropes attached, majic and trickery and getting benighted with four hours in the dark. They no doubt will not be rushing back.
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Monessie

Post by Jim »

Excellent report Stuart!

I was aware that Al at least had attempted it but the vague story I heard suggested that the water had been turned off and he had to climb out, sounds like a misinterpretation and they actually got to the end with much horrendous portage related faff!

I'm sure someone else will try it eventually, I'm sure it won't be me!

Are there any more grade 6 ish runs to add to this thread?????

JIM

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Re: Inverlair

Post by conoroneill »

One of our club member's boats has run both Inverlair and Monessie, and survived without hardly a scratch. Our paddler was safely rescued above Inverlair.

The next day she went to the police station to report the lost boat, and they said 'like this one here which someone just handed in', and returned it straight to her. It had been found somewhere in the vicinity of Spean Bridge.


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