Preparing for the worst out on the river |

Preparing for the worst out on the river

Summit Daily News
Summit Daily/Eric Drummond

DUMONT ” Hundreds of new raft guides are trained every summer in Colorado and each of them are taught how to prevent accidents before they happen.

Certain mishaps on the river are impossible to prevent, however, and that’s where whitewater rescue and recovery training comes into play.

All raft guides are required to have at least some basic instruction in this area, and many ” including a group of 14 who trained in Clear Creek at Dumont Thursday and Friday ” seek more in-depth knowledge. The two-and-a-half-day whitewater rescue technician class was taught by Eric Young of Buena Vista and Christian “Campy” Campton, co-owner of Kodi Rafting in Frisco.

Campton took a short break from Thursday afternoon’s field session to explain the importance of the curriculum, established by a company called Rescue 3 International, being covered that day.

“For me, it’s satisfying to be able to pass this knowledge on because it increases the safety factor of what’s going on in rivers throughout the state,” Campton said. “If I’m standing across the river with somebody and we’ve got someone with a foot entrapment, I really hope that person has taken a course and can understand me when I give the signal that we’re going to do a stabilization line.”

Setting up stabilization lines was one of the skills students practiced on Thursday. They also did extensive work with throw bags, which they used to rescue a designated partner who was pretending to be what Campton refers to as a “DI” (distressed individual).

“This level gets more advanced as far as actually putting yourself in the water instead of just standing on shore or staying in your boat,” said Frisco’s Trevor Wilson, who’s in his seventh year of guiding.

Seventeenth-year guide Rob Rostermundt, who was in attendance on Thursday, has completed four Rescue 3 International courses.

“You may not do some of these things on the river that often,” Rostermundt said. “Like anything, if you don’t use it, you lose it.”

“This stuff has a shelf life of about six months if people don’t practice it,” Campton said. “I’d love to have people practice it on dry land back at their shops. They can set up a foot entrapment drill and work on their cinches and setting up Z drives so they know how to do it if the situation arises.”

As far as arising situations, Wilson has seen his fair share, which is why he thinks it’s important for private boaters to know whitewater rescue techniques, not just guides.

“A lot of people educate themselves to a higher standard, but there are others who don’t necessarily do that,” Wilson said. “Every now and then we see private boaters on Clear Creek who are over their heads. If anyone needs help, we’re going to help them, but it would be good if they were a little more prepared and equipped and they knew what they were getting themselves into.”

Campton, who encourages guides to hone their on-river awareness, addressed the bottom line behind his teachings.

“We could have a drowning, and that’s what we’re trying to prevent,” he said. “We’re giving these guys as much knowledge as we can in a two-and-a-half-day class, so hopefully when they get into a situation, they can save lives.”

Adam Boffey can be contacted at (970) 668-4634 or at

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

As a Summit Daily News reader, you make our work possible.

Now more than ever, your financial support is critical to help us keep our communities informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having on our residents and businesses. Every contribution, no matter the size, will make a difference.

Your donation will be used exclusively to support quality, local journalism.

For tax deductible donations, click here.

Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User