Learn from my mistakes: Carry Splits
I have been paddling difficult whitewater rivers for a number of years now and have rarely had any problems with broken paddles. However, the thing about paddles is you really don’t realise how much you use them until you are faced with having to get to the end of a run with just one blade (or possibly no blade at all) . On my last trip to Chile I got bit in the butt twice but not having a split paddle in our group.
The first time was on the Rio Claro, the 22 teacups section, a beautiful crystal clear blue water, clean waterfall paradise, set in the backdrop of a deep overhanging gorge with slippery smooth walls. When one of our group, Sara-Jane (CAN) broke her paddles at one of the earlier drops, and with no way for her to climb out of the gorge to hike out I gave her my paddle and managed to survive my way to the end of the river using the half a paddle which she had remaining. Luckily I was able to make my way to the end without incident.
The second time on the Rio Fuy, in the upper section, a paddle of my own broke apart at the middle of the shaft where I had previously done a very poor repair job. This river was different in nature as it had slightly greater volume, bigger lines, but also shallower sections with more hazards. In this instance we actually had a split paddle with us but it was already in use by another member of the group who had broken their paddle a few days before. On this section there is a good trail to hike out at the waterfalls approximately two thirds of the way through the run. This meant I had to make my way, mostly paddling but with a sneaky portage as well, down stream using the best C1 skills I could master.
So the lesson here, which you can learn at my expense is always have a split paddle between the group, and if one is in use before you put on see if you can source a new paddle or a spare split paddle. I just invested in some rocking Werner Powerhouse 4 Piece splits. Yummy!
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