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NWAC Avalanche
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| |-+  January 2005 Backcountry Trip Reports
| | |-+  January 30, 2005, Mt Blum
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Author Topic: January 30, 2005, Mt Blum  (Read 45536 times)

Posts: 818

Re: January 30, 2005, Mt Blum
« Reply #25 on: 02/09/05, 10:01 AM »

Thanks Sky, I don't like to think I'm melodramatic (place sky's TR here), but in this case I may have been. Blame it on the year or my desire to always be spinning a yarn. I'm not the most analytical and factually inclined person in the world. Engineers? Now they are both! And physicists, well they just work with theory and possibility and make facts to fit there analyzes Smiley

Here is my addition to the discussion of chains, risk and group size FWIW.

Chains are an important factor to look at. As a kayaker this is something that I have reflected on a lot more than I have in climbing. Take the river; it has a beginning and an end with many obstacles and unknowns between: logs, sieves, keepers, holes, portages, mudslides, rocks, etc. I have been on many trips where situations have degenerated from good to bad to worse. Thus it is easier for me to compare the decision making and evaluate the chains. The most interesting tidbit I noticed was the way we made decisions. Let's look at this scenario: I'm in a canyon, and I underestimate my boof (landing flat over an obstacle) and break my paddle. The spare is with the kayaker out in front. I continue C1 (one blade) on easier terrain (acceptable), but I am beginning to get tired because I'm not any good with half a paddle. I catch up with the lead boater and get the spare paddle. Down river, the most difficult portion is waiting. I continue and swim and lose my boat (because I'm tired and not thinking as well). I get bruised up and cold. The others chase my boat. No scouting (I've taken several hours to do just 1 mile of river and so bombing down the river is dangerous)!

You can see the situation degrading from there; everyone making individual decisions that affect the group without much thought to the FULL consequence. Any one decision's risk is considered acceptable but the sum of them is not and the situation can quickly spiral out of control; going from the broken paddle, to the swim and then the chase which has the potential for another similar situation as I was theoretically involved in with the chance of even poorer results.

What we often did to avoid this conundrum was to keep the group close together and make collective decisions when it came to any one rapid, completing the run or slowing things down. Since we were of the same skills this often worked. When differing skills and larger groups are involved this becomes much more difficult.

Here are some interesting thoughts on group size. When it is just me I am very conservative, but think I am not. When there are two people the risk is highest. Two people tend to think the other knows more. This is the most dangerous group size and the most successful. As a group of three, I believe you are at the most optimal size when you weigh all of the obvious factors. Finally when there is a group of four and above, I notice more conflict and fracturing. Little gets accomplished usually, unless there is a very defined leader that everyone trusts; a dangerous mix if not.  


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