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Ski the Snow of the Poudre River Basin


by Ben Costello, March 2017

Anyone who has spent time at Mountain Whitewater and Paddler’s Pub may have noticed the motto for Paddler’s Pub: “Ski the Snow, Raft the Rivers, then Turn that Water into Beer!” It is our fun way of looking at the hydrologic cycle here in Colorado. Mountain Whitewater fits into the “Raft the Rivers” part of the motto. Paddler’s Pub facilitates the “Water into Beer” part of the motto, but what about the “Ski the Snow” part? The guide staff at Mountain Whitewater spends time during the winter season skiing and snowboarding the mountains in the Poudre River basin.
Poudre River Basin Map courtesy of the U.S. Geologic Survey

Where is the Cache La Poudre River Basin?

Located in North Central Colorado, the Cache La Poudre River basin is part of the larger South Platte River basin. It includes mountains near Cameron Pass on Highway 14 and parts of the Rocky Mountain National Park. Overall, there are around 484 square miles of land that drain into the Poudre River basin.

The vast majority of the water that flows through the Cache La Poudre River comes from snow that melts in the basin. So, the folks that raft with Mountain Whitewater every summer, are floating on the same snow that the guides ski during the winter time. This map, courtesy of U.S. Geological Survey shows where the Poudre River basin is within the State.

Skiing in the Poudre Canyon

Ski tracks on the South Diamond PeakThe Poudre Canyon area provides some of the best skiing and snowboarding in the Fort Collins area. There are a multitude of different trails and peaks suitable for backcountry skiing in the basin that provide for an even greater connection to the river for the guides.

Backcountry skiing and snowboarding provide a great way to have fun, enjoy being in nature and to say in shape for rafting season. It also allows for the guides to have a better picture of how much snow is in the mountains. Understanding that it is an indicator of the water we will get to raft in the spring. What can I say, we just cannot get enough of our beautiful Cache La Poudre River water!

Click here for a video of Guides skiing the South Diamond

Ben skins up to the South Diamond
Guides skiing in the Poudre Canyon
Mountain Whitewater guides on the skin track into the Seven Utes area

Great view atop the Poudre River drainageView from the bottom of the South Diamond

Photo and information credit to USGS from https://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2005/3037/

Rafting the Gauley River in West Virginia | Guides on Vacation


by Ben Costello, February 2017
Rafting the Gauley River: Mountain Whitewater Crew Buried in the Hole at Pillow Rock
Rafting the Gauley River in West Virginia is possibly the most iconic river trip east of the Mississippi River. The river boasts big, forgiving Class V rapids set in an old, lush river gorge. This quintessential river is also the site of American Whitewater’s largest annual fundraiser called Gauley Fest. American Whitewater is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to funding river stewardship projects around the country. The festival draws rafters, kayakers and other river rats from all over the country to come together for several days of paddling whitewater and celebrating all that is river culture.

Travel and Camp

Rafting the Gauley River: Summersville Lake Near the Gauley RiverGauley Fest has become an annual event for our whitewater addicted crew at Mountain Whitewater. The number of guides, friends and family participating has grown each of the last four years. A group of around 30 Mountain Whitewater folks traveled 1,494 miles from Fort Collins, CO to Summersville, WV to participate in the festivities in September of 2016. Our group made the 24 hour drive going straight through the night. The only major stop during the trip east was in Kansas City for some classic BBQ. The drive east is exhausting. It is taxing even with multiple drivers and rotating 3 to 5 hour shifts. The overnight driving effort is worth it because the drive is over in 24 hours. I was in the second car to arrive at camp early in the morning the day before the festival.

The Battle Run Campground is a nice facility with lots of amenities and it’s only a couple of minutes drive from the Gauley River put-in. The campground was the perfect spot for our large group. Our campsite was set in a nice wooded area at the top of a hill on the shore of Summerville Lake. The lake (actually a reservoir) is the source of the water that flows through the Gauley River. The different cars and trucks filled with the members of our group continued to arrive at the camp through out the morning. We were mostly set-up at camp by noon and we spent the rest of the day swimming and paddle boarding in the lake.

Rafting the Gauley River: Camp Site Setup Early in the Trip
Rafting the Gauley River: Battle Run Campground at Sunset
Rafting the Gauley River: View of Summersville Lake for the Camp Site

How the River Works

The Gauley River rafting season runs from early September to mid October each year. Water is released only four days per week, Friday to Monday. 7am to 1pm on weekdays, 6am to 3pm on weekends. The river festival always occurs on the third week in September. Paddler’s who are there during the festival are lucky to receive an extra hour of release each day that week. All of the river launches through the season and Gauley Fest are planned with this schedule in mind.

The plan for our crew was to be there to raft each day of releases during the week. We would get-up early each day, organize our equipment, run the shuttle and eat breakfast prior to launch. After the shuttle crew returned to camp, we would head down to the put-in. The Gauley River will see thousands of paddlers every day during the six week long rafting season. The week of Gauley Fest is even busier. As such, our crew would have to wait in a long line of vehicles to get to the launch site each morning. The waiting was not too bad though, as the scene in line unfolded to be a party of river guides gathering to celebrate the river. At the put-in we would load the coolers and safety equipment into the rafts, make sure we had enough paddles and launch our trip rafting the Gauley River.

Headwaters of the Gauley River in West VirginiaRafing the Gauley River: Loading the Boats in the Morning

Rafting the Gauley River

Rafting the Gauley River- A Raft Enters Pillow Rock RapidThe Upper Gauley River is a 25 mile stretch of river that is divided into the upper and lower sections. Our crew spent all of our time on the Class IV-V upper section. The 10 mile Upper Gauley consists of steep gradient, large boulders and undercut rocks, technical rapids and high volume water. The Class V rapids on the run include Insignificant, Pillow Rock, Iron Ring, Lost Paddle and Sweet’s Falls. The pool-drop river has plenty of Class III and IV rapids in between the Class V’s as well. The microclimate inside the river gorge boasts fantastic scenery. Thick, green deciduous trees and shrubs dominate the landscape. It looks almost tropical in nature, especially when it rains. A stark contrast to what we see in Colorado.

Our crew would spend half of each day rafting the Gauley River. Everyone would rotate paddling and guiding on different rafts each day. Some would kayak, some would go tandem in a paddle cat while others would ride in paddle rafts. The tradition while rafting the Gauley is to stop after Pillow Rock and Sweet’s Falls to watch others run the rapids. Both spots have large rocks in the river that paddler congregate on to watch the action. It was truly amazing to see how many different river folks were there to paddle and enjoy this unique river. Most of the runs from our group were successful, but we had our share of flips and swims. The water in the river is much warmer than the water in Colorado, so being in the river was refreshing. We were certainly not the only crew spending time in the water. Over and over again, we witnessed other flips, dumptrucks and swims. It is important to remember that the vast majority of the people on the river are experienced guides and paddlers. The amount of experienced river runners allows for a much safer situation. Most swimmers did not spend much time in the water, unless they wanted to. It is quite the scene and tons of fun.

Great View of Sweet's Falls on the Gauley River
Bobby and Justin Paddle on the Gauley River
Spectators Watch the Action at Sweets Falls

Paddle Cat Flips on the Gauley RiverNate Guides a Crew through Pillow Rapid

Gauley Fest

The River itself is what attracts most people to this event, but the festival is also an integral part of the experience. It is a place for all the river rats to gather after an extraordinary day on the river. The festival runs for three nights, each night being a little bigger and better than the previous. Whitewater manufacturers and stores set up vendor tents to sell and display their products. Local food trucks feed the crowd. Bands and DJs entertain. There are opportunities to purchase cheap gear, enter raffles and donate to American Whitewater. It is a great venue for sharing river stories and meeting like minded folks.

Overall, our trip east to raft the Gauley River was a huge success. It provided an unforgettable river experience and time spent with great friends. I can’t wait to go back next year!

Mountain Whitewater Guides at Gauley River Festival 2016

Reasons to Paddle the Poudre River in 2017


Why we all need to spend more time being active in the outdoors this year.

by Ben Costello, January 2017

Scenic shot of the Poudre River looking upstream from Hewlett GullchOne of the most popular resolutions people set each year is to be more active, or to take it a step further, to be more active in the outdoors. For many of us who live in Colorado, outdoor activity is a lifestyle. One that we either grew-up with or moved here for. Either way, it is hard to imagine life without our favorite outdoor pursuits, so we don’t need reasons to paddle. For others, including many Coloradans, outdoor activities are not a part of life. Many outdoor activities can be intimidating to beginners, can be expensive to get into or are just not accessible due to where you live. Rafting is a great way to get outside and be active because it is beginner friendly, affordable and available to anyone who lives in or visits Colorado.

Here are 6 reasons to paddle the Poudre River this year:

1) Paddling is a healthy way to maintain fitness

  • Paddling is a great cardio exercise and a whole body workout. If you need reasons to paddle, this is a great one. You will use your arms, shoulders, back and abdominals to paddle and your legs and abs to hold yourself into the raft. But don’t worry, there is some down time to rest between rapids.

2) Paddling is a great way to spend time with loved ones

  • Paddle rafting is a team sport. It requires working together and communicating with your friends and family to navigate the river successfully. Plus, phones don’t work in the river, so you get time to enjoy being active without distractions from technology.

3) Paddling helps to overcome the your fears

  • Rushing whitewater and huge splashes to the face are not something most people face regularly. With help from professionally trained river guides, most anyone can conquer class III and IV rapids they would not have otherwise. These experiences of conquering fears by being taken out of our comfort zone can give us the confidence to branch out in other parts of our lives.

4) Paddling is a great way to experience nature

  • Along with being healthy, connecting or re-connecting with our natural environment is a big part of many resolutions. There is no better way to experience flora and fauna and to feel like a part of nature than paddling a river. There is just something about going with the flow of a river that connects us to nature. After all, rivers are regarded as the lifeblood of our natural ecosystems.

5) Paddling both relaxes and excites

  • The river provides a wonderful juxtaposition of elation and refreshment. Rapids provide for the rush of adrenaline and the excitement of anticipating what is next. Calm sections in between the rapids allow for a moment of relaxation and time to appreciate your surroundings.

6) Paddling creates unique and memorable experiences

  • One of the best reasons to paddle this year is very simple, it is FUN! One of my favorite parts of being a raft guide is people telling me, “That was the most fun thing we have done all summer.” Paddle rafting creates memories that will last a lifetime. Be careful, you may just find your new passion in life.

Happy rafters make it through Flip Rock Rapid on the Poudre River near Fort CollinsRafting through Guide Hole Rapid on the Cache La Poudre River

Poudre River Cleanup a Huge Success


Mountain Whitewater’s annual river cleanup had a great turnout and was a huge success!

by Cassi Ballard, June 2016

Mountain Whitewater’s annual Clean the Poudre 2016 had an incredible turnout of over 125 volunteers. The crew cleaned up over 4 cubic yards of trash and a full cubic yard of recycling. Everyone was well prepared and had the best attitudes we could ask for.

An appreciation event at Paddler’s Pub at Mountain Whitewater was held after the cleanup with food and drink provided by LaPorte Pizza, Odell’s, Serious Texas Bar-B-Q, Backcountry Deli, and Rio Grande Mexican Restaurant. Morning Fresh Dairy also brought 20 plus volunteers on their behalf and donated chocolate milk, lemonade, and yogurt for the appreciation event. So another thank you to these sponsors for supplying the hard working volunteers with free food and beer!

morning fresh employees at river cleanupA huge thank you to Save the Poudre, American Rivers, and The City of Fort Collins Natural Areas Program for helping Mountain Whitewater sponsor this years cleanup.

Everyone’s efforts and contributions to the river cleanup were and still are greatly appreciated. The positive impact on the river helps to shine light on the city of Fort Collins and all of its citizens and attractions.

If you’re looking for information about next years river cleanup give Mountain Whitewater a call and be sure to stay tuned for updates!

River Safety & Rescue: The Safety Talk


A clear and thorough safety talk is one of the most important elements of any competent, professionally run river trip.

by Ben Costello, April 2016

Mountain Whitewater Safety Talk

A clear and concise paddle and safety talk is a very important component to any river trip. The experience and familiarity level of the group might determine how thorough the discussion will be, but all trips should have a safety talk in some form. It should never be assumed that every member of a paddling trip is fully knowledgeable about river safety procedures and paddling techniques. Even experienced groups of paddlers should, at a minimum, briefly discuss hand signals to be used and the general plan for the trip.

A well crafted paddle talk should cover topics regarding river safety, proper equipment use, the trip plan and how to paddle. The talk should be informative, but also fun. It should be a thorough enough to cover everything needed, but not so long that people stop listening. 15 to 20 minutes is perfect.

On a lot of trips, the safety talk is conducted at the river put-in. At Mountain Whitewater, we conduct our paddle talks at our office. This allows for guest to be focussed on the safety talk without the distraction of looking at the river. The trip leader will conduct the safety talk for each trip. This allows for the trip leader to properly evaluate the group and interject their own style and humor to the talk. Each guest is given a copy of the safety talk check-list so they can follow along, with one guest checking items off the list as they are covered by the trip leader to ensure all topics are covered. The following is an example of a safety talk and the topics that should be included.

Introduction and equipment:

  • Greeting and introduction. Safety Talk: Trip Leader Demonstrating Hot to PaddleOutline of the plan for the day, length of trip, weather and brief itinerary.
  • The importance of quality safety gear – we use self-bailing boats with toe straps to help keep you in the boat, class V lifejackets to give great floatation, splash jackets and fleece for added warmth, and kayak style helmets to protect from rocks and flying paddles.
  • Lifejackets – Make sure they are tight so that when we pull up on the shoulder straps it stays in place. Wear your lifejacket at all times. Do not undo any of the buckles or straps.
  • Paddle boats – All of our trips are paddleraft trips. Team of paddlers listens to the guides’ commands to get the boat downriver. This is a team activity, everyone will need to participate and paddle.

Paddling and commands:

  • holding a paddle – Always have one hand on the t–grip (top of the paddle). The other hand when paddling will be as close to the blade as possible,  Safety Talk: Trip Leader Explains the Hi Side Command
  • forward paddle
    this gives better leverage. The more leverage you
    have, the less work you do.– Put the blade in the water in front of you and then bring it back.

  • back paddle – Put the blade in the water behind you and then bring it forward using your hip as a fulcrum point.
  • left turn – Left side back paddles, right side forward paddles
  • right turn –Right side back paddles, left side
    forward paddles.

  • stop –Stop paddling
  • hold on or bump or lean-in – Get ready for a bump, brace yourself
  • high side – If the boat is going to hit a large rock with force, we all need to jump onto the tube that is going to hit the rock; the high side is always downstream. Wait for the guide to call high side, jump to the downstream tube as fast as possible, and wait for the guide to tell you to return to your positions.
  • Intensity of the guides’ voice – As things get more intense the guides voice reflects that, start paddling harder.
  • Importance of paddling – The motor of the boats is you and your paddle. If you turn off the motor then the boat has no steering, power or brakes. Paddle hard.

River safety and rescue:

Safety Talk: Trip Leader Showing the OK Signal

  • Swimming – This is a rocky, low-volume river. When swimming, keep your feet downstream, float flat on your back and bounce off rocks with your feet. Get to shore, your boat or another boat. Keep your eyes open for a rope bag. If the water is deep, turn on your stomach and swim to the closest safe spot. If not, back paddle with your arms and legs.
  • Foot entrapment – Do not stand up in the river. Your foot could become lodged underneath a rock, the current pushes you forward, and suddenly you are stuck face down in the water. Sounds terrifying! DON’T stand in moving water.
  • Flipping – Occasionally boats can and do flip over. Follow all the same swimming procedures; the boats stay afloat whether right-side-up or upside-down. Do not hold onto the downstream side of the boat because we don’t want anyone smashed between the boat and downstream rocks.
  • Finding yourself underneath the boat – Get out from there. Put your hands above your head and push on the boat, use them like you are walking with your hands. Pick one direction and keep going.
  • Point positive – The guides may point while you are swimming, go that direction. We are pointing which way to go, not to look out for something. The faster they point, the faster you should go that way.
  • Rope bag – Safety Talk: Trip Leader Demonstrates the Throw Rope Toss all have bags full of rope to tow you in if you get away from the boat. Keep your eyes open for ropes coming from your boat, other boats or shore. Swim to get the rope. Hold onto the rope, not the bag, and put it over your shoulder. We will tow you in backwards.
  • Other boats – Other boats are happy to pull you in, go to whomever is closest. If a kayaker is towing you, grab onto the rear tow strap, kick hard with your feet. They will tow you to shore. Do not grab any other part of their boat, paddle or them.
  • Pulling someone in –Grab them by the shoulder straps of their lifejacket, brace your knees on the boat and fall backwards. Use your body weight not your arms. The person being pulled in should kick with their feet, just like getting out of a pool. If you still can’t get them in dunk them down into the water so that the buoyancy of the lifejacket can help you out (make sure you let them know what you are doing).
  • Strainers – Strainers are objects in the river like trees or branches that allow water to flow through but not people. Swim aggressively away from strainers. If you cannot swim away from the object, fight your way over the strainer, never allow yourself to swim under the strainer.

Other topics:

Safety Talk: Trip Leader Explains How to Pull Someone Into the Raft

  • Water Fighting – Water fighting is allowed on warm days for willing parties. Don’t splash if someone doesn’t want to. Watch for flailing paddles, don’t splash or squirt someone in the face. Stay in your raft. Do not water fight above rapids.
  • Any medical condition that we should know about? Please let your guide know about any medical conditions or drugs that you are taking that may help us in an emergency.
  • Litter – If we catch anyone marring our beautiful office, you will be boatless. Seriously, we want to keep this beautiful for us and everyone else. Everything that we bring in, we bring out. There is also recycling available at the shop.
  • Get Your Gear – Follow guides to get your gear. Please be prudent as we are on a strict time schedule. The order you wear your gear from bottom to top is: bathing suit, wetsuit, fleece, splash jacket and then your pfd.
  • Natural Flowing Rivers – We do not expect all of these things to happen, however, this is a naturally flowing river, you are not at Disney Land, so it is possible for some of these things to happen.

Rope Safety: How to Properly Use a Throw Bag


A discussion about rope safety and the proper use of a throw rope in whitewater rafting and whitewater rescue.

by Ben Costello, April 2016

To put it simply, a rope bag or throw bag is a bag filled with rope. It is a common river rescue tool that is carried on every raft at Mountain Whitewater. Most commercially available throw bags are made up of a nylon or Cordura bag filed with Polypropylene (or other floating material) rope. The ropes are made from a synthetic material that doesn’t lose its integrity when it gets wet. Max loads range from 950-2500+ lbs depending on the material. Ropes range in size and shape depending on their intended use. They will generally be made with bright colors and even reflective tape to ensure high visibility for the rescuer and the person being rescued.

There are bags designed to be worn around your waist, bags designed to be clipped onto a D-ring on your raft, bags designed to fit inside a small kayak and many others. Here are a few examples of throw bags that can be purchased from NRS:

NRS Standard Rescue Throw Bag
NRW Wedge Rescue Throw Bag
NRS Pro Guardian Waist Throw Bag

Throw bag images courtesy of www.NRS.com

How To

The rope bag toss is one of the guide’s best ways to get guests to safety. Anyone that may have to throw a rope should practice regularly. As with most things, the better prepared you are for a rope toss through practice, the better you will perform when someone’s life is on the other end. Lucky for us, there is a road alongside much of the Cache La Poudre River. This allows our bus drivers to stop at the bigger rapids during high water to add another set of hands to help with throwing ropes.

When using a throw bag, there are several factors to consider. If possible, you should set-up before the rescue to ensure the best success. Trying to gain eye contact with the person to whom you’re throwing a rope. Swimmers are more likely to grab a rope if they see it coming and can look for it. Yelling “ROPE” before throwing a rope bag can also help gain the swimmers attention.

Rope Safety: Throw Bag Practice Makes Perfect

Most bags are best thrown with an underhand grip, though there are some that are designed to be thrown overhand. In order to throw a throw rope, you must hold the loose end of the rope with your non-throwing hand and grasp the bag firmly with your throwing hand. Make sure to leave about ten feet of “tail” on the loose end so you can let out some rope if needed. As you throw and release the bag it is VERY important that you don’t let go of the loose end…that’s what you’ll use to pull the swimmer in. When you throw, yell “rope” and aim straight at the swimmer’s head. As you throw the rope, the rope will unravel from the bag.

If you manage to hit the swimmer in the head, you’ve made a great shot. Now the swimmer only has to grab the rope to be pulled in instead of swimming to it. Hold firmly to the rope and make sure your swimmer does the same. If they hold the rope over their shoulder while floating on their back with their feet pointed downstream, it will be easier on both you and them. You can tow the swimmer back to the boat or shore or pendulum them towards shore or another boat to allow them to climb out on their own.

Some things to keep in mind…

  • Make sure you have secure footing either on shore on the raft.
  • Having another person that can help back you up is a great idea. It’s nice to have someone that can help you pull the swimmer to safety and make sure you don’t get pulled into the river yourself.
  • Be aware of where the swimmer well end up after their pendulum to shore. Don’t swing them into any river hazard.
  • Make sure you repack your throw bag properly after every time you use it to ensure easy unraveling and not a knotted mess.
  • If possible, step toward your target as you throw to improve accuracy.
  • Don’t release the rope to early or too late. Your release should aim the rope at your target.
  • If there are several of you with a rope to throw, don’t all throw at the same time. This will prevent potentially dangerous tangling of the ropes.

Swiftwater Rescue Training on the Cache La Poudre River


Mountain Whitewater conducts a swiftwater rescue training course each spring that is required for all company guides.

Guides Reviewing a Z-Drag During Swiftwater Rescue Training

by Ben Costello, March 2016

Here at Mountain Whitewater we pride ourselves for having the most experienced and well trained whitewater rafting guides on the Cache La Poudre River. After all, our motto is “Our Guides Make the Difference.” To make the difference, safety must be the number one priority of a professional raft guide. Swiftwater rescue training is a minimum training requirement for each guide at Mountain Whitewater, in addition to CPR and First Aid required by the State. We also highly encourage all of our guides to pursue advanced medical training and to practice their medical and rescue training regularly.

Swiftwater Rescue Training is an intense two-day, 18-hour course that teaches swiftwater rescue techniques and river safety procedures. The class is designed for both rookie and veteran guides and is formatted to both teach new techniques and refresh standard safety procedures.

Day One

Day one of the class covers the many technical aspects of river rescue and the gives guides a chance to practice water based rescue scenarios in a controlled situation. The morning of day one takes place on the ground of Mountain Whitewater and the afternoon takes place on a local pond or lake.

Flip Drills on the Pond During Swiftwater Rescue Training

During the morning of day one topics include:

  • Safety equipment that should be carried by each guide
  • Proper rope safety procedures and rope care
  • Knots, hitches, anchors and rigging systems
  • Throw rope training
  • Mock boat rescues including Z-drags and Vector Pulls
  • First Aid and CPR scenarios

During the afternoon of day one topics include:

  • Raft flip drills
  • Being underneath both an upside-down and rightist-up raft
  • Climbing into a raft from the water
  • Pulling someone into a raft
  • Flatwater paddling drills and raft races

Day Two

Day two of the class takes the participants up to the Cache La Poudre River. Day two is a much more intense day that concentrates on real-life swiftwater practice. The drills immerse guide in river currents and give them a chance to play the role of both rescuer and swimmer.

Guides Learning How to Swim Rapids During Swiftwater Rescue Training

During day two topics include:

  • Swimming through class II, III and IV rapids
  • Self-rescue in rapids
  • Assisted rescue techniques
  • Entering and exiting eddies as a swimmer
  • Swimming across the river
  • Panicked and assisted swimmer rescues
  • Individual and group river crossings
  • Tethered rescues
  • Strainer swimming drills
  • Backboard scenarios
  • Foot entrapment drills
  • Throw rope drills


Volunteer River Cleanup | Clean the Poudre 2016

The 16th annual downtown Fort Collins volunteer river cleanup event

by Ben Costello, February 2016

Mountain Whitewater is organizing their annual volunteer river cleanup event for May 28th, 2016. The event will meet at Lee Martinez Park in Fort Collins. Check-in will begin at 8:30pm, with the cleanup scheduled for 9am to noon. Thanks to our partners at Fort Collins Natural Areas, Save the Poudre, American Rivers, Gallegos Sanitation and New Word Sports.

There will be a volunteer appreciation event starting at 12:30pm at Mountain Whitewater sponsored by Odell Brewing, Serious Texas BBQ, Rio Grande Mexican Restaurant, LaPorte Pizza and Backcountry Delicatessen. Everyone is welcome and there is no preregistration required. The event flyer is pictured below, contact us at 970-419-0917 or contacts@raftmw.com for more information.

Volunteer River Cleanup Flyer

Clean the Poudre 2016 Flyer

Raft Guide Training with Mountain Whitewater

Whitewater raft guide training offers the chance to learn the skills needed to be a certified guide in the Sate of Coloradoand the chance to earn a job with the best rafting outfitter on the Cache La Poudre River.

by Ben Costello, January 2016

Guide Training at Mountain Whitewater

This year’s raft guide training will start on Monday, May 16, 2016. The first week of the course will consist of classroom style training at Mountain Whitewater in the mornings with on-river training in the afternoons. These classroom sessions will consist of a compilation of videos, slides, handouts and lecture.

The following weeks of the course consist of mostly on-river training. We will take two trips per day, seven days per week to complete the state mandated number of hours required to be a guide. There is a Swiftwater rescue training and a CPR and First Aid course during this period of guide training. We will be doing some intense training so that we can get you on the river as soon as possible.

Class Schedule for the 2016 Raft Guide Training Course

Trainee Takes the Final Exam during Guide Training

  • Monday, May 16th – Paperwork, Employee Handbook, Equipment & Gear Rigging
  • Tuesday, May 17th – River Currents, River Features, Paddle Commands, rating scales
  • Wednesday, May 18th – Running the Rapids, Safety, Safety Talk, River Hazards, Poudre Bloopers Video, Slammin’ Salmon Video
  • Thursday, May 19th – River Rescue, Emergency Procedures, Heads-Up Video, Rope Rescue
  • Friday, May 20th – Miscellaneous, Outdoor Impacts, How to be a Better Guide

Other Requirements

  • Colorado State law requires that guides have First Aid and CPR certifications. Classes are usually between $50 and $80.
  • The Mountain Whitewater Swiftwater Rescue class will also be a required part of guide training. The cost of the Swiftwater Rescue course is included in the training investment.
    Whitewater Raft Guide Training with Mountain Whitewater

  • The State of Colorado requires that you have 50 hours on river time before you can guide commercially.
  • Mountain Whitewater will require that you have 100+ hours.
  • We will have a Poudre rapids check-off sheet that will require all trainees to run all of the rapids of the Poudre Plunge at least 5 times.
  • Once complete, if deemed appropriate, there will be a check-off run, top to bottom, with customers and a trainer in the boat. If all goes well, you will now be part of the Mountain Whitewater team.

Training Investment

The cost for the course is $395 (half is returned after the second fulltime season working with Mountain Whitewater, half returned after the third fulltime season working with Mountain Whitewater).

This cost covers the classroom sessions, dry land sessions, equipment used during training (PFD, wetsuit, booties, splash jacket, and helmet), swiftwater rescue class and transportation to and from the Cache la Poudre River Canyon.

Being a river guide is a multidimensional job. It is physically and mentally demanding, days can be long with exposure to the elements. It is also very rewarding and tons of fun. We are looking for people who can fulfill those needs. Ask around…Mountain Whitewater has the best trained guides you will find. Call 970-419-0917 if interested or email contacts@raftmw.com.

Raft Guide Training on Cache La Poudre River
Guide Trainees Smash a Waive during Raft Guide Training
Trainees Having Fun During Raft Guide Training

Third Annual Poudre River Forum – February 5, 2016

The third annual Poudre River Forum theme is Cultivating Connections for a
Healthy, Working River.

by Ben Costello, January 2016

The Poudre Runs Through It is a study/action work group dedicated to all things concerning the Cache La Poudre River. The group is made up of about 25 citizen experts representing a diversity of interests who were selected to study the Poudre River and formulate cooperative actions based on what they learn. One of those members is Brad Modesitt, Owner of Mountain Whitewater. The goal of the group is to build relationships and to put in action the initiatives they have identified, “to make the Poudre River the world’s best example of a working river that’s also healthy.”

The groups flagship event, The Third Annual Poudre River Forum will take place on February 5, 2016 and will be held at The Ranch in Loveland from 9am to 4pm. This years event theme is Cultivating Connections for a Healthy, Working River. The event will feature several different informational sessions and discussions surrounding the current state of the Poudre River. I have been able to attend the past two years and the event is very informative and well worth attending. It is important for anyone who cares about the Cache La Poudre River to be involved with groups and events like this as the river is the lifeblood of our Front Range communities.

The event will also include sponsor booths, door prizes including a rafting trip from Mountain Whitewater, networking opportunities, lunch, fun videos, and a closing celebration with music from Blue Gramma and beer from Odell Brewing Company. This will be a great event and I hope to see you all there!

Register for the event here: http://cwi.colostate.edu/ThePoudreRunsThroughIt/forum_2016.shtml

2016 Poudre River Forum Poster