Episode 92 S3-11
Traversing Mountain Landscape
The Walls of Freedom Ch 11
The method to get across water depends on the type of water you are crossing. There are some general concerns. One of them is being swept away in the current. You are putting yourself in harms way to traverse this obstacle. You may get hypothermia from being in the water. Believe it or not shallow water runs faster than deep water but most of the top we don't give shallow water as much respect.
The first thing you need to do is get to high ground, climb a tree if you have to. Then find an appropriate place to cross. You want to cross on low ground. A place with several channels is better than a wide part of the river. Try to find an area that is up river from a calm area with shallow areas where you will have a chance to catch your footing.
Look out for obstacles on the other side of the river as well. Make sure you will be able to climb up
where you cross. When you look across remember that you will be traveling at a forty five degree angle. Also, make sure you are not upstream from rapids or a waterfall.
Choose a spot in the river free of rocks, indicated by white cap water. Avoid estuaries or areas where smaller water enters larger water. Usually silt will gather there and the river will be wider. You also want to avoid eddies where the water is swirling. Usually this indicates there is a large obstacle in the water.
Crossing the Water
If you are crossing a deep, swift river, swim with the river. Keep your body positioned horizontally and try to stay on top of the water. This way you are less likely to get pulled down or hit an obstacle below the water.
If the river is fast and shallow, lie on your back with your feet pointed down river. Use your hands at your sides like fins.
If you encounter very deep water with rapids lie on your stomach with you head forward and aimed for shore. This will allow you to maintain control while crossing.
When crossing a swift, treacherous stream that is about waste high, remove all your clothing except your shoes. This will decrease drag. Use your walking stick or a pole that is about as tall as you, and push it into the water upstream from yourself. It will help to break the current. Also putting downward pressure on the pole give you better footing. Take small, slow steps, moving the pole forward at a forty five degree angle.
If you have to cross a river with a big group but no rope, you can interlock arms. Put the strongest person out front and they will help to break the current for the weaker folks who cross later.
When crossing a river with an injured person, you will have to take additional safety measures. The first option is the rope option. Send out your strongest person tied off to a rope that is three times the length of the river. Hook it around a tree on the side of the river and feed slack to the person crossing. Tie off the rope on the other side of the river. If you have a carabiner or a rigger's belt you can tie off to the rope for additional security.
Alternately you can build a raft. Ken describes building a raft out of your poncho. You can put sticks and debris in it with saplings in an x and another poncho on top. I had never heard of this method before and my curiosity was peaked. I found this video at ddhammocks.com
Repelling a Cliff Without Gear
An essential skill for traveling in the mountains is the ability to read a map. You should know your map well. You should always use the proper gear for repelling if you can. At the very least you should have a tactical belt that is also a rigger's belt. This belt is made for emergency repelling.
Set two anchor points close together. Usually commercial buildings will have anchor points for window cleaning and maintenance. If you do not have an anchor use a natural feature that will hold five thousand pounds of weight like a big tree.
If you have gear you can use a figure eight or ATC to make your repel easier. Here are a couple of links so you can see what these climbing tools are:
It turns out that explaining how to do an emergency repel is very hard to do with only audio so linking you to videos is the easiest way to show you some of the methods for bringing down injured individuals. Ideally you should have two people belaying the rope and two people guiding the stretcher. You should tie off with a figure eight knot and a stopper knot. If you do not have a stretcher you can use a full body harness to lower them down.
Featured Quote From Today's Chapter:
"Huge pines loomed above them and the gray rocks of the Sierra Nevada Mountains welcomed her home."
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