Daniel Egger Season 2012

We have started very early this year with the first descents in austria this winter. The snow melted early so we had great water levels in mid-February.
At the end of march we had been through all of the classics , so we could concentrate on the descents.
Then it was time for me and my friends to go to Norway for a few weeks, to the Stürzer paradise , it was awesome, what else could we want more?
We worked our way from the south to the north and tried to skip no creek.
After this unforgettable journey I started with the preparations for Russia, 13 days Multi Day in the middle of Siberia.
It was one of the coolest and most beautiful rivers I've ever driven, I have also managed to be the first non-Asian who has rode the whole river, till then it always failed at the big canyon. This year we were able to ride it in a threesome so it was a big success.
Back at home from Russia , I started with the preparations for the dolomitenman, it's a team competition in the south of austria, with 500 starters and 40.000 spectators. My whole team started there for the first time, but we had a great result. We were seventh of 125 teams in the amateur assessment.
Then I went to sickline in Ötztal where I started also for the first time this year. I just don't thought that I would come through the qualifiying because there where too much great slalom driver in the competition. I was 77 of 155 which was quite OK for the first time but I will try to be better the next time.
Of course we drove several creeks in europe in the meantime like you see on the pictures.

For the next year we are planning large projects again. I still can't tell you more at the moment but you will be able to read it here.



Body Maintenance: Shoulders and Back

As a paddler staying safe and paddling within one's own limits is important. Pushing limits is important as well if that's what is calling to you. How can you help yourself safely push your own limits? First, you have to physically be up to the task and that means some training.

The next time you power-windowshade at a play spot or land weird off a tall drop, think about how much better you'd feel if your spine was 15 years old again. A training regimen helps keep the body limber and loose as well as strong and supple, ready to spring back from a big impact or funny landing. Training won't take the years off, but it will help protect you when 'whitewater perfection' gets left behind.

Training Tips: Start slow and don't overdo it
If you don't regularly train, start by doing just a couple of exercises and stretches each time to ease into things. Take your time and listen to your body. Are you sore for more than 24 hours? Think about backing it off a little. Nutritional supplements can help speed the healing. If you start thinking of yourself as an "Athlete." instead of a 'weekend warrior...' that may be the motivational ticket to supple/stretchy success!!

Finding concise material for the 'layman' has always alluded me. I love finding tips like these!! Here are two great write-ups on shoulder and back health from Kim Russell.




The Hasty Harness made simple

Now kiddies, when you're in the canyon somewhere and you made it through the big scary triple drop, but you reeeally want to portage the one that ends with the riverwide stomper, but you get cliffed out before you can get back down to river level... the 'hasty harness' is your ticket to freedom. The fellas over at ITS tactical made this short little video demonstrating two different methods of tying a hasty harness. I like the first method because the webbing can also be used to create an anchor for mechanical advantage rope systems.

I use 1" tubular webbing in my rescue kit. It's light, really strong, and cheap. Most climbing or outdoor adventure stores carry webbing. Your local paddlesports shop is sure to have webbing and all your other river rescue supplies. 15-20 feet is a good length to have. An old fashioned tape measure is a great tool to estimate the ideal length for you before you purchase. It's an easy thing to practice. Paddle safe.

Hasty Harness video


Nicaragua and the Rescue Class

old-school cool

I had no idea either, but sure enough...  take a guess.

even night time is cool...

We were to meet Paul at the airport in Managua on the way to his small village. Like everything in Latin America, we were on their time schedule and customs had plans for Paul. We got to the village late, but I was really excited. We stayed in a hot room that smelled of fresh paint, but I was so excited to be down here none of it mattered. In the morning we woke to heat and sun. Did I mention how much I love Nicaragua? It is special. I realize it. Paul realized it 6 years ago. It's why we've all come. And so the story begins...

Paul, on the right, and Santos the crazy local reporter
first day
computer work con amigotito

I am so excited by the passion these guys have. Mision Hispana, a youth mission, was started six years ago through faith alone by this man, Paul Heier, originally from Illinois. Paul's story is magical unto itself. It's made me cry hearing it. What he has created for the community here in the small village of Tecolostote, in the valley of Boaco, has drawn everyone closer and given street kids true purpose. I'll get to that in a minute, but first I must tell you of the people and what they face.

Nicaragua is the poorest country in Central America. Fact. The average monthly salary is about $150. The people here live on virtually nothing. They make many things (including FOOD!!) by hand. Fences, timbers, buildings, splitting wood, so many things used daily are made with simple rudimentary hand tools. It's hard livin' down here. The thing this town and all of Latin America has going for it is community. Community binds these people together, especially at Mision Hispana. Community, and men who are willing to lead these kids, most of whom have never had fathers, teaching them life is bigger than they are and giving them real purpose.
learning systems
Part of what Mision Hispana has come to do for this small town and the valley of Boaco is helping people get places. You might wonder what I'm talking about, but to know the true need of this community is to realize just how little they have. Several months ago, during the rainy season, the river here flooded. It's not uncommon for rivers to flood in Central America, but it flooded meters higher than anyone had ever seen it. So much rain fell during this past rainy season that Lake Nicaragua, which is 6800 kilometers long and almost as big as the entire country of neighboring Costa Rica, filled... and is still 2 meters higher than it usually ever gets. Lots of water. Some might even say biblical amounts...
hand signaling during rescue class
guess who's strainer bait...
you can barely see my helmet in there
everyone got a shot at live-bait victim retrieval
live-baitng victims doesn't always go smooth, especially for the victim
then it was off to the clinic for some ear antibiotico...

Part of the problem, you can imagine, is trying to get around. The national government doesn't have money to build bridges for travel across many of its rivers. It is a way of life here. The valley of Boaco isn't even among the poorest. And so... there are places the roads go THROUGH the rivers, even in the dry season as we are now. It is a sirreal experience being in a truck rounding the corner and... into the river!! The rainy season lasts 5 to 6 months of the year. The people still need to get to work, school, fuel needs to be delivered, milk picked up from local farms by large milk trucks. Life must go on. And unfortunately in the rainy season vehicles are swept away every year. People die here every year trying to get to work, trying to get to school and trying to see their friends and families. Mision Hispana helps people get places with the small amount of resources and man power they have. There is no one else. Currently they have 7 residents and 2 full time staff. There are other small agencies like the Red Cross who help and who are also attending the class. But when the water is high, traveling to neighboring villages is difficult to impossible. The Red Cross sent several of its guys to the class. These  guys are volunteers and do not collect a paycheck.
Hadir, one of the Red Cross volunteers, listens close
Chris Jonason teaching these guys invaluable rope systems

Times are hard here. I am humbled in ways I cannot put into words. Underpowered, underfunded and having a tiny amount of resources (some rope and construction harnesses) these guys have done more for the community this year than any of us in the States can imagine. Devastation has been monumental. Because the people here have very little it doesn't take a long time to rebuild, but it is up to them. No outside help or money will come. To add insult to injury in a way only Mother Nature knows how, floods don't always come in the daylight hours. Nor does it have to be raining in your village for a wall of water to come racing down through town. Sound like hard living? Imagine trying to perform night searches for people you know are in the water when there are no lights and you can't really even hear your guys you are seaching with because the river is so loud. Fortunately the Mision got a light they can put in the back of a truck along with a gas generator to power it. Fortunately for them and the victims in the water. 6 out of the 7 rescues they performed this last season were at night. They watched as people drowned and there was nothing they could do. Vehicles turned over trapping people underwater. Then they searched for and found the bodies the following days. They carried the dead out with little more than a tarp, sometimes nothing. I tell you all of this so you, as the reader, may have some idea of what happens down here. So you may have some idea of what these guys have been through. So you may appreciate their situation.

Biblical floods won't stop them, though. They know the floods will come again. Paul contacted Wave Trek Rescue, realizing they needed training and some state of the art equipment. And now, today, we have just completed the third day of a five day course specially designed for them and the challenges we know and they know will come again next season. They are a family it is obvious. They have quarrels, sometimes resulting in fist fights, but it is what brothers do. All of these guys are in their teens to twenties. I am so inspired. They have my deep respect and I am so excited to be here teaching them, so is Chris. If there ever was a cause to donate to, this is the one. If I could tell you of all the little details it would only make this tale more sirreal. But it is all true. I am honored to be a part.
can you count out the mechanical advantage?
using what the river has given
Through all the challenges these guys face they are a tight group. They are family... and a total riot to hang out with!! Wilmer is sort of the big brother at the mission. He checks the others when they get fiesty and his style is to CHARGE! Wilmer has heart and is fired up to use all this new gear, especially the Big Shot which is basically an 8 foot tall sling shot designed to get 250' of rope across a big river. He walks around with it and rarely let's it out of his sight. He told Paul he would sleep with it under his pillow at night if he could. Wilmer is awesome, I love that guy.
even the kids want to get involved

Wilmer pays attention, he knows the floods will come
Eric ziplines across

We've held class in a river next to the hacienda where Chris and I are staying. So the guys load up and drive about half an hour every morning to get here. There are 15 total in the group. A few ride in the nice pickup the mission owns. It has AC. The rest ride in the back of the big delivery truck with all the gear. They're all young and think it's really cool to get to ride in the back. Doing these classes every day makes them all feel like they are apart of something bigger than they are. They are. They're learning how to save people's lives. Eric, who also helps out at the mission, drives the nice pickup. The guy who drives the big delivery truck is a huge pot head and at lunch the guys were telling us stories about him the other day. Stoned 24/7, this guy is funny. The guys were all dying laughing listening to him tell stories. Paul was almost crying translating to us. Once he fell asleep and drove his truck off a cliff, rolling it 14 times. In true stoner fashion he was uninjured. Another time he was driving a bunch of people somewhere and had a very heavy load on his truck. Approaching a steep hill, he geared down and floored it to make it to the top. Of course he didn't make it all the way up and started rolling backwards. The people in the cab were terrifieded as he yelled to them in Espaniol, "Jump for it and save yourselves!! Let the captian go down with the ship!!!" Of course they all jumped. We were howling as he told the story! He sat in the middle of the long table as we ate, red-eyed with funny expressions. He's been a driver most of his life and has a ton of stories. The guys were laughing so hard. How could you not want to hang out down here?

just sitting down to lunch
modified kayak "platform" in a highline system
using a tractor for a mobile anchor

Jorge is a small little guy who, ironically, went to jail 6 times this last year. The charges were all the same: robbery with intimidation. He's about 5'4" and 135 lbs. Intimidation, imagine that. But he changed his game plan. He always has this funny smile on his face and reminds me of a kid I taught to kayak a few years ago named Marco. I'm sure Marco has never seen the inside of a jail anywhere. Jorge is really smart and picks up the systems and knots quick. He's the cameraman and is always taking pictures of what's going on in class. He's 25, but looks barely 18 and walks around muttering his favorite phrase to everyone, "wha suppa, mang." Love that kid.

Most look younger than they are here. Jesus is one exception. At 14, he IS the youngest of the group and Jorge's cousin. Jesus is small and quiet, but very intelligent. He simply watches everyone work through the systems and picks it up, improving where the others aren't quite getting it. Half of them have kids and some, wives. It's a different world down here. Hadir is one of the leaders as far as class goes. He's a Red Cross volunteer. Hector, Eduardo, Toribio, Juan, Pepe, they're all great and have a place in this big family. On the river and off these guys work it out. It is an example many in the States could learn from and an inspiration to see. And if it sounds like I'm talking them up a lot, it's because I am. They deserve all the praise and respect. You need a team-building exercise for your company? Come down here for a week. These guys will show you what's up. Right Jorge?? I'll be sad to leave. I'll never forget these guys. Wilmer, in front of the whole group, pleaded with Chris and I to stay. He wants us to stay for the entire rainy season!! I love all these guys. They have become my brothers. Viva Mision Hispana!!!!

This last night was the best. We did some kayak training, as none of the guys have experienced a kayak. We trained in a huge pool where Chris and I stayed called Termales Agua Clares. Termales has about 5 different pools that are HUGE and all fed by natural hot springs. Hopefully I'm not bragging too much, but it is so good down here I just can't stand it. The last thing we did with the guys was a night search. I set out 4 "victims" in and around the river and then we all waited until it was pitch black. It took them about an hour and a half to find all of the victims. They had their lights set up and used every piece of equipment they had. I just can't say enough things about everyone down here. Great great times. Quality people. I am so excited to be apart of these guys' training. The night ended with all of them getting certificates of completion and let me tell you, they were all beaming. After all the certificates were handed out each one of them stood and gave a short speech to us, thanking us for everything we had done for them. I couldn't think of a more rewarding way to spend my time down here. I love all you guys in the Boaco valley!!!! I just heard it's snowing at home. More adventures coming soon!! Good times are here to stay.
the whole gang!!
For more information on how you can help this completely not-for-profit, donation-only, youth mission, check here. Mision Hispana is going into it's sixth year and has recieved 'the nod' from the mayor of Tecolostote and the Colonel of Civil Defense (which doesn't happen). Paul must be doin' something right!! Do what you can. Anything helps, old stinky gear, clothes you're giving to Good Will, old climbing rope you're going to throw away, PFD's, old junky biner's, ANYTHING. This is about as 'third world' as it gets, y'all. Your contribution could literally save someone's life. If all you have is a genuine prayer, give it! Good on ya!!! Paul has put up some stories of their rescues and happenings invloving the mission and the valley on the website. Check it out!!

always pratice in the pool before you go to the river

Catch more comedy, safety and boating at:         http://creeksides.blogspot.com


Going for a Swim?

Myth: Swimming is for beginners. It is embarrassing to swim. Once you are a good paddler, you do not swim anymore.
Fact: Everybody swims. Everybody has swum in their past, and will swim again at some point. Do not be embarrassed; be alert. 
It is a common misconception that swimming is a sign of a weak paddler. Not only is that not true, but it is a dangerous thought. Swimmin
g is a fact of kayaking. Although true that swimming becomes less common as you gain experience and skill, I have seen many amazing paddlers pull their skirt. A boat is a boundary between you and the river. Without it, you are vulnerable to currents, rocks, and other such dangers. A river does not differentiate between the good paddlers and the bad. That is why, no matter
 who you are paddling with- be it Eric Jackson or your best friend who you just taught to roll- always be alert for a rescue.
New River Academy started off this semester in Chile practicing rescuing swimmers. We had fun with it. The water was freezing and we complained in good humor. There was lots of splashing and dramatic swims. However, underneath the sense of fun, was a deep understanding of one's responsibility to their team on a river. When a friend or teammate swims, they have to depend on their team to rescue them and their gear. It is near impossible to do it alone from the water. In fact, I have never seen it done! This requires members of a team to really trust one another to have the ability to, well, efficiently rescue. 
I recommend, before paddling with a new group of people, or after being off the water for a few months, running through some of these drills. Practice towing people, emptying boats in the water, paddling with two paddles, etc. Take out your throw rope and toss it around! Make it into a game of touch football or something. But keep your rescue skills in tip top shape!
Knowing that everyone I paddle with at New River Academy has the ability to rescue me no problem makes paddling with them all the more enjoyable. Trust your team and trust yourself! As cheesy as it sounds, practice does make perfect!

-Tracy d'Arbeloff


New River Academy learns SRT

Hey whats up!

Here is the first update on saftey and New River Academy, where I (Tracy) am a student. Pic on the left is all of us listening to a lecture on river safety. Sorry for the lack of pictures, I was to busy participating to really take any :)

This past week with NRS, we stayed in Massachusettes at Tino Specht's house (one of our coaches). Through Zoar Outdoor we took an intense SRT clinic. I've already taken numerous, but always enjoy new clinics because there is always more to learn. It was FREEZING. The water and temperature outside were both uninviting. We learned about setting up z-drags, different weight ratios, throw bags, zip lines, live bait, and all that good stuff. It definitaly drew our group closer to learn about dangerous situations and see how we all reacted to them. I was IC for a foot entrapment victim with the head submerged. It is always a challenge to control and lead a group in an intense situation. Within minutes we had the victim's head out of the water with a line around the chest, and another line cinching him so he couldn't slip away. Then we took two throw ropes hooked together and sunk the line down by his foot. By pulling back on both the lines set up, we managed to unhook the foot and free the victim. It was surprisingly stressful.
Although the situations we ran through were not real, there was still a sense of urgency that overtook the group. It is really good practice to go through these situations yearly because it keeps you up to date, and on spot with the group you paddle with. Nothing can mimic a true situation on the river, but I can only hope that with all the practice I've had, I'd be able to keep my calm and do what needs to be done.

I think one of the hardest lessons to learn is that the victum does not come first during a rescue. First priority is yourself, then your fellow rescuers, then the other paddlers on the river, and THEN the victim. Thinking logically, this makes sense because it avoids creating a worse situation by preventing multiple people in need of saving. However, I know that being out on the river, and seeing a friend in trouble, It would be nearly impossible to stand by and do nothing just because I could get hurt. That sounds like the worst possible situation to be in.

SRT courses really help to educate about not only rescue techniques, but how to avoid getting into situations where these techniques are needed. My goal for this year with New River Academy is to make it as safe and fun as possible.

If you have not taken any courses on river safety, I really reccomend getting on that ASAP.
Keep it safe out there!

-Tracy d'Arbeloff


Malafosse session

We had good descents last week end with David A. and Raph T. in Alps. We have down Guil, Gironde, Malafosse, and Guisane rivers ! we had a low water level, but it was enough to have lot of fun !

I tried the WRSI face protection system. it's interesting to have this protection with this king of rapid.
It’s possible to have hight water level in others rivers in Alps, like Veneon, Romanche river. Because there are glaciers upper. Alps’ local kayakers are very lucky ;-).
And it’s great to work in compagny close to this mountain.