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Thoughts on dynamic risk assesment

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by hobo_climber, Oct 27, 2016.

  1. hobo_climber

    hobo_climber

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    Posted this in another forum but thought i'd get an insight from the wise minds lurking here. The idea is focused around whitewater (class C) canyoning but could be transposed to a technical dry canyoning environment just as easily.

    We are all (hopefully) aware of the dynamic nature of risk assessment when it comes to the ever changing canyon environment. But, how does this risk assessment process change when the group dynamics is examined?

    Take the following example;
    2 experienced whitewater canyoneers in an unfamiliar canyon and how they approach an obstacle, lets call it a stacked waterfall with a pour-over that needs needs protection, how do they approach the situation. What risks are they considering? How do these risks change if the group size is increased to 5 experienced canyoneers? How does the perceived risk change in relation to the actual risk?

    What happens if one of the 5 has a significantly lower level of experience? does the group "carry" this member or does it lower itself to the acceptable risk level for the inexperienced member?
    Ram likes this.
  2. Canyonero

    Canyonero

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    I don't have a lot of class C experience, but I do have a lot of experience with groups composed of people of various abilities in difficult canyons. I recently ghosted a 4B canyon with a group consisting of myself, three reasonably experienced canyoneers (10-20 canyons), and 3 kids age 9-12. We did some of the obstacles in a different manner than we did the previous trip without the kids and much differently from the first time I did it with a very talented group. Instead of a high stem over a pothole for instance, we rigged a zipline off meat. The truth is all but the first and last chose to use that zipline.

    I'm not sure if that is "carrying" or "lowering the whole group's risk."

    Certainly having more talented people usually lowers risk in a pothole or difficult anchor canyon.
    Pothole Stem.JPG IMG_3570.
    Kuenn, Rapterman, Jolly Green and 2 others like this.
  3. Ram

    Ram

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    Very interesting topic. You have asked several questions, many which could be a topic by itself. I hope folks wade in on this.

    With group dynamics, first thing is first...an HONEST assessment of yourself....In spite of doing over 50 C canyons I am a perpetual intermediate beginner. I court trouble if I forget that. I always insist on having talent with me in C canyons, much more tan in A/B canyons.

    Two talented folks are still only 2 people. Harder to solve emergencies. Group # goes to 5 with inexperienced folk along? First off, you will be much slower. And in C, it is noisy. If communication is more difficult with newbys, that can be a problem for sure.

    As to carrying people....C canyons? Unwise. High stemming? Unwise. Pothole canyons? Quite reasonable.
    Other opinions?
    Ram
  4. Kuenn

    Kuenn

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    Couple of thoughts - disclaimer first: I too have limited experience in class C canyons, somewhat more in water/vertical rope practice elsewhere. So, take this for what it's worth.

    In addition to an honest assessment of one's self (Ram's recommendation) it is vital that the less experienced partner(s) have a complete understanding of their skills and lack thereof. Known is a given, the unknown will need to be carefully explained to them. The classic "yeah, I can handle this" needs to be shelved quickly up front - by the entire group.

    Is it a case of "carrying the novice" or "accepting the risk", you ask? Yes, No, and it depends on the venue; no clear answer but they all apply. Water has a way of making everyone in the group solo for brief periods of time.

    I had a fairly recent experience with a partner, in a waterfall, who was very experienced. He was struggling, but due to the noise and water obstructed perspective (even though I was only 15' away), I couldn't determine what was needed. He thankfully worked it out, but there was a period of time when I honestly didn't know what to do. Your assistance has the potential to also compound the situation for the good and bad, important to know as well.

    Contingency rigging and clear understanding of communication methods - es mucho más importante.
    Rapterman and Ram like this.
  5. Ram

    Ram

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    Stem over, Dyno with an assist, mantle across the ledge, meat based hand line and down into the pot and hauled out. I have done all 5 methods here. Why all the different ways? The more physically demanding ones, when I was younger, the hand line as my confidence and strength has diminished. Into the hole and hauled out? That one was "modeling." What I mean by that is that we had a fella and a gal that really were not very experienced and strong. Once a few folks from the group dyno'd across, I read that these two folks felt nervous but compelled to try moves that were on the edge of their abilities. I jumped up in front of them and asked to be lowered and hauled out. This had the effect of giving them permission to also take the safe solution, without loss of face, or ego bruising.

    I love that everyone in your group took the zip line, except the first and the last folks. I understand the need and joy of testing one's self physically, but I once heard it said..."You can only go to the well so often." There is lots of opportunities to go first or last, the two usual positions were people are at risk. When others are "up to bat," take the safe option and wait your turn at the next obstacle. You "owe" your safety, to the group. It does not just belong to you. If you MUST do every move yourself, go bouldering. JUST BECAUSE YOU CAN, DOES NOT MEAN YOU SHOULD!!

    PS BTW Spidey rated the off width out of that pot at 5.10. We sent him down so we would know how much of an option that would be in the future. Ahhhh the process of discovery!
    ratagonia, Deagol and Rapterman like this.
  6. AW~

    AW~

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    Its about fight or flight primarily. Thats why the risk used to be talked about before the trip starts.
    https://donforsythgroups.wordpress.com/2011/12/17/bions-theory-of-assumptive-cultures/

    I dont need to go on about todays REI collective do I? Too busy outrunning flash floods anyway....while confirming actions with the magic answering 8 ball. Likes on insta all around for another first descent on the same route.
  7. Ram

    Ram

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    I suspect I might speak for others in wishing some of your posts were more clear..... If I were to guess...and I do NOT expect to guess correctly...the 2nd paragraph. Collective views as expressed by frequent posters in an REI like/generic way, when we are not bragging about our bad choices....or are you running from the flood this time? Then I followed by my having to look up the this
    https://www.google.com/#q=magic answering 8 ball
    The last part MIGHT be a comment (Disdain) on "more of the same"....You know Adonis, being the guy who challenges those that tend to agree with each other CAN be a valuable role and thought provoking (If I am in the hood on this, that is).
    If so, I wish you more clear in your challenges. Surely there is room for such.

    I will settle for a question on my part..Flight or flight when taking someone who is less experienced? I am not following? Throw me a bone please! Talking about risk before the trip is a great idea. Are you implying that is not done anymore? Interesting link. Like it. Help me see how you see it tying in better....ifin ya wanna.

    This put me in the mood to toss up a few photos......Insta like (?) them if you do! :thumbsup:
    Dave Melton likes this.
  8. AW~

    AW~

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    Dynamic risk is about people remaining on the same page, whom perhaps have different reactions(which for discussion's sake is divided into fight and flight) to a stressor. Experience(canyon-time) is irrelevant. You can have 5 'experts' and get 5 reactions(classified into the 2, fight or flight).

    And then there is the co-opt of the original idea of the military by the outdoors industry business :
    Glennroy Blair-Ford vs CRS Adventurers(UK court decision) and what the industry says it means is....someone who does not adhere to the industry will be liable for any injuries. You got these regs like "to manage dynamic risk, if the depth of the water is above shoulder height, protect the landing zone of the jump with safety rope"....can you imagine telling the military thats part of how they must do jumps?

    Yes, I am running from the water these days....plenty of 'dynamic risk' from water available at the local beaches. No regs. No spotters for shallow water jumps, no banning of jumps over 8 meters, no people placing floating dividers around the landing zone.
    Ram likes this.
  9. Canyonero

    Canyonero

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    That's a very advanced technique, and one I've also used at times.

    Excellent perspective. Any injury or illness puts the entire group at risk, particularly an injury to a "key" person. Best to have a skills mix such that there is not just one or two key persons whenever possible. Always be teaching....
    Ram, ratagonia and Rapterman like this.
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