Learn Advanced Packraft Paddling & Expedition Planning Skills- A Course for Packrafters Wanting to Take Their Skills to the Next Level
Not ready for a 5-day course yet? Due to high demand, Dan Thurber has added a one-day advanced paddling course on May 17. Click here for more information.
Do you want to learn advanced whitewater paddling skills in your packraft, such as technical and complex strokes, how to expertly navigate eddies, how to read the river and make decisions as a group, how to manage vertical drops and surf like a pro, among many other things? Would you like to learn more about expedition planning, from planning and packing to understanding GIS and paper maps so you can get after it in the backcountry? If so, our Advanced Packraft Paddling & Expedition Planning Course can take you to the next level. Learn how to work together with other packrafters in fast-moving whitewater scenarios to ensure a safe expedition. Participants will hone their skills over five days on various rivers in Southwest Colorado.
This intensive 5-day course is based out of Scullbinder Ranch. You’re required to stay at the Ranch when not in the backcountry, as education will continue in the evenings. More details will be provided once you are approved as a participant.
Advanced Paddling Skills:
- Technical and complex strokes
- Dancing with the river: running big waves and laterals.
- Managing vertical drops
- Paddling a expedition loaded boat in whitewater
Advanced Expedition Planning
- Using online resources: GIS, USGS water gauges, Google Earth, etc
- Using paper maps and navigation in the field
- What to pack and how/where to pack it
- Scouting and decision-making
- Eddy hopping, traveling in groups. How to travel down a river safely by eddy hopping in groups
- Clear communication: hand signals
- Setting safety and choosing challenges: review, practice and implementation
- Basic optional roll instruction (not a focus of the course).
- Backcountry repairs
1) 3 nights at Scullbinder Ranch (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday)
2) Excellent prepared gourmet meals for the duration of the trip while in the front country, plus bagged lunches, snacks, non-alcoholic beverages and electrolyte mixes.
3) High quality dehydrated breakfasts and dinners, lunches and snacks in the backcountry. We offer vegan, vegetarian and gluten free options. We cannot accommodate celiacs.
4) Shuttle for the duration of the tour. You won’t need a car once you are on the trip, though you’re welcome to use your own car to get around. However, the cost of gas is included in the trip, and you will not get a refund for that portion of your payment should you decide to use your car.
Does Not Include:
1) Rides to and from the airport, but you can pay extra for that.
2) Adult beverages
3) If the group decides to go out to dinner or purchase meals outside of the provided FCG meals, FCG is not responsible for the cost.
Requirements to Apply:
1) It is highly recommended that you have swiftwater rescue training, which you can get the weekend before this course IF you meet all the other requirements.
2) You must have the following whitewater gear: a self bailing or decked packraft, a PFD (rescue PFDs preferred, but not necessary), drysuit (a wetsuit is not appropriate), helmet, paddle, neoprene cap and neoprene pogies/gloves, throw rope, whistle and river knife.
3) When stepping up to continuous class III and IV whitewater, quick self-rescue skills are crucial for safety. We suggest participants be able to fully self-rescue in flatwater five times in under two minutes. Your ability to self-rescue will factor into your decision-making when considering certain rapids. Paddling fitness often declines over the winter, but many swimming pools let you bring your cleaned packraft in for training.
4) You must be comfortable paddling into and out of eddies in a Class III rapid.
5) You must be confident in Class II+ rapids and have run Class III rapids numerous times. We will ask you to identify the six hardest runs you have ever done and at what CFS the rivers were running approximately. If you did a Class III, but it was extremely low water, than it probably was no longer a Class III.
6) **Not required**. But if you have video footage and can easily send us a video of you packrafting, that would help us better understand your skills in the water and help us figure out skills we can best help you with.
7) We will require a minimum of two group Zoom meetings with all the instructors and participants prior to the course.
1) Dan Thurber: Class V boater, SSI instructor
2) Steve “Doom” Fassbinder: OG backcountry multi-sport adventurer, ACA Advanced Instructor
3) Ben Phillips: Class V boater, repairs expert