Four Corners Guides Instructors

Steve Fassbinder, Day 1 - King Salt - A circumnavigation of The Great Salt Lake, UT
Steve Fassbinder, Day 1 - King Salt - A circumnavigation of The Great Salt Lake, Utah. Photo by Andrew Burr.

Our instructors have a wide range of training. Steve “Doom” Fassbinder is an accredited Level 3 Kayak Instructor with the American Canoe Association. Along with Thad Ferrell, Doom will also be one of the first to be an accredited ACA Level 3 Packraft Instructor this July.

In addition to Thad and Doom, Four Corners Guides runs limited courses with Dan Thurber each year. Dan has a wealth of training with the Swiftwater Safety Institute. He’s a certified Swiftwater and Flood Rescue Technician & SRT Instructor.

Dan, Doom, Thad and other other guides all have current Swiftwater Rescue certifications and Wilderness First Responder certifications. As well, Four Corners Guides runs annual day instructor training courses with Kent Ford. And we run Risk Management trainings with Colorado Outside. Learn more about your instructors on Our Team page.

Beginner to Intermediate Instructional Courses

We base our instructional courses on confidence and skill progression. We start slow and push you a little harder as we go, tailoring the experience to your own personal abilities.

For Beginner to Intermediate courses, you’ll learn a wide variety of skills, from the basics to more advanced river reading techniques. This is a list of some of the things you will learn:

  • Equipment (use and care)
  • Swimming and general water confidence
  • Self-rescue & buddy assistance
  • Dealing with currents
  • Aggressive & defensive swimming position
  • Decision making
  • Hazards & river dynamics
  • Basic paddle strokes
  • Using eddies
  • Field repair-tips & tricks
  • How to pack light for backcountry packraft adventures
  • Swift water entry
  • River commands
  • Spacing on the river

Check out our list of 2023 packraft instructional courses.

Advanced Courses

So you’ve paddled Class III and maybe even Class IV, and you can easily self rescue every time? Do you often take others out, but you’re not 100% sure about your leadership skills?

Do you want to learn advanced whitewater paddling skills in your packraft? Are you interested in honing your technical and complex strokes? How would you like to expertly navigate eddies? Do you want to know how to better read the river? Want to make excellent decisions as a group? Do you want to learn to manage vertical drops and surf like a pro?

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 the answer is yes to some or all of these questions, an advanced course may be the next step you should take in your packrafting career. Advanced instructional courses with Steve “Doom” Fassbinder, Dan Thurber and Ben Phillips will take you to the next level in boating. Check out our general curriculum check list:

Advanced Paddling Skills:

  • Technical and complex strokes
  • Dancing with the river: running big waves and laterals.
  • Managing vertical drops
  • Surfing

Paddling an 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

Group Dynamics

  • 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

Packraft Hacks

  • Basic optional roll instruction (not a focus of the course)
  • Backcountry repairs
  • Storytelling

We’re running one Advanced Course May 10-14, 2022 (sign up here!). Stay tuned for 2023 announcements.