Welcome to the family

The amount of GTE workshops is making a significant come back post covid which is comforting news. I was shocked to receive a call asking to assist on a GTE workshop in Norway in early November.

Instantly I said yes & then I found my self mentally visualizing where I had packed my cold weather rafting kit. I live in Finland & spend a large part of each summer rafting in Iceland. So you would think I am used to the cold! which I am. The mental picture of rafting in Norway in November still made me shudder as I finished the call.

Figure 1: The Sun & Rain gods blessed Southern Norway during our workshop.

The Purpose of the workshop was to observe Zach Bassett a provisional IRF Instructor run a workshop to gain full instructor status within the GTE. Having had a few video planning calls with Zach. I could see that Zach was super prepared for the workshop which filled me with confidence.

The Venue

Zach is the river/ Operations manager for Troll Aktiv on the Otra river in Evje Southern Norway. The main commercial section is a very short section which means that the commercial guests normally have 2 runs of the dammed section of river. The Otra is normally overlooked by many guides & kayakers when visiting Norway with most opting to head further North to Voss & Soja valleys. During the week we were treated to an amazing Variety of water levels due to heavy rainfall. On day 1 we had 30 cumecs which steadily rose up to 200 cumecs by the end of the week which was a truly testing water level for the students. Day 1 kicked off with Introductions &workshop expectations. Personal equipment & signals were checked before we moved onto safety demonstration assessments

Figure 2 Zach talking through PPE & PRE standards

Figure 3 By Day 5 we were treated too 200 cumec releases from the dam.

The River dialled in.

In my eyes a sign of a truly professional outfit is the ability to micromanage each rafting run depending on the water levels. Zach`s knowledge of the commercial section ensured that the students were thoroughly tested during the workshop. The river provided sections for those making their first steps on the IRF GTE ladder by completing L2 guide awards through to those who wanted L3 Trip leader award & Level 4 guide awards.

Figure 4 Sam Adams from the UK avoiding a catapult. A skill that was practised lots during the week

Progression through the workshop syllabus.

Due to having an Ideal venue, Logistics & perfect water conditions the delivery of the workshop was flowing seamlessly. Zach had provided each of the students with the GTE pre workshop information including the assessment standards which had given them time to prepare correctly for the workshop.

The Swimming, Throwbag & flip drills were all passed hassle free.

Figure 5 Swim assessment time paddles included!

Figure 6 Time to get at it! throwbag tests

Figure 7 Flips no Problem!

Figure 8 Mark Explaining the internal angles of an anchor during the ropework session

On day 1 of the workshop. Zach asked the students a powerful question. “What areas would you like to spend more time on to increase your learning”

The reply to this question is the same answer I have seen repeated many times all over the past 10 years of delivering IRF workshops. ROPEWORK understanding. As the logistics were so easy we could dedicate a full morning of land based learning dedicated to the following areas of ropework.

  • Foundation knots & their applications.
  • Anchor building & forces.
  • Mechanical advantage systems & understanding how to calculate theoretical MA.
  • IRF ropework assessment

The Final push!

By day 4 we were greeted by the familiar faces of tired but enthusiastic guides. The next 2 days were dedicated to trip leader scenario-based assessments & safety kayak assessments. The final 2 days also coincided with the highest water levels of the week. This left me scratching my head on how we could challenge the trip leader students but keep the scenarios as safe as possible. By using my experience along with Zach`s excellent site knowledge & experience of true scenarios. We were able to create some interesting scenarios which the students mostly agreed was the best part of the workshop.

Figure 9 Stranded midstream swimmers during a TL assessment

Figure 10 The Highwater gave the safety kayak students many things to think about!

By the end of the workshop The IRF GTE welcomed a new instructor and several new guide, Trip Leader & safety kayak students.

Congratulations Zach, Sam, Nick, Glen, Julie, Becky, Lui,

Many thanks to Troll Aktiv

Words & pictures

Mark Hirst
IRF and Rescue3 instructor
Tel: +358 44 7044464
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45 Suvannoisentie Kittilä Finland 99130
Vat Number: FI26808286
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