Whitewater Paddling Leadership
Learn how to be a commercial river guide at CMC
As of mid-December, the Colorado snowpack is about 133% of the average for this time of year. Though most folks are currently dreaming about powder days, pretty soon we’ll be dusting off those paddles and PFDs. The best way to prepare for the spring run-off is to practice with local whitewater experts. For those interested in learning how to be a commercial river guide, Colorado Mountain College Leadville will offer the Whitewater Paddling Leadership (OUT-215) course from April 20 – 29, 2020.
The nine-day immersive river course is taught by Bill MacDougald, who has over 30 years of experience whitewater rafting and kayaking on America’s rivers both professionally and recreationally. He has taught several river-based outdoor courses at Colorado Mountain College, including Swiftwater Rescue and River Orientation.
“The intent of this course is for students to gain a basic understanding of what is required to be a commercial river guide,” says Bill, who has two decades of experience as a whitewater guide on the Arkansas River and the Gauley River.
Whitewater Paddling Leadership breaks down into three main sections: kayaking, commercial guiding, and overnight trips. Throughout the course, students will learn about the history of the areas, along with differences in riparian zones from the mountains to the desert.
The first few days will be spent learning to kayak and negotiating class III rapids, while practicing whitewater reading skills, scouting rapids and learning basic rescue techniques. Students will then spend several days learning to guide a paddle raft in Browns Canyon National Monument. They’ll discuss planning, logistics and training requirements for commercial raft trips. The course wraps up with a 3-day raft trip on the Colorado River through Horsethief and Ruby Canyons, covering Leave No Trace principles, multi-day logistics, gear boats and paddling a stand up paddleboard.
“This is a great class for anyone interested in an in-depth introduction to all things whitewater,” says Trey Shelton, Outdoor Studies Program Manager at Colorado Mountain College Leadville, “Especially those who want to make a career guiding on all types of water, like raft guides and kayak guides, and private boaters interested in operating their own boats.”
There is a pre-course meeting on March 31, 2020 from 6:30pm – 7:20pm. In addition to tuition for 4 credits, there is a $500 course fee that covers equipment, food, and transportation costs. All water specific gear is provided by Colorado Mountain College and there are no prerequisites to enroll. Students can register online. Non-degree seeking students are encouraged to call 719-486-2015 for more information.