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Safe swimming-distance from lake-outflux?
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Tor Sjogren
( - F
Propulsion-gloves vs Poles when river-wading/swimming ? on 09/04/2012 17:08:04 MDT Print View

Thanks for the tough love. I was mainly asking how close to a certain river it is safe to swim current-wise though. Anyways I agree that the way I have formulated myself sounds suicidal, and that even the shortest distance around the outlet would be a tad too long. Im leaning towards wading/swimming the river itself.

I have been swimming flowing melt-water for 10 minutes in my current setup before, and did not freeze when I got to shore, but I have not been swept away with a pack in a current yet. I wonder if anyone has experience with the NRS Propulsion Gloves, or thoughts on their effectiveness in contrast to poles, with regard to keeping the balance, adding propulsion while wading deep and swimming to shore if one gets swept away.

John Penca
(john.penca) - F

Locale: SoCal
Uncharted Waters? on 09/04/2012 21:39:29 MDT Print View

There is little likelyhood of predicting how far from the outlet you would need to cross. There are too many variables involved, includind wind, current, gear weight, method of transport/floatation devices (which will create drag and increase the effect of wind).

You need to dial your plan in under real world, supported conditions before you attempt this or risk being post humously voted for a Darwin award.

drowning in spam
(leaftye) - F

Locale: SoCal
Re: Propulsion-gloves vs Poles when river-wading/swimming ? on 09/04/2012 22:12:24 MDT Print View

Klymit inflatable vest should prevent some heat loss and help you float a little better in your swim. I don't think it's a good idea though.

Swimming the river has another set of risks, some rivers more than others.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

Outflow swimming on 09/04/2012 23:56:13 MDT Print View

The minimum distance you can swim from the outflow depends on so many factors that it's rather hard to offer any sort of helpful advice without studying the specific lake. River volume, outflow size, lake depth near the outflow etc. are all big factors as I'm sure you know.

If the lake is fairly deep you can often get pretty close, but the lack of certainty + lack of room for error necessitates an ample safety margin. One concern I'd have is that the safe distance might not be constant across the lake. With varying water depths and water body shapes, some areas may have more pull than others.

I'd try to keep your options open. If you arrive at the lake and examine the situation, you may very well find there is a water crossing route that is safe enough and keeps your swim to an acceptable length. Your experience and risk tolerance come into play in evaluating. You might not like the look of the crossing though, so it's prudent to be as prepared as possible for other options like going around the lake and even turning back. If you haven't done your research on routes around the lake and you don't have enough food to turn back, then you may be tempted to attempt a swim that you're not comfortable with.

I would prepare for this by seeing how long (time and distance) you can effectively swim in various water temperatures. If you measure the temp at the lake, you can get a good idea of how your body will hold up if you've already experimented at that temp.

In terms of gear, there's a lot of options ranging from nothing to a full on packraft. In between, you've got aids like inflatable PFDs, sleeping pads, neoprene clothing, wetsuits, pool toys etc. I'd probably take a FlytePacker raft + trekking pole paddle blades.

Swims are usually longer than they look.

Edited by dandydan on 09/04/2012 23:58:30 MDT.

Paul Wagner
(balzaccom) - F

Locale: Wine Country
If you have to ask on 09/05/2012 09:23:29 MDT Print View

This is a really good example of the kind of question that should get the following answer:

If you have to ask how far away from outlet you would have to swim to be safe, you shouldn't attempt the swim.

Alpo Kuusisto
(akuusist) - F
Re: Safe swimming-distance from lake-outflux? on 09/07/2012 06:40:31 MDT Print View

Regarding the distance: IF I had to swim, I think I'd carry with me few sticks to throw to the lake near the outflux to estimate the current. And prepare by getting myself a good judgement on current speeds and swimming.

But I'd really carry a packraft to avoid swim. It's fun to have it with you anyway.

Adventure race Explore Sweden passed pretty close to your crossing two years ago.
These photos are from the beginning of the race in Lofoten, and show the standard crossing method for calm water.
Mattress (available from Biltema) is cheap, faster than packrafts and doubles as a mattress (with a torso sized closed cell foam). Of course it's not too resistant to punctures. Weight is 1,75kg = about same as Alpackas.

Later, the race crossed river Rapaatno under Skierfe buttress. A team with one broken mattress decided to ferry one mattress back and forth, rather than put one member to swim. An hour waiting was judged better than 20 minute swim.

Post your story here after the trip please. Hiking the whole Norwegian-Swedish border is on my to-do list when I someday find three months for that.

E.L. Boston
(El_Jefe) - F

Locale: The Pacific Northwest
. on 09/08/2012 23:31:10 MDT Print View

As somebody with a sibling who trains military personnel in cold-water survival procedures, I can emphatically state that any person with knowledge and experience sufficient to complete this task would not be asking the questions you are.

If you carry through with your plan to swim, you will most likely die in the attempt. Period.

Edited by El_Jefe on 09/08/2012 23:34:27 MDT.

Rob E

Locale: Canada
swimming vs wading on 01/18/2013 14:24:25 MST Print View

I will just chime in to say that wading/standing/bobbing in cold water is vastly different from swimming. Having your entire body submerged while doing hard muscular/cardiovascular activity forces your heart to circulate blood to your extremities to feed the muscles resulting in much faster rates of cooling and faster onset of hypothermia.

I know people who have covered their bodies in vaseline for cold open water swims. Might be a technique to explore, as it could end up being lighter than a wetsuit or boat, but still don't encourage you to try unless in a safe/supervised scenario.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Water flow near lake outlet. on 01/18/2013 16:46:38 MST Print View

I don't know if Tor is still following this thread, but if so:

As Alpo suggested, throw some sticks. I'd put some refinements on that suggestion: You want the stick to be bright, so a few 10 cm bits of "flagging tape" - fluorescent orange plastic tape - tied around the stick would help visualize it. You want to see how that stick behaves in the worst flow path - which is towards the center of the outlet, but bottom conditions could cause it to be to the left or right of center.

How to throw sticks? A "wrist rocket" is used by 10 year old boys to kill small birds and "put an eye out" of a playmate. My local hardware store has them on sale for $4 every other month. A length of rubber tubing (3 or 4 meters) tied to two trees would give you MUCH more energy for your launch (or are you north of treeline?).

Or, instead of sticks, "range balls" - golf balls rented by the bucket to drive into a lake at the golf course FLOAT (that's how they retrieve them). Some are white. Some are fluorescent orange. All could be shot from a wrist rocket, rubber tubing between two trees, or from a Jai alai pelota (racket) or those long atlal-atlal type handle for throwing tennis balls for your dog to retrieve.

I think your original post wanted an informed opinion like, "water velocity will be less than 1 kph if you are 3.5 outlet-widths upstream of the lake outlet". I've studied and use a fair but of fluid dynamics and hydrology in my work and I can assure you that no such simple rule of thumb exists. If you show me a non-topographic map, I'll know nothing about water flow near the outlet. If you show me a map with topo lines for the land, I'll be guessing about the shape of the lake bottom. Only if you have bathymetric and river flow data for the time in question could I offer any estimate of how close to the outlet does the flow speed up. Broadly, the deeper the water you are in, the slower the flow. I can think of glacial lakes (I live in a very glacial area) that have a long, shallow area near the outlet (BAD for a swimmer). And I can think of other glacial lakes, typically with a terminal moraine at their outlet, that are very deep until very close to the outlet (not much of a detour for a swimmer).

Floating sticks would let you assess that on site.

Bathymetric maps would let you assess it in advance. PM me a link to a map if you want an opinion.

Best of all would be a companion who doesn't swim as fast as you do. If he gets sucked into the lake outlet and crushed on the rocks below, then you need to take a longer, more upstream path.

Mike In Socal
(rcmike) - MLife

Locale: California
What is your "Plan B"? on 01/18/2013 17:12:58 MST Print View

Hi Tor. I'm certainly not experienced with cold water swimming and there are obviously people here who are. But I like problem solving and planning which is why I enjoy the discussions on BPL. So, my question for you is, "what is your Plan B?" In other words, let's say things do not go as planned and your cold-water swim takes twice as long? What if the currents do push you through the outlet of the lake? Does that make it more difficult to get out of the water? I think if you start to answer those questions for yourself, you stand a better chance of accomplishing your goal. Be safe.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: What is your "Plan B"? on 01/19/2013 16:36:26 MST Print View

This thread is 4 months old, other than the recent Resurrection posts.

The OP planned to do this in Oct of last year. He has not posted since Sep.

Maybe he had no "Plan B" and "Plan A" did not work. That would explain is absence here.