Friday, 16 June 2017

Over the boarder and back to the snow



Finally having been on the road delivering courses since late March I got to spend some time at home in Finland. June 5th -11th had been in my diary for months for a 7 day IRF Guide training program combined with a Rescue 3 Europe Whitewater Rescue Technician Professional course based at the ideally located Basecamp Oulanka, on the shores of the beautiful Kitkajoki river, in the land of the Midnight sun.

I arrived home in the south of Finland for few days rest before the 9 hour drive northeast to Basecamp. This gave me time to make some lesson plans and prepare for the workshop. Miia told me to check the weather? I happily fired up my trusted weather website of trust www.yr.no to check the weather. Doh -1 degrees and snow, it was June for crying out loud as I reached for my dry suit & extra thermals.

The course was based just outside the Arctic circle in the village of Juuma. June in Finland is normally the beginning of summer and most of the snow and ice have melted. The rivers are at ideal levels and we are blessed with the Midnight Sun. During the drive north I realized this was not going to be the case. All of the lakes were still frozen & there was plenty of snow around still. The forecast for later in the week  was for highs of +25 degrees and sun. I thought to myself I won't hold my breath?.
The guys at Basecamp Oulanka had given me a really nice room and I unpacked my kit and prepared myself for a scouting  trip the next day.

After a quick breakfast I threw on an extra set of thermals under my drysuit and met Henri, the host for the workshop. We were also joined by some of the course participants as this was going to be the first trip down the river of the season. So not only did I need to re-familiarize myself with the Kitkajoki, we also needed to see if the winter had made any changes to the river. Before all of this could happen we had to brake a trail through the ice on the lake in order for us to get to the river. Easier said than done!


 The commercial section we were to paddle today was called the Wild route, a short section around 5km in distance. The trip begins on the Juuma lake and then make it's way down the beautiful picturesque canyon with the Myllykoski rapid class 2+ and the amazing 900m long Aallokkoski rapid before for a compulsory portage around the Jyrävä waterfall. The trip normally lasts for around 2 hours. One of the unique points about this run is that the trip almost completes a full circle leaving a 15 minute walk back to the base so no return transport needed as its' all done on foot.  

The Wild route is the most technical section of commercial whitewater in Finland. Rafting is not a huge sport in Finland so the rafting community is quite small and closed. With the lack of international experience throughout the years rafting trips are still operated the way they were 20 years ago, this includes equipment and approaches to river running and guide training. Hats off to Basecamp Oulanka for having the sight to see that things need to change. 
The checkout run went well, we even got to see an impressive snow bridge over the Jyrävä waterfall.

This weeks course was going to present me with 6 trainees & 2 trip leader candidates one of which (Nathan) had travelled all the way from Singapore to attend the course. The  course progressed the following way:

Day 1
The ice had slowly been melting so we had a bigger pool to practice our basic paddling techniques & commands. I am a big fan of spending some time on the flat water for the first day of a guide training programme. I feel it gives the students a chance to feel how a raft moves before you take it to the moving water. We also looked at safety talks before we got on the water. I delivered 2 examples of a safety talk. One of which was completed in silence to emphasize that actions speak louder than words. We then took to the Wild route to look at basic guiding and moving water skills. I got to test the skills of the 2 class 3 trip leader candidates (Nathan & Henri) on the Aallokkokoski section and they both did a really good job. The homework for day 1 was to learn the IRF river signals. I noticed them practicing these well into the night. 



Day 2
After watching Henri & Nathan give some really solid safety talks we took to the Wild route. The guides were starting to grow in confidence which was heartening to watch. A visit from the local press in the afternoon gave us the chance to look at swimming skills. Having spent 8 seasons working in Iceland as a guide I thought I was accustomed to cold water but I noticed that the water was freezing cold and I was happy that all of the students were in Ursuit drysuits. I made a mental note to myself to soften up a little and maybe start to use some neoprene gloves in my old age. That thought lasted as soon as I watched someone try to pack a throwbag wearing gloves. The local press were really interested in the course and produced an amazing article. Day 2 homework = safety talk planning.



Day 3
Off to Russia we go. The logistics on the Kitkajoki are not easy, every few days the guides need to transport the rafts 20km down the river to the nearest road on the border with Russia. I took the opportunity to give the guides as much stick time as possible so I made them R2 5 rafts down the river  and this enabled them a full day of stick time. We focused on eddy hopping, ferry gliding & river running strategies. The day started with ghosing the rafts down the Jyrävä waterfall. We stopped for lunch at a small fireplace in the Oulanka national park. The weather was now sunny and +18, the weather had changed at last.


Day 4
The morning session started with the candidates each giving a section of the pre-trip safety demonstration. The candidates had the choice to do this in Finnish or English. I had roped my partner Miia & her mother to be live rafting customers for the students to practice and this turned out quite well. During today I wanted to assess both Henri & Nathan for their class 3 trip leader awards. I set 2 challenging scenarios on the river which both included run away flipped rafts and various amounts of devious carnage. Both Nathan & Henri demonstrated strong trip leader capabilities when dealing with the scenarios, hats off to the guys.

Day 5
Today was the first day of the Rescue 3 component of the workshop.  My biggest selling product this year has been the combined IRF & Rescue 3 workshops and this was to be my 5th one since March. I like to keep both of the aspects separate. This way I can concentrate solely on the core: raft guiding skills on the IRF section of the workshop. I can then incorporate the remaining IRF rescue elements into the WRT component, including swimming, flipping, throw bagging, rope work. Both the IRF & Rescue 3 elements complement each other really well. Next year I am already planning advanced workshops combining WRT advanced with class 4 trip leader &  safety craft.

We spent the day working through the Rescue 3 philosophy, incorporating it into swimming & throw bag sessions and then into more complex situations including rescue harness release & tethered swimmer rescues.


Day 6
Today we looked at shallow water skills along with foot & body entrapments. After lunch we all spent some time on a simulated strainer exercise before finishing the day with a mechanical advantage class where we also completed the IRF rope work test.


Day 7
I was starting to feel it I have been running course nonstop since March, today I felt as tired as the students looked. Straight onto the water we spent the time looking at 2 point tethered rafts and tensioned diagonals along with line crossing techniques. The weather turned poor in the afternoon so we finished up the course by looking at the theory side of the WRT programme before the IRF written paper & final debriefs.
During the debriefs I wanted to focus on making the students realize that practice practice practice is the recipe for being able to move forward and gain more experience.I look forward to visiting Basecamp Oulanka next year to see the progression of the guides.


In the meantime congratulations to Henri, Nathan, Jessica, Maiju, Tiia, Janne, Markus, Miia, Kaisa & Ilkka, it was a pleasure to work with you.
Many thanks to Miia Komi & Basecamp Oulanka! 
Next week my travels will take me from the Arctic to the jungle in Thailand where I will get the opportunity to work some more with enthusiastic raft guides.
Happy paddling,

Mark

Sunday, 4 June 2017

Are you carrying the correct emergency equipment?

As we now find ourselves at the beginning of a Northern hemisphere season, a quick glance at various social media outlets are awash with various stories of epic high water runs and carnage.

Most of us will have been surrounded by snow all winter and are counting down the days until it begins to melt and all of our local runs start to rise for the season. During the winter you have found yourself watching countless amounts of online kayak porn with our minds mentally writing out mental cheques that we now want our body to pay off on. What can go wrong?

I noticed a comment  on social media the other day that California is finally experiencing a high-water spring. This quote sent a shiver down my spine 

“We are experiencing some of the highest levels in 10 years, a whole generation of kayakers have not experienced these rivers at these level before, its not pretty."

The next day I opened up my Facebook page and watched in horror some of the world's current well known expedition kayakers chase boating a swimmer down a tree infested run in flood. The life of the swimmer was at risk along with the team of accomplished kayakers that were chasing him.

Are we honestly thinking that we can not paddle all winter and pick up where we left off from last season? Are we not warming up on easier class runs first!

Let's imagine for a minute that a paddling buddy takes a swim and looses his or her boat and you both find yourselves stranded on the river. Help is going to be a good few hours away and long walk out. Worse case scenario you may even have to spend the night next to the river and wait for first light before you can hike out. To top it all off your buddy has badly twisted an ankle and is unable to walk.

The odds are now stacked heavily against you.

Do you have a back up plan & are you carrying the correct emergency kit if you need to spend a little extra time on the river?

Are you carrying the correct amount of emergency kit in your kayak to ensure your own personal safety and that of your injured friend ?
I do notice time and time again kayakers spending money on the latest kit: drysuit, kayak, paddle, PFD, sprayskirt and not investing in the correct emergency safety kit or training.
By simply investing  some time and money into the correct training and emergency kit you can rapidly re-stack the odds in your favor.
I personally carry the equipment below in the back of my kayak each time I go kayaking or if I am working as a safety kayaker on a commercial trip. The kit fits neatly into a watershed Ocoee drybag (besides my split paddle).





·         Samsplint
·         Headlamp / Maglite
·         Lightstick
·         Energy bars
·         Lighter, matches, kindling
·         Rescue saw
·         Leatherman / multi tool
·         Mobilephone
·         GPS/ SPOT device
·         Small first aid kit with note book and pen, water purification pills
·         Survival blanket / jacket
·         Woollen hat.
·         Group shelter (optional)
·         Duct tape
·         Spare split / breakdown paddle
·         Water bottle

Let's have a look at some of the items in detail and justify their inclusion.
Sam-splint
Sam-splints are a lightweight reformable splint that can be used to splint a wide variety of injuries. Sam splints can also be cut and used in kayak repair or to block the drainage hole if you have lost your bung. Samsplint have some amazing tutorials on their website.




Headlamp
The ability to see and for others to see you is going to help you lots when it gets dark especially if outside help is needed. Hiking out when its getting dark will be a lot easier when you can see where you are going. A headlamp is also going to come in handy if you need to inspect a wound that needs treating or removing a foreign object from an eye.



Lightsticks
The batteries on your headlamp or torch will eventually run out. A lightstick is a good back up. Military light sticks normally last for up to 24 hours & can make you even more visible to rescue teams.
Energy bars
Once the adrenaline has worn off you are going to need to eat in order to keep warm & restock energy levels. I like to carry both an energy bar and a drink solution as it will go further.

Lighters/ matches Kindling
Its getting dark and you are cold, wet & tired. You need heat & light, its time to get cracking on with building a fire. A fire will also provide you with a source of light that will make you noticeable to the emergency services. The task of simply building a fire will also keep your mind occupied whilst you are waiting for help. Lighters will also help if you a paddling in areas prone to leeches.


Rescue saw & Multi tool 
A very handy tool to deal with small trees blocking the river or worst case scenario getting through a piece of wood that is causing an entrapment of a paddling buddy. Also will come in handy if you have to make that fire or improvise a walking stick or stretcher for an injured paddler. The multi tool can be used for lots of tasks, it really is a must take piece of kit on all trips.


Mobile phone
If you have reception a phone is indispensable in an emergency situation . For those working in a commercial environment or providing first aid treatment the ability to film and record any treatment given may help you post incident if the courts become involved. I was once taught:
“No Notes, No defence”

GPS / SPOT device
As modern technology progresses satellite communication and tracking is becoming more accessible and most of all affordable. The ability to give someone your exact location or see a route out is going to help you lots. SPOT devises not only allow you to log your tracks they also offer an affordable way to contact emergency contacts or help when there is no mobile phone coverage.

First aid kit
The ability to support an injured limb, stop bleeding and dress a wound or give pain relief is a must. 


Survival blanket / jacket
The technology in survival blankets has increased 10 fold in recent years to the point where ultra marathon runners are now carrying modern survival bags instead of traditional sleeping bags. Foil based bags not only keep you warm & work in the prevention of hypothermia  they will also make you highly visible as they reflect the light. I personally use and recommend Blizzard survival blankets. If they are good enough for the Norwegian airforce and mountain rescue they are good enough for me.

Woollen Hat
2/3 of all body heat is lost through the head, if its going to be a long night you should try your best to keep warm.

Group shelter
Coming originally from the UK I cannot understand why the rest of the world have not started using group shelters. A group shelter weighs around 100grams and can keep people protected from the elements and provide shelter.  A rolled up group shelter can also work as a great improvised stretcher.

Pic Jon Gorman 

Pic Jon Gorman 

Pic Jon Gorman 

Pic jon Gorman 

Duct tape
Gaffa tape, Duck tape, Jesus tape say no more!

Spare paddle / Breakdown paddle
I am amazed to see the amount of kayakers with all of the latest bling kit and eventually loose their paddle I have carried a spare paddle for years. Luckily I have never had to use it myself. I have loaned it out to kayakers who have broken or lost their paddles multiple times. A split paddle can also be used as an improvised splint.
  



Water bottle
Its important to keep hydrated on a trip. I carry puritabs in my first aid kit. Nalgine water bottles are also water tight which means water cannot enter them so a perfect container for your first aid kit!

If you feel this is too much to carry on one person the kit could be split within a group of boaters. A good pre-trip plan & communication between team members will ensure that most eventualities can be catered for. All up my kit weighs less than 2kg.

Most of all practice,  practice, practice the following as one day you may need them:


- First aid skills and knowledge
- Fire making skills (in a controlled environment please)
- Navigation and electronic navigation skills
- Pre-trip planning and communication skills

Happy safe paddling! 
See you on the water,

Mark

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Carrying the correct personal rescue equipment ? A simple way to remember 4,3,2,1

Carrying the correct personal rescue equipment ? 
A simple way to remember 4,3,2,1




Whilst on my travels this summer running IRF & Rescue 3 courses around the globe for raft guides and safety kayakers. I find myself running into the same problem when it comes to guides carrying the correct personal rescue equipment (PRE). "Nobody has ever told us how much to carry" 



During this post I want to  explain a simple method that I picked up whilst watching the rescue for river runners series by Canadian river guru Jim Coffey ( Highly recommended). Having also had the opportunity to work alongside Jim this year on a IRF workshop I have now adopted this thought process for my own personal use and for when I am teaching on courses and its super simple to remember.

Most of us raft guides if we concentrate hard can just about remember to count from 4 through 1 backwards that,s 4,3,2,1,

4,3,2,1 is all we need to remember when thinking how much PRE we need to carry on the river. 

All of the equipment mentioned in this post is carried onperson by myself each time I am on the water.


4 Carabiner,s 

I carry kwiklock carabiners as a personal choice option. If I need to set up a system quickly the last thing I need to be worrying about is have a screwed all of my carabiners up. Regular cleaning and maintenance will ensure the gates dont seize. I also use HMS carabiners which allows friction hitches to be used easily. My recommendation DMM kwiklock BOA 25kn  

3 Pulleys 

I carry 3 Pulleys this allows me to construct a few different mechanical advantage systems if needed. Most guides will use a 3:1 or Z drag as there benchmark MA system where only 2 pulleys are needed. By adding a 3rd  pulley as a change of direction at the anchor end of my system will allow the haul team to haul at a different angle than the direction of pull on the main system. This means that if we have a system failure my haul team are out of the way of any supersonic flying pieces of debris from the fallout of a broken system greatly reducing the chance of somebody getting injured from a high speed flying  piece of broken kit. I recommend Rock exotica mini 1:1 machined pulleys  which as an added bonus are also prusik minding pulleys which means I dont need a prusik attendant minding my MA system. The rock exotica mini pulleys are also strong small and compact and take up very little room in your PFD

2 Prusiks





























Prusiks can be used as the progress capture in a mechanical advantage system. One of the main problems guides encounter is carrying prusiks that are 2 thick. A good way to test to see if your prusik is the correct thickness for your main line is the pinch test. Simply pinch a bite in your prusik if the diameter of the hole is thinner than your mainline your pusik will work. If the hole is bigger than the diameter of your mainline your prusik will not grip your main line. I recommend Sterling ropes hollow block 6.8 sewn loop  . Sewn loops are stronger than traditionally tied prusiks that are tied with a double fishermans knot that always seems to get in the way and takes up space in your PFD. A carabiner and a prusik can also be combined with a raft or kayak paddle to be used to sink or raise a line across or under a river.

1 Flip Line 


My Favorite Piece of PRE a true multi purpose device. A 4m length of 25mm tubular webbing. Beside been used a conventional flip line this piece of equipment can be used for so much more. I will be dedicating my next post to this topic "101 ish uses of a flip line". For those of you with eagle eyes this is a prototype flip line myself and Gaspar from wwtc have been working on and is not yet available yet. Keep your eyes open for the WMD flip line in the not so far off future. 

1 Throwbag 

A good throwbag is a must. Again a throwbag is another MPD multi purpose device it can be used for much more than a throw line. I use a minimum line length of 18m as I find its the perfect length for me to throw effectively. I recommend WWTC throwbags   WWTC throwbags are becoming more and more popular now with not only river guides using them but a large section of the professional rescue services. One of the benefits of the WWTC bags are the optional carry system that has a added pocket that enables you to carry some of the above mentioned kit.


If you work in a regular team of guides if each of you were to use and adopt the 4,3,2,1 system you would never be short of kit based on a team of 3 guides you would collectively pooled  be carrying the following 

12 x carabiner
 9 x Pulleys 
6 x prusik 
3 x 4m flip line 
3x Throwbag 

With that amount of PRE and the correct training you would have plenty of equipment to solve most problems on the river.

If I get enough requests I will publish a post on advanced river rescue kit
good luck 
Mark


Monday, 27 June 2016

In to the Uknown (again) 1st IRF workshop in the Ukraine


As the demand for International rafting federation courses is growing year on year, I am noticing that I am able to travel to new exciting destinations to run IRF courses. This year alone my travels have taken me to Morocco, Nepal, France, UK and now to the Ukraine for their first ever IRF workshop with Kiev Kayaks. 


After a period of email communication with Anton Federenko of Kiev Kayaks my bags were packed and I was heading out to the Ukraine not knowing what to expect.

Anton kindly picked me up from the airport and took me to his river base in the middle of the Ukraine. We arrived late in the evening and to be honest I was dead beat tired having spent the whole day travelling. So a quick set of hellos, then off to bed.

The morning of day 1 kicked off with the typical course introductions. Having now delivered a few workshops I now have a set pattern of how I like to run my workshops.

First off I needed to asses a few key points


  • Our communication skills. I do not speak Ukrainian & I know that my fast Northern English accent can be hard to understand sometimes. I was happy in the end as 80% of the group had really good English. I was also lucky to have a interpreter Andri, who was also a kayaker.   
  • The groups prior experience. This became quite interesting as the group was pretty big, we had 12 participants in total. The ability of the group ranged from a medalist at the 2015 Adddas sickline Kayak championships right the way through to a handful of local guides with no formal training. 
I decided to strip everything back to the raw basics. I had arranged the workshop over 5 days as this allowed me to really concentrate on getting the basics right before we could move onto more advanced options. We got dressed and made our way to the river. After a quick discussion about PPE (personal protective equipment) we started on safety talks. I was aware that I had a few trip leader candidates. I asked for a volunteer to step forward. Lurii stepped forward and presented a really good safety talk that only needed a few minor tweaks.

After Lurii´s talk we discussed what constitutes a good safety talk  and these were the outcomes.


Set the scene: In order for the talk to be effective the customers must be positioned in such a way that the guide giving the talk is the sole focus of their attention. 

Actions speak louder than words: I explained to the guides that in various other rafting destinations around the world not all of your customers will speak the same language as the guide giving the safety talk. We also discussed the fact that people remember actions more than words. A simple exercise of giving a safety talk without talking was shown & appreciated in the fact that all of the relevant information was given in half the time of a normal vocal talk.   

Give correct demonstrations: Show your customers exactly what you want them to do. If you show the customers the wrong technique they will practice the wrong technique. A classic example of this was explaining to the customers that if they fall out of the raft to adapt the whitewater swimming position.. Where infact we want the customers to participate in their own rescue and swim back to the raft aggressive style.  


The Flow of the safety talk: We discussed the correct sequence in which we should introduce the various subjects within a safety talk. We noticed that most guides give the paddle commands at the start of a safety talk. We discussed the fact that once you have completed the safety talk if you sit the customers in their paddling position in the raft and introduce the commands just before you get on the water the customers are more likely to retain the information given to them. Having the customers sit and practice the commands on the dry land also allows the guide to rectify any issues and give some good coaching points This can also work as a warm up too.


We moved on to the river where I got to see some pretty good guiding skills. We had a nice 200m section of class 3 where we could easily run laps which was great. I did notice that the guides had been running the same lines for years so I spiced things up and got them too run some new lines. Been situated on the bank I could asses more guides a lot quicker. I would have plenty of time to be in a raft with them during the week. I was also useless in the raft as I was struggling with the Ukrainian paddle commands.




Most of the candidates had come from a racing background. Primarily racing the former soviet design inflatable catarafts.



The main issue here was that the candidates were trying to guide the rafts in racing mode which meant a lot of things were rushed. We spent the afternoon slowing things down. We really focused on the guide controlling and steering the raft and using the customers as the "engine". Instilling the discipline into the crews to only paddle when the guide tells you was interesting to watch. We also looked at the totally new commands of "Get down" "Hold on" and backwards paddling. After a few hours of hard work we were making good progress.

Later in the day we looked at personal whitewater swimming skills.I needed to instill the thinking process into why where & how we swim instead of just jumping in. After a afternoon a trying some new techniques and strategies we  ended day 1 with a swimming Olympics, which I also used as the personal swimming assessment as per the IRF guidelines.



We rounded off day 1 with a introductory rope work session. We practiced the following knots


  • Bowline
  • Round turn & 2 half hitches
  • Clove hitch 
  • Figure of 8 Bite 
  • Water knot 
  • Alpine Butterfly 
  • Overhand bend 
  • Double fishermans 
  • Friction Hitch
  • No knot
Day 2 kicked off with a quick revision of the knots we learnt on the previous evening. We also discussed river signals before heading to the water to work on our rafting skills. I wanted to now get the guides working as a team on the river using some basic river running principles. I found the CLAP model worked well for this workshop.


  • Communication (Have clear communications systems always.)
  • Line of sight (Always have line of sight with the raft in front and behind you.)
  • Avoidance (Avoid any necessary risk by taking the safest lines and having clear communication.)
  • Positioning (Clearly position yourself so that you are combining the 3 elements above.)   
After lunch we got stuck into some throwbag work. We looked at various designs of throwbags along with the construction of a throwbag. I introduced the group the the cleanline principle and then we were good to go.




  We took the time to look at various belay options along with introducing thrower positioning.



Once the group was happy with the basics we moved on to some more advanced throwbag rescues such a "drop bagging" & double swimmer throws.




The next section to be looked at was throwing a coiled rope. We looked at the benefits of
  • Small coils vs big coils 
  • Butterfly coils 
  • The TRU technique
I found it challenging to explain to the group that there was not one set way to re-throw a rope that in fact there were many different ways which also work for a variety of different people. The group also agreed with me when I mentioned that throw bagging should be practiced lots.

The IRF throwbag test ended the afternoon session which all of the team passed confidently.

Our evening session continued with stepping up our rope work skills. We started off by looking at the following subjects:
  • PRE (personal rescue equipment) based on the 4,3,2,1 principle
  • Anchor tying and the forces associated with this
  • Progress capture using pulleys & prussik loops
I had now manged to teach all of the foundation skills needed to build a mechanical advantage system which would follow on the morning of day 3. 

Day 3 arrived and is affectionately know as "Wobbly Wednesday". All of the candidates were a little tired after 2 testing days on the river. I decided to keep the team on the land for the morning so that we could spend the morning looking at pinned boats and mechanical advantage systems. 

The Big 4 for unpinning a raft were practiced
  • Strong arm pull 
  • Rope pull
  • Vector pull 
  • MA system
I then introduced the group to building mechanical advantage systems with basic river equipment. We all built the following systems. 
  • Internal simple 2:1, 3:1, 5:1
  • Internal Compound 9.1 
  • External 3:1 , 4:1
The group also found the T method for calculating MA quite useful. We ended the session with the standard IRF ropework test. 

The afternoon session of day 3 was spent exploring true rescues, mainly live bait rescues. A short session explaining to the group the mechanics of the chest harness function on their PFD´s led us perfectly into the practical side of their use. First we practiced releasing the harness under a load and then we practiced live bait rescues.






The morning of day 4 was spent looking at entrapment's. We practiced a selection of systems used to quickly rescue an entrapped customer. We all agreed that the best method was the down & dirty technique of getting hands on as quickly as possible. We also strongly agreed that river rescue is a teams sport and should be practiced
as a team. 


In my eyes most  group now had all of the skills needed to tackle a trip leader scenario assessment. We spent the remainder of the workshop working through the trip leader scenarios for the trip leader candidates to pass the required level needed. We got a few funny looks from some of the other local rafting  companies practicing all of this unneeded strange foreign voodoo magic but we did not mind.


 The trip leader scenarios were completed with ease and it was heart warming to watch the guys putting some new ways of thinking and skills to use. 



The Morning of day 5 started with flip drills before tacking the IRF written paper before final debriefs and goodbyes. 

The Ukraine now has its first IRF certified guides and trip leaders. It was a privilege to work with these guys. Good Luck !

Mark