Jens Continues with a report.
"It is so ironic - that Kevin was such a safety nanny to everyone he boated with.....I think that if he could, Kevin would look at this tragedy with his engineering mind and try to figure out what safety lessons could be drawn.......We are all devastated. Kevin's kindness, generosity, and genuine concern for everyone's safety and well-being touched many lives. We are heartbroken to lose him."JJ
the incident went down a bit like this
4th of July Weekend, 2011
In Memory of Kevin Bair
4th of July Weekend, 2011
In Memory of Kevin Bair
As written By Jens Jensen And Drew Beezley
"A group of us had been contemplating a trip to the Kern River in Southern California for the 4th of July. Several of us wanted to do the Forks of the Kern, a class 4/5 run. Water levels were too high, so the trip was changed to Durango Colorado.
Colorado; "We did the Upper Animas on Saturday. It's a 26 mile, Class IV/V, very cold challenging run. The final 2 miles are in a tight canyon (called the Rockwood Box) which is particularly challenging. The box is often avoided by riding out on the train or hiking out on the railroad tracks" JJ.
On Sunday a group of six headed up to South Mineral Cree: Kevin, Pete, Jens, Ryan, Johanna and Jim McComb . "We were all aware that this was Class V. Kevin, Pete, and Ryan suited up. The rest of us had no intention of attempting this run. We scouted and planned for quite some time before anyone put on the water. The run is less than 1/2 mile long. It begins with a 20 foot waterfall followed by a series of four or five pool drops, then a tight S turn slot with a small narrow pool called the Cauldron with an exit gap approximately 6 feet wide. It continues on for another quarter mile of less significant drops after the slot.
After we all walked and discussed the entire route several times, I helped Pete and Kevin rope their boats down to the entrance pool above the waterfall. Ryan said that he just wasn't feeling like this was for him for today and opted out...... and although looking nervous, he (Kevin) said......that he had run harder stuff than this before. He just needed to get his head straight first. He was grinning when he said that he had to admit though, that he was a bit jazzed to be running something that Ryan chickened out on." JJ
"Ryan and Johanna set up to take pictures on an outcrop in front of the waterfall. I stationed myself with a throw rope at the top of the S turn slot. Jim McComb was at the exit gap with ropes. He tied one rope off to rocks prior to the runs. A group of locals were coming down the hill to do the run behind us, but hadn't arrived when Pete and Kevin began their runs. Pete did a clean line off the waterfall, matching the consensus route. Kevin took the waterfall to the left, doing a quick correction just before dropping off. ..... Kevin was off of the planned line - but the waterfall drop was successful." JJ
The Cauldron; 'Both Pete and Kevin looked good for the stretch for which I had a view. Their lines looked clean and almost identical. Pete went first. We passed OK signals back to Kevin after Pete cleared the slot.....After Kevin disappeared from my view I gathered my rope and several of Kevin's things...... After climbing up a few feet I spotted Kevin's boat upside down in the gap (above the next drop). I dropped everything and started running to Jim's position." JJ
" I learned later that Kevin over corrected a right brace causing him to roll to the left at the bottom of the slot. He did a quick roll which also rotated him 90° putting him in parallel with the gap and horizontal to the flow. Just as he got upright, he pinned nose to tail across the gap with his upstream edge down." JJ
Drew Beezley (one of the locals coming down the hill) writes: "
I remember fondly paddling, laughing and shooting the shit with Kevin over the years. We have all been hit hard by this incident, whether because we were there or because we knew Kevin Bair. Those of us who do not paddle, perhaps Question the the sanity of the sport, those of us who do Paddle, take a fresh and slightly empty look (now minus Kevin) at our sport, though know that Kevin would not want us to stop boating. Perhaps though he would want us, as the safety Nanny he was, to learn from this and be safer. I know for me personally I will look at the river with more respect, listen to my gut more; though also be at peace with the choices Kevin made and know that I myself (and most of our friends would agree) would much rather go out doing something I love and striving to be the best I can, than creeping along to a ripe age wondering what if. Yes we can be safer but there is a point where being to safe means you no longer really live; real risk and death, are inevitable in a Real life worth living.
Peace to you my friend, may we paddle again together one day on the great river in the sky.