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Crossing ford. Travel Tips

Tourist tips

Directory / Tourist tips

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The most common type of crossing is fording the river.

ford called a section of the river, allowing the transition from one bank to another along the bottom of the river.

Site Selection

The location of the fords can be determined by topographic maps, from the inquiries of local residents and by external signs. Such signs of a ford are:

  • roads, paths and ruts converging near the river on both banks of it and losing track in the water;
  • places with sloping banks, where the river expands and forms spills;
  • places small ripples on the surface of the water;
  • expansion of the river in its straight section.

The impassable sections of the river are characterized by the inaccessibility of the approach to the water barrier: steep or steep slopes, rockfalls, canyons, many deep channels, heavily swampy, viscous, muddy banks and the bottom of the river, pits and whirlpools. The river has a large width, depth and a strong current.

Passable rivers have a shallow depth and medium current, they are forded alone, in pairs and in small groups.

When organizing a crossing, one should also take into account unfavorable meteorological conditions (rain, snow), which adversely affect the passage of water barriers, as well as air temperature, because after the crossing, it will be necessary to dry the clothes and keep warm.

Crossing a ford through mountain rivers with a flow speed of more than 3-4 m / s with a rocky bottom is possible:

  • to a person - at a knee-deep depth;
  • riding horses - at a depth of the belly;
  • for a cart in a harness - not higher than the axis of travel.

More precisely, the possibility of fording a crossing can be estimated from Table 1.

Table 1 Wade crossing methods.

Wade crossing method

Wading depth in m at speeds in m/s

up to 1 m/s 1-1,5 m/s up to 2 m/s up to 4 m/s
Пешком 1 0,9 0,8 0,6
Riding horses 1,2 1,1 1 0,8
cart in harness 0,7 0,65 0,6 0,5
pack horses 0,6 0,5 0,45 0,4
By road 0,5 0,45 0,4 0,3

When crossing flat rivers, it is necessary to establish the absence of whirlpools, deep pits, silt, mud, snags, flooded trees and other objects that can cause serious complications during the crossing.

The organization of a crossing over mountain rivers is much more difficult. In this case, one should proceed to an examination of the general nature of the river: determine the width of the channel, the possible depth, the state of the bottom and the speed of the current. Then choose the place of approach and the conditional place of exit to the opposite bank. To ensure security, mark the places of interception posts; determine the availability of local crossing facilities, the number of special equipment (main and auxiliary ropes, carabiners and harnesses) for guiding the crossing and organizing insurance, the size of the group, its physical and psychological state, technical training. Only after that they determine the tactics of overcoming the water obstacle.

Intelligence service

After choosing the place of the ford and determining the speed of the current, they begin to conduct reconnaissance. It is carried out by one of the members of the group with mandatory insurance, which can be a strong pole (stick) 2-2,5 m long. The person crossing begins to move somewhat at an angle to the current, leaning on the pole.

You should move sideways to the current, and not facing or back to it. At the next movement, the pole is rearranged upstream (it will be pressed to the bottom by the pressure of water). Putting a pole downstream and leaning on it is a gross mistake. In this position, it is not an insurer, it can easily be thrown off by the current, after which an inevitable loss of balance will follow and a fall into the water may occur. Also, you can not rely heavily on the pole, "hang" on it. Make sure that at any given time you have two points of support, i.e. you cannot simultaneously take a step and rearrange the pole.

At 20-30 meters downstream, an interception post should be set up (in case of demolition by the passing current). At 100 m from the crossing point downstream, the riverbed must be free from protruding stones, fallen trees and other objects that can cause injury to a person who has fallen into the water.


Water is not a natural environment for humans, so any body of water, even a shallow one, should not be underestimated. Unfortunately, there have been cases when people died in bodies of standing water less than 20 cm deep.

To maintain balance, it is necessary to pick up a strong pole 2-2,5 meters long. Pants should be rolled up or undressed completely in order to dress dry on the other side. It is better not to take off your shoes - this will provide better grip on the bottom than bare feet. Loosen the straps of the backpack, unfasten the belt buckle of the backpack to make it easy to drop it. Sometimes it is advised to turn out the pockets of your trousers so that they do not float in the water. Of course, all things and documents must be protected from water. If there is no special waterproof bag or backpack insert, you can use plastic bags (at least two stacked towards each other).

Start of movement

The most experienced and physically strong participant crosses the river first. After he came ashore, all the other participants pass in turn. The tourist who crossed the river first should be ready to help his comrades. For safety reasons, it is recommended to ford the river in one place and along one path. Unauthorized choice of a ford site is unacceptable.

Bushes and reeds encountered on the way should be moved apart with your hands, do not take your legs out of the water, but move them carefully in the water.

If one of the participants is not very confident in overcoming the water barrier, he must be insured by allocating a more experienced participant to help him.

A group fording a river together must follow the strongest. Each person must hold the one in front by the belt and follow him trail after trail. You can also walk side by side, holding hands on a pole, which will allow balance. Move forward straight to the shore. The force of the current will be experienced only by the first person walking in this coupling, and the group as a whole will provide balance to each of its members.

Do not take big steps, move your legs with sliding movements, move with a side step, feeling the bottom in front of you in search of holes and testing the reliability of the ground under your feet.

It is necessary to rest against the pole from the side of the water pressure. Do not look into the water as you may lose your balance. It is necessary to look at the place of exit from the water, relying on hands and feet.

Fording across complex rivers can be done in pairs and in line. This method is as follows: two or three to five people, tightly hugging their shoulders, move somewhat against the current. The safety of such a crossing depends on the coordination of the movements of those crossing. At the moment when one takes a step, the other supports it. With the next movement, you need to find a comfortable place for the foot so that it does not slip. It is desirable to carry out the movement with side steps. To improve insurance, the first one in line leans on a pole.

When crossing in a circle, those crossing, tightly hugging their shoulders, form a circle and move counterclockwise.

On a difficult section of the river, in addition to the pole, the crossing person uses a safety rope. The insurance of the first is carried out by the main and auxiliary ropes, which are fastened from the side of the chest with a carabiner to the chest harness. When moving, the safety ropes are at a certain angle relative to one another - the main one is upstream, the auxiliary one is lower. Each rope is held by two tourists and, as needed, is given out. When the guide is broken, the main rope is not selected, but only held or slightly protruded. Pulling the fallen to the shore is carried out with an auxiliary rope.

After the crossing of the first tourist, the main rope is fixed to a reliable object and pulled by the insurer at the chest level of the crossing. Thus, the rope serves as a railing, with the help of which the safety of the further crossing is carried out. The movement is made with side steps, while supporting the stretched railing with the hands, always downstream from the rope and facing towards the current. In case of a strong current at the crossing, before starting to move, the tourist is attached to the railing (main rope) with a carabiner or a safety loop located on his chest harness (on the chest side). The last participant unties the rope and attaches to it. Auxiliary and main ropes are fixed with a carabiner from the side of the chest. Leaning on a pole, the tourist crosses the river.

You can cross mountain rivers on stones and masonry, and you need to be very careful, as stones are usually slippery and you can easily fall into the water and get serious injuries.

When you have to cross very fast mountain rivers, you need to pull a rope (wire, cable) at the crossing point, holding on to which you can safely overcome the fast current. It should be borne in mind that it is possible to wade through mountain rivers and streams waist-deep. If their depth is greater, then it is dangerous to ford such rivers without special devices. It is safest to ford mountain rivers in the early morning, since at this time they have the smallest depth.

Safe Operation

When crossing a river, the following basic safety rules must be observed:

  • when choosing a crossing site, it is necessary to take into account the approach to the river, the condition of the channel, the depth and strength of the current, the time of day and climatic conditions, the availability of the necessary special equipment, and it is also necessary to conduct reconnaissance with mandatory insurance;
  • to cross the river in the chosen place; it is forbidden to cross yourself in other places;
  • when crossing with the organization of rope railings, move on the side of the railing, downstream, with side steps; do not use loops with grasping knots for self-insurance - attach to the rope railing only with a carabiner, through the chest harness or loops from it;
  • when moving in a line, circle, column, the capture of each other by the shoulders must be strong;
  • for insurance downstream, it is mandatory to set up interception posts;
  • Never ford a river if there are other ways to cross to the other side. Choose your crossing point carefully;
  • avoid high banks that are difficult to climb when leaving the water;
  • bypass any obstacles in the water;
  • be careful with the firewood. You can step on it and lose your balance. If the current presses you against an obstacle, you will fully feel its strength and may not be able to go further;
  • the current intensifies on the outer side of the bends, and the steep banks can be washed out, which prevents the exit from the water;
  • look for a flat section of the river bed - a pebbly bottom is best for fording a river.

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