One of the hardest 4×4 routes to tackle are river crossings, especially when you are traversing along a rocky river bed with loose boulders beneath your wheels. You cannot see the rocks below the surface of the water and neither can your spotter, so in many cases you travel blind over rocks and accidentally moving the rocks from beneath your tyres while negotiating this type of terrain can result in you dropping onto your chassis in the blink of an eye. If you have a winch attached to your bumper this is a help but invariably creates additional problems if you are rock bound on your chassis.
MaxTrax are an option but they are not really designed specifically for this application so you may have to throw them away after using them if the going gets really rough and tough.
One of the best recovery tools you can use in this instance is the high lift jack but be prepared to get wet and weary as you hunt around in the river bed looking for suitable rocks to place under your wheels to gain traction once your vehicle has been jacked up. The other potential problem with using a high lift jack on a rocky river bed is that you can rarely ensure that the jack base is located in a secure stable position even when using a add on base plate so utmost care must be taken to avoid injury should the jack slip out from underneath your vehicle.
One extremely important thing to remember is if your vehicle stalls while performing a river crossing NEVER just start your vehicle again, especially if you have travelled through water or are in water that is above the level of your your exhaust. If unsure get someone to tow you out, rather be safe than sorry.Even if your vehicle does not stall while performing a river crossing, be careful as if you should suddenly make any changes in the engine speed (while shifting gear or slowing down), water can get sucked into the engine as a result of the back pressure created in the exhaust pipe due to the sudden change in engine speed.
So when you attempt water crossings, always try to shift to a lower gear so that the engine revs will be higher as this will produce more exhaust outlet pressure and lessen the chance of water entering the exhaust pipe and getting into your engine. Always maintain a good engine speed, and never change gears or apply your clutch until you clear the water unless you are absolutely sure of the water level under your vehicle.
Whenever embarking on a tricky river crossing, always make sure you have ample daylight hours ahead of you as estimating the time a rocky river crossing will take is pretty much impossible. We underestimated “bigtime” when doing the river crossing below…..