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Old 10-18-2012   #31
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 393
On the spectrum of Doug-Ammons-dismissing-modern-kayakers this one was pretty mild . I've certainly seen much worse from him. I found the article to be a bit dismissive but in Ammons' defense I started reading the post with an expectation of condescension. So maybe my interpretation was colored by my preconceived notions.

Just because he is one of the greatest big water paddlers to ever walk the earth doesn't mean his word comes straight from the river gods. It also doesn't mean we have to fawn over every paragraph he writes. He's entitled to his own opinion and I tend to frequently disagree with it.

The same crap happens in alpine climbing. Reinhold Messner loves to criticize the new school and imply that his generation was so much better than the current crop. Something tells me Steve House doesn't get too depressed over it.

When I'm old and grumpy, I am going to login to mountainbuzz and post this: "back in my day I was so much better at talking shit on mountainbuzz than you young whippersnappers. Me and Slee really started some shit. You kids wouldn't even know!"

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Old 10-18-2012   #32
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Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2003
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 2,032
Well, I don't have a strong opinion on this and agree there's nothing terrible in what he said here, and it's true that if this is just an excerpt, maybe it's unfair to pass too much judgment. I think Cutch nailed it though, that it's when you read this in the context of past comments that it seems to dismiss the accomplishment and it's certainly through that filter that I read it.

It's like if you call up your dad and say, "hey, I just won the Nobel Prize in Physics for that work I've been doing in quantum systems!" And he says, "Oh, that's a nice accomplishment. Of course most of the discoveries in your paper were founded by scientists over the past decade, but you did synthesize them nicely. There's way more work to be done in quantum systems before we realize the true power of its applications in microprocessors. Nice job though."

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Old 10-18-2012   #33
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BZN, Montana
Paddling Since: 2008
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Posts: 1,489
Doug Ammons isn't your Dad and if you or anyone else needs father like approval from him then that is a much bigger issue and hardly his responsibility.
The sunshine walked beside her
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Old 10-18-2012   #34
caspermike's Avatar
Bozeman, Montana
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 5,507
Ksc is lost, he thinks Doug should kiss the sand off everybodys ass..

As somebody who congratulates as well as points to the next direction there's nothing wrong in a next goal. Some of us never thought Palouse would be run again and it was..

"Our modern culture is filled with images, photographs, films and accounts of amazing adventures. We have climbed to the highest points on earth, flown in wingsuits off peaks and crags, skied off 300 foot cliffs, put paragliders on our backs and sailed out over vast canyons. Kayakers have run over nearly 200 foot waterfalls, and regularly run wild rivers across the globe that were inaccessible to all before. Our modern adventure sports are simply stunning ways we have found to challenge the limits of our human barriers. How is it that a slow, two footed primate can climb unaided to the heights of our planet, beyond nearly 80% of the atmosphere, dive into its depths thousands of feet below the surface of the ocean, fly through the air, literally float on a snowboard like a magic carpet down steep mountain faces through powder snow… the list is endless, new sports are invented all the time, the limits always expand. We never stop this exploration." Doug Ammons
He downplayed everything calling us primate man oh mighty...

"Strange evolution
When people have come
To believe that we are
Its greatest illusion
When really we're just
A collection of cells
Overrating themselves " Dave Matthews
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Old 10-18-2012   #35
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Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2003
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 690
i'm just glad ben marr ran that shit before the creature crafts
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Old 10-18-2012   #36
alta, Utah
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 121
After reading Doug's post, I am not left with a sense that Doug was "ranting", "cringing" at giving props, or failing to "pass the torch gracefully." Neither did I read anything in the post that would indicate to me that DA's legacy has been "tarnished" as the OP mentioned.

Craporadon---Ben accomplished something great and that no other paddlers have dared to do before him. This is stated by Doug. His other comments about the dynamic nature of the canyon/river do not deny Ben his due props. I think you should keep your metaphor gun holstered and snapped in situations wherein a recently deceased paddlers friends and family are still pretty raw & suffering.
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Old 10-18-2012   #37
Nelson, B.C.
Paddling Since: 1987
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 8
There are a few points that bug me about this article.

First, "It's not only an exciting feat, but opens up the possibility of doing a no-portage descent on the Stikine. That’s mind-boggling, and a great new challenge"
Ben did do a no-portage descent of the Stikine. Is the onus on the publisher to do the fact checking? Maybe PL should have double checked but Ammons did write it in one fashion or another.

Second, "Probably 70 percent of it had been run before"
This is a weird comment to me, and it depends on your definition of where the rapid begins and ends. I consider Site Zed to have 4 stages. The entrance ledge drops 10 -15 feet, Ben ran it close to the right shore. The second ledge where Ben squirted and flipped in the ledge on the right. Then the main hole drops 15 - 20 feet and is the biggest feature on the Stikine. Finally the last hump ledge, "ABC" line, again drops around 15 feet. As far as I know only the bottom of those 4 ledges had been run and no one had run above the the big hole. Please correct me if I'm wrong. If you include the 500 meter run out below, the section everyone runs, yeah 70% had been run before. Frankly though after Ben rolled up, after the big hole before the ABC ledge, it was all but over. It just feels like he throws out a big number and that diminishes it a bit by saying 70% had been done before so it was really just a small step to take it a little further upstream.

Third, "I looked carefully at both Zed and V-drive and saw lines that I thought were possible, but the complete lack of support- not even having somebody to bounce ideas off of, or somebody simply be there to share the stress - changes the way you make decisions."
I agree that having a big group for safety and moral makes a big difference but why did he focus on his solo 92 descent? To me it reads like, if I had a bigger group then I would have run it. He could have mentioned that even with an experienced crew of 5 in 1998, plus a film crew and a helicopter, no one ran it. Frankly I think a helicopter doesn't make a huge difference since it would be hard to pluck a swimmer from the river and you’re still a long way from help but it's a lot more than Ben had for safety.

Finally, "Basically, it’s a different river and it does not care if Ben or anybody else ran the rapids at half that flow" when he talks about doing the run at 25,000 cfs. Again it's true, but it just feels like it is taking something away from the Site Zed descent, by saying you did this Ben but you still haven't run it at 25,000 cfs. He didn't need to mention Ben, he could have just said he is excited to see what comes next, who and how long it will take for a second Site Zed descent, will it be at higher or lower levels etc, that alone could happen next year or it could be 5 - 10 years down the road.

Most of this article and some others he's written read like a backhanded compliment. A lot of people have mentioned how editors can change how the article feels with slight wording changes but I have similar feelings about other articles Doug has written. Worst was an entire book chapter "The Real Measure of Skill" where he publicly bashes a group who attempted the Stikine and bailed, after one of the members privately emailed him for advice. Some of his points were valid, but some assumptions were wrong, as was the medium for expressing them.
To be fair to Ammons and everyone else, I have huge respect for everyone who has paddled that river, especially the pioneers, including Lesser, Munsey, Lindgren, Moffat, Fournay, and yes Ammons and many others. It's mentioned a few times how Doug's solo run was at 4000 cfs. Historical data from the Telegraph Creek gauge shows the river was running at around 225 cms the days he was on it, which works out to 8000 cfs. Even if you account for the tributaries entering below the canyon I would still estimate at least 6000 - 7000 in the canyon when he was in there. I'm not sure about 20 years ago but in my experience, while overall the river is less pushy some rapids including The Wall, one of the biggest un-scoutable must-run rapids in there, are harder at low flows.

Sorry for the long post.
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Old 10-18-2012   #38
Chesterfield, Virginia
Paddling Since: 2010
Join Date: Jan 2012
Posts: 16
Perhaps we need a little more rain, so we can paddle instead of pick apart Doug's comments. I have never had the privledge of paddling with Doug, but I met him a year ago and he certainly seemed like a descent guy and I don't think he diminished any of Ben's accomplishments with his comments. Perhaps some folks are looking a little too hard for an insult, and I don't consider his comments a "rant". Just my 2 cents.
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Old 10-18-2012   #39
Mad Scientist/Creeker
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 803
Mikkel, well said. This is the type of breakdown that I think Doug could actually learn something from himself. He's the type of guy who would not intentionally backhand compliment anyone. The focus of a lot of his writings and philosophies is the progression of our sport and the realities at the "cutting edge." Because he has great ideas on these subjects and on what the river means to us as paddlers, people respect what he has to say. But this also means people are going to be paying attention and analyzing everything he says. A few poor assumptions, some unintentional disparaging comments about failed attempts and a reliance too much on his own experience as a barometer for the progression of the sport has turned a lot of the younger generation away from his great ideas about how we should approach the sport, ways we might improve how we talk about the sport and ways in which we might respect the river more.
Evan Stafford
Cub boater: "What do the spiders mean?" Old fart boater: "Trust your intuition." CRCII
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Old 10-19-2012   #40
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Paddling Since: 2009
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 18
You guys are a bunch of babies. I know you're used to ass slapping your river brah's every time someone pulls a wicked sidesurf, so the absence of this in Ammon's piece may seem rude to you, but that was never the point of what he wrote. There's a lot of hype around Site Zed and Ben Marr's descent, and most people have very little knowledge of the actual rapid. Ammons simply described the challenges in the rapid, used his 1992 descent as a reference and illustration of the decision making process and why he personally had not run it (since he can't speak for why other people haven't run it) and gave us all some context and insight into the achievement as well as the analysis behind Ben's descent and the conditions that made it possible. Now, I know, you all aren't used to actually thinking about what you're seeing 'cause the dubstep's just droppin' the bass so sik!, but that's all Ammons did. He also made a very simple point that no river the level of the Stikine is ever "conquered" as some seem to think lately, because flows change and rivers change, so there will always be more.

"Ben is not only a great paddler, but his group - a superlative team of world class paddlers - optimized the support, kept things lighter and super positive, allowed detailed analysis of lines and encouragement - all of which supports a great run like Ben had."
-I don't know what more you guys want, maybe your Dad just didn't hug you enough.

There's no rant, no beef, no dissing here so stop trying to turn this into The Jersey Shore.

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