Originally Posted by rivermanryan
Anyone have a record of how many fatalities occured at Quartzite prior to 1994? From the photo, it looked like a nasty hole, but not totally terminal, just curious.
I have the really old Dana Hollister Salt River Guide, and it only says "people drowned and many nearly drowned." I had heard there were three confirmed fatalities there, two on one trip and another on a trip after it became considered a more or less mandatory portage. I'm not sure if that number is still valid, but it wasn't like 20 or anything like that.
I saw it several times at flows between 4,000 and 18,000cfs, and the ledge hole was decidedly deadly. We once lost a boat into it that was being re-rigged in the eddy, and even with 3 lines on it, the hole still destroyed the frame and popped one tube before we could extract it safely. It wasn't coming out on its own. That was before we learned the awesome lining system for the right side. I ran it in a kayak at 18,000 and it was a very thin line between "no problem" and "you're f*&^ed" Just FYI, it was still easily lined on the right even at that unusually high flow. But, a guy in a party in front of us unloaded his gear and passengers and rowed an Achilles down the same line I paddled, and he skated through. Big problem for his group at that level was that all 3 rafts then flipped in Corkscrew, which must have made for unbelievable carnage. By the time we finished setting up and lining our 4 rafts on the right and being psyched out by what had happened to them in Corkscrew, we finally caught up to them at the end of the narrows downstream. They were badass whipped.
Somewhere, in an old Paddler / River Runner Mag there is an awesome photo of the late Dugald Bremner dropping in to the hole at monumental flows. I think it was a brutally long ride, and he swam, but he lived. You might be able to search that pic online somehow.
This has been a great thread, brought back a lot of fond memories of the Salt, both before and after the senseless destruction of a spectacular rapid. Luckily for me, my wife scored a permit for next week, there's still decent water, and we're off to make some more memories and pay our respects to a dear, departed, badly missed old friend: Quartzite Falls. R.I.P.