Hey Roy, I'm glad you've healed up. Injuries are never great, and I think we've all had our fair share. We're hoping to make a trip to your home state in early March. Let's meet up and paddle some. I'll change out the name of the rapid for you. We've been calling it Lippman's Destruction.
As for the post in general, I think I can clarify some events, and comments.
I've known Roy for many years of travels and paddling in Colorado, since Roy would always come up in the summer when AZ was dry. He was always telling me about amazing runs down in AZ - multi-day creeking missions in the off-season, and I wanted it. Years later myself (or a friend or someone) was checking out AW's Little Colorado into the Grand Canyon. The V+ rating was just what we were looking for and weeks of planning went into a trip the 3rd week of March.
A week prior to the trip Steve Ward and Jared Johnson ran the river and hiked out. JJ called me and told me it was not worth it. He said it was twice as brutal as Upper Cherry Creek, and the whitewater cruxed at class IV.
Our original group fell apart, and TG, Evan Stafford, and myself decided to go somewhere a mere 3 days before departure. Plans for an early Cali trip were scrapped after I had already packed my truck to leave, and with nothing to lose, we left Wednesday night from Denver and ended up in Flagstaff the next morning, following beta from Tyler that something might be running. We called Tyler the next day and he graciously gave us a napkin full of info.
We drove to the Upper Upper Salt, spent two days there, and then spent a night in Payson. We awoke to rain clouds over the Mogollon Rim, and drove there, with beta from Tyler that their may be a 300 fpm section on Christopher (one of about ten things on a napkin). A book which we bought had a picture of a dryfall, and we decided to check it out, since we had nothing else to do that day.
It went, and the rest of the story is on coloradokayaking.com.
As for timing, I think we ran Christopher on March 20th, or somewhere around there, so it was a good month later. It only ran because of the rain on top of melting snow.
Tyler, Roy and others knew the potential of the run when they put on for their first attempt. They ran the first four drops (maybe five). The drop that Roy pitoned looked very shallow to us when we scouted, but we probably had 20 cfs less flow, which is substantial on that run.
The majority of the whitewater on Christopher was below where their descent ended, including a steep tripple drop, some narrow steep slides, a 8' to 3' double drop, and then the crux 15' falls, 35' falls, 20' falls. A few more drops were below that, some portages, and the end.
I don't know what qualifies as a true first descent. As for the first group that first ran the creek in its entirety, and were the first to run most of the drops, I think we did, but under ironic and lucky circumstances. We definetly didn't commit the leg work that is normaly required in finding and scoping a first descent, we just put on and did it. Fortunately our scout made it obvious that the drops were shallow, because of a visible shelf in the cliff wall that slanted into the water and towards the base of the falls.
Don't know if this helps. The thrill of a first descent for me isn't actually about who was first. It's more about the excitement of finding something new, not knowing any beta about any prior first descents or attempts. Paddling into a gorge, with zero knowledge of what lies in the walls is an amazing feeling. I guess the lack of knowledge that forces your group to figure it out on your own is really what makes it feel like a first descent, and both groups had that. Our trip just ended with much more success.
More importantly, people should be fighting over the second descent, which I'm guessing will happen this year.