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Old 03-01-2010   #11
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 47
PM me. I'll get you some stikine details

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Old 03-02-2010   #12
Paddling Since: 96
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 1,373
I know some of the people who've run it, some with success, some without. It strikes me that its not the kind of quest one builds a team for from the internet.

Also, IMO, running the Futa, Zambezi and Black Canyon are not indicators of the capacity to survive the Stikine at all. I could be wrong, but yer avatar looks like the seal launch after a portage around Zeta on the Futa... That rapid is cake compared to the Stikine.

Not trying to bust on you, but the very, very best have been humbled in there.

Respect it. Good luck


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Old 03-02-2010   #13
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 47
Here's a blog post of our Stikine trip this past September. The river is not out of reach for those who are truly committed to kayaking. The Stikine has two equally important fronts: paddling and planning. You have to be willing to take some hits , ride some big holes and hang on to your paddle. The planing part just got a lot easier now that there's a gauge at Telegraph Creek. The weather is volatile, so have your finger on the pulse and pray for high pressure. The Sacred Headwaters area is awe-inspiring and is endangered on multiple fronts of energy development. Hopefully the Stikine will be left alone,, in all its glory.
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Old 03-08-2010   #14
Missoula, Montana
Paddling Since: 1980
Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 4
Some background on the Stikine

This is a reply to the post about the Stikine. People were being directed to my website for background; apparently somebody linked to an article I'd written (the text to an article for Kayak Session a couple years ago).

Frankly, at first I thought the post was somebody having fun, but I guess it's legit, so what's said below assumes the person was serious (if he's still pulling our leg, then that's pretty amusing.

Kayaking is about freedom to do what we choose, so I'm not going to dissuade the original poster about trying the Stikine. If he feels he's ready, then more power to him. But I think a few comments and a little perspective are in order.

Trying to get infomation and potential partners for the Stikine by posting on the internet is approximately like finding info and partners for a trip to climb Everest on a climbing forum. Maybe it will work, but it's not a very serious way to proceed given the objective difficulty of the place you're going.

Outside of the Tsangpo, the Stikine is the closest thing we have in kayaking to a major Himalayan climb. The great things about it are these: it is very hard, but nearly every rapid is runnable, it's a stunningly beautiful and intimidating place, and finally, anybody can drive up the Cassiar highway and put on. There aren't any permits needed, just stop at the bridge, pack your boat, and head down the river.

But if you do that, you'd better have a real good idea of what's down there. For example, it's harder than any of the Sierra multidays, and a totally different kind of paddling. It's certainly doable by a good, highly experienced team of paddlers. But there have been epics in there. If Bob McDougall and more recently Jay Kinkaid and Taylor Robertson, can get their butts handed to them in a sling and see God, then the rest of us can too. So keep that in mind. When people like Rob Lesser, Lars Holbeck, Tommy Hilleke, John Grace, Tyler Bradt, Oli Grau, Olaf Obsommer, Scott Lindgren, and Charlie Munsey come out of there with their eyes wide, then that should tell you something. Lars once told me "Sometime I should go back to see if it really is as scary as I remember." Scott told me "It was like being in Vietnam and coming back alive." Charlie just said - in great Munsey style - "It's still the truth". Just last year Tyler Bradt emailed me to say it was an incredible run that deserved everything ever said about it, and whose exploration seemed so difficult it baffled him.

It's a place to plan carefully for and savor, and a place where you need to decide what paddling means to you. If you find somebody who knows it, and follow them down without doing the thoughtful sifting that should be done, you might make it to the take out. If you don't, then I guarantee you won't be a happy man. If you do, you'll probably say "That was the most outrageous river I've ever done", but you'll also have a trip that means less than if you treated it like your own first descent. Have the courage to make it your own first descent. You already know its been done, so you know more than we did. Figure it out yourself, like we did. If you approach it that way, it will be the hardest thing you ever did, and the most meaningful.

Some specs: It's a 60 mile long, three or four day wilderness Class V+/VI run, big water, cold, very committing, vertical walled in many places, hard scouting, and portages; if you have to climb out and if you find a place to make it up to the rim, you'll be in the middle of the Canadian wilderness. Ask Jay and Taylor what that's like.

The poster says he's done the Black Canyon of the Gunnison - a great run. The Black canyon would be something like the Stikine if it had about 10,000 cfs in it. Think about that. It's on a different order. It's not a guidebook run, or a place to have a pickup team. The poster also mentions the Fut - another great river. However, it gets commercial traffic and guided runs, all its major rapids have been run by an innertuber, or so I hear from a knowledgable source. The Grand Canyon of the Stikine will never be run by a tuber, nor will it ever be done as a guided run, nor will there ever - and I mean ever - be a commercial run done on it. I'd say it is between one and two grades harder than the rivers the poster mentions, and longer, more exposed, and sustained. When the best paddlers in the world come out of there collectively shaking their heads and blown away, then you should realize it's a different universe.

A doable one, so be inspired and prepare for it.

In my latest book ("Whitewater Philosophy") I have a chapter titled "The real measure of skill." It is a letter to a guy who wrote me after his team tried the Stikine. They made it down only the first three big rapids (out of about 25), were slammed, hurt, bailed out and got lost up on the rim, and ended up four days later getting rescued by a helicopter after they'd run out of food. It is a frank discussion of what's needed to approach the run, and what I consider to be "the real measure of skill". The real measure of skill is not what you do when you're at your best, it's what you can do when you're at your worst - hurt, beat, lost confidence, and still have to rise to the occasion. If your worst isn't up to the Stikine, then my suggestion is not to go until you have reached that level.

Hopefully in the next few months I'll (finally) publish a book on the Stikine that's been written for about ten years. It will give a riverrunning history and an appreciation for its stunning grandeur, intimidation, and difficulty. The second half will be the story of my solo run. That book and the chapter I mention above will answer some people's questions. Check out blogs with descriptions of individual runs done over the last three or four years (e.g., by Austin Rathman, Ali Marshall). My website has the general article which will give you a little taste (see My book "Laugh of the Water Nymph" is available there, and has a story about another trip we did in there in 1998. "Whitewater Philosophy" is available there. Scott Lindgren has footage; so check out his website, John Grace at Lunch Video Magazine has at least two shows that include their runs in there, with Hilleke, DeLavergne, and McDermott, I believe in 2004 and 2005.

I don't believe that kayaking is defined by the harder things; its beauty is there for all of us at every level. The Stikine is a special place, and it should be treated like that - both for your own safety and life, and as an expression of the wonderful experiences our sport gives us, inspiration that draws all of us to the sport. If you want to take on the Stikine, then you really need to be ready for it. You should train for it in the same vein you'd train if you were going to do Everest. Tossing it on a trip you've planned to do the Tat, as if it's just another run, is foolish. I've been there four times and I wouldn't do that. I'd recommend about one or two seasons of really hard, top end paddling, technical big water Class V, aiming to peak for the Stikine - including a few weeks, or month on the NF Payette, which was always our training river. The post is flippant and casual, and the Stikine isn't a place for that if you want to live a long and healthy life.

Doug Ammons
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Old 03-08-2010   #15
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 47
Doug,, thanks for chiming in. It's always a pleasure to read your words. So True..
Here's a redirect to a Stikine done by mere mortals. All due to the leg work of Rob L, Doug, Lars H, Don B, John W and Rick F.
Buenas Linas!
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Old 03-09-2010   #16
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Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 1,128
I love that in out sport some of the legends still take the time to write responses to our posts. I doubt that I will ever decide to run the Stikine, but I enjoy reading about those who have and will. Thank you Doug.
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Old 03-09-2010   #17
Paddling Since: 96
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 1,373
Always a pleasure to read what you have to say and how you say it Doug. Thank you for this response and for all your other writings.

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Old 03-09-2010   #18
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Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2004
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 747
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Fantastic post Doug, thanks for chiming in.
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Old 03-09-2010   #19
wannabe kayaker
Dayton, Ohio
Paddling Since: 2006
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 56
Thanks Doug. I know I'll never paddle the Stikine, but I eat up any reading or footage about it that I come across. Looking forward to that book.
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Old 03-09-2010   #20
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Paddling Since: 1993
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 6
Hmmmm...that sounds like a challenge. Never say never...

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