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Old 04-07-2011   #1
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: Apr 2011
Posts: 6
Westwater canyon @ 20,000 cfs

Hi all,

New to the forum has anyone been down Westwater canyon at 20,000 cfs? I have done plenty of class III - IVs. I have a chance to go June 3rd. Some people say it is dangerous. Comments?

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Old 04-07-2011   #2
Conifer, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2004
Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 131
when is WestWater most rowdy?
Westwater > 20,000

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Old 04-07-2011   #3
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1999
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Posts: 6
I have heard it's a toilet flush down the canyon at those flows and you are scrambling to keep your boat off the canyon walls.
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Old 04-07-2011   #4
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Glenwood Springs, Colorado
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Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 100
There is a large wave/hole in funnel left of center, but more or less a flush with very pushy eddy lines and large boils.
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Old 04-07-2011   #5
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 883

Kayakers will work to stay upright. Rafters will work to keep the doggoned thing pointed in the right direction.

It's pushy, with lots of swirlies and surprise eddies, and laterals in places where there usually isn't anything. Skull will show you a huge pulsing wave off the Rock of Shock, a massive surgng eddy fence between the Room of Doom and the main current, and a terrifying toilet bowl immediately downstream from the Rock.

Otherwise, nothing very notable.

As it gets higher, things do tend to smooth out a bit. For instance in the 25k range, there is a nice clear left run at Funnel Falls instead of having to fuss around with the right side.


Rich Phillips
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Old 04-07-2011   #6
Paonia, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1982
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 38
It is managable depending on your skill level. Normally above 20,000 there tends to be an excessive amount of debris (trees, cows, & the mix). I personally feel around 15,500 is WW pushiest level. Marc
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Old 04-07-2011   #7
Golden, Colorado
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 831
Dangerous around 20,000? I think so. Swimming would be bad.

Someone with big water experience will probably have no problem in a raft or a kayak. But I wouldn't want to swim it no matter how experienced. I'd shit my pants if I swam above Skull.

The only times I've done it > 20,000 was a while back. I was comfortable on my local low volume class IV back then and I was kind of scared on Westwater at that flow. None of the other kayakers I was with were nervous so it was my low fear threshold. I asked them if they were scared because I was a bundle of nerves after a whirlpool that spun off an eddy line took me and my boat down deep for the count. They said, nope this is fun

If you are comfortable in class IV and have big water experience then no sweat. But if borderline in class IV and/or don't have any big water experience then 20,000 cfs in a kayak will be a rush for sure and if you swim in some spots you will be scared for sure.
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Old 04-07-2011   #8
Durango, CO
Paddling Since: 1997
Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 144
the only time i've done westwater was at ~22000 and it wasn't so bad.

the long continuous rapids above skull was pretty big and fast with no eddies, but had no problem (raft) reading and running.

Skull was huge and the rock-of-shock/room-of-doom was pretty nauseating...but getting Left wasn't so hard if you had patience. there were no eddies (that we saw) above Skull to scout, but one on the Left at the bottom of the rapid. before you knew it we were in there.

Then, we kept waiting for another IV...(Sock it to me, perhaps?) but it was completely washed out, just big eddy lines and crazy boils.

we did all of Westwater as a day run. crazy fun and fast
dont stress it too much

EDIT TO ADD: yeah. um. i think i made it sound TOO easy. it's still effn' huge. swimming would be a big no-no as would going in over your head on this one. it's really big and really fast and there isn't a lot of places to pick-up the pieces after carnage. if you had a flip/swimmer in the continuous rapids above skull you'd be extra specially fckd.
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Old 04-07-2011   #9
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Denver-ish, Colorado
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Posts: 739
More washed out than dangerous above about 17k. Still big and VERY pushy. Skull tends to still be flippy!
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Old 04-07-2011   #10
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Grand Junction, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1978
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 523
Agree with all of the above. WW is most challenging in the mid to upper teens, then begins to wash out around 20K, BUT, the boils, eddy lines and surprisingly strong laterals keep it interesting and it is fast, pushy and swirly and not a good swim as there are few places to stop. "T" up for all waves. Time yourself well at Skull Don't cut left too early - - that lateral is tricky - - but don't get too far right or stay on the right side too long either. Just look at the water and go where it appears obvious you should be going and DON"T BE TIMID about it. Pull hard at the right time. It's all in the timing.

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