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Old 06-07-2012   #1
East of the Pine beatle, Colorado
Join Date: Jan 2012
Posts: 1,362
Westwater vs Browns vs Royal Gorge

I'm looking to advance to class IV this summer- I've rowed individual class IV rapids, but not full river sections. I'd love some feedback from folks who are familiar with these runs- a personal rating based on your experience as to which is the most difficult. I'd also love some info on what to look out for on each- "don't get caught left on Seidel's at such and such a water level..." etc. I'm rowing a 13' Sotar cat- and trying to move up to the next level in a responsible and timely way.

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Old 06-07-2012   #2
glenn's Avatar
BZN, Montana
Paddling Since: 2008
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 1,489
Browns is easier than Westwater is easier than Royal Gorge. None of them will be real deal IV runs with the flows from now until next spring. Westwater is bigger water and has potential for complex logistical issues if there is carnage whereas the royal gorge has unnatural debris in the river which could physically harm people and boats if lines don't go so well. With that said, they are all great trips and IMHO westwater will do the best in this low water year with royal gorge also remaining somewhat fun and quite floatable into very low flows. Best of luck.

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Old 06-07-2012   #3
Pagosa Springs, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1998
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 17
Browns is class 3, westwater is class 3 with a lot of flatwater but good scenery. The royal gorge is class 4 over 1200 cfs. That is just my take, no way I would consider any of these to be class 4 this year. Numbers is class 4 but not really at low water. Run Pine creek for some low water fun. The Poudre is up and probably your best chance to get a class 4 run. Get it quick though.
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Old 06-07-2012   #4
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Eagle, Idaho
Paddling Since: '78
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 794
The Gorge was my "backyard" run growing up. Its tons of fun at low flows and will test your skillz on the sticks. Sounds like it'll be a good year to polish your rock-dodging.
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Old 06-07-2012   #5
Salida, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1997
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 167
Sunshine falls in the royal gorge at these low flows in an oar boat will test your skills and make you improve your skills to become a class IV boater.
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Old 06-07-2012   #6
dillon, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Feb 2008
Posts: 281
Westwater (class 3)is easier than Brown's (class 3) which is easier than the Gorge (class 3 with two class 4 rapids). If you want to run class 4 the numbers, slaughterhouse, piedra are good. Try to be careful not to look at commercial ratings when you are gauging a stretch of whitewater. Check out the "new testament" for detailed ratings and descriptions. I totally agree that sunshine for a raft is a class 4 rapid at low water (450-550) when it is way more challenging than at higher flows.
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Old 06-07-2012   #7
Ft Collins, Colorado
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 198

The difficulty of all these run is strongly dependent on level. This year, run them all! None of them are dangerous at levels this year. If you're concerned, then it probably won't be a problem. Just go for it.

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Old 06-08-2012   #8
niwot, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1978
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 96
versus versus versus

I guess the only thing to add to what's been said here is the obvious- if you swim in Westy- you may swim for a while and possibly lose your gear- at least for a while if you get separated. If you swim in Browns or the gorge- and you lose your gear- you walk out on the tracks. Tougher to lose gear in Browns but in high water, gear in the gorge can go all the way to canon city. I speak from experience (not my gear...). Low water gorge is no cakewalk though but small cat should be fun. Find someone to run with who has done it to tag along with and there are plenty of people available at either Browns or Gorge. By the way- if you are moving up in class- find someone to run with that you trust who will push you- but not get you injured along the way. Run stuff close to civilization- won't be a wilderness experience- but you won't be potentially getting in over your head and need to be choppered out..........

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