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Old 04-28-2006   #1
Krynn's Avatar
Pueblo, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1991
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 46
What is Westwater like at 10,000

I have a permit for Westwater May 5. It is 9850 now it should stay about there becuase next week is not going to be terribly hot. It might go up to the teens.

I love big water.

Do you need to scout Skull. Can you still pull over on river left to scout it.

That canyon looks like a ton of fun with a lot of water in it.

Thanks in advance.

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Old 04-28-2006   #2
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 273
it is real good,

lots of swirlys and great eddy lines. however i will warn that we had an epic there a couple of years ago. Lets just say if you flip a raft, it is not advisable to let the raft just float down the mighty colorado to be picked up in Moab at a later date. We ended up camping on the rim above skull (after a heated royal rumble) and then flipped again the next morning to top off the extravaganza, before I get angry at past mistakes I will end this rant. . .

Granted it is still 'westwater' but there is a little bit more consequese if you mess up, and there are proven holes that will flip a 'gear raft' with 9 people aboard.

Just make sure you don't have an idiot running the trip and you'll be fine.


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Old 04-28-2006   #3
Join Date: Feb 2005
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Westwater from 10k up is interestingly pushy in a raft, with lots of swirlies and fairly good sized waves. Some of the old favorites wash out and as you would expect, in a few locations there are surprise waves and eddies where there ususally are none. The kayakers who've been with me at those levels worked a lot just to stay upright on the eddy lines. Seems that whether a kayaker enjoys WW at those levels is a matter of personal taste.

I've seen people who flipped in Funnel Falls still in the water at Skull. You do not want to go into the Room of Doom at that level in a raft. Even if you come through Skull hole upright, you'll be derigging your boat and a hauling it up over the cliff to re-launch down around Bowling Alley.

Skull can be scouted -- the big rock pile will be there at any level. The problem for rafts is pulling back out and getting all the way over to river right to begin your pull left to break the lateral and miss the hole. Lots of folks miss that pull, and the lateral from the left surfs them right into the hole. The hole is pretty intimidating, as are the huge pile off the Rock of Shock and the eddy fence into the Room.

You're right, it is a lot of fun at that level, and even if the wind comes up you don't have to worry about working too hard on the flat water at the end.


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Old 04-28-2006   #4
Caspian's Avatar
Englewood, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1978
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Like Rich, I also have seen folks swim from Funnel all the way through to Skull - they were not the most experienced folks, but the current is strong in that section and if swimmers don't really want it, they won't be out of the drink very quickly.

I have only rowed Skull a few times at moderate flows (3-5K, but have a lot of runs down in a kayak at levels from 1700 to 15K), but personally would never scout Skull at any level if I was rowing, and especially not at the present levels. I think it would be much harder to make it over to the right wall, then back left again. Better to follow another raft through and see how they line up, where they start to pull and drive left.

For kayakers the bigger water is awesome. One of my funnest days ever was Westy at 15K. The eddylines are "remarkable". My friend had a whirlpool pop up under him and we were all of a sudden conversing with an 18" difference in height. Don't take hardboaters who don't have confidence rolling in big water and big eddylines, or it could be a long day.
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Old 04-28-2006   #5
Fort Collins, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1989
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frankly, if you are a 4+ boater i think you will find it very boring..however the beauty of the canyon is pretty much worth the trip..i have done it last year at 15,000 and this year at 8,000...skull is a simple move from river right to left and the hole is not retenative even though it looks like it is..stay out of the room of doom or it will be a long hike around the exit...paddle safe....cheers
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Old 04-30-2006   #6
Join Date: Apr 2006
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just got back from there the other day.. Running around 10,500.. All I can say is super fun!!! Great waves, swift water..

We did have 2 boats flip in Skull.. 3 out of 4 had never been down there. All experienced boaters, just both caught the left side of the hole. It breaks laterly, and surges. So it's never quite the same.. I hit it in the same spot my buddy did infront of me.. He almost went over.. I hit it, and got worked.. flipped me over instantly..

Just follow the advice on here.. You'll be fine.. Everything else can be skirted quite easily.. We didn't scout Skull, due to it being hard to get back to the right.. Well know I know..

Safe travels, and happy boating.. I can't wait to get another go at it.
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Old 04-30-2006   #7
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Farmington, New Mexico
Paddling Since: 1990
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Posts: 140
rowed a gear boat last year at 11,000. ditto on the long swims, our last 'yaker swam in funnel and had to swim/hike down to skull to meet the group... no fun.... lost his boat. The skull lateral is easy in a raft if you pull hard on a downstream ferry. the plastic paddlers didn't seem to have a problem getting into position, though. they all nailed it if i remember right.

be safe/sane/use float bags/swim hard/drink up after.
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Old 05-01-2006   #8
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Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1995
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I've seen people who flipped in Funnel Falls still in the water at Skull. You do not want to go into the Room of Doom at that level in a raft. Even if you come through Skull hole upright, you'll be derigging your boat and a hauling it up over the cliff to re-launch down around Bowling Alley.

Man that would suck. I've not looked to closely at that. does it involve technical rock climbing?

The room of doom, while intimidating at high flows, is no deal breaker. A good kyaker can ferry in and out at will. The pucker factor is a little high, but its not that hard.

It is difficult to ferry out in a raft, but I cant imagine carrying out as an option. If you find your raft in the room at high flows, have someone rope you up to the highest spot in the room and start your ferry from there. I've seen this succeed at 10K and 14K. that big pile that forms on the rock of shock is more forgiving than it looks. Your raft will almost certainly pick a side as opposed to getting stuck in a "splat".

That being said, this was the scene of a tragedy several years ago, when someone got tangled with a rope and the raft went one way and the swimmer went the other.

Swims at high water could certainly be lethal. IT is not for the under-experienced or out of shape boater. It is definately not for your dog.

Be safe

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Old 05-01-2006   #9
Join Date: Feb 2005
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Dave is not far off as to kayaks having a much easier time, but the degree of difficulty in getting out of the Room with a raft at high water is not to be discounted.

You are fighting logs, branches, maybe dead animals, and all that stuff swirling around keeping you from getting your oars in or out of the water. I've seen the entire Room nothing but a completely full mass of rotating wood, soda pop bottles, and other flotsam. We re-flipped a raft in there once and it was just jammed with sticks and small logs in and around every strap, crack and crevice -- looked as if the floating mat of debris might have been a foot or more thick.

I've seen people line their boat up to the top of the Room and then try to ferry out. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't, and above 10k I don't imagine it would. If you can't get your oars in the water, you're not going to be able to break an eddy fence that sometimes has a two foot height differential between the Room and the main current. Has to be seen to be believed.

It's true that the Rock of Shock is only going to flip you, but you may then go in the Room, and just to the left of it is a powerful current of water that is sort of scary all on its own. I once saw an oar from a flipped raft get sucked straight down into that seam of downward current and about 5-6 seconds later it shot out of the river about 75 feet downstream like a sub-launched ballistic missle. Very powerful forces are at work here.

The fellow who died in the Room in 2000 or 2001 didn't have his raft bow line stowed. He flipped in Skull, the line wrapped around his ankle, he went into the Room, the boat went around the Rock, and then the rope wedged in a crack. They cut the raft loose and the rope still held him. They were not able to get anyone down the rock face in the Room to cut him loose before his PFD was stripped off him and he drowned. Bad business.

Different people with different gear and experience levels will regard Westwater differently.


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Old 05-01-2006   #10
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 127
Just got off westwater this weekend. I think it was just under 10K on Sunday when we ran skull and the others but I've done it also at 12k and 18k. Wouldn't suggest pulling over to scout skull in a raft. Like everyone else is saying start right and get momentum moving left and you should be fine. If it goes up more then surprise rapid develops quite a big hole which you should watch out for. Be careful with the magnetic wall, you want to be moving from the middle to the right and punch through the lateral otherwise it can typewriter you over to wall and flip the raft.
Good luck and enjoy!

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