Originally Posted by Favre
deepsouthpaddler - I would honestly say that Husum is one of the most violent commercially run drops on the planet. It isn't a huge drop, but I would take my grandparents down Lava Falls. I would never take them down Husum. After fifteen years of commercial guiding experience down big water Payette, I must admit I would be nervous to raft Husum.
yesimapirate - while the entrance to Sweet's is more tricky, assuming you make the move and stick the line, it is far more smooth than Husum Falls. A good guide will make it a smooth ride most of the time.
Husum is a roll of the dice. No matter how lined up you are, the possibility of an injury I believe is much higher than the two examples I mentioned. The forces that customers are vulnerable to while hitting the base of the falls are extreme.
The point I am trying to make is that Husum Falls is a concussion machine. In taking "standard lines," the collisions between bodies and the sheer violence it creates between the passengers of a raft is far above the scale of anything on the Grand Canyon, or even the Upper Gauley.
Can we get any local White Salmon guides to chime in?
I have been down Husum falls many times, as a guide and kayaking. I have never been down the Gauley or down the Grand, so I can't compare. I have no idea if it is the highest vertical drop commercially run in the US, it is only about eight to ten feet, but almost totally vertical. Husum falls is a pretty straight forward class IVish drop, with class five consequences at times. I have personally been worked pretty good in that drop after flipping or falling out of a raft. One of the worst swims I have ever seen somebody take was at the bottom of Husum falls. A good friend of mine fell out of the raft I was guiding, dislocated his shoulder and got re-circulated several times. That was only one of two or three times on the water that I really thought somebody was going to die. I have flipped a raft many times going over Husum, and have seen lots of swims that make you very nervous as a commercial guide.
Good kayakers that have never done much commercial guiding can have their perception of danger skewed a bit. Think a certain rapid is easy in your kayak? OK, try it in a 14 foot raft with six older fat people that won't paddle, don't understand the dangers of whitewater, can't keep themselves in the boat, and can't self rescue.
Husum falls is trivial for a decent kayaker, and generally not that dangerous even for commercial rafting trips, but people do get thrown violently forward, and the re-circulation can be deadly at the right water level. It is one of those drops that, on a commercial rafting trip, I would usually choose to portage, because the possibility of injury is pretty high.
But it is right at the end of the trip and when you nail it and nobody is hurt, the custies are so stoked, your tip potential just went up about 50%.