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Old 05-28-2013   #131
Dipshit with the most.
carvedog's Avatar
Bellevue, Idaho
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I am never satisfied. As soon as I get off one trip I start plotting another.

Must. Keep. Boating.

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Old 05-28-2013   #132
I'm wrong 50% of the time
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Originally Posted by lhowemt View Post
Then I guess no one counts? I stand by what I say, each effort is another step and a first attempt is huge (even if aborted whether that was a conventional raft or Mark's attempt in a cat- often stepping away is the hardest thing to do) and the first descent is huge too, but I don't think it is diminished by the first attempt. Maybe someday someone will fit an inflatable through that slot, and if they ever do it will be the first "full descent" yes and equally more bad ass than the prior effort. Rivers are akin to mountains , just another type of exploration with successes built on prior knowledge and new gear. While the efforts of early explorers are momentous and all future attempts and successes are built on them coming in and saying the first inflatable first D was 27 years too late is more than weak in my book. I appreciate the info if your point is to note their place in history, the inflatable world certainly needs to keep that knowledge esp as it has taken so long to take the next step. Kudos to them for sure, especially for being on the leading edge with the kayaks (and women!)! For now I am just incredibly disappointed in the whitewater world for being so negative on this significant achievement.
By this logic, Powell did not complete a first D of Cataract or the Grand in 1869 or 1871/72. minutia noted.

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Old 05-28-2013   #133
Palisade, Colorado
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My first time seeing a "creature craft" is not a raft any more than the Apollo space capsule is an aeroplane...
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Old 05-28-2013   #134
Lewiston, Idaho
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Originally Posted by slickhorn View Post
But just as Mallory didn't get the first ascent of Everest, neither can these folks claim first raft D of the stikine. .
Some believe that he did make it to the top and died on his way down? But thats for anther thread.
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Old 05-28-2013   #135
Golden, Colorado
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Originally Posted by rocketbox View Post
Some believe that he did make it to the top and died on his way down? But thats for anther thread.
On Everest, the summit is half way. I'd put dying on the way down after summiting in the same category as getting helicoptered out before reaching the takeout. Unsuccessful attempt.
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Old 05-29-2013   #136
San Alfonso, Cajon del Maipo, Chile
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Hi All,

My reason for posting on this forum was (and I say it again) to inject a little history of Stikine river running into this discussion. I didn't jump in here to claim a first descent, or debate what a first descent is or isn't, or what a raft is or isn't, or to dis the CC crew (which I have not done nor would I ever do). But since Ihowemt (Laura) seems hell bent on a debate, and has decided that my bringing this history to light is ''weak'', hey babe - lets have at it. In the meantime Laura, please have a look at a dictionary since it appears that you are unclear about the meaning of the word descent; and while you're at it, do a little research on how the term 'first descent' has been commonly used throughout the history of river running. To my knowledge, no one has appointed you to be the person in charge of deciding what these words and terms mean, so I'll simply say that I disagree with your definition - as does every other significant river historian - and leave it at that. I'll finish this point of disagreement by also saying that I have not claimed that my team made a first descent of the complete Stikine canyon. My first posting has made this clear. I'd appreciate it much if you didn't put words in my mouth.

If you are upset by what some have posted about the creature craft crew, don't confuse me with them - some of these posters are most definitely out of line and you have reason to be upset. It sounds like they are friends of yours, and you are justified in defending them. This team, without a single doubt (in my mind at least), has completed the first descent of the Grand Canyon of the Stikine in a creature craft(s). Anyone else who attempts the Stikine in a CC will be following in their wake. This is a note worthy accomplishment and deserves the respect of the river running community.

When I ran the CG of the Stikine in 1985, it was in a raft. An inflatable that you cannot roll, an inflatable that you cannot/should not seat belt yourself into, an inflatable that doesn't allow you to bounce like a beach ball over and around features if you fuck up your line, and an inflatable from which you cannot launch a drogue to drag you out of muncher holes. This is NOT a put down of CC's, these are just factual differences that are at play when it comes time to chose which boat you will launch at put-in. The GC of the Stikine was then, as it is now, a section of river in which a swim is most likely a death sentence. In this context, a kayak or a CC is a much more sensible craft to use than a raft, and I totally understand why this team would chose a CC rather than a raft.

In 1985, an inflatable contraption like a creature craft was not even on the horizon, it might as well have been a spaceship. In all honesty, if a CC had of existed then, it's possible that my team might have used one, though I doubt it. We were all very talented but foolhardy young men and women who found themselves born into the golden age of river exploration. We felt that we were on top of the heap - the best the sport had to offer... such is youth. As it was, in 1985, a SOTAR was exactly that... a State Of The Art Raft - the first of its kind - and prior to the invention of this marvel, what we accomplished on the Stikine would have been suicide to consider. Before self-bailers, I had run many class 5 rivers in bucket boats (a non self-bailer to you youngsters out there), including a number of first raft descents in California and Oregon. I still remember the first time I was in a SOTAR - it was a prototype and I was invited by my friend Jim Cassidy, its inventor, to test it on the first raft descent of the South Fork of the Salmon in Idaho. I was amazed at the difference that the raft made, and remember thinking that as a Class 5 raft guide, I was now suddenly out of a job - in my mind, with this new raft, anyone could run the shit.

This brings me to a very important point. The growth and advancement in river running has been primarily due to technological advances in equipment - not the 'size or weight of one's balls', or even the skill of the rafter/kayaker/creature crafter. Human beings haven't really physically evolved that much in the last million years or so - it's our knowledge (the collection of countless years of trial and error) and our toys that have made the advances. Don't mistake my meaning... it takes real skill to run the Stikine in a kayak or a raft without killing yourself in the attempt - (not having any experience with a CC, I'll not comment on how it compares to the others) but combined with this skill; it is the invention and use of helicopters, plastic kayaks, self-bailing rafts and now 'creature crafts' that have made the descents of the Stikine possible without a loss of life (until this past year). Were these tools not available, and the knowledge gained from those who came before us, any descent of the Stikine would not have been possible.

Each advancement has led to the next, each accomplishment has fueled the next, each paddler today stands firmly on the shoulders of the efforts and skills of those who came before them. No doubt someday a craft will be designed that can do all the CC can do and more - huck off 80 meter falls and run narrow slots while brewing a cup of espresso and blasting out your favorite tunes. It's really just a matter of time, and then the debate will be about some other minutia nonsense. Modern mountaineers marvel that the pioneers climbers did what they did with the gear of their time, so do the current crop of kayakers marvel that the first runs of the Stikine canyon were done in Perception Dancers. If Laura thinks it's weak to bring up the fact that an inflatable SOTAR ran the Stikine 27 years ago (and I'm damn proud to have been a part of that effort), so be it. Everybody's entitled to an opinion.

Whether a CC is a raft or not, I'll leave that up to future history books and the collective opinion of boaters everywhere to decide - which they will do regardless of my scribblings and rants. I will say however, that inter tubes, rubber duckies, inflatable canoes, inflatable kayaks (the list goes on) are all inflatables that can be rowed or paddled on a river - and I'll take a wild and reckless chance and say that it would be a huge stretch of the truth to call these craft 'rafts'. In the same vein, and for the time being, I'll exercise my right to stick to the most common usage of the term 'raft' and put the noble Creature Crafts into some other category of inflatable river craft. A car is not a motorcycle, a motorcycle is not a bicycle, etc. etc. Furthermore, in my humble unsolicited opinion, a 'raft' has yet to make a successful complete descent of the GC of the Stikine, and the CC team piloted the second 'inflatable craft' through the canyon... but who really cares, at a some point it is all semantics.

Of much more significance than the 'who' or the 'what' is the 'where'. The Stikine humbles the very best in the world of river running - no matter what boat you choose to run it in. Unless you have been there yourself, my words probably hold little weight - but if you have, you know exactly what I mean. This canyon is many steps above almost anything else that has currently been run (the Tsangpo Gorge in southeastern Tibet is the only other river section that comes to mind that may beat it) and has surprisingly held this title since it was first attempted in 1981. It is a 1000+ foot deep canyon walled by impossible sheer cliffs, filled with big volume Class 5+ rapids, and is dropped smack in the middle of the B.C. Canadian wilderness - one of the most remote and inhospitable regions of the planet. ''Serious'' and ''awesome'' have real meanings here - they're not just words to be tossed around after doing the latest local gnar run. The Stikine is a place where swimming is NEVER an option, where dying on the river is a very real and constant fear in the forefront of your mind, even for the very best paddlers. Rescue, even with a helicopter at hand, is not an option to be relied upon. The Stikine, my brothers and sisters, is the real deal.

Dan McCain
I heard about that raft descent and always wondered. That is pretty sweet though that they got a raft in there. Just for curiosity did the raft run a lot of the big rapids or the in between stuff. Also were there any flips on the trip. I have always wanted to pick someones brain a bit about this. Definitely pretty sweet they were in there in a conventional raft even if they only ran 70% (which is a lot when referring to the stikine).
Dan, since you asked, as I remember it, we ran every rapid that we came up against, with the exception of Site Zed, although after 27 years and thousands of river miles later, I admit that my memory of every event and decision on that trip is not 100% reliable. Unlike today, GoPros weren't around to record every moment to throw up on You Tube. We did not flip, if we had, there is an excellent chance that I wouldn't still be around to write this. We portaged Entry Falls, (as did two members of the kayak team), but returned and ran it later at the end of the trip when the water level had dropped a bit. The average flow was between 10,000 - 12,000 CFS but it jumped up and down significantly. In my estimation, we ran approximately 70-75% of the canyon, although some of the team reckoned it be more like 80%. No GPS's existed in those days to get an accurate fix in an unknown canyon so this also not 100% clear. The lower 2/3's of the 'lower narrows' section of the canyon was the part that we were forced to fly over. It has a handful of difficult features - but the major rapid on this section is V-Drive which is situated near the end of the narrows. By the estimations of most of the kayakers I've spoken too that have run it, is second only to Site Zed. It is very likely that we would have portaged V-Drive if we'd had the chance to run this section of the canyon... since no one had ever run (or attempted to run, or had an opportunity to run) V-Drive in any craft until our trip in 1985, it would be one scary rapid to attempt in a SOTAR. It's hard to say.. I never had the chance to see it first hand except in the flyover, but as I remember, it looked like there was no route that could be threaded without flipping. Flipping ( which equals swimming in a conventional raft) in this section of river is not an option. In retrospect, it is possible that not running this part of the Stikine in our SOTAR saved a life or two... but I'm speculating and we will never know.

To Slickhorn:
Just my opinion, but from watching these debates, this is where I sorta see general boating community consensus:

First Descent: most often the first run between point A and point B. Not everything needs to be run, but you also can't walk all the gnar.

If you put in, but don't reach the takeout, that is not a descent. It is an attempt. Portaging a rapid is not the same as bailing out and exiting the river at an unplanned spot. One could question whether chopper support in and out of the canyon qualifies as a descent in the first place ....
I mostly agree with your definition. Forgive me that I don't have the time or inclination to write up every detail of how this trip came down - suffice it to say that the chopper was moving us up and down the canyon for camping and scouting purposes - not in and out, and not to make portages around the "gnar". This is not unusual in first descents of cliffed out rivers of this caliber. As for "gnar", the easy stuff on this river is the "gnar" you find on most other Class 5 runs. We ran the easy and the gnar gnar. The raft team did not abort the run - 'the trip was aborted' was a poor choice of words on my part that Laura has latched onto - a more accurate description is 'the raft team got screwed in the ass by the film crew', and unfortunately with their dicks firmly implanted in our rectums we couldn't continue paddling. In a sheer walled canyon that no one had ever seen before, much less run, no chopper support for scouting or rescue meant we'd have to rely on pure dumb luck if we continued. We were foolhardy, but not stupid - and nobody had any desire to swim and die. This choice was no choice, and it was accepted with great frustration, anger and resentment. People can take that how they will and yammer on about portaging, etc. - I don't really care. As anyone knows who has done an expedition that is being paid for by a film crew, the paddlers unfortunately have little or no say in these decisions. Once the kayak crew had run the section successfully, knowledge was gained and now future paddlers know what they're up against. Such is the nature of first descent expeditions.

Already I've written far more here than about this trip than I have ever done before in my life or intended to - and I'm done. Laura, I'm sure you'll have more to say, I just realized that you started this thread so it's certainly your right to do so... and after more than 2500 posts, you obviously feel that folks are interested in your words. It''s unfortunate though that so many on this forum, seem to be so laser focused on picking apart the minutia - rather than celebrating the accomplishments that we've all (rafters, kayakers, canoeists, and now ccérs) have collectively made in the sport. As someone who has rowed and paddled all over the world for the last 46 years and truly loves river running and exploration, it saddens me that such silliness has become the norm.

If anyone does attempt to run the Stikine in a raft in the future, I'll be happy to give them the important details that I can remember - if they want. As each successive generation steps up, I'll do what I can to help those that ask. My friend Rob Lesser believes that specifics of the Stikine should not be given except to identify certain lethal spots. Í agree. I'll quote from Doug Ammons who couldn't have said it better - 'The sense of mystery defines an essential part of the river's challenge, so every team should be given the opportunity of feeling the pressure, stress, and exhilaration of a first descent. The Stikine isn’t a notch on your belt, it’s a force of nature and a gift to us all. Keep your team small and let the canyon speak loudly to you. You won’t regret it.''

Enough of pounding the keyboard. This old man will now tuck his faded memories back into his hat and shut up.

Joe Willie Jones
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Old 05-29-2013   #137
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Originally Posted by lhowemt View Post
Well they did it, Mark Cramer and the creature craft guys successfully completed the Grand Canyon of the Stikine Wednesday. Awesome! The only thing they didn't run was Tanzilla narrows, too skinny for the boats. It's nice to hear some good news coming of the Stikine this week.
This totally sounds like a trollish hag who likes to sit behind her computer and pick fights!!!

Hey, if you want me to take a dump in a box and mark it "guaranteed", I will. I got spare time.
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Old 05-29-2013   #138
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Thanks for that, Joe Willie.
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Old 05-29-2013   #139
Join Date: Nov 2012
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What a river life you've lived! I'm definitely jealous. Is there any place we can see that footage? And why was it taken? Sounds really cool.
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Old 05-29-2013   #140
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HI Willie-

Sorry this degraded so darn quickly! I simply read in your post "first.... descent" and took that to mean more than it seems you intended. That's what I was responding to, and tried to follow up with while avoiding going off on another topic which can just inflame conversations. It doesn't seem that I was successful so let me say I apologize for this failure! Perhaps I wasn't clear enough in kudos to the first trip and your efforts, and focused just on what I saw in your words as a claim. So I don't see a reason to pick that apart now, I appreciate you clarifying your attempt and I want to do the same back.

I would like to emphasize your statement that it is not just the gear that allows a sport to progress, but the efforts of those that go first. You and your group (and yes, even the kayakers.... )provide beta that make it easier for the next group. Regardless of the gear, the first eyes have a disadvantage and the second ones do have it easier.

Personally since I am predominantly a catboater who also round boats, I see everything as "raft" and expect back in the day there was likely similar discussions with SB rafts came along. Catboaters often ask, when someone says "raft"- "what kind"? Times change for sure. Distinctions beyond "raft" are important however in starting this thread I simply meant more along the lines of "big inflatable rubber-like floaty thing" to differentiate from the kayaks that have run it and also prior attempts in other big floaty things. Perhaps I should have said "inflatable" but that can't be changed now. The history of rafting is hugely important, and someday the creature craft crew will likely be set aside when someone runs the entire darn thing, including the narrows. Paddle boats definitely have the advantage when it comes to many places. I put my money on Dan! Speaking of history, are you familiar with Hans Hoomans movie from last year on rafting in the NW? It is really really awesome, they did a great job putting the story of that region's progression together for posterity.

So thanks for sharing your story, and sticking with us even as e-communication leads us astray. Super kudos to you and your crew.

I'm curious about the SOTAR revolutionary design. As a SOTAR nut, I have heard about the history but not really the details of what made it so. Would you share more on that with us?

What you say about SB's putting guides out of a job is funny. Some say that now about the modern cat designs, anybody with any level of (non) experience can jump on and run the shit. Sort of like how fat skis ruined powder because anybody can now ski it.



I am a river, babe - I've got plenty of time, I don't know where I'm going, I'm just following the lines..... - "We are water" by Shaye
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