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Old 06-25-2011   #11
BCJ's Avatar
Grand Junction, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1978
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Take all the above advice seriously - - WW is no place for novices, especially in the teens. It is very powerful, fast and difficult to recover from incidents in those levels. Most flipped boat incidents (including fatalities) happen in the teens. I rowed commercially for 5 years in the early 80's and my outfitter wouldn't let anyone row WW at any level until they had plenty of relevant experience, such as the Arkansas, Northgate Canyon, Dolores, a few Deso trips, anyplace that has real waves with powerful current. Ruby Horsethief does not prepare you for WW. In my view, WW in the teens requires more skill than lots of other rivers, including the Grand Canyon, in higher water. The hydraulics are very strong. Take some advice, don't have a bad experience. Don't take your children down there in July. Period.

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Old 06-25-2011   #12
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Grand Junction, Colorado
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PS Yhe posters above are right about Skull too - - You should not count on portaging Skull. If you can stop at all, the eddy above is river left, wrong place to be for an effective run. Planning to walk around Skull is a bad idea. Period.

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Old 06-25-2011   #13
over the horizon
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Carbondale, Colorado
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I disagree with the above statements that westy is dangerous "at high levels". It will kick your butt at just about any level and its character changes dramatically with just 1k cfs difference. Personally I have found "easier" levels around 7-8k and (with the exception of skull) it was pretty tame at 18k. I have found more defined drops and punchy holes under 5k.

Just trying to dispel the notion that difficulty is linear with flow. Westwater is the classic example of a place where that is not the case.
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Old 06-25-2011   #14
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Grand Junction, Colorado
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Well, having run WW over 200 times since 1979, I can agree that Bmfnl is probably correct so long as "danger" and "difficulty" are not being equated. But when it comes to a swim, especially with children whose PFD's never seem to fit and who can't really appreciate what it's all about anyway, I would certainly call the boiling hydraulics and super cold temps at high water more dangerous. And, statistically, most incidents with injuries - - and just about every fatality I know of except one - - occur in high water, specifically, in the teens. 14-16 seems to be the most flippy and pushy, starts mellowing at 19 or so, kicks again at 20, etc. 10 always seems benign. The hold at Skull is deepest and darkest at 6-8, Sock is worst at 5, and so on. At 30, 40, etc., it all boils and hydraulics, but no place for a picnic. So Bmfnl does observe correctly that 1K cfs changes the character. All that said, for someone seeking guidance on a blog about where to take children (something I will never understand), I feel it is better to warn them off than encourage. Think I'll just stop all this blogging. Too easy to be misunderstood. I know this - - the rangers and volunteers always regret it and feel nervous when people with small children show up there at high flows. Just doesn't seem to make any sense.
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Old 06-25-2011   #15
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irvine, California
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Around 13-14K is where the beast really comes out at Skull. 17K seemed the to me to be the most challenging flow of the teen runs I've boated. Even if you pull over for the scout at those flows, getting into the right position for Skull is extremely difficult, especially with other boats clustered in the same tiny eddy/current that is there. Add to that, pulling over after the cheat could go wrong if your run doesn't go as planned, which means they would have to swim down to your boats...

There's a few other rapids that can bitch slap the inexperienced boaters as well. I would never take youngsters that couldn't self rescue down this stretch, let alone in the 'terrible teens'. The only flip I ever had pulling the sticks in WW was at 17K--out of well over 100 trips--just so happened to have my 12 year old boy on this trip who self rescued--he was already a veteran of scores of other river trips such as Cat and GC.
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Old 06-25-2011   #16
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Rico, Colorado
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Thanks to all responders! This info was confirmed by real-live people too and we are re-assessing... That said, our ringers will launch as planned and let's say the trip has some open slots. So anyone wanting a big h2o westy.... PM to see if this could be a good fit.

As a long time paddler, fairly recent rower and noob to social networking, Thanks again, I'm impressed with the Buzz!
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Old 06-25-2011   #17
Golden, Colorado
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Originally Posted by BmfnL View Post
I disagree with the above statements that westy is dangerous "at high levels".
wow. You've lost touch. It happens with a lot of boaters who get good. I see it with class V kayakers... I don't know a ton of rafters so haven't seen it too much with them. Jump in above Skull next time and swim a mile or so and maybe it will wake you up.

If you think fast moving powerful class IV is not dangerous then you just forgot what it is like to swim it. Even class V is easy if you stay on line and you are sitting in a raft... which is pretty much like riding a fucking lazy boy couch down the river as long as the lines are being nailed. If you mess up and people end up swimming it doesn't matter how easy it is to hit the lines.

You have become complacent... and dangerous... stay away.
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Old 06-25-2011   #18
thornton, Colorado
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Originally Posted by Tres-Bon View Post
Hola Buzznicks!
Looking for the lowdown on rowing Westwater at higher flows.
We're a multi-family group that has been rowing the Ruby/HT for the past 2 yrs and this yr Westwater is on the agenda. Permit is for mid July. We do have some depth on the oars (2 boats have only rowed R/HT), have planned an option of walking around Skull with the youngest -age 9, and know our skill level. We are even bringing a couple ringers for the ww section, including a hardshell paddler. The big question is about the "terrible teens". What level are we talking about when flipping is more common and we should bow to the river-gods and wait 'till next year to bring the kids?
Thanks to the community for info!
Remember PFD's and helments do not always work well in high fast water with big hydraulics and or alot of rocks.
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Old 06-25-2011   #19
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Grand Junction, Colorado
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I think Ture said it all - - it's not the flip that counts, its the SWIM. Likewise, wildonh2oriver has a good understand of WW. To me it's like this: until you really appreciate the subtle power of moving water, you're not really getting the picture. And to look for guidance about something that can kill you on an internet blog seems a bit casual. I've lost friends on rivers, and customers, and even had my arm broken by an oar. I think it's just a thing that you either learn or you don't. Beyond that, I repeat, WW at high flows (and maybe even at low flows) is no place for children. It is not a kiddy park.
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Old 06-25-2011   #20
I'm wrong 50% of the time
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RFV, Colorado
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Originally Posted by BmfnL View Post
I disagree with the above statements that westy is dangerous "at high levels". It will kick your butt at just about any level...
Originally Posted by Ture View Post
wow. You've lost touch.....

You have become complacent... and dangerous... stay away.
I think you took it out of context. I believe that his point is that WW can be dangerous at ANY level. Especially true for children and novice's. A class 4 gorged in canyon is no place for most children or tweens.

If you haven't read the book "We Swan the Grand Canyon" by Bill Beer, now might be a good time. I don't think white water sports and especially the popularity of the grand would have been as big as it is with out their adventure.

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