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Old 06-25-2011   #1
Tres-Bon's Avatar
Rico, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1987
Join Date: May 2011
Posts: 12
Rafting Westwater at higher water.

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!

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Old 06-25-2011   #2
LeftOfCenter's Avatar
Carbondale, Colorado
Paddling Since: '05
Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 82
There are multiple threads on Westwater at highwater. Check out the search feature for some specific beta.

Also, a quick observation... Ruby/Horsethief is flat water. Westwater has class IV rapids. Usually people don't train to run class IV by rowing flat water.

Although hopefully you just left a few things out of your white water resume...

Re: Kids- Ask yourself, "what if they swim?" And if the answer is not something you are prepared to deal with... don't bring them because there is never a guarantee.

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Old 06-25-2011   #3
colorado_steve's Avatar
Paddling Since: 2002
Join Date: May 2011
Posts: 284
use the search function. westwater canyon in the teens is not a safe place for small children to be.
Oh! I don't take it lightly! I've always got to know
There's an old lion a roarin' n the river down below
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Old 06-25-2011   #4
vail, Colorado
Paddling Since: 79
Join Date: May 2010
Posts: 3
Westwater mid july this year will be huge. Call BLM for expected flows.
check out the usgs river flow utah info.
I suspect it will be very high.

I would never bring my kids down there at these kinds of flows.
I think when they were nine ish we felt good at 10,000 and less. I have been down that run about 300 times over the years and it does change character above 10,000

I was always pretty excited to run there above 12000 if in a raft.
Kayaked at 33000 once and we were at the takeout in 2 hours wondering what just happened. A little spooky would be description, we certainly paid attention and we had just gotten off a Grand Trip.
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Old 06-25-2011   #5
parker, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1978
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 1
I agree training on R/HT is not training for Westwater. And walk around Skull????
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Old 06-25-2011   #6
grand junction, Colorado
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 4
Westy above 20, many high flow situations, the boating is easy, but the swims are hard...a lot of boats in the water to pick up people in case of a flip is important for safety.

At high flows the rapids are gone, but the water is very quick, very channelized, and the eddy surges are powerful. Eddy boils are strong enough to flip a boat if you hit it wrong.

I have done it at 25,000cfs, and 18,000 cfs. The most important move to make is at skull. The lateral from the left pushes you towards the rock of shock/room of doom, and is somewhat difficult to break through. Its a very important move...
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Old 06-25-2011   #7
Golden, Colorado
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 831
Don't do it. Personally, I don't take kids or dogs into Westwater, though many people do... I'm of the opinion that kids don't belong on class IV. My minimum age would be about 14 or 15 and that would be a kid who is on the swim team or plays football, not an anemic geek.

I've done it at all levels, mabe a dozen times or so. Healthy flow levels are dangerous to swimmers and swimming is possible in several places in that canyon.

At around 20,000 I've seen a raft get flipped by a lateral wave before we even got to the main rapids. The folks who flipped had to climb up onto the bottom of that overturned raft, deploy the flip lines, and flip it back over before they got flushed into the big stuff. No place for a kid in that equation. One of the guys was some kind of vegetarian yoga instructor who could maybe bench press the bar... he couldn't do shit to help and got screamed at in the face by the captain as they tugged on the flip lines to get the raft upright before bad stuff happened to them. I never saw yoga guy on a river again.
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Old 06-25-2011   #8
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1994
Join Date: May 2010
Posts: 23
Ran ww a couple weeks ago 40k+ kids should not be in the canyon at these levels , and agreed ruby is not a good "warmup" for ww. Serious stuff in there especially above 10k. Drop the kids at th ranger station and meet them at the takeout . Everyone will be happier for sure.
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Old 06-25-2011   #9
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1994
Join Date: May 2010
Posts: 23
Also, I have never seen a " walk around skull" no scouting once you get into the meat of ww above 10k
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Old 06-25-2011   #10
Chaser's Avatar
Glenwood Springs, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 100
Really don't think you can portage skull, and Ruby Horsethief is NOT training for Westy. I suggest running some good class III before doing this run. I suggest putting in at Cisco or dewey bridge (depending on your time constraints) and doing the Moab Daily. Really fun wave trains at higher water, great campsites (Onion Creek) and some good training for the greenhorns on the trip.

Be safe


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