Cataract Canyon beta - Mountain Buzz
 



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Old 03-21-2007   #1
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 134
Cataract Canyon beta

Planning to do Cataract canyon the second week in April and wanted to know any info you have on what to expect as far as the river lines/difficulties and also weather?
Looks to be right now at 13,000 cfs and going up. I've heard people say it is a big class 3 but information I read puts it more in a class 4. Trying to figure out what I'm in store for in my kayak mostly class 3 or 4?

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Old 03-21-2007   #2
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
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Originally Posted by vardaddy View Post
Planning to do Cataract canyon the second week in April and wanted to know any info you have on what to expect as far as the river lines/difficulties and also weather?
Looks to be right now at 13,000 cfs and going up. I've heard people say it is a big class 3 but information I read puts it more in a class 4. Trying to figure out what I'm in store for in my kayak mostly class 3 or 4?
Ratings are always a little subjective, and are subject to sandbagging. I've done it at a bunch of different levels and here's my take:

Its definitely 95% class 3 with a couple class 4's. Big Drop 3 is a class 4 at any level, but there are several easy lines that work, with more lines at higher levels, but bigger holes too. I would say "hell to Pay" (15 or 16?) is also a class 4- because you actually have to maneuver through it, with consequences, at most levels. Above 20 or 25 K or so Big Drop 2 starts to come into play (scout it at any level if you've never seen it) and becomes the most formidable drop on the river with a good chance of swimming Big Drop 3 if you blow it. The holes in BD 2 are absolutely massive at higher levels. We've flipped a couple rafts at lower levels in rapid 5's surprise hole, but I wouldn't rate it a IV.

If it stays around 15k or lower its not as big and is mostly just good Class III fun with a little technical maneuvering and BD 3 is probably the only 4

Its less technical in a kayak than a raft, but you may flip quite a bit (I did), especially in a play boat, because it is big, pushy water that likes to grab your ends.

Some people say it becomes Class V at very high levels (50 k+). The ranger hangs out below BD3 in a motorized pontoon fishing for people once it hits these levels because rafts have a pretty good chance of flipping in either Big Drop 2 or 3 and theres no stopping in between. See vids on NPS site.

Watch for good surf waves. Rapid 10 usually has one.

Weather has been beautiful in the area: 80s. Hopefully it will hold.

Water won't be very warm.
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Old 03-21-2007   #3
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
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how large a group are you going with? what's the plan at the lake? I've been talking about doing this for years...

need any more kayakers?
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Old 03-22-2007   #4
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Paddling Since: 1994
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yo redbeard, i am actually looking for 2 more kayakers for my cat trip launching on sunday. a little short notice but the invite has been on the planner for weeks. see trip planner, give me a buzz. 720 240 3628 zach
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Old 03-22-2007   #5
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
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Redbeard the permit is not mine but I would be happy to check with the guy who has the permit and see. I'm pretty sure our group is going to be really small. Right now the biggest question might be raft support to haul your gear.
I know we are going to use a motor once we hit the flat water at the end to get out quicker. A couple of the people in the group can't miss much work so the plan is to put on early saturday the 7th and be off the water sometime late on Tuesday. Only 4 days which I know is rushed.
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Old 03-22-2007   #6
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
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I know we are going to use a motor once we hit the flat water at the end to get out quicker. A couple of the people in the group can't miss much work so the plan is to put on early saturday the 7th and be off the water sometime late on Tuesday. Only 4 days which I know is rushed.
4 days with a motor isn't too bad. We've been known to do it in 3, but thats definitely rushed.

For 4 days, I would consider using a motor for all or most of the top section too to get through it in one day, 2 days in the rapids, and a half day to get out. Unless you enjoy the really slow flat water paddling for 50 miles, consider bringing that extra 10 gallons of gas for the top.


The bottom part moves pretty quickly now (probably faster than the top for the first little while) except for the last 5 miles or so have gotten flat now the lake's risen, but it seems to be getting slower than it was 3 years ago at the lakes lowest. Our run that year we used no motors on the bottom and the river was moving at a constant 6-7 mph all the way to the Dirty D takeout. Last year it seemed really slow so we broke out the motor, but there was definitely some good current.
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Old 03-22-2007   #7
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
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sure, see if it might be possible, with a shorter (less days off work anyway) trip I might be able to join ya's!!
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