Colorado Boating History... - Mountain Buzz
 



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Old 08-20-2007   #1
 
Denver, Colorado
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Colorado Boating History...

Paddled gore this weekend and my buddy wondered who Kirschbaum was... Found this interesting blurb on the net.

Walter Kirschbaum
As a teenager with a fondness for paddling, Walter Kirschbaum was drafted into the German military at age 15, only to be captured by the Russian army and released six years later in 1950. He quickly started paddling again, winning the slalom World Championships in K-1 in 1955. Moving to the U.S. in 1957 and teaching kayaking for the Colorado Rocky Mountain School in Carbondale, Colo., he turned his attention to the region's first descents, most of which he ran in homemade boats. "His goal was to run every significant piece of whitewater in the Colorado drainage," says guidebook author Fletcher Anderson. He did a good job. In 1959, he became the first person to run the Colorado's Cataract Canyon without portaging, and in 1960 he accomplished the same feat on the Grand Canyon. Modern-day paddlers witness his namesake on Kirschbaum rapid of the Colorado's Gore Canyon, which he notched the first descent of in 1965. He came to a tragic end when he drowned in his bathtub in New Mexico in 1969.



This got me thinking about colorado boating history. I haven't seen any books, magazines or websites that have a good history of river running in colorado. I have stumbled across bits and pieces though. I'd personally be interested to read about stuff like that. Anyone know if there is anything out there? If not, it would be a great web project for the folks that have the history in their heads to share it with the boating community. Maybe an AW article or something of the sort. If you have some info or know where to get it, let us know.

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Old 08-20-2007   #2
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deepsouthpaddler View Post
He came to a tragic end when he drowned in his bathtub in New Mexico in 1969.
.
There's so much irony in that, I'm having trouble believing it's true. Such a legend...drowned in the bathtub?

A Floater's Guide to Colorado is a bit archaic in it's whitewater information but contains more useful information about history, geology, and biology than I have found in any other river book. I think it's out of print but isn't too hard to find these days.

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Old 08-20-2007   #3
 
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In addition to Wheat's "Floater's Guide to Colorado", there are some good essays in the "Western Whitewater" (also out of print) about early descents. Among the best is the tale of Samuel Adam's attempt to beat Powell down the Colorado, starting in Breckenridge and ending in Gore Canyon. The book "Westwater Lost and Found" is a treasure trove of info about that run (Westwater IS in Colorado, isn't it? ).
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Old 08-20-2007   #4
 
Westminster, Colorado
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deepsouthpaddler View Post
In 1959, he became the first person to run the Colorado's Cataract Canyon without portaging, and in 1960 he accomplished the same feat on the Grand Canyon.
Buzz Holmstrum ran everything from Green River, WY to Lake Mead in 1938, and he had run Separation and Lava Cliff the year before, prior to their being covered by the lake.

Brad Dimock (a Grand Canyon guide) has done quite a bit of river history work for anyone interested in reading. "The Doing of the Thing" about Holmstrum and "The Very Hard Way" about Bert Loper are both excellent books.
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Old 08-20-2007   #5
 
Fort Collins, CO
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The book "The River Chasers" by Taft includes history on Colorado boating and is pretty comprehensive. I remember descriptions on:

Kirshbaum
Slidel
Roger Paris
Paris's kayaking school
Fibark
History of Colorado Whitewater Ass.
First run on the Poudre in the late 1940's
Couple of engineers building a clear boat out of Lucite (I think) and trying to run the Poudre, among many other things.
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Old 08-20-2007   #6
 
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Now this is a good thread.. often wondered if there was any interest out there. Kirshbaum's son is/was an editor or publisher with Mt Gazette. He probably has some good info. Roger Paris (in his 70's) is still in the Carbondale, Marble area,I believe, and according to reliable sources was seen last winter skiing solo in the Yule Creek drainage. Ron Mason is another name to look into. I believe he did one of the early kayak descents of the Black Canyon. For fun reading, try to get a copy of Jim Stohlquist's boating in the state. It predates Wheat's book, I believe and is entertaining to look at. Anderson also put out a guide to boating in the Southwest. The sport has definitely come a long way in not very many years...keeping track of some of its history is worthwhile.
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Old 08-20-2007   #7
 
Eagle, Colorado
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Retro Video from the Ark

Here's some retro video of Ark back in the day.....

Seidel wins the race and gets a smooch from a blond bombshell.

Shooting the Rapids Kayaks Newsreel and Stock Footage
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Old 08-21-2007   #8
 
Denver, Colorado
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Cool stuff. Thanks for the info guys.

I'm also interested in more recent history and progression too. Steepcreeks.com has a neat site for the southeast that lists first descents, dates and who ran it etc. It would be interesting to see some of the same stuff for colorado creeking history. Who ran big south for the first time, how long have people been running it? What about the crested butte creeks? It would be fun reading over the winter while dreaming of spring runoff.
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Old 08-21-2007   #9
 
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Tim Kegerman was very instrumental in gettting the CB area done I haven't seen him in years Anybody know where he is?
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Old 08-21-2007   #10
 
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Where is Cottonwood Rapid on the Ark?

Did they used to call it the Ar-Kansas River, or was that a announcer mistake?
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