How difficult is Vallecito Creek? - Mountain Buzz

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Old 08-12-2008   #1
jonny water's Avatar
Geologist, Colorado
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How difficult is Vallecito Creek?

I have been thrown off by the rating that the guide books give to different creeks. For example, for years I have been intimidated by the Big South because CRC II gives it a V+ rating. However, I went up and ran it and walked Cool World, Meltdown and Double Trounble and had a blast. I really enjoyed the run and was not gripped throughout the day.

I have really wanted to run Vallecito, but still CRCII gives it a V+ rating. If i go in there at a med-low level, I shouldn't encounter any rapids over class V, right? What is the toughest rapid on the run and what are the major hazards. Technical boating is fine for me, but big holes are my nemesis. Are there any big holes?

I feel comfortable on class V but don't typically run V+.


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Old 08-12-2008   #2
Denver, Colorado
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Vallecito is a walled-in gorge, which means there is very little room for f'ing up. How easy was it to walk those rapids on the Big South? You can't really walk anything in Vallecito because you are fully committed while in the gorge of Vallecito.

As for the rapids in Vallecito... I will let others speak that have run it on a more regular basis. I have only run it twice, both times I was very challenged but found that the rapids were managable. What scared me the most was knowing that F'ing up was not really an option. I was also fortunate to have an incredible guide, which probably made the trip a bit easier.

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Old 08-12-2008   #3
Denver, Colorado
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I meant to summarize before posting that I think the V+ rating on Vallecito mainly has to do with the fully committed factor. I think the rapids are probably more in the V category. But, it will become a V+ trip very quickly if you F up.
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Old 08-12-2008   #4
Denver, Colorado
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Ratings are definitely subjective, and I think things tend to get a little downgraded, especially once you have the lines dialed. With that, I would say the rapids in Valle at med low water are class V. But due to the fact that you are locked in, can't walk, and the fact that you can't scout a few of the rapids, and have to be comfortable going off verbal instructions, I think the run deserves a V+ rating as these factors definitely add difficulty beyond just the whitewater itself.
At medium low water, Valle has holes, but I wouldn't classify them as can definitely boof and/or punch most with ease. That's one of the beautiful things about Valle...every rapid (with maybe the exception of trashcan) has SUPER clean lines, and when you hit them, you barely get your head wet. But when you don't, you get tooled.
No individual rapid sticks out more than others in my head in terms of difficulty, but for me entrance, trash can and no way out definitely have the most pucker factor....mainly b/c you can't scout them very well, if at all.
Bottom line, I don't know what level you ran the BS at, but if it was within the last few weeks when it was running low, I would give serious pause to running Valle unless you are at least running meltdown at low water. I would say that cool world and double t are harder than any one single rapid on valle. Not trying to stop you, especially if you have a good guide, and are feeling good, just trying to give you perspective between BS and Valle.
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Old 08-12-2008   #5
4CRS, Durango, Colorado
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Get a good guide

If your a solid class v paddler and went in at med/low flows with a good guide you would probably be fine. That said there are a few spots that if you swam and lost your boat you may have to get back in the river and swim some more class v to get to a spot that you could climb out. My first time down I swam at paddle bitch and lost my boat. I had 2 options, swim No Way out and maybe Finish Line to a spot where I could hike out, OR swim the bottom of Paddle Bitch, again, then climb out on river left, hike upstream, swim back across at the top of Paddle Bitch and hike out a steep gully. I chose the 2nd option and it worked out fine. My Rocket was destroyed when i found it downstream. Its super fun, not really any big holes at med/low flow. Enjoy!
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Old 08-12-2008   #6
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Valle is definitely a step up from our day on the BS. Like others have said, Valle is completely walled in with little scouting available. A serious class V combat roll is necessary to run Trashcan. Hitting the boof off Entrance is harder than any rapid on the BS excluding Double T and Cool World on the low water day we were there. The Entrance hole looks either slightly better or worse than the Double T hole, depending on the level. That being said, CMo is right that the lines through the rapids on Valle excluding Trashcan are super clean if dialed. If you go, stay below the 2.2 level.
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Old 08-12-2008   #7
Park City, Utah
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The most important thing to remember on Valle is the whistle. Like most gorged class V, if you blow your whistle loud enough, someone will help you out. If they don't, then the only choice is to get someone to call the cops. As far as guides go, Grif is an experienced boater and has been known to really help some people out. He also has a mean turkey leg recipe and generally will float a cooler down tied to his rear grab loop for some coool schlitz mid canyon. He'll take you through as long as you agree to do the cookin and cleanin at the camp. Good luck!!
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Old 08-12-2008   #8
River Gypsy
Swannanoa, North Carolina
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I'll just add that not only is Vallecito much more committing, it's also a lot more dangerous in terms of sieves than Big South is. So difficulty aside, it's an awful lot less forgiving than Big South.

I think that the average difficulty of Vallecito rapids is higher than BS without FF, CW, MD, & DT. Vallecito is a much less tiring day, though - although the exertion of the walk up is not trivial.

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Old 08-12-2008   #9
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Old 08-12-2008   #10
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