Seeking Westwater advice - Mountain Buzz

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Old 07-15-2009   #1
pbowman's Avatar
Cody, Wyoming
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 249
Seeking Westwater advice

I got on a Westwater permit in a couple weeks, and am looking for any experience/advice for taking my little raft (11.5' Otter). Planning to run with the oar frame with one passenger, but also might consider going as paddle raft R3 if passenger space is an issue for my group and advice from the buzzards encourages that.

I am anticipating flows in the 5-7k range given historical data and the current downward trend over the past weeks. Would that flow present any major challenges for me? It seems like skull and sock-it/catchers mitt will be the most challenging, any advice on those rapids or others in the little raft? Also have a friend on the permit thinking about taking their culebra R2, any thoughts on how that boat would handle flows in the 5-7k range and what rapids would pose the biggest challenge for them? Thanks in advance.

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Old 07-15-2009   #2
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Join Date: Jul 2004
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I've run my super puma as a row boat, R2, R3, R4 and R5 down Westwater at medium flows. I would say that your little boat will be just fine. Make sure you do you safety talk on rapid day for any style you decide on.

I can honestly say that marble gives me the most issues in my boat. Skull is the same move it always is. I find it harder to run skull trying to come out of the eddy after a scout, mostly we just run it. I hardly remember Sok It, it's a wave train..stay right.

Run in the middle of your group if you want good backup.
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Old 07-15-2009   #3
Salt Lake City, Utah
Join Date: Jun 2006
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Skull should be easy to miss. Not so sure about sock it to me. I don't think you can skirt it. I try and hit it from the right side, with speed.

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Old 07-15-2009   #4
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Grand Junction, Colorado
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The Catcher's Mit will be a good hit, just paddle into it and keep it straight. Dont bother scouting Skull, just go right to left as always. Scouting will just screw up your line. Run the rest of them down the middle as usual. It should be fun!
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Old 07-15-2009   #5
The Russian
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SLC, Utah
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Here is my run through WW at 5k cfs in my little boat, maybe it will help you find your lines:

Around 5k WW is probably the easiest level to run it.

Little D - wave train, watch for the Little D hole at the end of the wave train in the center of the river a little to the left. I've seen boats flip even at 5k, don't go sideways into it.

Marble is a straight wave train, just keep your boat down the current and keep on those oars

Funnel Falls is going to be your biggest problem. Make sure to stay off the left lateral. Hit it dead in the center of the V and get ready for a nice push to the river right. Stay off the right wall and keep in the current down.

Surprise - just past FF, it's a cork screw, it will want to take your boat and turn it to the right, making you go sideways into the wave. Just keep on the oars and keep the bow down current

Skull - regular approach. Approach on river right with your bow facing 90 to the right wall. So you are completely sideways to the current and Skull. As you come over the crest and start seeing the white water, pull backwards away from the right wall hard. It really only takes 3-4 good pulls to clear Skull and be in the safety. Once you clear the current, just point your boat down river and steer away from Rock of Shock. At this level, even if you get sucked into Skull, you will be fine.

Bowling Alley should be a fun wave train, just big rolling waves, keep the boat straight and keep on those oars.

Sock It To Me - is the biggest rapid on WW at that level in my opinion. First, give your thanks and praise to the SITM Guardian before you enter the rapid (look up when you see/hear the rapid, you will know what I mean )
SITM gets higher at lower water. On this one the safe approach is from the right, bow straight down the current. As you start dropping into the pour over, look on your right and get ready for a very hard right lateral. Once you pass the right lateral wave, turn your boat towards Magnetic Wall and pull hard backwards (towards river right wall) to pull away from the Magnetic Wall. MW is a flipper at this level if you hit it sideways.

Last Chance - at this level the rock will be exposed, so the only way is to the left of it. Just a straight pour over drop and you are done.

When is your launch?

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Old 07-15-2009   #6
Cisco, Utah
Paddling Since: Dawn
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Biggest challenge if you Paddle Boat may be the wind on the paddle out.
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Old 07-15-2009   #7
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Aurora, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 453
Hi Philip!
I've taken my 12' oar boat down several times at those levels and haven't really had any problems. This has all been good advice. I did find that at around 3500cfs the right line through SITM is gone and it pushes you straight into the meat. Not sure when that line really goes away, though. I ran it the next weekend going center-to-left-pull-like-a-crazy-person and it was actually a little easier. Unfortunately, you won't know until you get there. This is probably going to be the hardest rapid in the little boat. However, don't underestimate funnel or Surprise. Go several feet further right than you think you should in Funnel and square up to the lateral. Miss the holes in Surprise because they are nastier than they look.
Best bet is to have someone along who knows the lines. Scouting isn't really an option for most of the rapids and when you can scout its a real pain.
Oh yeah, and when you enter Skull, repeat to youself at least twice "wait for it" before you pull to the left and don't try to break the lateral too early in the little boat. It'll push you right into the hole.
Have a GREAT time!!!

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Old 07-22-2009   #8
pbowman's Avatar
Cody, Wyoming
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 249
The time is now. . .

any last minute advice? i decided to take the oar rig, and will be fairly light (one passenger only) with minimal gear. practiced on shoshone with no issues last w/e at 2500 cfs, and actually worked on moving the boat around in some of the longer rapids/bigger waves of Wall, Superstition and the runout of Tombstone with no issue. i guessed that shoshone would be the closest i could get to the westwater experience this time of year.

i was pretty impressed with kazak's video, it seemed like those little narrow boats were about to dump you guys multiple times. launch is on saturday, so i anticipate flows just over 5k as well. the R2 culebra is not going, so i will be the only little boat on the trip as all others are 14' and bigger. later.
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Old 07-22-2009   #9
The Russian
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SLC, Utah
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5,000 cfs is probably the nicest flow at WW. The rapids are still serious enough, but the recovery is very good. SITM will be your biggest problem.
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Old 07-22-2009   #10
Join Date: Nov 2005
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Yea, 5000 cfs is nice because the paddle out is still flowing.

Scout Skull after you run it. Pull hard to the right into the big eddy.

Don't forget beer for the float out. And water.
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