tell me about the upper Animas - Mountain Buzz

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Old 03-13-2012   #1
bobbuilds's Avatar
x, x
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tell me about the upper Animas

I am looking to kayak the upper Animas river out of the Silverton area. I would like to catch it on the low side for my first time down.

Is there anything I could compare the river to, to gauge my ability against what lies on the Animas? I will probably portage the 3 class 5's but want a feel for the in between rapids.

I would like to get on it at a good first time level, what are the sugguested levels and a minimum level?

Is there anyone who runs this regularly that would show me down or could give a good play by play of what to expect? Any hazzards to be heads up for? or bad spots to be avoided?

To give you an idea of what i am comfortable with, this is what i have done well and w/o any problems so far. numbers, royal gorge, bailey(min. big 3), poudre narrows (no upper), dumont, upper cc, lower cc, big t below gnar

all at medium levels, with multiple laps, feeling good.

I am not afraid to portage, or scout. I just dont want to walk the whole thing ya' know.


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Old 03-13-2012   #2
4CRS, Durango, Colorado
Join Date: Apr 2006
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With what you are comfortable running I would think you would be fine on the upper at reasonable flows. Say 500 to 1000 at the silverton gauge. No Name is the most significant rapid, a definite scout. We had a big landslide last fall above No Name so not sure what that's going to look like. Always be heads up for wood. Stay left down Broken Bridge. The in between stuff is busy and cold and just keeps going but it's all manageable. If you want Rockwood too I would recommend a guide. swing by 4CRS for the latest beta on wood and the new landslide as we have people up there pretty regularly.
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Old 03-13-2012   #3
Durango, Colorado
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The upper a is always great but the difficulty varies dramatically with flow. At low water (about 500 at silverton, 1000-1500 at Durango) it is slightly rocky class 3 with the big 3 and a couple drops in rockwood being nice class 4. At medium flows (1000 at silverton, 2500 at Durango) it is class 4. No name might be class 5. The other big ones and rockwood are 4+. At high water (1500+ at silverton, 3500+ at Durango) the river is fast and very continuous class 4 for miles on end. It is awesome, but can feel very overwhelming for the unprepared. No name and the entrance to rockwood are big class 5.

If you do the run on the lower end, you will be surprised how easy it is. A low water trip makes a great non- gnar overnighter and is also usually not as cold as the peak runoff version. I am always surprised how few people paddle our backyard run, because it really is good for a variety of skill levels depending on the water level. Just remember to dress warm and don't get run over by the train.
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Old 03-14-2012   #4
Join Date: Nov 2003
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What Josh and Tony said, and remember to dress very very warm. The Upper Animas has repeatedly been a cold place for me to explore, even when it's sunny and clear out. Often a cold, long, and absolutely amazing day of paddling. Rockwood Box at higher flows deserves respect, since the first rapid and the last rapid can get sporty.
Kyle McCutchen
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Old 03-14-2012   #5
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Durango, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1990
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The beta provided by this stellar crew of paddlers is spot on. It's a long day in a boat no matter the level and given the fact that the train drops bags off in Needleton for $5/bag makes the over-niter totally awesome. Light boat=good times. Besides the 3 notable rapids, all of it is boat-scoutable above the Rockwood Box. If you're venturing in there, go with someone who knows the Box. Otherwise, you can paddle down to the trustle bridge and take out there. It's an easy flat quick 2mile hike out. There's a solid crew of talented paddler in Durango that go up there often. TonyM of 4corners is an excellent resource for beta and rounding up a boater or two to possibly go with ya.

Good luck and love it
To air is human, to get big air divine.
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Old 03-14-2012   #6
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Buena Vista, Colorado
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Awesome. I'm basically at the same level as Bob and thinking about venturing onto the Upper A this season as well. Thanks for the info everyone.
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Old 03-14-2012   #7
no tengo
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Baytopia, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1876
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I wrote a flipmap guidebook to the upper animas (and piedra). It is out of print since I only printed 50 copies but maybe can make it available as a pdf. suggested donation $5 to my paypal account. on that note does anyone know where I can get nice supple waterproof flipmap printing done?
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Old 03-14-2012   #8
Pugetopolis, Washington
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What's the cutoff to get a Cat down? I gotta get down there this season,and things are lookin shitty up north,here
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Old 03-14-2012   #9
GWS, Colorado
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Yer gonna Die!
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Old 03-14-2012   #10
no tengo
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Baytopia, Colorado
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Originally Posted by BarryDingle View Post
What's the cutoff to get a Cat down? I gotta get down there this season,and things are lookin shitty up north,here
anywhere from 400 (bony) to 2000+ (terrifying) on the 'below silverton gauge'. a nice first time level is 800.
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