V+? - Mountain Buzz

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Old 07-10-2009   #1
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 35

Wondering about the progression in the V/V+ realm. I've read the other progression threads and there's some good stuff but not as much on the upper end of things. So I've paddled a lot of V and some V+ but looking at my list, I'm not sure what I'm ready for and what I'm not.

I've done:
West Fork Clear Creek
SSV Gnarrows
NF S Ark
Big South

I want to do:
Upper Roaring Fork
Crystal Gorge
Upper South White

From what I know, despite all having the same classification, some of these are more full on than others. Anybody have an opinion on where to start and what to avoid? Is it ever safe to say "If you've run X at ...cfs, then you'll be fine on Y at ...cfs"?

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Old 07-10-2009   #2
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Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 787
Responses to this should be good!

I think the best way to advance is to talk to someone you know and trust (and who knows your paddling) who has done the runs and can help you evaluate. Of course, if you are solid enough to run these sections, you will know when scouting them/scouting the tough drops within. If you look at a drop and don't see a line you can execute, you shouldn't be in there. Sorry to state the obvious. Also, it's alot to do with your personality - many class V boaters who are super solid just aren't willing to accept the added danger of 5+....if your personality is cool with that and you style most of your class V lines, you may be ready to push it. I have not done many of the proposed runs you mention, so no comment there. Good luck with the shit running!

I'm sure more qualified badasses than me will answer soon.
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Old 07-10-2009   #3
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dropzone, Colorado
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My take is that once in the V+ realm, it is no longer a matter of "i've run X, so I am ready for Y." Instead, at this high level of difficulty and commitment, you need to have a solid team of boaters, each of whom is capable of providing competent scouting and safety, and then each person has to make his own decision based on all the variables whether or not to run or walk a given drop. Not trying to be captain obvious, but once you start running stuff of the USB, Cheeseman, C-Gorge, and Yule variety, hopefully you know you have the skills to pay the bills and it comes down to instincts and judgment. If you are uncertain on the skills aspect, then start livening up your favorite class V runs by taking harder lines, making difficult ferry moves, catching tricky eddies, etc. And, of course, water level is a huge factor on V+ because something like Valle can go from solid V at low levels to always-epic, potentially fatal, marginally runnable V+ when the water gets high.

As for your list, I think upper roaring fork is a much better location to find sic boulder problems than rapids, and I don't know anyone in the V community who actually runs that (but I don't live near it, either). South White is a nice hike in the woods with your plastic backpack, but epic scenery as I understand it. The rest are very worthy, with Baker's topping the difficulty and Yule topping the consequences list. Personally, I would recommend checking out some out-of-state classic V-V+ before checking off some of the marginal instate V+ (e.g., upper boulder creek, upper roaring fork, rock creek), unless you just love the mank and hate unbroken boats.

One other thought. Styling Valle is a good indicator you're ready to step it up, assuming levels in the 2.0 to 2.3 range. And firing up all the big drops in Big South at medium flows is a great indicator as well, if you are styling your way down, instead of counting fishes (boof & release, do not kiss the fish).
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Old 07-10-2009   #4
Mad Scientist/Creeker
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IMO stepping it up to the V+ category is really just about catching eddies. If you feel comfortable catching an eddy above a horizon line in read and run class IV+ then you'll be able to scout/set safety/portage the V+ if you need to.

This doesn't apply to Pandoras. Don't go for the super committing V+, just like stepping it up to any other class of paddling. Start with the roadside versions. An example would be Whiteline at current flows or Rigor when it was really big.

Then step it up to the big drops on a run like Big South, where you know you can definitely portage the rest of the V+ if you blow the first one. If you can run all the drops on Big South then start to think about more exposed situations. The leap from every level of kayaking to me requires first, aquiring the skill set neccesary, including both the paddling and safety skills, and then making the mental leap to knowing that you can style it which really only comes with running rapids of a simialr caliber.
Evan Stafford
Cub boater: "What do the spiders mean?" Old fart boater: "Trust your intuition." CRCII
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Old 07-10-2009   #5
surrounded by mountains, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1981
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 501
IMHO -- be honest with yourself, boat any only with an experienced guide, and have a solid crew of at least three for class V+. Know that you have been paddling at the top of your game lately and are feeling on it that day. Have confidence, but have increased respect. Certainly don't be foolish or feel invinsible. The risk for severe and possibly permanent pain to yourself or others in your group is more real than it seems some youngsters contemplate. Have health and life insurance paid up. Bottom line: depending on where you're at in life, class V+ may be of worthy accomplishment to your self-fullfillment, but know that it doesn't make anyone more of a man. It may make you less of one. It is risky. It can be fun, too. If the time, place, crew, and your responsibility to others is right ... then everything on your list is attainable. You will know if it is time.

FYI- just know that one rock shot to the body or head is likely to escalate an already tough situation into a truly ugly one in a heartbeat. You can't be afraid of rocks or pain. Have good gear, too.
No risk, no reward. It is not that we have to, it is that we get to. Preparation and education are essential to self-confidence and success. - KV
"If there is no risk there is no adventure."- Bill Briggs
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Old 07-10-2009   #6
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 393
Cool thread with some really good responses.

Couple of thoughts:

- Get good at scouting. You should be very confident in your ability to identify your line and then stick that line. Just cuz someone else cleans a line doesn't necessarily mean I can do the same.

- Understand what your strengths are. I learned to paddle in ID and have spent the last few years in CO. This means I'm generally more solid on bigwater or fast/continuous creeks than on waterfalls & bedrock.

- Step it up on less committing runs where you keep your portage options open.

- Try runs like Cheeseman/usb etc. with a guide. Those runs are way more manageable when you're with someone who knows them.

- Don't be afraid to walk. In really hard whitewater there is no room for an ego.
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Old 07-10-2009   #7
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 35
Cool. Good thoughts. So I've got a good head on my shoulders, no ego, can recognize whether or not I can make the line I'm scouting. I've run all of Poudre Narrows at 3.7 with no issues. I've paddled tough runs in the creeking and big water categories. So (for me) the progression looks something like:

Get more comfortable on Valle a medium-high levels.

Do some laps on BS running the big 3 at medium.

Hit USB and Cheesman with a good guide.

What other recommendations do you have for stepping stones that are less remote (looking at my list above, most are committing and/or remote)? Where would 2nd Gorge Lime fall in?

ACC, what out-of-state recommendations do you have? Don't know if it will happen because of the pocketbook but I'd like to know what suggestions you have. The Green, NF Payette, Big Timber, and Christopher Creek are all on the list.

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Old 07-10-2009   #8
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For out of state shit think about the High Sierra runs and BC creeks like Tatlow which are in the realm you are talking about getting into. The Green and NF Payette are fantastic runs - in the realm of normal class 5. They are decent guages for 5 actually - the NF for med-water boulder garden rivers 5 and the Green for EC creeking 'standard' 5.

Seriously though...BC or Cali - their class 5 is like full on CO 5+ ion my experience.

Shit, I need to go boating.......someone teleport me to the big south please!
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