Westwater > 20,000 - Mountain Buzz

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Old 05-22-2005   #1
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 42
Westwater > 20,000

Our group has a launch date on Westwater of Friday 06/03. The flows are looking to be above 20,000 and many on our trip have little to no experience on the river. We're rafting it with an experienced guide, but a less experienced oars-man for the supply raft... maybe a kayaker in the water as well. Are there any of you out there who could offer some advice, words of wisdom or suggestions? Any help would be nice... also, what about bringing a dog? Would it be tough to get her out of the water if a raft dumps?


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Old 05-22-2005   #2
Nederland, Colorado
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 32
Just remember that things start to get really fast. Westwater flushes out at that level but its big and fast. If you dump a boat than everyone needs to be able to react faster. Anyone/dog swimming is not good could be a mile or two till your able to get out. You need a good safety kayker to not have a long swim. I take my dog on almost all my river trips but when it picks up he stays with friends. Don't want to lost my baby. Anyway good luck, have fun, and just be safe. YJ
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Old 05-22-2005   #3
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 33
it's hard to pull a wet dog out of the water, esp in the canyon itself. We put a PFD on our dog; it has a handle on top so we can pull him out if necessary. But if you flip a raft, the dog will be the least of your worries.
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Old 05-22-2005   #4
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Englewood, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1978
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 882
Eddylines are the real problem at the higher levels, a couple are particularly vicious, and the one just left of the Rock of Shock (Skull) is one of the scariest things I've ever seen. I would rather take my chances with Paralyzer on Lake Creek than get into that eddyline.

A not-very-experienced oarsman running baggage could be a real problem, all depends on if he/she flips or not. I don't know if Hawaii Five-O is still there at 20K, but that is a must-make move for rafts (just a 90 degree pivot, but you gotta do it or you're counting fish). At that level, rafts should have a solid person on the oars and kayakers should be comfortable in class IV big water or at least be certain they aren't going to swim in that kind of rapid or they could swim a very long way. If you get into the eddylines, rolling may take some patience as well. Everyone not certain of their skill should dress for a long swim. Rafts should not even think about scouting Skull or you will never get to the right to set up and make your line.

All that said, Westy in the five figures is great fun. You will have a blast. Oh, and the best part is that the flatwater moves right along, no endless rowing and paddling - yeah baby!

Ditto on the dog PFD. A dog could drown at that level easily. Better yet, leave the dog at home -- the parking lot is a bad place for them and I've heard many a story from the rangers about dogs knocking over the water bowl right after people leave the takeout to shuttle. Actually, now that I think about it, there was a thread about dogs at WW recently - I'm not sure you can even take them down anymore.
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Old 05-22-2005   #5
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Golden, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1984
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 1,888
Remember- just because you paid for a permit for Westwater doesn't mean you have to get in over your head for $8 per person. Although there aren't any rapids to speak of, Ruby / Horsethief is a beautiful trip and the camping is outstanding. Plus the flat sections move along very quickly over 10K. You can call Carol at the Westwater permit office and switch your trip to a later launch date, if they're available- a lot of people don't realize that's an option....
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Old 05-23-2005   #6
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 54
does anybody have any photos of skull at high levels? it is such a sweet looking rapid though somewhat illusive, not many people get the chance to stop and take a good look at that mother. hook up some photos
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Old 05-23-2005   #7
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Salida, Colorado
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 550

Everybody in your party should be in full neoprene, bootys, with spray tops and bottoms if not dry tops and bottoms before you enter Marble Canyon.
Beware of the shore lines as serious holes form from large rock fall that is usually exposed at lowere levels.
Consider running Dewey Bridge to Big Bend down stream if you're not ready.
That way you can have dinner at the brewpub and you'll still have a good chance to flip with fewer consequences.
No amount of money is worth your free time!
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Old 05-23-2005   #8
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 10

Are there any particularly nasty holes above 20k? I'm going the 31st and will have experienced raft guides and some people with little experience.

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Old 05-23-2005   #9
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 388

When you say the eddy lines are dangerous, you mean they create the sucking wirlpools that pull you under? I've seen a few small ones that do that, but are these powerful enough to pull you under for an extended period? Won't you pop up after 10-20 seconds? I guess that can be real frightening for someone inexperienced.

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Old 05-24-2005   #10
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 161
The Room of Doom eddy will be brutal at this level. Please don't bring the dog. If you ending up dumping on Skull and the dog went into Room of Doom, that could be it.......
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