Westwater to Hite 24 hrs, 13 min - Mountain Buzz
 



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Old 06-01-2008   #1
 
Andy H.'s Avatar
 
Wheat Ridge, Colorado
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Westwater to Hite 24 hrs, 13 min

Not to take anything away from Paul Gamache...

This story was lifted from the UtahRafters-dot-org email list, see that website for photos:

***********************************************

This is parts of a much longer story Iím doing for another
purpose. I hope the cuts and pastes make sense and please excuse the detail and
formality. People reading the publication wonít have as much knowledge of Bo
and rivers as many of you do. I added a few photos in ďBoís Westwater to Hite
trip.Ē


By Steve Christensen
Shuttle Driver
& Proud Father

We were hanging around the ramp at Westwater, waiting for
the appointed hour. Bo Christensen was set to do something we were unaware of
anyone else doing. He was going to embark on a 172-mile paddle on the Colorado
River from Westwater to Hite, and he was determined to do it in 24 hours.

Twenty-four hours and 13 minutes later, he paddled,
exhausted but elated, onto the makeshift ramp just below where the Dirty Devil
enters the Colorado. I pulled his kayak up onto the ground and he stood up. He
just stood there grinning. ďI donít think my legs work,Ē he said.

At Westwater the river was raging along at about 28,000
cubic feet per second and rising. The Green River was adding another
18,000-plus at the confluence. Adding a few small tributaries that are not
calculated and taking into consideration a little evaporation, itís fair to say
the mighty Colorado River through Cataract Canyon was flowing somewhere just
shy of 50,000 cfs. In Cataract terms, thatís huge. Certainly a level not to be
taken lightly.

Bo is a 22-year-old adventurer. This is not his first epic
adventure. At age 19 he rowed Cataract Canyon in a 17-foot cataraft from Potash
to Hite in 25 hours. The river was about 55,000 cfs on that day. His goal then
became to do that trip in less than 24 hours. His 2006 attempt was thwarted by
ďlowĒ water. It was only 42,000 cfs (peaked at 44,573 that year). He realized
conditions werenít conducive and decided to do a leisurely trip. Took 30 hours.

The Westwater to Hite trip is something Bo had been thinking
about for over a year. The idea was hatched after someone suggested he could
kayak from Potash to Hite in less than 24 hours. At that time the water was low
and was a different proposition altogether. The guy ended up easily making his
goal, pulling up in 20 hours. But, low water isnít Boís style, and his mind
started conjuring up other plans. The idea of Westwater to Hite was hatched.

The plan. He would need to average more than 7 miles per
hour. That means he would have to make 9-10 mph while on the river to allow for
stops. The water had to be high. Since one must have permits for Westwater
Canyon and Cataract Canyon, it was necessary to pick a date and hope.

Moonlight would be nice, but flow was more important. Bo
decided May 29 was the right date. He later questioned that date, because it
was so dark. His headlamp only shined 30-40 feet directly in front of him.
Without the headlamp he could make out things a little further away, but could
see no detail and didnít know what they were.

We met up in Moab, where I provided food and replenished
water, along with a thermos of coffee. He was cold, so he dried off, changed clothes,
and drank a cup of coffee in preparation for the very slow part of the trip.
While his goal was to make Hite in 24 hours, his plan was actually to do it in
22 and a half hours. He left Moab 15 minutes late and later told me he was
nearly two hours late by the time he got to Potash. The wind blew much of the
night. He stopped at a camp early in the morning. The people were kind enough
to give him a cup of coffee. From the confluence the flow was faster and it was
easier to make time, although he wasnít able to make up the time he lost at
Moab and from Moab to Potash.

He scouted the big drops, and rolled the only time on the
trip in Big Drop Two. He came upon a ranger just below the big drops, who asked
him whose name the permit was in and to describe his groover. As he walked away
Bo heard him mutter something about insane, or some such . . .

Even after being awake for over 30 hours, spent by the
intensity of the big rapids, and fatigue setting in fast, he was determined to
make up the lost time. He went under the bridge at 23:58 and only then gave up,
floating much of the remainder of the way to the ramp.

Having had no contact with him since 2 a.m., I was relieved
to see him. I can now relax. I wonder what his mind will conjure up next. Oh,
did I mention Bo soloed Gore Canyon three weeks ago at 2,600 cfs?

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Old 06-01-2008   #2
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i need to get this kid on a real raft trip through cat; see how far he gets after 4 layovers, some hazed, margs and a lengthy saftey meeting. now that takes commitment! if you are still standing at the takeout somethin aint right. wonder if i have the loooongest westwater to hite?
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Old 06-01-2008   #3
 
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I read the Potash to Hite story in an AW that a friend had hanging around. Bo is no doubt a strong, accomplished boater for his 22 years, but soloing class 5 at high water is a good way to not make it to 23. Heres to hoping he learns to take a buddy with him for the gnar.
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Old 06-02-2008   #4
 
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It was our group that gave him the coffee, just before the confluence and very early in the morning.

I had a brief discussion with Bo about another guy who solo'd it the day before, potash to hite...of course he knew Dave.

I swam from my kayak. Believe me when I tell you that another kayaker would have been no help. The water was SO SWIFT I swam for nealy 1 mile before one of our rafts CHASED me down after I screamed by 2 others.

Just can't count on help in the big water, so wtf might as well solo.

Good job Bo! Way to be buddy!
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Old 06-02-2008   #5
 
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That might be so, but there are many instances where a second boater could be a matter of life and death. Think swimmer stuck in a keeper hole or entangled in a strainer. Real tough to throw a bag to one self. I am no way trying to belittle Bo, he is a great kayaker, but many a great
kayaker has meet an early demise, and I'd rather not read about what a great kayaker Bo was.
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Old 06-02-2008   #6
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what boat was he paddling for that marathon?
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Old 06-02-2008   #7
 
Seattle, Washington
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Wow!

Congrats on making it down with only 2 minutes to spare, must have been one of the best take-out beers Bo's ever had.

What happens to the flat water on this run at that flow? I've seen the big drops on youtube at high water but does the rest of the run get some flow to it as well or does it remain relatively slow and flat?

I was scared of swimming the big drops at like 5k just because it would have be a major time killer, let alone exhausting. However, swimming or getting beat in a hole after paddling 125+ miles to get there at 55k is a totally different story.

Hats off for gettin it done, Congrats Bo!

Paul
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Old 06-02-2008   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rg5hole View Post
I swam from my kayak. Believe me when I tell you that another kayaker would have been no help. The water was SO SWIFT I swam for nealy 1 mile before one of our rafts CHASED me down after I screamed by 2 others.
now were you blowing your whistle or just 'screaming'?

ps. good work Bo. if he wants to solo he can solo who are we to tell him what to do?
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Old 06-02-2008   #9
 
Seattle, Washington
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mania View Post
ps. good work Bo. if he wants to solo he can solo who are we to tell him what to do?
Agreed, just want to clarify what I was saying was I would be scared out of my mind swimming that section solo at that flow, not saying someone shouldn't attempt to do something or not.

Anyone know when the full story on this will be available?
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Old 06-02-2008   #10
 
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he was in the Dagger Animas....in blue!

How cool is it that Durango has at least 2 classic boats named after a few of our classic rivers!
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