Tatenshini Alsek 2017 - Mountain Buzz

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Old 08-08-2016   #1
bwest's Avatar
Denver, Colorado
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 123
Tatenshini Alsek 2017

Who has done this trip? How hard is the permit to get? How long? Where did you get gear? Anyone have experience with getting a cancellation?

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Old 08-08-2016   #2
San Jose, CA, California
Paddling Since: 1998
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 570

I just read the AW page for the run and browsed through the links. I would be interested in hearing about a recent trip report as well.

American Whitewater - 2. Dalton Post to Alsek (Dry Bay), Tatshenshini British Columbia, CA/Yukon Territory, CA/Alaska, US

While I have not done this section of river I did spend time working in a village on the Kuskokwim river way out in bush Alaska. The wilderness / travel logistics look similar from the parks website. My big take away's for accessing these areas.

1. Flying is typically the most feasible all around option for access. Bush planes will haul your gear but it is incredibly expensive. Flying yourself and a single raft into and out of the area would likely cost $3k - 6k round trip from Colorado.

2. Seeing these places may be easier in the winter. In the winter you can drive a snow machine on the frozen river systems. They connect the villages like a natural road system. They way to see this area would be to fly to Whitehorse buy a Snowmachine and drive it to Dry Bay sell it and fly home. The bears are also sleeping at this time of year.
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Old 08-08-2016   #3
Medford, Oregon
Paddling Since: 1984
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 235
I have done this trip the permit took about 3 years to be available. It was an amazing adventure. The first day has some class 3/4 rapids. The river moves fast but much of it is flat, reading the braids can be a challenge. We went out in bush planes. We had a big plane from Whitehorse that was supposed to pick us up. The weather turned bad just before they arrived and they could not land, so we hired bush planes to shuttle our gear over to the larger airport in Yakutat where the larger plane was waiting. You need a break down frame to do this river. This is SE Alaska so you might not get out exactly on the day you expected so flexibility is key. Brabazon Rafters' Support Services These folks were invaluable in assisting with the planes and hauling boats and gear to the airport. Pat is a character a real SE Alaskan, he has great salmon btw. We drove to White Horse, Yukon Territories from the west coast. This is a logistics intensive trip, it took us about a year to plan. Getting the reservations for the planes was a bit of a challenge they did not seem to be around during the winter so keep that in mind when setting up the shuttles. We went in August and managed to hit some nice weather, but definitely bring tarps you will be using them frequently. It is expensive but Pat at Brabazon knows all the pilots and he can makes some suggestions. We chartered a larger plane to get us back to White Horse, we found that to be the cheapest.
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Old 08-08-2016   #4
Medford, Oregon
Paddling Since: 1984
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 235
The Forest Service was very helpful with trip planning they had some good suggestions, be sure to contact the Tongass NF they are a good starting point also as I mentioned Pat at Brabazon. We took our own boats, Tongass NF could tell you who the outfitters are. Be careful with cancellations as logistics takes time. The permit came up pretty fast.
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Old 08-08-2016   #5
wildh2onriver's Avatar
Glenwood Springs, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1987
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 1,311
Google cloudburst productions for an outstanding guide book for the Tat and the Alsek.

Typically, depending on where you stage from, either Haines, AK or Whitehorse, YK, determines what planes you'll use and if you're renting equipment, what type of gear they'll supply. I've staged from both.

It's one of the greatest River trips I've ever had the privilege to be on.

Sent from my iPhone using Mountain Buzz
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Old 08-08-2016   #6
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 32
I did the Tat a few years ago and I'm planning on doing the Alsek probably 2018. I talked to a lot of people and it seemed like rental gear was really hit or miss. Some of the outfitters promised certain gear like self bailing rafts and then failed to deliver. Do to stories like that and my fondness for my gear I decided to drive. I towed a trailer up with my family, 4 rafts and everybody's gear. The other people flew in to Juneau and took the ferry to Haines were we hired somebody to shuttle us to the put in and bring my truck back to the airport. It worked out well and that's what we will probably do in 18. We chartered 4 Cessna 206's to get us from Dry Bay back to Haines. I think they were about $800 each and we filled them up with 4 rafts and 9 people. Amazing trip. Well worth the money we spent.
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Old 08-08-2016   #7
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Boulder, Colorado
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 986
If you want to do it this year just do it once it starts getting cold, that way you can run turnback.

I did the alsek in late july and it was sick but way to high for turnback. September is a good time to look for if you want to run that.

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Old 08-12-2016   #8
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1996
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 34
We ran it in 2012 after spending 9 years on the waitlist - It didn't have to be that long, but that's when we were ready to pull the trip together.

Logistics were complicated, to say the least. We flew into Juneau, then took the ferry (3 hrs?) up to Haines, where our outfitter was located. We used Stan Bohr / Alaska River Outfitters, and I couldn't have been happier. Boats were in good condition, and he was very helpful getting us setup for put in. Stan drove us up to the putin, about 2 hours or so from Haines.

There were some class III rapids the first day, but nothing too unmanageable. The tat is a shallow, glacial fed, river with lots of side channels. Finding the right channel to get to a specific camp is challenging, and we spent a lot of time pushing boats through shallow channels.

The confluence area with the Alsek is incredible - amazing views in every direction. A bit further down, Walker Glacier is a fun hike onto a very active glacier. Alsek Lake was something else - it's an amazing experience to float around amongst icebergs.

Like most things on this trip, the takeout is complicated. The Dry Bay airstrip is about a half a mile from the river. Because of post-glacial rebound, the side channel that runs next to the airstrip is drying up and is not really floatable except at the highest flows - I have heard of people rowing it upriver from the downstream side of the channel, but no one really recommended that approach. We ended up hiring someone at the takeout to haul our gear to the airstrip on an ATV - it wasn't cheap, but it beats the alternative.

We hired Yakutat coastal airlines and their big turbine Otter to fly a few of us and our gear back to Haines. The flight from Dry Bay to Haines nearly surpassed the trip itself - it was incredible. After dropping our gear back off with Stan in Haines, we flew back to Dry Bay, picked up the rest of our group, and flew the short distance back to the Yakutat airport. From there, we caught the Alaska Airlines jet back home.

All in all, although the logistics were complicated, and it wasn't cheap, it was a great trip.

Here's some photos of the trip: https://goo.gl/photos/qdfzDD9UAyAFphpK9
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Old 08-12-2016   #9
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2011
Join Date: May 2013
Posts: 210
This trip is my number 1 dream trip. Im on the wait list now. If I happen to get a permit I would only have a few friends at most with the balls and cash to do this trip. So what Im saying is, If anyone scores a permit and has room, let me know. And if I get a permit, there is a good chance that I will be looking for a few to join too.
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Old 08-12-2016   #10
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1993
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 1
It's an amazing and beautiful trip. I did the Alsek/lowerTat it in July 2014. As others mentioned, the logistics are complicated and the expense is relatively high (I spent about $4k I think). A big expense is contracting a helicopter for the shuttle to get around the 10mi stretch of Turnback Canyon. It's unrunnable. Someone in the thread above mentioned running it at lower water to avoid the portage. That might be doable but I wouldn't want to run the entire stretch at that low of water. The braided sections are spread out over the course of the river- it becomes very wide and the water depth is shallow. We had to step out of the raft multiple times over the course of the trip to drag the raft across inches of water. The river is so opaque with silt we couldn't see much more than a 1/2inch or so below the surface. Without visibility to the river bed it's a big challenge to read where the deepest channels are to avoid getting stuck. Lava North rapid on the Alsek is very big, it's long and quite formidable. Class IV+/V, cold water, cold weather. Don't want to swim this one. Many other fun challenges running this river but what a lifetime adventure!
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