Main Salmon High Water Cutoff? - Mountain Buzz

Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 05-15-2019   #1
Alpine, Wyoming
Paddling Since: 2002
Join Date: Feb 2017
Posts: 16
Main Salmon High Water Cutoff?

So looking to raft the Main in June and obviously this year could be big. Looking for input on what people consider the cutoff level for a very experienced white water raft crew. And what gauges you are using. Thanks!

Shakes413 is offline   Reply With Quote
Sponsored Links
Old 05-15-2019   #2
Riverwild's Avatar
Salt Lake City, Utah
Paddling Since: 1997
Join Date: Jun 2015
Posts: 271
I've always gone off whitebird usgs gauge for the Main. I would say if your very experienced you shouldn't have any issues. For me it comes down to Whiplash and I can't remember what level that thing goes from a big rapid to a universe bender. I wanna say around 60,000 but I'm not certain.
Riverwild is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-15-2019   #3
FlyingDutchman's Avatar
Hampden, Massachusetts
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: Mar 2014
Posts: 347
I mostly agree with Riverwild.

Chittam can get powerful, but there are sneak routes off of the wave train. I don’t remember what whiplash was like, we probably just read and run it at the time without scouting from shore.

We portaged two 14 ft rafts around chittam, ran the sneak with one 156R (lot of work rowing against a giant eddy after the sneak), and ran the meat with the other 156R.

But you might want to consider hitting the river while it’s dropping versus on the way up. Lots of giant logs with pointy stubs start floating along as the river is on the rise. The logs can be hard to see in the waves and turbulence. And the logs float unpredictably . You might have better luck with less wood if there are comparable high flows a week prior to flush things out, but don’t take my word for it.
FlyingDutchman is offline   Reply With Quote
Sponsored Links
Old 05-15-2019   #4
FlyingDutchman's Avatar
Hampden, Massachusetts
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: Mar 2014
Posts: 347
Old thread.
FlyingDutchman is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-15-2019   #5
codycleve's Avatar
salmon, Idaho
Paddling Since: 2004
Join Date: Mar 2012
Posts: 1,179
I always go off the level at the corn creek ramp. most the rapid descriptions in the black canyons guide for the salmon go off of this.. just call 208-865-2700 for the river level.

From everything i have heard it comes down to chitam and whiplash. Whiplash can be portaged but it is a long haul. I have only been at up to 3 feet which is not high at all.
codycleve is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-15-2019   #6
Ft jones, United States
Paddling Since: 1985
Join Date: Jun 2017
Posts: 54
I ran it solo two years ago at just under 7' on the ramp.
Whiplash wasn't much of anything, Chitham was an easy sneak right.

At that level, I liken it to a big, good natured guy who gets drunk at a party....
Yeah, he might stumble into you and knock you down, but he's not gonna kick you in the ribs afterwards.
I wouldn't necessarily choose that level again, but didn't think it was dangerous.
I would like to see it at 8+ feet.

BenSlaughter is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-15-2019   #7
Bozeman, Montana
Join Date: May 2013
Posts: 42
Ran it at 8.5ft, put on July 1, 2011. The first class II a couple miles in had some huge haystacks. Whiplash looked terrible, wasn't so bad. Chittum was fun, could make different runs. I went and pulled the gauges from that day, the combined cfs of the Middle Fork and Main just above Corn was 32,000cfs. Whitebird was around 65k by the looks of it.
Redside is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-15-2019   #8
Eureka, California
Paddling Since: 1991
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 66
In my youth (40), we did the Main in June 1995, the old ramp was 5.9 ft, @20K, and about 50K at Whitebird when we got off. My sweetie and 14 yr old son were in a WW canoe, I was in a solo canoe on a commercial raft trip. Chittum was the only rapid, everything else was washed out with boils and eddy fences galore.

At Chittum, my solo was on a raft with me, but hubbie and son ran, up right, Chittum. In hind sight it was probably one of the stupidist things i let them do. If something had gone wrong, well . . . Some place I have a picture of a big jet boat entering Chittum, next pic it's gone, then resurfaces, the holes etc were huge. One of the safety kayakers got sucked out and swam last half. A few days before one of my thigh straps blew out and it was several miles before a raft caught up with me.

Overall it was a good trip, and gave my sweetie the confidence to do the GC in a tandem canoe, but not with me or son. Balance of our Main, MF, & Lower have all been in August - very different

Happy paddling!
kanoer2 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-15-2019   #9
barry hatch's Avatar
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 32
Redside's recollection seems right to me. Whiplash starts to become a rapid at around 7.5 (30,000cfs) on the Corn Creek scale. It's not to bad at 8 but gets quickly more intimidating as flows increase. The first rapid Killum gets big at 7 + but you'll likely get surfed off the wave train to the right. Chittum should be scouted and there are several routes on the right out of the meat. Other rapids are washed out but always beware of that irregular wave that pops up out of nowhere and slams you from the side. At above 7.5 all the sandy camps are underwater (no beaches). You'll be camping in the trees. Advise everyone to stay in the boat; trying to catch swimmers is a bitch. Bring your high float jacket. If you've run other rivers at high water you know the drill. Happy Boating!
barry hatch is offline   Reply With Quote

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off

Similar Threads
Topic Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
NF Gunny ELF character/low flow cutoff? yetigonecrazy Whitewater Kayaking 1 04-08-2012 04:08 PM
Browns canyon high water - commercial cutoff? flyfishing doug Whitewater Kayaking 7 06-17-2011 01:21 PM
Inflatable kayaks on Main Salmon in high water? DeeGardiner Whitewater Kayaking 2 06-16-2010 10:36 PM
Idaho Main Salmon and Middle Fork High Water eideho River Access & Safety Alerts! 0 05-22-2009 05:17 PM
Westwater - River "shortcut" or cutoff Andy H. River Access & Safety Alerts! 0 04-05-2008 10:36 AM

Powered by vBadvanced CMPS v3.2.3

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 01:35 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
vBulletin Security provided by vBSecurity v2.2.2 (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2020 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.