rafting the stikine - Mountain Buzz

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Old 02-12-2008   #1
incline village, Nevada
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rafting the stikine

I'm wondering if anyone knows of any attempts to raft the Stikine, the success of those attempts. Also if anyone who has been down can comment on the feasibility of this.

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Old 02-12-2008   #2
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Baytopia, Colorado
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i believe beth rypins made a partial raft d way back when and more recently mark cramer attempted a solo cataraft descent but was humbled. thats all I know.
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Old 02-12-2008   #3
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Never done it myself, but I've quizzed a few guys who have. It sounds like a lot of the rapids could go in a raft. But, then there are a few with hard to avoid huge features such as Wasson's Hole and the Hole That Ate Chicago that would most likely destroy a raft. Couple that with some rough portaging (Site Zed and V-Drive) and it all starts sounding less than doable. Then again, 30 years ago the Stikine was supposedly impossible. I say take a couple of scuba tanks and prove me wrong.
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Old 02-12-2008   #4
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Mark Cramer got very humbled and called for a helicopter rescue. Bear in mind that Cramer isn't some clueless AK redneck. He has catarafted both Turnback Canyon on the Alsek and Devils Canyon on the Susitna. If I remember correctly, he scouted the Stikine extensively via helicopter before he put-on.

Sounds like he's gonna try again in the future, so he must think its possible.
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Old 02-12-2008   #5
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Cramer has also run top-to-bottom on the NF Payette nearly 50 times or some crazy number. That's more than a lot of Boise kayakers.

He did get humbled on the Stikine. But he'll be back. Dude is a stud.
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Old 02-12-2008   #6
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Boulder, Colorado
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Mania is right on to my knowledge. I talked to Cramer last fall and got a copy of his DVD with footage from Turnback (Alsek) and Devils Canyon (Susitna). No Stikine rafting footage however.

I think he is the only guy to raft both of those stretches - I think someone else may have rafted Turnback. He has something like 50+ cat runs down the entire 15 miles of the NF Payette.

The guy can flip his boat back over in 7 seconds. He also runs pins and clips - forever proving that they are the best system. ; )

As to feasibility - I am sure that it is going to happen. Cramer is trying to do it solo, it will probably be easier (and safer) for a group to do it.

On his failed run he got part way down, got trapped in a super eddy, after flipping I think, tied a line to a cliff face, scaled the line, moved supplies up it, ripped up his hands doing this, and eventually got a helicopter evac.
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Old 02-12-2008   #7
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Wasson's, Site Zed, Wicked Wanda, Wall, Wall 2, The Hole and V drive in a raft..hmmmm.. I am thinking carnage!! It s a lot bigger then it looks from the heli,,
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Old 02-12-2008   #8
incline village, Nevada
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is that footage from the Alsek online anywhere?
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Old 02-12-2008   #9
Golden, Colorado
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National Geographic did a special on it at one point, probably back in the 80s (stikine, not alsek). I think there might have been another TV production as well, and I bet John Grace and his crew probably took footage when they made their attempt. Don't know about alsek footage.

Kayak Session had a big article about the stikine lately, and from the sounds of it, it is still just as marginal as it was 25 years ago. They gave a statistic that even with the recent river running history of it, 3 out of every 4 attempts have been forced to bail off the run. And there have only been 20-30 attempts. Any swim is a life threatening situation, and your boat is gone, which means you're hiking out. And the hike out can be sketchy (loose rock and alaskan wildlife). Several of those drops, such as Wassons hole, have damn near killed paddlers. From the sounds of it, just about everyone who goes in there is humbled by the experience. The stikine is one of those runs that if you need directions or advice about it, then don't even think about it.

That said, props to the dudes that run that shit, whatever their craft is.
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Old 02-12-2008   #10
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I believe Paddlequest has a Turnback segment. Chris Spelius has posted the entire movie online:

ExChile's Classic Kayak Videos Page - Kayak History

You can also find some historic Stikine footage at the same link.

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