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Howdy! I'm going up to Alaska at the end of August to run the Tatshenshini (class III/float). However, doing some research, it looks like it wouldn't be too far out of the way to go fire up the Grand Canyon of the Stikine. This would also be at an easier water level to run this (August-Sept being non-highwater). It is a class V+ big water run. One of the classics on the North American Continent.

So, I may go look to fire it up either on the drive up to Alaska in mid-August, or on the way back in early September.

Just an idea at this point, though I'm starting to do the research on it. Anyone here run it? Know anyone who's run it? Anyone want to run it with me?

Thought I'd drop the line to all of you buzzards a few months before the trip to see what info I can find.

I will be driving my station wagon from Colorado to Haines, AK for the Tatshenshini trip, so I could carry a boat for someone up there potentially.

Cheers!
 

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I'm not sure if this post is a joke, but it is supposed to be one of the hardest rivers in the world. That being said, if your good enough to run it you should probably know people that would be interested. Poking around on the buzz to meet people probably isn't a good bet. You want to trust the people your with when shit hits the fan.
 

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Nope, no joke. More just doing homework on it. Heard about it for years. Now I'll actually be in the area. Looking to talk to someone who has run it. Not specifically looking for partners unless you've run it.
 

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I don't know anyone that has run the Stikine, and I have very little interest. But if you think you are ready more power to you. Like Christian said, if you're ready to run the Stikine, you'll probably know at least a few of the 30 or so people that have run it since its first decent in the 80's....something tells me you are not going to have people popping out of the woodwork with details on the Buzz. This isn't Gore Canyon, its the Stikine. Here's a link to a "Short History of the Grand Canyon of the Stikine" by Doug Ammons. It makes the hair stand up on my neck.
A Short History of the Grand Canyon of the Stikine River
Good luck.
 

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The film "Aerated" has some good footage of the stikine. I also read an article about a guy who tried to run it in a cataraft. You better have skills that are on par with the best big water paddlers in the world if you are even thinking about it. Going from a class III float to the Stikine is like going from the bunny hill to a 50 degree pitch with multiple, manadatory 50 ft cliffs. Doesn't seem like a good idea to me.
 

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i think youre misunderstanding the poor guy.

hes not a class III boater; hes a guy who will be on a class III river that is nearby. i havent seen mr steel 2 pots paddle but i can betcha he knows what hes talking about here.....
 

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I don't think the kind of boaters that go on the Stikine plan huge trips (like to Alaska) to paddle class III in the first place, which would lead me to believe that he is not in the same league as them.
 

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Doug Ammons wrote a great article about the stikine that was published in Kayak Session. Don't remember when, but it was in the last year or so I think. It had a bit more info that the history link posted by CGM, but it was in the same vein. It also listed all of the folks that had run the stikine. Its a short list of badasses. If you want first hand info, thats your contact list.
 

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I don't think the kind of boaters that go on the Stikine plan huge trips (like to Alaska) to paddle class III in the first place, which would lead me to believe that he is not in the same league as them.
Some of the sickest boaters I know enjoy class 3 and 4. The Tatshenshini is like the Grand Canyon with more bears and better scenery. Know any class V boaters who've spent a lot of time and money to do a trip down the class 3-4 Grand Canyon? Me too.

The Stikine sounds like the gnar. Good luck with your research.
 

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I know some of the people who've run it, some with success, some without. It strikes me that its not the kind of quest one builds a team for from the internet.

Also, IMO, running the Futa, Zambezi and Black Canyon are not indicators of the capacity to survive the Stikine at all. I could be wrong, but yer avatar looks like the seal launch after a portage around Zeta on the Futa... That rapid is cake compared to the Stikine.

Not trying to bust on you, but the very, very best have been humbled in there.

Respect it. Good luck

Phil
 

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Here's a blog post of our Stikine trip this past September. The river is not out of reach for those who are truly committed to kayaking. The Stikine has two equally important fronts: paddling and planning. You have to be willing to take some hits , ride some big holes and hang on to your paddle. The planing part just got a lot easier now that there's a gauge at Telegraph Creek. The weather is volatile, so have your finger on the pulse and pray for high pressure. The Sacred Headwaters area is awe-inspiring and is endangered on multiple fronts of energy development. Hopefully the Stikine will be left alone,, in all its glory.
 

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Some background on the Stikine

This is a reply to the post about the Stikine. People were being directed to my website for background; apparently somebody linked to an article I'd written (the text to an article for Kayak Session a couple years ago).

Frankly, at first I thought the post was somebody having fun, but I guess it's legit, so what's said below assumes the person was serious (if he's still pulling our leg, then that's pretty amusing.

Kayaking is about freedom to do what we choose, so I'm not going to dissuade the original poster about trying the Stikine. If he feels he's ready, then more power to him. But I think a few comments and a little perspective are in order.

Trying to get infomation and potential partners for the Stikine by posting on the internet is approximately like finding info and partners for a trip to climb Everest on a climbing forum. Maybe it will work, but it's not a very serious way to proceed given the objective difficulty of the place you're going.

Outside of the Tsangpo, the Stikine is the closest thing we have in kayaking to a major Himalayan climb. The great things about it are these: it is very hard, but nearly every rapid is runnable, it's a stunningly beautiful and intimidating place, and finally, anybody can drive up the Cassiar highway and put on. There aren't any permits needed, just stop at the bridge, pack your boat, and head down the river.

But if you do that, you'd better have a real good idea of what's down there. For example, it's harder than any of the Sierra multidays, and a totally different kind of paddling. It's certainly doable by a good, highly experienced team of paddlers. But there have been epics in there. If Bob McDougall and more recently Jay Kinkaid and Taylor Robertson, can get their butts handed to them in a sling and see God, then the rest of us can too. So keep that in mind. When people like Rob Lesser, Lars Holbeck, Tommy Hilleke, John Grace, Tyler Bradt, Oli Grau, Olaf Obsommer, Scott Lindgren, and Charlie Munsey come out of there with their eyes wide, then that should tell you something. Lars once told me "Sometime I should go back to see if it really is as scary as I remember." Scott told me "It was like being in Vietnam and coming back alive." Charlie just said - in great Munsey style - "It's still the truth". Just last year Tyler Bradt emailed me to say it was an incredible run that deserved everything ever said about it, and whose exploration seemed so difficult it baffled him.

It's a place to plan carefully for and savor, and a place where you need to decide what paddling means to you. If you find somebody who knows it, and follow them down without doing the thoughtful sifting that should be done, you might make it to the take out. If you don't, then I guarantee you won't be a happy man. If you do, you'll probably say "That was the most outrageous river I've ever done", but you'll also have a trip that means less than if you treated it like your own first descent. Have the courage to make it your own first descent. You already know its been done, so you know more than we did. Figure it out yourself, like we did. If you approach it that way, it will be the hardest thing you ever did, and the most meaningful.

Some specs: It's a 60 mile long, three or four day wilderness Class V+/VI run, big water, cold, very committing, vertical walled in many places, hard scouting, and portages; if you have to climb out and if you find a place to make it up to the rim, you'll be in the middle of the Canadian wilderness. Ask Jay and Taylor what that's like.

The poster says he's done the Black Canyon of the Gunnison - a great run. The Black canyon would be something like the Stikine if it had about 10,000 cfs in it. Think about that. It's on a different order. It's not a guidebook run, or a place to have a pickup team. The poster also mentions the Fut - another great river. However, it gets commercial traffic and guided runs, all its major rapids have been run by an innertuber, or so I hear from a knowledgable source. The Grand Canyon of the Stikine will never be run by a tuber, nor will it ever be done as a guided run, nor will there ever - and I mean ever - be a commercial run done on it. I'd say it is between one and two grades harder than the rivers the poster mentions, and longer, more exposed, and sustained. When the best paddlers in the world come out of there collectively shaking their heads and blown away, then you should realize it's a different universe.

A doable one, so be inspired and prepare for it.

In my latest book ("Whitewater Philosophy") I have a chapter titled "The real measure of skill." It is a letter to a guy who wrote me after his team tried the Stikine. They made it down only the first three big rapids (out of about 25), were slammed, hurt, bailed out and got lost up on the rim, and ended up four days later getting rescued by a helicopter after they'd run out of food. It is a frank discussion of what's needed to approach the run, and what I consider to be "the real measure of skill". The real measure of skill is not what you do when you're at your best, it's what you can do when you're at your worst - hurt, beat, lost confidence, and still have to rise to the occasion. If your worst isn't up to the Stikine, then my suggestion is not to go until you have reached that level.

Hopefully in the next few months I'll (finally) publish a book on the Stikine that's been written for about ten years. It will give a riverrunning history and an appreciation for its stunning grandeur, intimidation, and difficulty. The second half will be the story of my solo run. That book and the chapter I mention above will answer some people's questions. Check out blogs with descriptions of individual runs done over the last three or four years (e.g., by Austin Rathman, Ali Marshall). My website has the general article which will give you a little taste (see www.dougammons.com). My book "Laugh of the Water Nymph" is available there, and has a story about another trip we did in there in 1998. "Whitewater Philosophy" is available there. Scott Lindgren has footage; so check out his website, John Grace at Lunch Video Magazine has at least two shows that include their runs in there, with Hilleke, DeLavergne, and McDermott, I believe in 2004 and 2005.

I don't believe that kayaking is defined by the harder things; its beauty is there for all of us at every level. The Stikine is a special place, and it should be treated like that - both for your own safety and life, and as an expression of the wonderful experiences our sport gives us, inspiration that draws all of us to the sport. If you want to take on the Stikine, then you really need to be ready for it. You should train for it in the same vein you'd train if you were going to do Everest. Tossing it on a trip you've planned to do the Tat, as if it's just another run, is foolish. I've been there four times and I wouldn't do that. I'd recommend about one or two seasons of really hard, top end paddling, technical big water Class V, aiming to peak for the Stikine - including a few weeks, or month on the NF Payette, which was always our training river. The post is flippant and casual, and the Stikine isn't a place for that if you want to live a long and healthy life.


Doug Ammons
www.dougammons.com
 

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Doug,, thanks for chiming in. It's always a pleasure to read your words. So True..
Here's a redirect to a Stikine done by mere mortals. All due to the leg work of Rob L, Doug, Lars H, Don B, John W and Rick F.
Buenas Linas!
 

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I love that in out sport some of the legends still take the time to write responses to our posts. I doubt that I will ever decide to run the Stikine, but I enjoy reading about those who have and will. Thank you Doug.
 

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Always a pleasure to read what you have to say and how you say it Doug. Thank you for this response and for all your other writings.

Regards,
Phil
 

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Thanks Doug. I know I'll never paddle the Stikine, but I eat up any reading or footage about it that I come across. Looking forward to that book.
 
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