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Discussion Starter #1
Well yesterday, we decided to go down to Royal Gorge after our Cross Mountain Gorge run fell through. It was just a routine run until we got to Sunshine Falls. I asked my friend if he wanted to lead a group of newbies down the rapid, while I ran safety. So I got my camera ready to take a picture of him going down the right hand side of the bottom drop with the nasty hydraulic. Well, I couldn't believe my eyes when the current forced his boat to the left near the meat of the drop after running it pretty clean. At that point, he proceded to do a couple endos and swam. He saw my rope go right over his head, so he grabbed it before going through another maytag cycle. He was really stuck in the hole. I just don't think that anyone could have swam out of there. It just looked impossible. So once he got ahold of the rope, it took about all my strength to pull him out. I think I was pulling on twice his weight with the hydraulic holding him. I'm writing this because I think that people should know just how retentive and dangerous this hydraulic can be at 450 cfs. Has anyone ever swam out of the bottom drop in Sunshine Falls at this or any other water level? I personally think that safety is mandatory on this rapid at this level. What do you all think? Anyway we had a great crew, so we managed to get his boat and paddle back and he only spent about a minute total in the hole. He was alright, but shaken up pretty bad.
 

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That hole is very sticky and when we post about RG we tell people to have a look at it when it is at these low levels. Personally we always have safety at that hole. All swimmers that I have seen in that hole have needed a rope to get out.
 

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Glad it all turned out ok. Sandbaggers, take note of what happened in a lowly "class III" rapid.

Some years ago I clipped my throw rope to my Redline (what a radical design) and tossed it in the water above a low-head dam. I would recommend the exercise to anyone who is curious or doubting the force of a bad hole.
 

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I swam out of that hole last year after going through about 3 or 4 maytag cycles at about that same level. I had to push off of my boat and the rock to get out. My boat stayed in the hole for about fifteen minutes until my friend waded out and pulled it out of the hole. it is a very sticky hole until about 800 cfs it starts to ease up a bit.
 

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Sandbaggers, take note of what happened in a lowly "class III" rapid.
word. good on ya' calling out the sandbagging on the Buzz.

Sunshine at low flows in gnarly. Plain and simple. You should see that rapid late in the season when raft companies are still running through there a lot...horror show. When I run it at low flow I make sure that people I am with that may not have run it before at low flows look at that spot.

Some of luster has worn off that rapid over the years. Some may remember that it actually used to be a "fall" of sorts and was super gnarly at high flows. Shifting rocks have changed things over the last 12 years or so at high flows but below 700 or so that rapid is ugly.
 

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I was there yesterday in the group ahead of you. I would consider myself a solid boater...needless to say, I walked Sunshine yesterday...


Jen
 

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I feel a little better about walking it yesterday... I've run it a couple times at higher water with no problems, it just looked a little too wicked yesterday. We had a talk about making it a standard practice to set up safety there. Yesterday was the first time I have.

Nice meeting a couple of you guys downstream!

Laurie
 

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I would add that at low water sunshine is not a class III unless you truely enjoy your sandbagging role.
 

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"A friend" ran this rapid rather lackadaisically for the first run of this season. He caught the eddy below the big drop way too high and rolled into it. Having seen other boats stuck in this hole he decided to bail after a couple rolls in the hole. He got released from the hole only after swimming hard towards the bottom and balling up. When he walked back up for redemption, he made sure a rope was waiting at the hole. That hole sucks, literally.
 

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so should we call it a III+ then? and if that's class III+, then maybe we should upgrade zoom flume from a class II+ to a class III. and then that bumps pine creek into the fours and before you know it...

dan (admitted sandbagger)
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Is "danger" Dan Wooley? If getting stuck in a hole that won't let you out without assistance from people on shore is not class IV, then what is a class IV rapid to you? Perhaps you should consider rating rapids based more on their consequences rather than entirely on the difficulty of the move. The point of my post was to say that even a routine run like Royal Gorge can be "danger"ous. Granted that equipment is far better than it was even 10 years ago and the ability of paddlers has improved, I think we still swim the same way we did back in the the old days. I really don't want to dog on any particular group of people ("sandbaggers"), so I'll stop there. I guess the most important thing in the rating system is that when you rate a run, the people that you paddle with understand the basis in which you made that rating. Dan we should go paddling some time as long as it's not too "danger"ous. Give me a call or drop me a line.
Curtis
 

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I think that the rating should weigh more heavily on consequence than on navigability. Mostly for the sake of beginners, not bad asses to prove how skilled they are. Generally a rating is a balance between the two but the thing is, skill level is somewhat relative. I know that for myself after paddling for 13 years I tend to forget what is like for a person who is still learning. I tend to assume that the moves are just as easy for them as it is for me. Maybe that flaw is only limited to me, I dont know. None the less I would rather a beginner read a desicription or hear the rating and know that if they get off the line that they may pay. honestly it is amazing how beginners tend to gravitiate towards the nasty stuff.

In climbing we have some letters that follow the rating. R is for run out, meaning that the bolts are really far apart which may result it a huge fall. Or sometimes it may get an X meaning that the route is hard to protect with gear. A rating of G may mean that it is easy to protect.

So maybe some letters could be good...

U= undercut
S= sieve
H= hole
NS= no safety
LS= long swim

or just the basic film rating like climbing. G low risk X high risk and everwhere in between.

ben
 

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I've never been down to the gorge buts it on my list of places to run season. My question is why did the boater swim? What was his/her skill level? Most holes I can just cartwheel/surf out of in a bit of time. Is it possible to surf out of this hole or must you exit your kayak to get out?
 

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I've surfed out of it and I know intermediate paddlers who have surfed out of it at this level. But it is not easy and there is a little bit of luck involved sometimes. If you haven't run it before, I would say that between 700 and 1000 is a good level to hit it up. The hole is much friendlier with more water.

COUNT
 

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so should we call it a III+ then? and if that's class III+, then maybe we should upgrade zoom flume from a class II+ to a class III. and then that bumps pine creek into the fours and before you know it...

dan (admitted sandbagger)
so are we going to set up a local chapter of sandbaggers anonymous?


Dan, are you boating this weekend? looking for a 3rd on gore or something comparable, you know, I want to keep it to something III+ish! first time in the boat this year.

KT
 

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so should we call it a III+ then? and if that's class III+, then maybe we should upgrade zoom flume from a class II+ to a class III. and then that bumps pine creek into the fours and before you know it...

dan (admitted sandbagger)
dude who ever rated Zoom Flume II+ and Pine Creek is not class V now? Come on....rating rapids is not an ego thing. If you can grease a rapid that does not downgrade it to something easier. Ratings are for folks to use as a general guideline and if you know that Class IV or Class III or whatever is not going to give you issues then you just run it.

If you see that a rapid is rated Class IV and that makes you nervous then you should get out a look at the rapid. It is total bullshit to say a rapid is say, Class III, like Sunshine when you know full well there is a hole in there that will hand someone their ass. Maybe you are throwing clean blast wheels in there but someone with less experience or ability may get recirc'd within an inch of their life.

How many people have drowned trying to swim out of the S-bend hole in Pine Creek? A lot, including a local guy here in Salida named Rob, back in '96, who was a good boater. It has been a few years but that does not mean that it won't happen again. As my friend Cory Nielson used to say, Pine Creek is Class III with Class V consequences. Therefore call it Class V and let people make up there own minds. At least folks will be warned....

sorry... I get sandy panties over these issues. It just seems like people are too cavalier anymore. It has been a while since we had a summer like 1997 when we lost some of the best paddlers on the planet in, like a 5 month stretch. That was a total wake up call for a lot of people including myself....changed my perspective permenantly....
 

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be good stewards and learn something here

Give the guy a break. The childish disrespect so often voiced on the buzz is disappointing. I know heckling is mostly perceived as fun and games, but I think it fuels a poor image of boaters too. I realize many in the sport are young, but please think and behave like good veteran stewards of the sport, community, and our environment.

The drop at low water is an example of a "Keeper". The hole doesn't smile upstream or frown downstream. It is a channel wide, straight across, capped off at both edges, pour over hole. Any boater will probably encounter these during their continued boating experiences. Yes, "Keepers" should be considered dangerous. However, either through experience or by training, all boaters should learn how to either identify and portage, successfully smear past on the edges, and/or self escape in the event of a swim. Escape generally lies on the bottom. Often the hydraulic will force one to the bottom, which literally grabbing the rocks and crawling out the side on the bottom is advised. Floating and panicing on top can lead to violent recirculations and exhaustion. I would consider it a worthy experience if you ever get to execute a succeful low volume bottom escape during your early learning. Not only might it be life saving then, but gaining the experience and knowledge developes confidence to react more calmly if it ever happens again. Which, boat long enough and it probably will. Possibly in bigger and badder circumstances someday.

Peace. -- kv
 
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