I've got a spot on a permit this weekend and I was wondering what to expect with the high water. I have done the run once, back in 02 at like 2000 cfs, so what does 10x the water look like? Does everything wash or are there huge riverwide stoppers?
Above 15K or so, everything but Skull washes, for the most part. The lines throught the rapids are the same - no harder to get where you need to be, but the consequences are pretty high if you have a swimmer in the water. From a rescue kayaker's perspective, it's a goddam nightmare. The eddy lines are huge & very squirrelly, and if you are trying to tow a swimmer across one you'll have problems- unless you're in your T-Canyon. If you have swimmers at this level, you had better have a raft nearby because there's no easy eddies from Marble to Last Chance.
I had a friend swim below Marble, and the guys in the raft just watched as he floated further away while I'm screaming, "ROPE!". I had him on my sterm loop 4-5 times & had to tell him to let go; we got flipped together along eddy lines and in the middle of rapids, and I couldn't paddle him across the eddy line before getting sucked back into the flow. I finally was able to get him out at the scout eddy at Skull- he was completely exhausted and about as close to a flush drowning as I'd ever want to see.
The Classification rating, as it applies to individual rapids, remains a III to III+ for the most part. Making the cut at Skull is not that hard, either. But it's a different river above 10000, and I think overall you had better be a competent IV boater with a good crew.
If you have a good oarsman and /or padde crew, you should be able to get where you need to be on the river without too much of a problem. Be aware that if you flip it at Skull, you're going either in the Room of Doom and may not be able to get out, or you're possibly collecting your gear after Last Chance. But, the move to get left at Skull isn't too bad because the rocks necessitating that Right-to-left move are gone.
However- the scout eddy is not a great option because it will be difficult to peel out from that spot into the part in the current where you want to be. So- Skull is almost certainly a no-look for the rafters. I may not be the best person to ask, either, because the highest I've rowed it was about 14K; I've only kayaked above that, which leaves a different impression.
I would suggest having the raft catch an eddy about 50-100 yards upstream, on the right; and have the kayakers scout the drop from teh traditional scout eddy. You might be able to give them some hand signals as to the best way to proceed.
Your vehicle of choice would be a New Wave Cruise Control
I have a June 17th launch and I just picked up a old Kendo (8'9" of longboat love)- should be a hoot.
A forum community dedicated to whitewater kayaking, boating, and rafting enthusiasts. Come join the discussion about safety, routes, gear, models, styles, gear swaps, reviews, accessories, classifieds, and more!