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MendoWill
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Has anyone seen Westwater around its current flows (37,600cfs)? Or higher? Or nearby? Supposed to float it on 6/7/14, never seen it at any flows, tagging along with a new crew.

Are we in more danger than usual? I've heard that above the Terrible Teens it washes out, but I would love to hear from someone who's been down there.

Thx
 

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The Russian
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My highest was 26-27k, it was way too fast, too washed out. Fighting the eddie lines and whirlpools was pretty much the only danger. The whole canyon seemed like over over in 30 minutes. I would say at 37k, it would be even faster and whirlpools be bigger and nastier.

At one point, my boat was drowned for a few seconds. I could do nothing at all, just sit there and wait for the whirlpool to let me go. It was pretty scary experience when a 16 foot boat gets almost swallowed by the river.

The Funnel was a standing wall from side to side, didn't have too much hassle breaking through it. Skull was a lot easier at that level, just stay the hell away from the room of doom.
 

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At those levels The room of doom would be impossible to enter I'm thinking. My highest levels were 30 and 45k, lots of rollers, some big laterals, so square up if you can. It's like being flushed down an enormous drain, very fast--like 20 minutes from Marble Canyon to Last Chance. My 18' cat was pirouetted in suck hole eddy-stood it up at a 45 degree angle and gave my two passengers a much needed bath.

I almost didn't see the room as Skull was a series of rollers and we were zipping by with white knuckles on the oars...


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kazak got it right. ran it around 48k (years back) and it was just freaky. felt like I must have had a death wish. whirlpools, incredibly strong eddys, and debris you cannot imagine - trees (with leaves and entire root systems) railroad ties with spikes, bloated cows - you name it. as for me, never again. super tense for 90 minutes and couldn't calm down for days. not fun and not a "float"
 

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The Russian
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we were zipping by with white knuckles on the oars...
LOL that's pretty much my description of those levels in WW. I only remember my hands being so stuck in the "oar grab" position, I couldn't open them up for 30 mins after Last Chance. Another memory are the giant holes (whirlpools) opening up left and right around me as we were rolling down the canyon.
 

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LOL that's pretty much my description of those levels in WW. I only remember my hands being so stuck in the "oar grab" position, I couldn't open them up for 30 mins after Last Chance. Another memory are the giant holes (whirlpools) opening up left and right around me as we were rolling down the canyon.

It's fair to say that you'll have a death grip for awhile followed by hand cramps. I found the best way to treat that was back to back beer curls followed by tequila pull ups...

That's a serious run at those levels, the suck hole eddys can flip/dump passengers. Recovering them could be problematic. The rock of shock looks like something from a sci-fi movie and the eddy fence has to be 4' with the room circling like a whirlpool. But again, I can't see how you could get in unless you swam and were sucked down and entered from underwater.



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Another thing to highlight, as far as increased risk, is the water is currently 56F. Even with cold water protection you can lose dexterity, especially in the hands and feet. If a swim happens it could prove extremely difficult for the person in the water to act aggressively OR the raft/kayaks to mount a timely rescue. Combined with the flow and the features an out of boat experience could prove extremely dangerous. This is especially true for those prone to cold water shock, like older men or those with heart conditions (diagnosed or undiagnosed).

Most people I know in Moab who experienced flows in the high-teens and above swore never to do so again. That said, there are people who both have the skills and love of that type of water.

Best of luck. If you go, post a TR as these have become relatively rare flows.

Phillip
 

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Has anyone seen Westwater around its current flows (37,600cfs)? Or higher? Or nearby? Supposed to float it on 6/7/14, never seen it at any flows, tagging along with a new crew.

Are we in more danger than usual? I've heard that above the Terrible Teens it washes out, but I would love to hear from someone who's been down there.

Thx
Hi,

Are you on CW's trip? I am on that trip as well. Very experienced crew, with tons of big water experience. We will have a blast!
 

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YeeHaa!

I would prefer to swim high water cataract canyon over 40k westwater any day. Westwater becomes swirling sucking unpredictable mess at these water levels, beware. I witnessed a boil stand up a 22' J-rig and twirl it around in a circle. At 49k a crazy whirlpool just after skull submerged my entire 18' raft. We all up to our nipples in the river, but all sitting in the raft.
 

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Westwater High water

I kayaked it a couple years back @ 33,500cfs. Certainly funky water in there & could only be more so with more water. Can't say it was really one of my more favorite runs. Most everything kinda washed other than Skull & just squirrely water to deal with. Makes for a quick day barring no complications :)
 

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We were just there on Sunday, around 36-37K. Pretty accurate descriptions of the boils and whirlpools. It would be tough to visit the Room of Doom, mostly because the eddy wall is a raft flipper that would toss you into an even scarier looking pillow/boil coming off Rock of Shock. The entire rapid is significant, but others are mostly washed out or wave trains. As noted, still quite capable of sucking down a tube and dumping passengers into what we considered a class V swim. Debris alone could beat someone to death in places.
One group just ahead of us flipped in Skull and couldn't right the boat until beyond Last Chance. In the words of the teenage boy who was stuck for a while under the raft: "It sucked."
That said, we had a great trip. If I can find my camera, I'll see if there's anything worth posting.
 

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We were on the trip with the boat that flipped. I have some pretty good GoPro footage of the flip. The guy oaring the boat that flipped was the most experienced boater by far. He has multiple Grand Canyon trips, 30 years of class 5 boating and this was the first flip in an oar boat. It was a matter of big water and bad timing of a big lateral wave. We had three boats running and it was an overnight trip.

We had the swimmers in another boat very quickly. Once we were able to grab the upside down raft, we were essentially at the rivers mercy. I was rowing, but that meant keeping it pointed down river and off the walls. We were unable to grab a meaningful eddy with a boat attached and the river boiling. It wasn't until we got out of the narrow part of canyon area that we were able to grab some shore and get the fully rigged boat turned back over.

The water is a boiling cauldron of weirdness for the most part. Little D has a good wave train, and Skull was just plain big. Waves, boils and whirlpools seem to crop up randomly. All other named rapids are essentially washed out.
You will see anything that can float coming down the river. Phone pole sized driftwood, trees, boards with nails, plus we picked up a lot of plastic bottles and such.
 

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This was at 37,800
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M53ECQlh4tc

This was at 31,800
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h6_Fosa6CRc

I've been on it at 42k.

The whirlpools suck, but otherwise its a much easier run at those levels than in the low 20s and below.

The wall of shock at the room of doom is an impressive display in the upper 30s and into the 40s.

The speed of the run is amazing and makes it a bit of a white knuckle as others have said. You don't have near as much time to get yourself lined up before dropping in to the rapids.

DanCan
 

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Lower difficulty, higher consequence

I've been in it at 30k, 38k, and 48k. It's an easier run than in the teens and low twenties as long as you stay upright and in your boat. Otherwise is gets very serious very quickly. I swam the gun barrel yesterday, funnel to skull, and I've never been more terrified. Level was about 38k. Sucked down by a whirlpool right around surprise and was held until I could no longer hold my breath and started inhaling water. Got in my buddy's boat right at the top of skull. I can't imagine having had to swim skull. Go and marvel at the force of the water, but don't swim under any circumstances. High float, big water vests are a must.
 

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WW Canyon is narrow so the high volume mostly creates turbulence. The boils and eddy lines are unpredictable and full of hydraulic pressure. Not ideal water for boating. More dangerous than fun but I guess it's worth taking a look. 1 trip at 40K back in the early 90's was enough for me. We had the same experience of raft tubes being sucked under by whirlpools and eddy lines. That's spooky. Stay on top of it and don't make any big mistakes. We ran from WW to Fish Ford in about 4 hours. For real big water fun find a wider stretch of water, e.g., Cataract, Main Salmon, Grand.
 

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Gun barrel, never heard Funnel to Skull called that... I like the name. I swam that last year at 10k and it was NOT fun either.

In general "don't swim" is always my motto. :)

DanCan

I've been in it at 30k, 38k, and 48k. It's an easier run than in the teens and low twenties as long as you stay upright and in your boat. Otherwise is gets very serious very quickly. I swam the gun barrel yesterday, funnel to skull, and I've never been more terrified. Level was about 38k. Sucked down by a whirlpool right around surprise and was held until I could no longer hold my breath and started inhaling water. Got in my buddy's boat right at the top of skull. I can't imagine having had to swim skull. Go and marvel at the force of the water, but don't swim under any circumstances. High float, big water vests are a must.
 

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So, how did it go?

DanCan

Has anyone seen Westwater around its current flows (37,600cfs)? Or higher? Or nearby? Supposed to float it on 6/7/14, never seen it at any flows, tagging along with a new crew.

Are we in more danger than usual? I've heard that above the Terrible Teens it washes out, but I would love to hear from someone who's been down there.

Thx
 

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Old Guy in a PFD
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What BCJ and others have said;

High water West Water is for those with a Death Wish or something to prove. Not because of the rapids; pretty much washed out or wave trains, but those whirlpools and suck holes pop out of nowhere and are very tough to avoid or deal with.

I will say that the room of doom has been breached at levels above 35K; not by me, and I have no pix, but I believe it to be true; I'd guess you can be sucked in if you come down the right side. If you end up in the room of doom out of your boat you can only try for the wall and climb out. Maybe. Probably not.

Thrill seekers would probably think WW at high water would be just the ticket, once.
 

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MendoWill
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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Let's all calm down

Just got off of WW @ 37,000. Whole run took ~2hrs of actual floating. I would say most people who replied to this thread are way overexcited, and can save their big fish stories for the campfire.

Yes, there were crazy boils, random whirlpools, and vicious eddy lines, but they were manageable if you kept your eyes open and highsided appropriately.

That being said, the only significant feature of the run was Skull, which was very intimidating with a GIANT lateral on the left, and constantly changing waves, pillows, and boils pushing off of the eddy line at the Room of Doom. The only way I could see going into the room of doom is pushing for the right side of it as hard as you could from far upriver, intentionally busting through. We ran right down the center, snuck past the lateral, and backferried off of the mess at the bottom. Took some good hits, got surfed sideways through a sudden boil/whirlpool, and pushed through to the turmoil below.

If it scares you, don't go. But if you don't know, don't post fear propaganda, it's as bad as FOX news.

Sorry, no pics.

Beers,
 
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