Well, it was truly a summer full of highlights from the 29 show Spring 2007 release of Charley Vol: 2 to this past 3 weeks in Southwest British Columbia, but there is one that certainly stands out: The July American Whitewater releases of Pit 1.
For those of you not familiar with this section of river, it is mostly pedestrian class 3 with some 4, until you encounter a 4 channel 45 foot waterfall. Dropping over a varied yet polished ledge formed as the river erodes an ancient lava flow, This falls certainly has the lines to entertain the most harden class V paddler, but also offers some other less thrilling lines for the 3-4 crowd. The two center lines of the falls are usually considered only by the truly psyched; although with this recreational release moving into its forth year, a record number of paddlers where seen hucking their meat over channel number two (a high speed ramp into a 30 foot falls).
When I arrived at the takeout on Sunday the 14th, California AW Stewardship director Dave Steindorf reported that nothing could shock him after seeing a crazed inflatable descent and subsequent swim off channel number 2. This came as a bit of a disappointment to me considering that Eric Seymour and I came with an all female paddle raft team in tow all set to run the falls in our well traveled Aire Puma 11-foot raft. I offered that I thought he would be in for another surprise today if whitewater diva Arden Prehn and her all girl power crew had anything to say about it.
Arden had recruited a couple of Noah's boldest and strongest female guides to give the pit a shot, and regardless of running the falls they would get a scenic river trip out of the deal located just 2.5 hours south in Ashland, OR. Talking about running a big dynamic falls in a raft and actually standing at the lip and deciding to do it are two very different things. This quickly dawned on Heather and Monica as we led them to the lip of the second channel of pit falls. Monica bowed out first having only a year or so of real whitewater under her belt and, the more season although no less skeptical Heather, was not convinced by a little light encouragement from Arden and I.
When Heather finally got tired of my rosy outlook on a would be descent, she called my bluff and told me to "get in there if you are so sure of a clean line." "Wait a minute" I said, "who's going to film!?" Well, I guess Heather had operated her parents handy cam once or twice so that qualified her as a non-professional but viable option. With Arden never hesitating for a minute, I agreed and the descent was on. Eric Seymour hopped in his JK Mega Rocker and made quick work of a clean descent with a beautiful floating plug. With Eric in place setting the second HD cam and stills at the Bottom, Arden and I made our plan: maintain a nice straight angle to the lip, and then high-side to the right as we hit the banking 30 foot free fall. As compared to our well suited waterfall machines (JK Rockers), sitting in a raft about ready to role towards the lip of a 30 foot falls, is a bit like sitting at the top of a very steep hill in a shopping cart (you are quite certain that you are going to get ejected but your not certain where and how hard you are going to hit). Oddly enough running falls in a raft is often quite the opposite with a good R2 crew. Well, see for yourself.... Clean as a whistle (ie Eric and my clean rafting descent of the final falls on the Gol Gol in No Big Names 3). Well maybe I had a bit of whiplash the nest day... Enjoy the vid, and check out americanwhitewater.org for more information on the Pit River recreational releases.