Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Talow Creek- A tat-high

Visit LVM Video to purchase the Whitewater Kayaking DVD of this Expedition.
Click Here

To watch video #1 Tatlow Creek=>
Click Here
To watch video #2 Tatlow Creek=>
Click Here

This summer season Whistler locals, Jonovan Moore (the man who found the creek) Sam Maltby, Stew Smith and Derek Thomas, pioneered a new gem in the Squampton zone, Tatlow Creek. The Tatlow flows into the upper Ashlu, above the ‘Mine’ run and the ‘Box Canyon’. The creek is a mere 6k long, but it packs a serious wallop. The run goes like this; 6-8-8-20-25-10-4-sieve-25-8-35-20-8-6-3 or some such something like that. The Tatlow run just goes to show how many badass creeks must be left to explore in the area. Hats off to Jonovan for sussing this one out.

Mr Hilleke checking out the zone.

photo by Nikki Kelly

Minivan #2 (in 9 days),right above the put-in for the Box Canyon of the Ashlu.

photo by Nikki Kelly

The lip of 50/50 falls on the Box (at maching high water)

photo by Nikki Kelly

Here is a view of the mountains ringing the Ashlu gorge..

photo by Nikki Kelly

The Talow requires a VERY aerobic hike up to the putin. I believe our stats came out something like 900 vertical feet of elevation and 40 minutes of walking close to straight up the hill.

Tommy hoofing it up the old road.

photo by Nikki Kelly

After walking up the road you descend into the creek through a fine piece of BC hellfuck.

Fred Coriell prior to dropping in.

photo by Nikki Kelly

photo by Nikki Kelly

When we arrived at the putin Mr. Grace realized that he left his drytop at the car and he was forced to plod back up through previously mentioned BC hellfuck, it must have seemed like the end of the world for him.

We had guide Polk Deters to show us the way down, and he was a little concerned with the level at the top, setting an ominous tone right off the bat.

Here is Fred dropping off the first 20 footer. There is a bad cave on the right and a nasty wall on the left. Johnnie Kern swam here on a previous trip, so the tension was on the high side of good.

photo by Nikki Kelly

photo by Nikki Kelly

Tommy scouting the first section on the Tatlow.

photo by Nikki Kelly

Here is a sequence of Hilleke running the first falls. The immediate lead in to this falls is a series of three ledges, all in the 6-8 foot range (w/not small holes).

photo by Nikki Kelly

Justin Beckwith running the same falls.

photos by Nikki Kelly

The second falls is a bit dicey and requires a mandatory plugger at the bottom (see videos for action)
This falls had been walked by many in the past, so here we are debating the pros and cons.

photo by Nikki Kelly

Polk Deters ‘nutting up’.

photo by Nikki Kelly

Tommy, same.

photo by Nikki Kelly

Fred Coriell running the double drop just below the second falls. This drop has a nasty hole at the bottom that caused Mr. Deters to be temporarily separated from his kayak.

photo by Nikki Kelly

A river-wide sieve that blocks the whole flow or the creek precedes the third falls.
The sieve requires a very active portage through more BC undergrowth and an additional scout down the canyon of the third falls.

The third falls is a steep ass slide that drops into a wall, very immediately into a wall.

Here is Deters in the third falls.

Justin Beckwith, same falls.

Here is a series of Toby MacDermott having some issues in the third fall.

photos by Nikki Kelly

The next series of falls caused a good bit of problems for our group. The action began with an eight footer into a 35 foot near vertical slide split into two channels. The left channel was death by decapitation and the right side was a bit tricky to get to. Tommy was convinced the drop was good and gave her straight off.

The rest of the group had a bit of a meltdown concerning the ability to catch an eddy/portage the next falls, which the 35 footer flushed promptly into. With concern on his face Freddy gave the ‘I don’t think its such a good idea at this level’ speech and with risk management in mind we all began the very sketchy portage around the falls. The problem was, we weren’t sure if when we got to the river where Tommy was located, on a rock in the middle of the river, if we could portage the next nasty falls (run only we believe by Corey Boux). After much deliberation we ended up returning to the riverbed and working out the portage.

Here is Justin ‘jumping’ the portage.

photos by Nikki Kelly

The last big drop was genuine piece of shit with no portage options. Here are some innocuous shots from the top.

photos by Nikki Kelly

The last two falls spill into a pool blocked by a large strainer.
Polk Deters and Tommy Hilleke falling through the last hourglass canyon of the Tatlow Gorge.

photo by Nikki Kelly

The big loggen bridge marks your takeout, at which time a congratulatory remark or two will certainly be shared.

A despondent Grace awaiting the team at the get out.

photo by Nikki Kelly

Monday, September 20, 2004

Flood, BC Style

After our Hurley mission, we headed into Whistler for Toby’s B-Day dinner. That’s when the rain began, and it did not stop falling till the following morning. We slept at the ultra-classic Whister Dump (a real blast from the past) and ran into Eastern Canadian Brad Sutton slumming about. After a bit of catch up we headed down the hill toward Squampton (Squamish). Every drainage we crossed was raging, some muddy brown some a pure tannic color (those flowing from untouched headwaters), color be damned, they were all high as hell.

We headed up to classic Mamquam Falls to give her a look. Here is what we found.

Here is a classic shot of the future (2010) home of the winter Olympics. The Squamus Chief in the background.

After scouting various and sundry falls around town, we headed out to run ‘Fear Canyon of the Elaho’.
As we gassed up the rental van, little did we know that it would be its last voyage with the team.

Somewhere near the Aslu River, Fred discovered we no longer had any brakes, as in NO brakes. Not exactly the vehicle you want to be driving when facing the huge logging trucks that frequent the Elaho valley. The crew was into giving her a go, but Fred made the mature decision to head her back in town.

Mid-driving-without-brakes-on-logging-road discussion.

Hurley River Trip Report- Beatdown right off the bat

To watch video from the Hurley=>
Click Here

After making our 18-hour southbound mission from the takeout to Williams Lake, BC, we had some options of what to paddle. The ever-elusive Mosley Creek (see ‘03 mission post below) was nearing a state of run ability, but we balked at the exorbitant amount of coin that we would be required to drop on helicopters and seaplanes to run shuttle.

During the high water summer season of ’00, Jed Weingarten, Willie Kern and myself took a scouting tour of the mountains to the East and North of Pemberton, BC. Once on the leeward slope of the Coast Range the conditions become much more arid. The rock has a more shaley consistency and scree dominates most of the river corridors.

One of the most intriguing drainages we came across was the Hurley/Cadwalader River. A brief scout verified that the river was steep, way too high and in a Butt Crack gorge. Then we left.

Last year, just prior to our Homathko trip, Jed and Willie went back and ran the lower gorge. They reported awesome class IV+ with a few class Vs. They also scouted the upper waterfall section. There they found five falls, with two of them being a bit marginal.

We headed out to Gold Bridge from Williams Lake, cruising through some big, beautiful country. We stopped at the Frasier River to check out a big water feature.

The Frasier River Canyon.

Next stop was a pretty little creek draining into the Bridge River.

There we discovered a real big spider guarding the bridge.

Several hours later we arrived at the base of the Hurley Gorge.

That evening we were eating in the local pub (this place is WAY out there, nothing in town but one bar, no gas, no beer store, no nothing) and one of Freddy’s friends from Middlebury College dropped in to say hello. Spencer Lawley and his dad (idahoians) were taking their annual father/son BC biking trip and saw our rigs. Never ceases to amaze me how small the world we live in is.

We camped at the put-in of the Waterfalls section with the Lawleys, and set shuttle to drop all the way down to Gold Bridge.

We talked to a classic local gentleman and he informed us that access that Jed and Willie had used was now blocked off due to the reopening of the open pit gold mine near the confluence of the Hurley and Cadwalader. The mine has produced over 100 million in gold bullion during its lifetime and was back in action. The short of the long of it is that we would not be able to scout the section prior to dropping in.

If you’ve never been to BC before, a review of Tommy’s Top Ten Rules of Survival in BC is in order before you go. Rule #2, “Beware the unscoutable, unportagable, unrunable gorges, they are everywhere”. So here we went, dropping on in to a gorge we knew nothing about.

The crew warming up in the cold fall morning, just prior to dropping into the ‘Waterfalls Gorge’.

photo by Nikki Kelly

…and there we were. 1st drop, bad pocket, two channels, with a couple of drops in a canyon and then off a nice 18 footer. Grace went 1st, dropped into said bad pocket and got beat down (please see quicktime video above for full effect).

Here is Tommy coming to the rescue.

Here are some sweet shots of the 2nd falls of the Hurley.

After Toby and Justin ran down the canyon and rescued Grace’s kayak, Tommy, Nikki and myself had had an opportunity to scout the drop that exploded John’s kayak, and we didn’t want any. Too much flow for that one.

By the time we all regrouped, the day was getting old, the air was cold, and thoughts of dropping into the formidable butt crack gorge below was not high on everyone’s priority list. So we did what one does nearly every trip to BC, we hiked out. The road we found led to the Gold Mine and a potential $5,000 fine, so we had to backtrack and find a mushroom pickers trail back up the car. Big workout.

After retrieving car from bottom, we headed up and over the mountains and into Pemberton, BC (potato seed capital of the world for those who didn’t know).

A view from the top of the hill, looking down into the upper Lilloet Valley.