Monday, October 4, 2010

Top five reasons not to run the Cispus

Matt here, throwing up a post from a while back. Steve, Dan Rubido, Danimal and Robbie (R2), and I got up to the Cispus a while back this summer. The flows were on the high side (750), which was good for the raft, good for the upper parts, and bad for Behemoth. We got to the lip and watched Danimal and Robbie botch a ferry and miss the eddy before plopping off the thing backwards, which they somehow managed to stick. That’s the second time I’ve seen a raft go off the falls; both boats hit almost exactly the same line and both sailed away smoothly. At the bottom, Danimal yelled up to me “Anyone can run if forwards!” Good ‘ol crazy Dan, in high spirits as always. Then they cut into the current and dropped into the wicked hole, where an extended surf session began (5 minutes style) and only ended when Dan jumped out of the boat onto the rocks with a rope and pulled the raft and Robbie out.

Here's a pic from the first time I saw a raft run the beast.

Dave Saq-town and Hans do it forward.

Back to the lip: Steve mentioned portaging first, but we all were thinking it after looking at move to the left and the size of the wicked hole. He took a look at the left side route, where a rope had been left and said it might work. I climbed the right side and thought that it looked better, so they ferried across and we began to portage the unportageable. It took 4 different pitches with the ropes and some pin gear that Mr. Rubido was smart enough to bring along (Very good call!), then a very sketchy downclimb on the roots of a tree that was barely hanging onto the wall. In all it took us about 2 hours to complete and we were quite exhausted by the end. But let it be known, you can safely portage on the right, assuming you have at least 2 people (3 is much better) and the right gear.

At the bottom, we all looked at the hole, which looks a lot better from down there and decided that it might have been better to just run it. Maybe. Right as we were putting back on again, we noticed another group had shown up at the lip and it looked like they were setting up a safety rope into the river left cave. We figured they’d be good on their own and left for the takeout, happy to still have a little daylight left. After drinking some beers and running shuttle, the other group had still not arrived and we started to get worried. Eventually, a couple members of their group showed up and relayed the news: two paddlers had gotten stuffed behind the veil and necessitated two vertical extractions. Now I’ve never been a part of one vertical extraction, let alone two right after one another. They ended up hiking out and were alright, but hearing their plight made us a little more content about our decision to go for the rather exposed and difficult portage.

On the ride home, I got to thinking about it and put together a list of reasons not to run the Cispus. That isn’t to say that I won’t be back, I bet I’ll be back every summer, but it isn’t a run to take lightly. Don’t expect it to be all smiles, there are some great drops with really cool lines, but it’s a demanding run both mentally and physically.

Anyhow, here's the list:

5. The wood in the first falls makes it a high pressure drop when otherwise it’d just be a blast.

Two pictures are worth two thousand words.

After sticking the first drop, they missed the ferry (a theme on this trip) and went into the log, where they tried to jump over, but both got clothes-lined under.

4. The run is a bit of a mank fest, with regular pitons, wood dodging, and general rock bashing, enough so that one accomplished paddler from the group behind us swore off creeking all together after this run.

3. The looming presence of Behemoth makes running the gorge above a very intimidating undertaking, when, like the first drop, it’d otherwise just be blast.

2. The uglier the hole below Behemoth gets, the more you want to go left, and the more likely it is that you end up behind the veil.

1. Better kayakers than me and you have gotten stuffed into the cave behind the veil at Behemoth.

But like I said, I'll be back time and time again, despite that nagging feeling in my gut that I've got to be on my game, or else...

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