Monday, February 27, 2012

Rock Creek: Ryan Allen Rd to Columbia River (Money Drop)

This is the section with the famous Money Drop, an ever-changing drop near Stevenson Washingon in the Columbia River Gorge.

It's worth scouting the two big drops before putting on, this can be done via Iman Cemetery Rd.  Some routes have no tresspassing signs, but there are ways to get a good look.

Downstream of the put in bridge is 1/4 mile of warm up before the first falls.  This is a 30 footer that is run middle.  Below this first falls the river bends right as it goes over some more bedrock.  Get out on the left after the bend, and well before entering the low angle slide into Money Drop to get one last look from the left side.

Money Drop is a high speed, low angle ramp of 50 yards or so into a vertical drop of variable height.  You can typically count on it being over 50' tall.  It can be tricky to set the correct angle, resulting in many chaotic descents of the drop.  Recently (2016) the lip seems to have cleaned up and people no longer seem to have so much issue.

Andrew Bradley dealt with the tricky pre-2016 lip by boofing as big as possible.  While Andrew says his hit was soft, this technique is not recommended, at least one person has broken their back here.
Photo: Jeremy Lynn

Money drop from Andrew Bradley on Vimeo.

The level was about 10.10 feet on the Rock Creek gauge under the Ryan Allen Rd Bridge when Andrew and John ran it.
You can use the EF Lewis gauge to guestimate when Rock Creek will run. 
That gauge had a little under 2000 cfs when Andrew and John ran Money Drop.

Danimal rafted this one too.  Amazingly, he landed upright in the raft, unhurt. The level was pretty low that day, around 9.5'.

The falls was measured at 51' high the day he did it.
March 14, 2010


Andrew here, checking in after an exciting trip to Stephenson!

The first time I had looked at Money Drop I had been kayaking for about a year, I knew some day I would want to run big stuff and put this on the list. A few weeks back John Edwards and I had been to Money Drop and put in an all day scouting mission. We hiked in across from the drop and all around the lip trying to see different angles of the waterfall. Getting down to water level in this area is abnormally challenging due to the waste deep mud and failing hillsides associated with the active landslide. During this first scouting mission we had decided we wanted a safety boater in the pool to help pick up the pieces if one of us was hurt or out of our boat. We also checked possible put in areas and running the 30ft drop up stream. The flow that we had was around 1,100-1,200cfs.  The boil at the bottom was huge but manageable if you were up for the task; but at this flow the only way to get a safety boater in the pool was to have someone run the drop first.

       Jump forward to February 2012 when John Edwards, Jeremy Lynn and myself found ourselves here again at a lower flow in the range of 800-900cfs (just under half the EF Lewis gauge). We found this flow to still provide an ample boil.  This would be John's 7th time here and we now had a sufficient amount of people to safely run the drop.  The key piece of the puzzle for us was getting a safety boater in the pool below, which was pretty easy on this day.  Thanks Jeremy!  When we were there it had been raining and snowing with very little sunshine. We wondered around the drop scouting and talking about our possible lines and where we planed to hike our boats down for around 5 hours that day before running the drop. If you take a look at the photos most of the waterfall is not vertical at all, so boofing or over rotating are both very real possibilities.

Side view  
After looking at the risks I knew I needed a stroke but if it was too big I would be boofed out and with no stroke I would be kicked all crazy.  John went first with a plug line.  He over rotated a bit and became  unfolded near the bottom, taking a really big hit.  Fearing a similarly painful experience, I made sure I focused on staying locked to my deck.  I accelerated quickly towards the falls, the speed was exhilarating.
Very fast lead in
  As I approached the lip I focused on the transition for floating to freefall.  I took a full stroke that kept my bow way up.  After taking the stroke I knew I was boofing out.  I stayed forward in my tuck all the way to the bottom.  The thought came into my mind to stomp the bow back down, but I knew that has been the cause of broken backs in the past (including one on this very drop).  I fought this urge and remained forward until I reconnected, I was surprised when the landing proved to be really soft!  With my back still intact and another drop successfully descended I was super stoked! After it was all said and done John and I both had run it and had very different lines.  John was ejected from his boat, while I boofed and could not have landed much flatter. We both walked away safe and injury free, which is the number one goal on drops of this magnitude.   We both gained some more big drop knowledge to apply to our next endeavor, as well an experience that can never be taken away!  I fully anticipate coming back in the future to try and stick a different line off this drop.  Best of luck to those that attempt this tricky waterfall!

John's Line 



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