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Thread: Recent Video Of Devil's Canyon Of The Sustistna

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    Member Birdstrike's Avatar
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    Default Recent Video Of Devil's Canyon Of The Sustistna

    I stumbled across this recent footage of Devil's Canyon. Props to the guys that filmed this and put it on Vimeo.



    I don't ever see it being rafted....at least not cleanly!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Birdstrike View Post
    I stumbled across this recent footage of Devil's Canyon. Props to the guys that filmed this and put it on Vimeo.



    I don't ever see it being rafted....at least not cleanly!
    AWESOME !!! When we owned High Lake Lodge just to the north of the canyon, we called that Class VI water and, up to that time, no one had shot the canyon and lived through it, we believed. And a raft? Aw, no, man . . . . .

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    This is a great video, no, an AWESOME video. Only one man in a cataraft has ever floated through Devils Canyon: Mark Cramer.

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    Great video! I saw some pictures of my buddy Evan up there, but had not seen the movie. Big water.

    I'm not sure about other rafting expeditions....Mark Cramer took a cat down it a few years back, so with the right skills, gear, and attitude, I would not say it is impossible. There are some rowdy people out there.

    Josh

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    Quote Originally Posted by Heg View Post
    Great video! I saw some pictures of my buddy Evan up there, but had not seen the movie. Big water.

    I'm not sure about other rafting expeditions....Mark Cramer took a cat down it a few years back, so with the right skills, gear, and attitude, I would not say it is impossible. There are some rowdy people out there.

    Josh
    I'll agree with Heg on this... It can and will be run by raft/cataraft. Picking ideal water levels like these kayakers did is what the run is all about - not being crazy. This stretch gets a whole lot nastier with less visibility through lower or much higher water levels. This is not taking anything away from these accomplished and calculating kayakers - congrats & excellent footage. They played this one right on the money and made the trip at optimal flows.

    Rafters thinking about it... note that Mike Kramer has a ton of big white-water cfs milage and makes a major emphasis on boat design, row package features, special gear selections, as well as running solo to prevent weakest link knowing full well it could be his own undoing of self-reliance.

    I can use for example how I approached 1st running of the Newhalen River Gorge:
    Back in the day I used Satellite infrared imaging to reveal bottom structure for best line. I knew optimal flow conditions and waited for a perfectly clear sunny day with no wind ready to fly and float. Minimal weight in boat was calculated and I wanted active load meaning 5 people plus myself at the oars. Boat choice was AIRE 156E for fast ferrying, turn transitioning, and steady elliptical bow rise. All this plays a hand in successful (non-flail) trips 9 out of 10 times perfect runs.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Richardson View Post
    I'll agree with Heg on this... It can and will be run by raft/cataraft. Picking ideal water levels like these kayakers did is what the run is all about - not being crazy. This stretch gets a whole lot nastier with less visibility through lower or much higher water levels. This is not taking anything away from these accomplished and calculating kayakers - congrats & excellent footage. They played this one right on the money and made the trip at optimal flows.

    Rafters thinking about it... note that Mike Kramer has a ton of big white-water cfs milage and makes a major emphasis on boat design, row package features, special gear selections, as well as running solo to prevent weakest link knowing full well it could be his own undoing of self-reliance.

    I can use for example how I approached 1st running of the Newhalen River Gorge:
    Back in the day I used Satellite infrared imaging to reveal bottom structure for best line. I knew optimal flow conditions and waited for a perfectly clear sunny day with no wind ready to fly and float. Minimal weight in boat was calculated and I wanted active load meaning 5 people plus myself at the oars. Boat choice was AIRE 156E for fast ferrying, turn transitioning, and steady elliptical bow rise. All this plays a hand in successful (non-flail) trips 9 out of 10 times perfect runs.
    Misspelled Mark's first & last name by mistake (just speaking w/ a Mike Kramer on phone - lol)... givin' credit where credit is certainly due to Mark Cramer and his accomplishments.

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    How do the flows in this video compare to Embick's run at 26K CFM? What's the time frame?

    JMHO, but from what was posted that's very doable in a 16' or 14' cat with a strong frame.
    If cave men had been trophy hunters the Wooly Mammoth would be alive today

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    Best 12 minutes I've ever spent watching video. Will have to reread embicks fast and cold description to see if I can put names to faces so to speak.

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    Erik, 'doable' and 'done' are very different adjectives...also its a very different stretch of river for much of the year.

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    This run has to be at or above the skill level required to climb Denali. Hats off to anyone who ran it (accidentally or otherwise) on anything that floats! Quite an accomplishment.

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    Default Susitna

    That was Jeff Shelton's second run, the maker of the video. It was a big flow, Hotel Rock was covered, that is where he is submerged for a few seconds, notice the horrible hole on the left. To see this drop from a better angle watch Oil + water Susitna Teaser, they portaged, and one of them was Tyler Bradt the world record waterfall holder.(188ft)

    I think the Blackadar video captures the river better, Gp-Pros usually ,make things look easier and smaller, (no zoom) than they actually are, unless your on shore and get close.

    One of the boaters, Matt Peters, is in his third year of kayaking, good huh!

    Look when they surf at how fast the other boaters approach, supposed to be around 25 miles an hour.

    Some of the biggest water: in North America.

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    Default Another look

    Here's another short clip, don't try and raft it.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_TWj10KsQzg

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    Quote Originally Posted by mark oathout View Post
    That was Jeff Shelton's second run, the maker of the video. It was a big flow, Hotel Rock was covered, that is where he is submerged for a few seconds, notice the horrible hole on the left. To see this drop from a better angle watch Oil + water Susitna Teaser, they portaged, and one of them was Tyler Bradt the world record waterfall holder.(188ft)

    I think the Blackadar video captures the river better, Gp-Pros usually ,make things look easier and smaller, (no zoom) than they actually are, unless your on shore and get close.

    One of the boaters, Matt Peters, is in his third year of kayaking, good huh!

    Look when they surf at how fast the other boaters approach, supposed to be around 25 miles an hour.

    Some of the biggest water: in North America.
    Agree here with Markoathout --- here the flow is neither minimal nor highest and the Go-Pros make everything flatten out and too distorted for a real collective perspective (think fun view in the first person). One thing we do get is the valuable approximations to good lines and this further educates then pushes the envelope further for the future runs.

    Big danger on this run is not the boating part at all... it's if or when a person gets separated from the boat!!!! Swims can be exhaustive cold and deadly. A group of boaters or even a 'safety boat' in these waters is just there to tell a sad story should this take place.

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    You often hear “rivers” substituted in mountaineer Hervey Voge’s quote “The Mountains will always be there, the trick is make sure you are too.” This is something I try to live by, but it will be a sad day if they build that gargantuan dam, and the “river won’t be there” in it’s free flowing nature for doers and dreamers to ponder.

    Mike I think a better analogy would be “those that ski Denali”. Thousands of people have climbed Denali, some with very limited mountaineering skills, while only a handful of people have skied it, all of them with phenomenal mountain skills.

    I agree with Brian, a swim on this river, even with Phelps-like strength, would be the scariest, and possible last moment of your life. I am not trying to minimize the risk of such an endeavor, nor encourage others to attempt it. Mark Cramer, the guy that took a cat down it, has also put together first descents all over Idaho and other places. He is at the top of the sport. Mark Oathout, I don’t know the guy you are referring to, but I’ve known Evan (in the video) for over twenty-five years. He is an elite athlete and kayaker, having been boating almost his entire life. He definitely has the skill set for such a trip.

    Regardless of the your opinion on the raftability of such a river, let’s not turn Alaska into China and start building 700’ dams in the middle of the wilderness.

    Josh

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    The dam being debated these days is above Devils Canyon. If anything, the access road to the dam would make Devils Canyon more accessible. --- Not that I'm going to go anywhere near it in a boat.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Strutz View Post
    The dam being debated these days is above Devils Canyon. If anything, the access road to the dam would make Devils Canyon more accessible. --- Not that I'm going to go anywhere near it in a boat.
    Jim, with all due respect the location of the dam and improved accessibility to the canyon are not my points. In my opinion, easier access has destroyed wilderness across the world. I want my kids (5 and 8), both avid rafters since birth, to have the ability to explore an Alaska that does not have huge man-made warts sprawled across the state.

    Once again great video by an exceptional group of kayakers. Thanks for sharing Birdstrike!

    Josh

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    I agree with your principals, but I want my kids to be able to afford to stay in Alaska when they grow up. In Fairbanks there is an economic exodus with electricity up to .25 kWh.
    "I'd rather be fishing!"

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    Default Proposal

    I have read that the flow will pretty much be cut in half during summer flows, 12,000-15,000cfs, and it was argued that it would open up the run for more boaters. I thought, "what the heck, there are already plenty of runs for us lame kayakers; bad argument."

    Heg, watching Evan do the slalom last year showed how smooth he is, perfect form. These guys have boated together and prepared for this for several seasons, well except for one and he's just good, rolled on his first attempt, so I heard anyway, it must really suck to have natural talent.

    Maybe if "the end" is obvious all of us should go down together.

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    furk drake & the dam

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    Quote Originally Posted by Heg View Post
    Regardless of the your opinion on the raftability of such a river, let’s not turn Alaska into China and start building 700’ dams in the middle of the wilderness.

    Josh
    OK...as long as you aren't one of the people who complains when the Cook Inlet natural gas runs out, no gas line is built, and your electric bill quadruples in price.

    As an Alaskan who has actually accessed some of the more remote areas of this state, both on foot and by packraft, both fly-ins and walk-ins from the road system, I can assure you there are plenty of wilderness areas that are not going by the wayside any decade soon, if ever (relatively speaking). Being a younger man (25) I want to see Alaska become a place that's more "affordable" to live. The rugged terrain, harsh climate and manic depressive sun cycles are what keep most people away, not the fact that food or utilities are outrageously expensive. To prove my point, go to the metropolitan areas of New York or San Francisco, and compare the costs of living to what it is up here. Flat, mild, and otherwise hospitable areas (usually near water) are what draw people. Just look at Anchorage in comparison with the rest of the state....and there's a 500,000 acre state park right next door which is predominately wilderness.

    The point I'm making is that Alaska is "wild" beyond most people's understanding, and that's why I have absolutely no problem with building a dam on the Upper Su, above Devil's Canyon. For starters, that dam could provide clean/renewable energy for tens of thousands of Alaskans, at a mere fraction of the costs now exhibited through the burning of coal and natural gas. As an aside, the access road to the dam, and the subsequent lake created above the dam, would be an economic boon for the OUTDOOR industry. There's been talk of having a salmon hatchery in that lake, lodges built around it, and other ideas. The Canyon, by all estimates, is unrunnable for all but the most experienced and/or suicidal boaters. If the flow is cut in half and makes Devil's Canyon less of a danger, I don't see much downside. Obviously, some people will make mistakes, either through incompetence or intoxication, and likely pay the ultimate price, but you can't protect people from themselves and the idiotic decisions that they make. The only reason I would possibly oppose the effort is if some government agency were to step in and regulate the river and lake on the level of the Gestapo cops in the National Park Service.

    The dam would provide a lasting benefit to many Alaskans, both economically and recreationally. I understand your zeal for "preserving the wilderness." I was once of that school of thought, and to a lesser extent still am, but the reality of the situation is that Alaska needs to take advantage of its natural resources if it expects to be a place that's affordable for the people who enjoy the rugged terrain, harsh climate, and manic depressive sun cycles. For a state that is so energy-rich, we are unjustly subjected to some of the highest energy costs out there. The dam certainly won't solve that problem outright, but it's a step in the right direction.

    And with that...here's an old school video from the mid-70s of Devil's Canyon being kayaked for only the 2nd time. The footage is sure to blow your socks off.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1fWx9iP7ZJU

    Keep on having fun...

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