Monday, June 29, 2009

Colorado Tour: Part II

Greetings All!

So I just got back to the hot, humid southeast from a sick trip out to Colorado... where I did not take off my drysuit. For a recap of the first half of the trip, surf on over to the Astral Blog.

Here are a couple of still grabs from the aforementioned mission to the Crystal drainages. There was some sick stuff up there if your vehicle survives!

Andrew routing into the first tier of the money drop on the South Crystal.

And styling it.

Pat and myself went for another lap on Upper/Lower Death and Barrel Springs at about 10 grand... Chris Schell was cool enough to shoot some video this time. Those rapids are awesome!

The Nomad kept me nice and safe throughout the trip... cruising down the ramp and into the maw of Upper Death.

And pluggin 'er.

From there it was time to race. This was my first year racing in the Teva Mountain Games at Homestake, and it was a very challenging course. The creek sits around 9,000 feet, and if the altitude doesn't get you, there are a whole lot of gnarly rocks in there that love shaving seconds off. In spite of the challenges, the event was run very well and it was great being able to paddle with a diverse international racing crowd... there were certainly some heavy hitters out there. Team D had a commanding presence in the race with Nikki Kelly winning the women, Tao Berman taking 2nd and Pat Keller 3rd, Andrew Holcombe 7th, and myself 8th. I plan on coming back next year and dark horsing it so train up!

Nikki on her way to the win.

The paparazzi were present.

After Homestake, I was relieved to get out of the Vail circus and get on a creek that I've been wanting to hit forever... Yule! We had heard some scary stories about some epic carnage that had been occurring at the high levels that it was running at, but Yule gave us good lines and did not disappoint at all... it is huge in there! It's kind of like the Toxaway in NC, but with Colorado rocks... scary.

The crew hiking in.

My favourite Kiwi, Sam Sutton, on Oriental Massage. Braaaap!!

Myself dropping in.

Yule was sick, and I cannot wait to get back in there. A couple more days of hanging out with friends in Vail, and I was on the road once again, heading home. I hope to see all of you on the rivers of the Southeast soon, and for those who are interested, I will be instructing for Liquid Skills Kayak School on the Ottawa River from July 15 - August 15. Try and make it up there. It's certainly one of the best rivers in the world to refine your skills in a kayak.

Good lines.
Chris Gragtmans

Colorado Tour: Part 1

What up whitewater boat riders!

Just wanted to check in from Colorado and share some of the goings on as of late… I’ve always kind of given Colorado a bad rap, and it’s been a fun 2-3 day stop on the way to Cali, but never the final destination for any trip. I decided that it was about time I gave the Teva Mountain Games Homestake Race a shot, and hit a number of runs I’ve missed out on in the past.

Looking very out of place in Texas.

Pat and I made the long journey out in a Dagger Suby a week before the race, and crashed with the myth and legend, Chris Schell, when we got to Denver. The 10 days since have been a ridiculous barrage of steep whitewater and good people.

We started things off well with some laps on Homestake Creek and Gilman Gorge on day 1, and Tommy Hilleke was cool enough to let us make Glenwood Springs our base camp for the next couple of days. That was awesome and I can’t thank the Hilleke family enough.

Pat hiking up for another lap on Homestake.

By far one of my favourite parts of the trip has been paddling the Barrel Springs section of the Colorado… The Colorado is running super high with snow runoff, and I think the Upper/Lower Death combo is one of the burliest big water rapids I have ever run! I was praying that my sprayskirt wouldn’t implode and my paddle wouldn’t get ripped out of my hands as I plugged into that massive hole.

The entrance to the monster.

Both runs were incredible out there, and it’s tough to beat the feeling of becoming a part of something that makes you feel so inconsequential. The Barrel Springs rapid was huge too and super fun. Possibly my favourite run in the state…

Another great thing about that section is the fact that we could paddle it straight to the Hilleke’s doorstep.

Pat on the float down out of Glenwood Canyon to the city.

Myself hiking up to the house in a state of satisfaction.

We also did an epic mission into the Crystal drainage and checked out some sick park and hucks. It was the craziest off-roading I have ever done, and fortunately the rack only flew off Tommy’s truck once. Here are a couple of pics from that adventure…

Crystal Mill Falls… such a sweet drop.

Reattaching some roofracks.

The epicocity of Colorado backcountry.

South Fork Crystal!

Please don’t miss the eddy above this.

Hope everyone else is getting on some good water. Video coverage of these drops as well as Yule Creek and Homestake Race coming soon!