Thursday, June 30, 2005

Ashlu Updates!

With Shane up from Seattle and the road up the Ashlu open it was a clear choice in venue for boating. The Ashlu is an insane drainage. Every creek boater in the world should make the Ashlu a destination...Multiple times! While I have been living in Squamish for just over a month now, everything about my appearance screams Yankee still. My truck has Washington plates, I'm often on the river with friends from the states, and for all intensive purposes I'm still a Yankee weather I like it or not. The relevance here is that Shane and I could not help but stumble upon Tommy's top ten rules for survival in BC in the latest zine put out by LVM. Rule #3 clearly states, "be considerate and kind to BCers and apologize up front for being from America (trust us on this one)." While I would agree that this is generally true, Shane and I have found an easy way to subvert this rule. Bring Jonaven Moore, our good Canadian buddy, with us on every mission possible. The guy is more fired up about us Yankee boaters on BC rivers than seems humanly possible.

We left the Eagle Run Coffee House at about 9am with expectations of getting on the upper, upper Ashlu. Last summer Joanven Moore, Dave Reid, and Steve Whitall discovered this 2km upper canyon that has seen less than 10 boaters in it's depths since their discovery. Joanven has been giddy about this run and has continually described the "super clean" 45 footer that starts the canyon. Shane and I were filled with anticipation as we started the haul up the Ashlu valley.

BC is clearly the land of no gauges. While the Ashlu had a gauge at one point that helped boaters determine levels, the floods of 2003 demolished it. Now the river has the most arbitrary gauge of all...the "visual gauge". The best place to get a feel for flows on the Ashlu is the first bridge that crosses the river just above the 50/50 drop of the Box Canyon. Just upstream of this bridge is that last rapid of the Mine Run which has a number of rocks that a seasoned observer can use to get a feel for flows. If you can see a good rooster coming of the flake rock in the center left of the drop, the upper stuff is going to be good. Joanven confirmed that it looked optimal, so we started the haul up the Ashlu.

Besides the distraction of piles of bear shit, you can't help but feel like you are in paradise when traveling up the valley. Massive glaciers drain over granite bedrock, some stands of old growth yellow cedar remain, and the views are absolutely stunning.

one of the many views driving up the Ashlu

photo by Bryan Smith

When we arrived at the take-out, the guess on flows from down below was about right. Jonaven felt it would be perfect for the upper,upper run, so Shane and I got suited up and Jonaven offered to drive us up and then hike in and set safety at the 45 footer. How good is that? An injured boater who rather than telling you to fuck off when you mention boating offers to spend half the day running shuttle and setting safety. Good old Canadian friend...the BCers are sure nice folks. Please follow Tommy's advice and don't piss them off.

the view looking upstream from the take-out for the upper run

photo by Bryan Smith

Once we made it over several water bars and washouts (including one that had a dead cougar in it!), we rested high in the sub alpine. Jonaven hiked into the entrance to the gorge to help set safety and Shane and I hiked in higher up to warm up on a nice 20 foot slide. This is major bear country, so Jonaven traveling solo was equipped with bear spray, while Shane and I talked very loud.

Shane all smiles after running the 20 foot slide

photo by Bryan Smith

Once we reached the entrance to the 45 footer we spotted Jonaven on the river left shore. He advised us that is would be best to scout on the right. Once we made our way around a small creek and back to the creek we had a sweet view of the 45 footer. Super clean for a 45 footer, but a tech lead in for sure.

The tech lead in...the lip of the falls is the last horizon line

photo by Bryan Smith

Shane looking over the lip into the pool below

photo by Bryan Smith

The drop was very inviting, but Jonaven was very clear that he thought the rest of the canyon would be high. He had scouted downstream while waiting for us and advised that we should walk around the 2km gorge and come back for it another day. While it was hard to walk away from such a sweet looking drop, Shane and I both knew that if Jonaven said it looked high, then it was high. In fact I was starting to question if the word "too high" existed in Jonaven's vocab after hearing a lot of "high side of good" the past couple months.

After a rather decent portage through the BC hella fuck, we made it back to the Ashlu below the upper upper gorge. Looking up from the bottom we saw a couple ledges in the 10 foot range that looked sweet. I can't wait to get back in there with a little less water. The good news was that we still had about 6k of quality whitewater in the upper run. Shane and I had both run this section before, so we made pretty short work of it.

Shane entering one of the best drops in the upper run

photo by Bryan Smith

Overall it was another sweet mission up the Ashlu. We'll be back soon for more!


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey bryan love your postings. I'm up in whistler always looking to go boat.
Give me a call
Matt 604 935 7852