Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Yule Creek is the business

It's like this: Yule Creek in Colorado has one of the biggest runnable sections of whitewater anywhere.

The first time I heard of Yule was from one of BJ & Katie's movies from the 90's, back when RUNNING SLIDES was still considered both cool & fun. (Yes, I'm being sarcastic.) And anyone who's been up the Crystal drainage to hit the Gorge or the NF has probably caught glimpses of Yule from across the trout pond in Marble. It looks inconceivable that it would be runnable from that vantage, but it is, & it's pretty good. There's little in the way of media coverage of it other than a couple short segments in videos over the years, so no one really seems to know much about it.

Looking up Yule Cr. from the pond.

Yule is at a runnable flow for much of the summer, since you want it low, but the Bottom 4, which account for almost 200 feet of gradient loss, keeps just about everyone away. Tenuous landowner-boater relations add to the access issues around the bottom gorge, & a bible camp upstream restricts access there. Hell, I lived in CO for 10 yrs & only ran Yule once .. & only know of a handful of other confirmed runs on the creek .. including several that dealt with a painful portage of the last 2 drops & one that resulted in a BROKEN BACK / EVAC SCENARIO

Scouting #1 of the Bottom 4.

Having said that, I'd love to get back in there once more (I think). The "headwaters" run from treeline down to the marble quarry is great "expedition-lite" training for the not-quite-class-V+ set, since you have to hike your boat way up & the run isn't that difficult. Just know when to get out & start walking before you get into the hairy stuff. The scenery is intense. The mile or so above the Bottom 4 is pretty classic bedrock slides of increasing size, but you have to know where to access the creek to avoid blatant trespassing. Then you get the main event. I'll let the pics from Kyle, Evan, Leif, & Fred's trip on Monday do the rest of the talking ...

Photos by Kyle McCutchen, Evan Stafford & Mark Olson:

Fred Zachrel sticking the put-in rapid.

Upper gorge stuff.

Kyle McCutchen & Evan Stafford sliding through the upper gorge.

Now we get to the big stuff. #1 is a slide-to-vert / mostly-vert thing that's about 25 feet into a short pool. Leif Embertson droppin.


#2 is the notorious wall-slam slide where most people opt to take it on the hull on the R-Left wall in order to avoid the slate death slabs on R-Right at the bottom. The thing is much steeper & faster than this shot of Fred would lead you to believe.

Fred riding out the wall hit.

Evan on #2.

The #3 drop of the Bottom 4, which people have started calling "Oriental Massage" is the biggest drop I know of in CO. It loses probably 70 or 80 vertical feet & involves leaving a small eddy on R-right & heading left over a ridge of rock that works like a kicker sending you airborne for a long time. Evan approaching the kicker. Love this angle!!!

The last drop, "Happy Ending", is an easy rolling 20-footer .. actually it just feels small & easy after having run 3, 2 & 1. Leif finishing the run out. From here, it's troutwater to the Crystal & then a paddle across the pond to the vehicle.


Bonus Round!

SF Crystal & Punchbowls with Evan & Kyle

Classic Colorado!


Stay tuned for Furry Creek & other BC madness!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

fuck yeah